Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dina Manzo Talks Giving Back; Return to 'Real Housewives'
Dina Manzo may be best known for her attempts at eluding drama on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but the reality-TV star’s most meaningful accomplishment is her philanthropic organization, Project Ladybug.
This Thursday, June 12, join Dina Manzo as she hosts the 4th Annual Ladybug Bash at The Drake Hotel (140 E. Walton Pl., 312-787-2200) to benefit Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund, the Chicago chapter of her non-profit organization. Proceeds will support children receiving treatment at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.

Below, Manzo tells us more about Project Ladybug, her return to The Real Housewives of New Jersey and what Chi-Town does better than NYC. 

Your resume includes interior designer, event planner, reality-TV starwhat inspired you to add founder of Project Ladybug?  DINA MANZO: Childhood cancer always tugged at my heartstrings. My dad was a huge supporter of St. Jude and taught us to give back at an early age. I throw a damn good party, and it started off as, “Why don’t I throw a party for a great cause?” I went to the hospital in my backyard where my daughter was born, took a tour, and realized there was a real need for what we do at Ladybug. We lift children’s spirits and do anything we can to make them feel like normal kids. 

As an East Coaster, your first two Ladybug funds originated in New York and New Jersey. How did you choose Chicago as the home base for Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund?  DM: I was doing a rally for children with cancer in Chicago. I met Laura—her daughter was a patient at Comer—and I fell in love with her and fell in love with Atia, [her daughter]. I met the doctors at Comer and realized that it was going to be our next home. 
What is one of your most memorable experiences as a result of Project Ladybug?  DM: I can’t name just one because there’s nothing negative associated with it. Just today I gave some of the new Housewives a tour of our fund [and what we have done] at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To see people who may not always agree and see eye to eye on certain things come together and do right because of the cause is so amazing. These kids are so amazing. It just puts things in perspective and it’s helped me grow as a person and human being. These kids have taught me so much—it’s not one particular thing. It’s overall the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. 

Fans of The Real Housewives of New Jersey are very excited to have you back on the show. What prompted your return?  DM: There are so many reasons. There are lots of changes going on in my life, definitely. Lexi, [my daughter], is 18 and going out on her own now. She’s not that impressionable little 12-year-old, so she understands the game a little better these days. Teresa [Giudice] and I got closer this past summer. Friends kind of drift apart and come back together and when somebody’s going through something they are always there for each other, and that’s the kind of friends Teresa and I are. We got closer this summer because both of us are going through a lot. It was kind of organic and, to be honest with you, I was thrown in last minute. I’m always welcome back every single season and this year it kind of felt good. 

What can viewers expect from this season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey DM: It’s really a different vibe, but I think people are going to love it. Everyone who was a part of it is saying they think this is going to be the best season ever. It’s just new energy—a lot of really funny times that were not contrived because the new girls don’t realize how funny they actually are. I know it’s a lot of change [with the cast], but I think fans are really going to enjoy it.
RELATED: 5 Reasons We're Excited Dina Manzo Is Back For Real Housewives of New Jersey Season 6