Photo Credit: Nicole Nordstrom
Entertainment Scoop’s Taylor Reardigan sat down with Alexis Haines to discuss her growing up “wild” in Hollywood, her journey to sobriety, and her new autobiography chronicling it all. Interview transcription by Jasmine Escareno.
Q: You have come a long way from your Pretty Little Wild days, and now have a podcast titled Recovering from Reality, what’s the biggest takeaway in being on the reality show, how did you feel having your fragile moments on TV for the whole world to see?
A: It’s one of those situations where you’re in the dirt—that’s where the growth is starting. That period of my life was me in the dirt and that’s how I viewed [my life at the time.] The first years of sobriety symbolized the leaves finally sprouting. Yes, they were extremely chaotic and traumatic, challenging, heartbreaking… because I was a reality star fighting a case on national television with all the media scrutiny. To top it off, suppressing a lifetime worth of trauma with my heroin addiction. You can’t have those sprouting moments unless you spend time in the dirt first. As much it was a challenge for me, I was ultimately very grateful for the way that everything transpired. There’s over a 1M podcasts out there, [so] it’s really hard to start a podcast. In the last 2 months, I’ve gotten 5 people into rehab. In my DMs people have heard my podcast, one woman was in the midst of postpartum depression and decided not to kill herself because she heard my podcast, and heard people’s stories on Instagram. A gay man from Texas, who had been suppressing his identity for so many years and had been addicted to Oxycotin, quit opiates that week. This broadcast, this book…I didn’t do this for me. I did this because I see so many people suffering. We’re creating a movement, it’s not a slow growing one, it’s a fast moving one. My Instagram following at the beginning of this, I had like 28K followers since I didn’t have Instagram during my reality show. Just in the last year, we’ve gone up 75K. Our numbers are growing. We’re growing in a movement that [allows] for transformation and owning our story. [We’re] getting the tools necessary to lead a better life. What a blessing that Pretty Wild happened because I would not have had this platform had it not transpired!
Q: From the outside looking in, it looks like you had an unconventional upbringing. Your mom raised you on the teachings of The Secret. What was your life like before the Bling Ring, any specific memories that you were pivotal in shaping the person you have become?
A: I love my mom very much. I feel like much of my childhood, she hid behind spirituality or wanting to align herself to feel better. In reality, it was constant chaos. The pivotal moments that happened in my life, I was being sexually abused as a child for many years, violence, divorce, emotional abuse, and lots of chaos. Yes, we had Buddhas in our house and learned about the power of positive thinking. It’s hard to think your way out of positive thought and intention. That’s not the way that it actually works. That’s what we thought that The Secret was. But what it’s really about is dealing with our unconscious mind and belief system that we develop as children from our environment. Until you deal with those, you can’t manifest. Before we started recording the show, my mother, sisters, and I would say an affirmation. Working in the entertainment industry, making X amount of dollars a year, helping a lot of people. That dollar amount that we said that we were going to make, it just ended up in chaos. We couldn’t really help anyone back then. Of course, we lost it all because it’s not sustainable when you’re operating in a lack of mentality, in a place of trauma.
Photo Credit: Erin Froelich
Q: You discussed a lot of the traumas that you experienced, the one that struck me the most is not feeling protected by your parents. How was it addressing your mother about it, and how has your relationship changed since?
A: That was a really challenging thing. I was a child in not safe situations. I had two parents, my dad was an alcoholic and abusive. That’s horrible and that’s what I would think for many years. But I realized my mom, was really emotionally abusive herself and didn’t protect me the way that she should have. When I told her that my dad was being physically violent towards me, she shouldn’t have sent me back to his house again. To me, she seemed like the safe parent. It was a mind blowing experience, that first year into my sobriety, that I realized she was crazy. She had stuff that she had to work through. It wasn’t until last year that I realized that I had anger towards her. I’m very grateful for my spiritual teachers; they have guided me on how to drop the resentment. She was doing the best that she could. [However,] it’s still not an excuse. I had a far worse upbringing than she had and I’m not perpetuating the violence and abuse. It’s not an excuse, it’s the truth. I’m really proud of my mom, she went to therapy and she’s not smoking pot all the time. She has totally changed. I’m very grateful because I know it’s not the case for everyone.
Q: Let’s talk Nancy Jo sales, without a doubt the most memorable moment in the show. First, in the article, book, then movie she called you a narcissist. Recently you had another falling out with her on Instagram. You wanted to have a sit down with her, and you discussed this interaction on your podcast. Can you describe the initial moment you read her article, what did she get wrong about you? What do you want Nancy Jo to know about the person you are today? Are there any updates?
A: My devastation, I think I use the word “petrified” in the video. It’s so funny because it’s such a teen moment. I was in a period in my life where it felt like no one can be trusted. I always felt that I was always in a flight or fight mode. We getting news request from outlets like Rolling Stone and People. They wanted the one story, but I was under gag orders from my attorney. We were only going to get one story to tell our side. I wasn’t the leader of the Bling Ring. I was portrayed as such because the media profits off that. Because I had a reality show, it seemed more sexy if I [was the leader]. Nancy said, “I’m a mother. I have a daughter.” She portrayed herself as someone fair and unbiased. We decided to go with Nancy, and I spent days with her. We sat down for several hours and did interview stuff. The show only showed people reading lines and asking really risqué questions. The rest of the interview was about being naive and how little I knew. When the article came out, I was really shocked about the fact that she didn’t keep her commitments. The way that she portrayed me in the article was extremely sexist. I’m 100% in horror of the person I was back then. I never walked in Louboutin sneakers with my hair slicked back in court. You never talk about that. I had an issue with the way that she portrayed me because in reality, I took my case very seriously. There is a video of me in Pretty Wild saying that I can’t wear this. The memeable moment happened, and it was epic. I was pissed. Here I am two years sober, and I just had a baby, and E! News asked me about being a mom. They pulled the footage of that day, and I was wearing the brown shoes. Nancy Jo lost her mind on Twitter and started personally attacking me. My response was, “Look at you. You claim to be concerned about young women, yet you’re tearing down a woman two years sober on a different path now, and has paid her price. Here, you’re having a meltdown about your image. She blocked me. Nine years have passed, and I wanted to see if Nancy Jo had changed at all. Let’s see if we can agree on small little things. I put a call out, since she blocked me. She responded, “I didn’t block you on Instagram, only on Twitter.” I hadn’t realized that. We got into a dialogue. She claimed I was obsessed with her, which I find hilarious. In the healing process, the last part of the process is owning your story and being able to laugh about yourself. The meme for instance, I laugh at myself. “Nancy Jo, this has nothing to do with me sweetheart, and if you’re not willing to sit down, then it’s your own problem.” She can own it, [she] lied, and said I was wearing Louboutins when I wasn’t. We could have then moved on. However, she starts making up stuff in the DMs that I was involved in other robberies. I would be tried for that. Where is she getting this information? I went up and got all my documents and testimonies saying I was only in Orlando Bloom’s house for the public to then decide. She’s incapable of being unbiased, and does not do things that do not benefit her. It’s like having a conversation with a Trump supporter—she doesn’t make sense. There’s no rationale and I realized there’s no point. Bless her. Bless her daughter. She made a lot of money off that article. She profited off of me. Just own it, but I guess she’s not willing.
Photo Credit: Nicole Nordstrom
Q: Are there any updates with Nancy since August?
A: No. It’s been real silent. I prefer it that way actually.
Q: You have made a 180 degree turn, you’re married, a mother, and 9 years sober. You’re also a doula and drug counselor. What got you through your darkest days and gave you motivation to overcome your demons?
A: Sobriety is not a linear path. Back in January, I was suicidal and depressed. In sobriety, I have been low many times. I feel like I have finally made it passed that for real. I’ve figured out health wise what was going on. I did a noninvasive electroshock therapy for severe depression. That helped a lot. There’s highs and lows. I think that is life though. Everybody has highs and lows. You don’t use drugs and alcohol to cope with that anymore. It’s hard and you have to figure out what works for you. What’s worked for me is a regular meditation project, having a super strong community around me, giving back, and focusing on the small tasks everyday. It is how I’ve gone through the past decade of sobriety. I got sober at 19, and I am 28 now.
Q: Given that, what advice would you give your younger self?
A: If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would just tell her that I love her, that her pain is very real, and that she deserves the best life. I love her just as she is. We live in a world that’s in constant chaos. Many of us have been abused. Looking at addiction, the reason why we are where we’re at is because of pain. I think what I needed to hear is that my pain is valid, and that I can heal and overcome it.
Q: What advice would you give individuals who are trying to get sober now?
A: You have to take the greatest step. You are so deserving of a beautiful life. If you do decide to take that plunge, stick with the winners, and know that some people don’t have your best interest at hand. There are other people who can help you deal and make better decisions for yourself.
Q: In your memoir, you shared how you turned adversity and embarrassment into empowerment. Can you give us some examples for those of us who have not read your book yet and how we can learn from you?
A: Absolutely, when you have dealt with an embarrassing moment (in the shower, reading out loud, etc) Those moments stick with us. They stick with us more than the positive ones. We work through our pain, and we begin to own it. The scarlet letter means you’re damaged goods. It’s pain that teaches you a lesson. When you figure out what the pain is, you can figure out the lesson of it. Then, we begin to take conscious action and to move forward. That is what the book is really all about. It’s a memoir, but I like to say it’s a clear map of how we got to the world where we’re at, and a blueprint of our way out. It starts with the individual. The individuals doing this work, the more the collective will heal. It’s important to start this work now for future generations.
Photo Credit: Chris Greenwell
Q: What gets you up in the morning and what other projects can we expect from you soon?
A: My kids get me up in the morning at 5 am. The people who have reached out to me over the years asking for help, and have taken that brave first step. Of course, my children and my husband. As far as 2020 goes, I have huge plans for the podcast, and I want to keep growing it. I also want to start coaching programs online. We’re starting with that and parenting yourself. We’re going to create a program first starting off with co-dependency and so on. So many people ask me for individual coaching and I don’t have the bandwidth right now. I’d love to start retreats. A couple of fans asked to go to dinner and I accepted. Yes, I am always down for that. We’re going to keep working on the community aspect, so people won’t feel that they’re alone.