“I’m not here to say how wonderful and marvelous my daughter is. I’m here to try to get her work,” Helene tells us. The mom half of the I Know My Kid’s a Star first runners up answers the accusation she’s living vicariously through her daughter, dishes on stage-mom drama, and reveals why she thought the show was fixed against Cheyenne.
How was your experience on this show?
It was crazy. It was fun, but it was something unlike anything we’ve experienced. I really didn’t care how they portrayed me. I kinda knew going in that the mothers were not going to be shown well. It was kind of obvious from the casting notice. As far as Cheyenne goes, the problem was that if she was actually doing badly, it would have been a different story. That’s one thing we weren’t used to. They were intentionally trying to make her look bad. Like, at the soap opera challenge, which, when she did again after getting direction, she did great on. They tried to confuse her and confuse me, and I felt like at that point, they had their person picked. They just wanted Cheyenne to look bad.
Is this what you were referring to when you said that Cheyenne was judged unfairly from Day 1?
Well, maybe not exactly from Day 1. If you notice, Danny Bonaduce said after the soap-opera challenge, “We really had really, really, really high expectations for you.” I was like, whoa. Did you have high expectations for everyone else? It’s like Cheyenne had to meet a different level of quality than everyone else. If she wasn’t pulling out Academy Award-winning performances, she was out. Cheyenne got a standing ovation at the finale after singing “So Emotional,” and leading up to it, we had a running bet in the house that they’d show it as if McKenzie got it.
Speaking of, you conflicted with Shannon over the final song choice.
A month before the show, that song was promised to us by one of the producers. They let us pick two songs and they said, “Those are your songs.” Cheyenne had been rehearsing “Alone” for a month, and you can even see that when she sings impromptu at the radio station (on the penultimate episode), “Alone” is what she sings.
What did you think about Marki’s feedback to you about accepting responsibility?
Marki has some positive things to say. She knows the business. If anybody with any kind of merit says something, I listen. But when it’s intentionally twisted, it’s hard to take it seriously. Any time Cheyenne needs correction, we work on it. My daughter is the first to say, “I’m not the best in the world. I can learn.”
I imagine that it’s difficult to have a completely objective opinion about your child and his or her talent. How do you account for that? Can you truly be sure when Cheyenne is performing well and when she isn’t?
Well, I’m an acting teacher. I try my best to look at my daughter objectively, but here’s a really good ruler: if we’re going to auditions and we’re not getting call-backs, five auditions later, I’ll say, “Well, something’s going on.” Or if I think she did well at an audition, I’ll call her manager or agent and see if they can get feedback for us. They’ll actually come back to us with, “Oh, we thought she was too young,” or whatever. I try to look at it objectively because I’m not here to say how wonderful and marvelous my daughter is. I’m here to try to get her work. That’s the goal. If you need to fix things, it’s a pretty stupid thing to say, “No, my daughter’s so wonderful and great and marvelous.”
Marki cited your acting history and accused you of living vicariously through your daughter. What do you have to say to that?
I just like to be a working actor. I don’t need to be a star. I just enjoy it. I love being on the set. Basically, Cheyenne was getting auditions and I was on the set and I’m a single mom, and it was getting so crazy, that we just decided to focus on her. But I always tell her, “Anytime you don’t want to do this, it’s fine. Then I can get back into it.” It comes down to what Cheyenne wants. If she wants to go to college and be a nurse or whatever, that’s fine with me.
Marki definitely brought up a stage-mom stereotype with that. Do you consider yourself a stage mom?
Well, I’m a mom of an actor kid. I guess that qualifies me as a stage mom.
Do you think that stage moms get a bum rap?
Yes. Always. Have you ever seen a story about a great stage mom?
Well, I think this show made some headway in humanizing a type.
Girls have a hard enough time with self-esteem. You don’t need to put them down. I don’t believe in that. It’s not going to make a better person, no matter what you’re trying to get your kid to do. I honestly believed that someone like Rocky loved her child so much. Another thing I loved about Rocky is that she was honest with me. Rocky didn’t go behind my back and talk about me and scheme to get me out of the house. When I was upset and crying and everyone walked by me, Rocky gave me a hug. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I would have stayed.
How was it going through the mental warfare of the house?
Well, the show’s over, and I don’t want to sit here and badmouth anybody. I don’t do that in life. That said, once Cheyenne started winning, people did not want to be our friend. It’s not Cheyenne that didn’t want to hang out with the kids; it was the kids not wanting to hang out with Cheyenne. I figured going into the show that some of the parents would be stage-mom-y, but I didn’t know how much time would be devoted to scheming and planning and ambushing and all this craziness. I wish all of the parents and children luck. I’m not gonna hold it against them. I don’t hold anything against Gigi even. But I do want to point out that it was all of the moms participating in this and saying things. The way it comes off is that only some of them were saying stuff.
Any bitterness about not winning?
I don’t think the show was fair, and I obviously think that Cheyenne should have won. There are insiders, some people who were actually there, who told me the same thing, so I know it’s not just me. But it’s like, we live in Hollywood. This is our life. We’re used to going all the way and not getting something. What are we gonna do, sit there and stew? No. We move onto the next thing and keep trying and working. There’s a lot of thing working against Cheyenne. She’s not a celebrity’s child. I believe her ethnicity works against her. What am I gonna tell her: “You’re an ethnic child, so I think you should just go wash windows and give up reaching for the stars”? No. I tell her that she can do what she wants to do. If she wants to be the president, I’ll help her. I think my daughter…I know my kid’s a star. (Laughs) I do, though. Whether one of the other kids gets there first, it wouldn’t surprise me. Hollywood is not about being fair. It’s not about talent. The most talented kids don’t work. The most talented kids do not get picked.
Is there anything else you wanted to touch on that we didn’t go over?
I just want to say that my daughter is an awesome girl. She’s very sweet. She’s been working a lot. She just finished this run at American Girl. She just did a music video for Disney, where she sang all the vocals. She did a McDonald’s commercial. She did a P.S.A. for the Humane Society. She did Dancing With the Stars. She did another video dancing with guys who did Dreamgirls and Hairspray. She did a runway show with Kim Kardashian. If my daughter couldn’t take direction, why would she be doing all this work? I also want to make sure that I really wish all the kids luck. There’s enough work for everybody. None of those kids are really in competition with Cheyenne, as far as type. I wish them all the best and I hope that they get what they want out of life. And I hope the moms are happy. I don’t hold anything against anyone. I know it’s just a show.
For a taste of what Cheyenne’s been up to since the show wrapped, click here and listen to a song that she wrote, produced and performed, “Lollipop World.”
Read more I Know My Kid’s a Star wrap-up coverage below: