For the past couple of seasons on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, and now Rehab With Dr. Drew, we’ve had a weekly chat with Pasadena Recovery Center resident technician Jennifer Gimenez, who often gives us inside details and incredible insight into the show. An actress and former addict herself, Jennifer splits her time between her appearances on Rehab, a stint as an occasional guest on The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, an author, a talk show host, and somehow she also still finds time to act, although she tells us it was hard road back to Hollywood. Before we get into the nitty gritty of Rehab next week, here’s our talk where she tells me everything she’s been up to and how she’s basically a testament to the power of “dreaming big.” Rehab With Dr. Drew premieres Sunday, September 16.
You have a lot of stuff beyond just Rehab happening for you these days, can you walk me through what you’ve been through since last season?
Since last year since the show ended, I didn’t realize so much change was about to occur. I remember last January 2011 I was like “God, I’m so tired of being stuck,” and I just felt like I was stuck in my life. And I went “I’m ready for you to change this,” and I didn’t realize you better be careful what you pray for. I really didn’t realize that it was going to be like I was going to lose everything yet gain more foundation and more of me through that experience. One of of the things I wanted to do in my recovery was to rent a room and then move into my own my own place and do all that stuff, but I ended up moving in with my best friend Brandy, who’s on the Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. So then I was like going down red carpets and people were like “What’s your next project?” and I was like “I’m acting again,” and it was funny because there wasn’t an agent’s assistant of an assistant of an assistant that would let me go into the door of an agency , and they were like “You’re just a reality girl,” kind of thing and “Your kind of acting career is over,” “You’ve already done that,” and I just kept saying “Nope, I’m acting again.” And people would ask “What’s the project?” and I’m like “I’m just acting!” I was doing CNN and Headline News with Dr. Drew’s show, but they told me in recovery “Dream big!” And I did, and I finally got an agency.
So what kinds of projects are you working on now?
So last fall I got an agent, and on my third audition I got my first movie, it’s called Chastity Bites and that will be out I think in late winter or early part of 2013, I believe. I shot from like November to January and in that process I also started working at another treatment center called Klean Treatment and I’m also their spokesperson, so I do their radio show, Klean Radio, I do group courses with them. I’ve been learning so much about recovery, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, and human behavior. In the midst of all the madness, I’m I got I got another movie called Groom’s Cake and I shot that and it’s been winning all the festivals. I think it won four out of four awards for best comedy, and I’ll be starring in the follow-up to it called Birthday Cake. So that’s been really great. And most recently, I shot The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season three.
You’re on two of the most disparate, different shows on reality TV right now, on the one hand, Rehab is all about therapy and helping others and at it’s core it’s a really emotional show, and then the Housewives, I don’t want to disparage it because I mean this in the best way, it’s really just a guilty pleasure kind of show. What’s it like doing both?
I would characterize them as completely different spectrums. It’s so different, yet I get to send in my truth, you know what I mean? I was a little confused last season shooting Housewives, ’cause I came from Rehab, where people are figuring out if they want to live or die and your talking about the severity of life you know, and the preciousness of it, and like what I have gone through and what I know. On Housewives, even though there was drama, it was a lot less dramatic. Does that make sense? I’m talking about saving lives on Rehab, I’m talking about helping people and showing them that they should give themselves a chance to live and that they are worthy of it. And with Housewives, I thought it was more like, it was let loose time for me. I got to say what I was really thinking and feeling and you know. Although on Rehab I stay true to who I am too. I’m literally one of the counselors; I’m doing my professional job. On Housewives I’m being a professional ’cause I’m working, but people get to see another side of me. I get to say things that are kind of funny or whatever, and you’re allowed to do that there.
I think what you were saying earlier about people implying you’re a reality girl and that would impede your acting career, I don’t think it matters these days. I think that everybody has so many different outlets, so many actors have clothing lines and one doesn’t really dilute the other. It’s just a whole new way of putting yourself out there and I don’t think that it’s like one necessarily means you can’t do the other.
Yeah no, and I love that your one of the first people to say that because a lot of people do have the clothing line…For me I work in recovery, I’m on Rehab, I work with Dr. Drew, I work first and foremost on my sobriety, I am on the Housewives, I am writing a book, I am now hosting a new show called Healthline, it’s about health and bringing different people, I’m actually a co-host and it’s so different because I’m used to people asking my opinion and this is not about my opinion.
So what can we expect this season on Rehab now that it’s regular people and not celebs?
Coming into it, I said to Dr. Drew that this season, having real addicts who have never been in the public eye, you’re going to see the truth of what’s happening. These people hoped to die, 100%. Level ten addicts and alcoholics. It was really emotional. I’ve learned so much in the last four years since working in rehabs and Sober House and being in rehab, and I just get so emotionally attached to each of them. There wasn’t one of them that wasn’t going through pain. And everything that Dr. Drew says to them about what to expect from their withdrawal symptoms, it does happen. He’s so accurate. I just remember him being my doctor back in the day being like “He said it would happen, and it did happen to me.” You just ask yourself how to stay emotionally unattached and just get the facts and protect this person.
I don’t think we’ve ever discussed that Dr. Drew was your doctor before. What was it like to go through recovery with him and now to work with him?
You know, at first it was a little different. But he said once I started working with him, he’s no longer my doctor. ut to watch that, to watch him with other patients just reminds me that I’ve gone through that. But I just see him on such a professional level now that it took a little time to realize I’m part of his team. In a huge way, it’s the biggest honor. I went from, here I am, a hopeless case, to a part of his team. It’s pretty amazing.
[Photo: Getty Images]