The Celebreality Interview – Leilene

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Leilene_interview

After the jump, the extremely gracious first runner up of Charm School and self-described "MILF" talks about life after stripping, the fate of her deal with Dean Keith’s agency, her kids, her confrontation with Brooke and how her grilled cheese sandwich is tasting these days.

I feel like I should congratulate you.

Thanks!

You were so gracious even though you didn’t win. You didn’t even seem disappointed.

No. I seriously felt like the whole point walking in there was to redeem yourself and besides Saaphyri, I felt like I had the most to prove. I think I came full circle and to me that was what counted. It was, like, the best experience.

A lot of people pegged you to win.

I know! There were a lot of rumors that I had won, too. I think it’s because a lot of people thought I was an underdog and people like to root for the underdog. I think a lot of people saw me evolve. People have said to me, "Oh, you should have won!" and stuff like that, but I’m like, "Dude, it’s all good," ’cause I pretty much got what I wanted. I got to prove myself and getting a contract with an agency in Hollywood is even greater. That’s still profit coming in in the end. That’ll help me turn my life around even more.

Did you know that the New York Post reported that you won?

Are you serious? Wow. Well, maybe they have a different definition of
winning. I’m not sitting here saying, "Oh, I coulda, shoulda, woulda
won." To me, I already won. I’m gonna still be working and I’m not ever
going to have to dance again. That to me is winning.

Where are you with that? Have you signed with Morgan Talent officially?

I spoke to Keith. He’s a great person, a great mentor and he gave me advice. He was going to personally manage my career, but then I had to step back and really think about it. Keith already knows me on a personal level and I don’t want him to have that stigma of how I used to be in his head. So, he gave me some great advice and helped me with my five-year plan. I’ll always look up to him, but in the end, I decided to go with the Viardo Agency. They represent Adrianne Curry, Christopher Knight and a whole bunch of people. They’re very popular and powerful in the Hollywood acting circuit. In the end, I wanted my manager to be all about business and not a personal attachment. It’s hard because sometimes I want someone to hold my hand, but I have to be tough about it.

So you’re living in L.A. now?

As soon as the holiday is over, I’m relocating to the Hermosa/Manhattan Beach area. I don’t want to raise my kids in Hollywood. I don’t think that’s the place for them. But I want them to be by the beach and get their energy out. I want to be farther away from the party scene. Everything I do is for my kids – they inspire me. So I want to stay on point and not get sidetracked by all the glitz and glamour.

So you’ll start auditioning once you relocate?

I’m already doing stuff. I did an episode of Mindfreak with Criss Angel. I hosted a segment on NBC in L.A. I’m already modeling for Request Jeans. I’ve also done, like, three photo shoots. A lot of people were receptive to me during the modeling episode, but a lot more became receptive after the charity-donation episode. I’m really happy. I’m happy Saaphyri won the $50,000 and she can do her thing with it. With the way I am, with the way I hustle, like you saw during the perfume challenge, I can make money (laughs). But I also went back and got me GED. I’m currently doing an independent study to get my high-school diploma.

How old are your children?

My oldest is going to be 13 in August. And then, I have a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old daughter. I have two boys and one girl.

Do you let them watch Charm School?

My daughter only saw the fashion-show episode because she really wants to get into musical theater and be in front of the camera. But I’m not going to be one of those freaky stage moms (laughs).

I thought a major turning point for you was during the prom episode when you stood up for yourself after Brooke had given you so much crap. Do you agree?

It was a build-up of so much that came before it, like my experiences with Larissa calling me every name in the book. When it came to Brooke, I was just over it and tired of it, and in combination of what had happened with the professional earlier that episode and how I got played, I took that hard. I was shocked when Brooke finally admitted, "I’m not your friend." I was like, "Really now?" I don’t know why it came to a shock for her when I didn’t vote for her. After she said and called me a stripper and all that it was like, "I don’t think so."

But you aren’t exactly ashamed of your past as a stripper, right?

No. I own up to it. I’m a very sensual person and I’m a MILF and everything like that. I did what I had to do and I dealt with my situation as best I could, but no, I’m not ashamed. I’m a mom and I’m willing to have my kids and myself survive. But at this point, it’s so two years ago. That was something I fessed up to and was open and honest about in Flavor of Love, and it’s like, this isn’t Flavor of Love anymore. This show was brought on for positive reinforcement and to help counter the way women are portrayed. Some women developed more than others. I’m going to take the lessons that I learned to heart and apply them.

So because you’re honest about stripping and not ashamed and because you even have a sense of humor about it at times, was it hurtful when Larissa and Brooke insulted you for it?

I think it’s how you handle the situation and the tonality in your voice. I’ve had episodes since them, like, with radio people who don’t inform themselves before they talk to people. Not everyone watches Charm School. I know this is something I’ll always have to answer questions about, too. But this guy goes to me, "Oh, so you’re the Filipino stripper." Ha! You kind of have to redirect it and explain that it’s just something you did in the past. I’ve had people ask me to take pictures by poles. I have people who want me to go up on bars and dance, not taking my clothes off or anything, for promo at a club. It’s like, "Why would I do that?" I don’t know if what shocks people is that I understand my self-worth or that they feel stupid because they ended up calling themselves out. Some people make a living out of being condescending to others, but I try to remain above that. When you remain calm and collected in a situation in which people are being insulting, they’re the ones who look dumb.


What was the greatest lesson that you learned?

Choosing the professional at the prom. That was the reason for my downfall in Flavor of Love and they said that it’s my heart that gets the best of me. It was hard to take that I chose the wrong person and then I realized that a lot of the reasons why I chose someone like the professional, be it a male or female version, was that I didn’t have a lot of love and respect for myself. I think it showed that I had a lack of confidence. I felt like I had come so far at that point in Charm School and I still chose the same person as my ex-husband. That hit me hard. I stayed up late that night, wondering why I choose people like this. As crazy as it sounds, I found out why on TV.


Are you single?

My love life is a work in progress. I’m glad I have my career and my kids and I’m moving on to a brighter and better future, having the whole adult industry behind me, those are amazing things. I think my love life will come together. God’s watching over me.

During your interview with New York, she sort of made fun of the bruises that you had on your face during the Flavor of Love reunion. That seemed really harsh.

That person that did that wasn’t my ex-husband, it was an ex-boyfriend. I try to be forgiving about a lot of things. I don’t know if that person ended up succeeding in life afterwards, but I do not choose to contact him. I was a victim of domestic violence so, in the end, I want to be an advocate and help women that have been battered. But I think being on the show, it makes me approachable. I must have been through every situation. It’s like, wait: her marriage crumbled, she’s had the worst job in the world, she was beaten up and she lost her mother to cancer? Damn, this woman’s been through a lot. I think everyone must have had some situation that they could relate to me.

But when New York brought that up, how did you feel?

I didn’t expect it. I couldn’t believe they showed the footage of me with a black eye. I’m so glad I had that media-savvy lesson. Before that, I would have been freaked out and not knowing what to say, but Kevin Fraiser taught me a lot. He taught me to be open and honest and admit to it. The worst thing that could happen is that people will be there for you.

How’s your cooking these days?

I took some basic cooking lessons! I would totally invite you over, but I’ll be honest: I’d probably still end up doing takeout. I have a great dialing finger. But, really, now I can do more than just grilled cheese and I can make an even better grilled cheese sandwich.

Any regrets?

None. I’m really proud of the way I represented myself. I was true to myself. If my grandkids or kids look back and watch this, they can say, "Yeah. That’s my mom." They’ll be really proud of me.

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