Chatting with Cassie Chapman and Erika Page White from PRIVATE LIVES OF NASHVILLE WIVES
I recently got a glimpse behind the scenes of the TNT drama Private Lives of Nashville Wives when I had the privilege to chat with stars Cassie Chapman (wife of country singer Gary Chapman) and Erika Page White (wife of singer/songwriter Bryan White).
How It All Began
What I was most interested in at the start of our interview was how the two landed on the reality series. White came from the world of soaps, while Chapman was thrown into an atmosphere that was completely foreign to her.
White began, “My experience is different from any of the other women (on the show). I’m an actress and have worked in scripted television for ten years. But, this reality series was really different than anything I had ever done before. Emotionally, I think I was the most vulnerable of all of us, because I was used to a scripted show. At the beginning, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it, because I was like, ‘Aren’t you going to tell me what to do? You’re just going to follow me?’ And then it was so weird, because my husband would walk in. And then my kid would walk in. Then my husband would give you a kiss. I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ For me, it was really different, because I had something else to compare it to – and that was scripted television. The more the filming went along, obviously the more comfortable I got. I had to learn to just be myself and forget the cameras were there. It’s what I’ve been trained to do, but this was my personal life. It kind of embarrassed me, because I’m a very private person. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, I was a little bit more private than everyone else. Maybe I didn’t know how to communicate how I was feeling, and I was around a group of women that had a different kind of communication style. I didn’t really know how to address that. The cameras didn’t bother me. It was just not having lines and not having someone tell me what to do. It was a learning process. Cassie and I will both tell you, we’ve learned so much about ourselves. I want to learn more about myself and see those things on camera that I need to work on. I want to become a better person because of the show and because of what I’ve learned from other women.”
Chapman revealed, “Before I started working on the show, three different people came up to me and asked if I were interested in auditioning. I said no, then I’d start laughing hysterically. I just said there’s no way. When the fourth person asked me, my husband was in on the meeting. We both said people continually ask us to do this. Let’s just pray about it, and if God wants us to use it as a platform to do His work, then doors will continue to open – if not, then the doors will shut. And that’s what we did. We started auditioning and praying about it every single day.”
White continued, “Last summer, my husband and I talked about my getting back into the business. It’s something I’ve always thought about in the back of my head. I wanted, first and foremost, to be a mother at home with my children. Two years ago, they went into school. And they’re gone all day. It’s left me with a lot of time on my hands. I’m taking it day by day. I want to be creative again, and it’s ok to say that. It’s ok to want to be creative and do some things and still be a mom and be there for the children. The show fills a creative void for me. I’ve missed having something to be creative with – it may be acting, it may be teaching, it may be speaking more about adoption, which I’m very passionate about. I told my husband I was ready to try something, and we decided to test the waters. He was there for me, and it was an opportunity to get my face back out there. I can definitely say I’ve been on the biggest adventure of my life in the past year.”
Chapman added, “It was exactly like I expected, and that surprised me. I think it’s been better than what I expected. I didn’t expect the producers and everyone to become like family to me.
Remembering What’s Important
“I want to say too that something you’ll see on the show is that Gary and I are involved in some charities, stuff we really believe in, like the Nashville Rescue Mission and the Agape Animal Rescue. And the thing is, when we raise money for these organizations, we really mean it. We love what they do.
“We’re also in an adoption process. In the Bible it says, ‘If you bring an orphaned child into your home, you’re bringing Me in.’ And that’s huge for us.”
White said, “I went into the show without any expectations. Bryan and I really didn’t know what to expect. We thought it would be a great journey to go on, and it has been. And going back to the faith thing, it strengthens my faith. There are moments that Cassie and I rely on our faith to get us through some tough moments. It’s difficult for me, because it’s the first time for me to try to juggle being back in the business and being a stay-at-home mom. But, the one thing that’s always been solid is my foundation in Christ. Being a part of the series has really drawn me closer to God and made me pray more. And I’ve become more grateful. I maybe took some things for granted in my life before the show came along. I’ve got a great life. I’ve got a great husband. I’ve got great children. It’s strengthened my faith, because it’s made me rely on it at the end of the day. I’ve learned so much about myself and gained friendships at the same time.”
Not Everything As It Seems
One misconception of the reality series that White wanted to correct for everyone is that, “People think the cameras are with us 24/7, and they’re not. We block a segment of time during the day – or evening if we’re covering a party or hanging at the house. It could vary from a few hours to eight hours. The one thing people don’t realize is we can’t just like walk into places, like restaurants, with cameras. The producers have to have approval from the places we’re going.”
Chapman hopes the series will be a help to her on a particular platform for which she has a heart – that of private adoptions and adoptive families.” She said, “Private adoptions can cost a thousand dollars or more. I want to help others and let them know that there are options for adoption out there.”
Private Lives of Nashville Wives airs on Mondays at 11 on TNT. The reality series also stars Sarah Davidson (wife of songwriter Dallas Davidson), Ana Margarita Fernandez, Betty Malo (wife of the Mavericks’ lead singer, Raul Malo, and twin sister to Ana Margarita), and Jenny Terrell (wife of J.T. Terrell, owner of Music City Tents an Events).
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.