Exclusive: Brenda and Heather Bailey dish on 'Crowned' journey
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/11/2008
Brenda and Heather Bailey made sure their comedic, fun personalities were on display -- maybe a little bit too much, as the Parkersburg, WV mother/daughter duo was revealed to be the fifth team eliminated from Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants during Wednesday night's broadcast of The CW reality series.
On Thursday, Brenda and her daughter Heather talked to Reality TV World about why they never expected to be on the show; how they tried to be above the house's drama; why their humor was on display during the challenge that led to their elimination; and how they were still able to accomplish their goal for going on the show.
Reality TV World: How were you two cast for Crowned?
Heather: I received an email explaining Crowned -- it said, "'Mother/Daughter Beauty Pageant" -- and it happened to fall at the end of my semester in law school. It came at a good time, so I called my mom and I was like, "I'm going to send you this email, it's like a flyer talking about casting for this show." I was like, "Come on! Please, please, please! Let's do this! It'd be a great opportunity for us to spend time together."
Reality TV World: What did you think Brenda?
Brenda: Well, at first I sad no. The second time I said no. The third time I said no. She kept begging, so I was like, "Alright. I'll try it." Because I didn't know that we'd have a chance, because I just assumed there'd be hundreds and hundreds of people across the country that's going to apply for this. I thought it was a safe bet we probably wouldn't get on -- but low and behold -- after videos and interviews and being flown out to L.A., to meet with some network execs, we made it. We made the final cut. I was like, 'Uh-oh..." (Brenda and Heather laughing) So I was okay with that. I was a little scared, but I was happy too.
Reality TV World: Did either of you have any previous modeling or pageant experience?
Heather: I had some pageant experience. I would not necessarily call myself a pageant veteran, but just a few local pageants when I was younger. So it had been a while for me.
Reality TV World: So based on that, how confident were you heading into the competition? Did you think you had a shot at winning?
Brenda: I thought we did. I thought we did because we knew that it wasn't just -- even though we think we're attractive people -- it wasn't just about that. It was about mother/daughter relationships and we get along really well. We fight too, and it's all real. We thought yeah, we had just as good a chance as anybody else.
Reality TV World: What was your strategy heading into the competition?
Heather: I think we continued to talk about our strategy. Once we got involved and the show began and the competition began and the drama began, we realized that we were going to remain neutral through everything because that's just us. We just wanted to remain focused on the competition. So I think that kind of helped us, just staying out of everything and out of the drama. I think that helped us just try to keep our focus on what we were there to do.
Reality TV World: Was it easy to stay out of the drama, or were there times when you felt you were getting pulled into it?
Brenda: Usually it wasn't hard to stay out of the drama. Occasionally... Heather: We became part of it not because we put ourselves in those situations, but because we lived in the rooms. It's where we were staying at.
Reality TV World: It seemed like there were two distinct cliques in the house. How did those two groups form?
Brenda: It wasn't like that of course in the beginning. I just think that everybody got paranoid for some reason. I think the stress got to everybody, which led to a little bit of paranoia, and then the paranoid people thought that the other people were talking about them, and some women were talking about other women. It just escalated. I don't think under normal circumstances it would have ever done that. Heather: It was mainly just separated by the two rooms... Brenda: We never intended for that to happen and never contributed to that.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised at how personal some of the comments being made between the cliques were? Do you think anyone stepped over the line at all, especially during Wednesday night's episode?
Brenda: A little. We were living in the house a while before last night's episode. We knew that those things could happen. We were hoping that it wouldn't -- that it would be okay. Heather: The more we were there, the more stress, it got worse...
Reality TV World: You already mentioned how you tried to avoid drama, would you say you formed any alliances with any of the other teams?
Brenda: We had friendships -- several friendships -- with teams from all three rooms. There were three rooms, that's actually how it started out. But alliances? No. I wouldn't use that word. I would say friendships. Again, logistics played a big part in it because we were in a room with three other teams. Heather: We were friends with the three other teams that were in our room. We were sharing a bathroom, there were eight of us sharing one bathroom in the beginning. You're sharing a bathroom, and you're living with these girls. The other room, same situation. They're all learning more about each other and everything, and seeing not just the bad sides, but the good sides of those girls too. So that helped keep us open to everything. Not necessarily jump on one side or the other... Brenda: We knew the drama would take away from our energy from what we had to do competition-wise. There were a lot of reasons we didn't want to be in the drama. We're not those type of people and we just really tried hard just to focus on me and Heather and what we had to do. But the drama's going to happen when you have all those women in a house and there's stressed and they're stuck there and they have nothing to do... Heather: It's inevitable... Brenda: Yeah, it's inevitable.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you found yourself in the bottom two during the first de-sashing ceremony? Did you think you would be the first team booted?
Brenda: Oh my God. I was so sick to my stomach and Heather's crying. You would think, "How could that be so emotional? You were only there for a week." Oh yeah, it's emotional. That week was the longest week of your life. You were there and you were stressed... Heather: It's all new to you. Brenda: ... And strange. Heather: Yeah. I was standing there thinking, "This is the very first elimination. I'd hate to head home!" Brenda: We weren't ready to go home. We had worked so hard to get there and were so happy to be there. We didn't want to go home. We were like, "No! No! We weren't that bad! We shouldn't be going home." Heather: I was thinking the whole time I was standing up there during the de-sashing, "Please, please, please give us another opportunity to show ourselves, to prove ourselves."
Reality TV World: You received that opportunity, and subsequently won last week's teamwork reward challenge, which was emotional. How did it feel?
Brenda: We needed that so badly. We had seen other teams win challenges and clinics and never be in the bottom. We had never won anything and we were in the bottom that first week. Our self-confidence was waning just a little at times. Then that day happened, and we were just on point all day long. We got along well, everything went so well, and we did so well in the teamwork challenge. We were ready for it, and we were so happy when we won. Heather: I also think that because we did well [during the previous week's] photo competition... Brenda: We had some confidence then. Heather: Yes. We received good remarks from the judges -- they liked our photo and everything -- I think that just helped give us a little push, and it helped release some stress, and we were able to once again able to focus working together as a team. We were there to have fun again.
Reality TV World: Since the judges characterized your choice of a comedy routine during last week's talent competition as a "brave choice," why did you decide to go with comedy again for your video during this week's challenge?
Brenda: (laughing) We probably shouldn't have done as much comedy in the video since we already showed that side of ourselves. We can't help it. They said that the video was supposed to have some "entertainment value." We heard those words, we automatically thought, "Okay. It's supposed to be entertaining. If it's too serious... It can't be boring. We can't just sit up there and talk. What can we do?" We were trying to use a ladder as a metaphor, that didn't work. We were working on it and we wanted to still be comical but still try to convey our message, which was kind of lost in the video, and it shouldn't have been. It was there and I saw it -- that we're good people and we love animals and that we appreciated and respected education and how important it is. But it was all lost in the fun. The judges didn't really catch that part of it. Heather: Us dressing up in our business suits... Brenda: That was part of it... Heather: We are both in the legal profession. So I thought, "Image. We're professional ladies and we're smart. That's the education part. Then entertainment value." That's why we were still including the comedy, because we're funny... Brenda: If we would of had a little bit -- and no excuse -- but I think that if we would have truly got the impression that it was supposed to be a platform video or something like that or truly just pure image, we would have absolutely been able to nail that too. We would have had a little bit different direction with our video. But that wasn't the criteria that we heard. It wasn't what we heard. So that's not what we did. I still do not think -- after watching [Wednesday] night's show -- that our video was that bad. When you compare, which we didn't have anything to compare it to at the time, but now seeing the other ones I was like, "Well ours wasn't that bad. It's not the greatest, but it wasn't that bad."
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be eliminated? Did you sense it coming?
Heather: I kind of sensed it coming. Mainly because we're boring (laughing). We started to get boring. We weren't in the drama in the house and then like the judges said, I can understand where they came from with the feedback. They didn't get to see more of us. They were only seeing the funny side of us. Looking back, I understand that, but I still don't think that was a reason for us to be cut though.
Reality TV World: So who did you think deserved the boot instead of you?
Brenda: I don't know any specific team, but I thought there were several. If you just base it on the video and comparing it to ours, I felt like there were a couple of other teams that were equally bad or equally mediocre to ours. But again, you never know. The judges look for things, or they have a different opinion. Like they liked some of the video's that were funny. "Oh, we're glad to see you were funny. This is comical and entertaining." But then we did something funny and entertaining and they didn't like it. So it's hard to ever know if you're going to be in the bottom or not because it's not the rules change, but the attitudes about the different teams change from week to week. Sometimes, I felt like it's kind of out of our control.
Reality TV World: After your elimination, was there a specific team you were personally rooting for to win Crowned? Any team you didn't want to see win?
Heather: (Brenda laughing) No. No to both. Brenda: That's a hard question to answer because we know what happened. We know who does what when, and that's hard. At the time... Heather: At the time, you're still rooting for yourself. Brenda: Exactly. I mean several other teams were our friends and I wouldn't have had a problem with any of them winning it. But really, truly, at the end of the day, I didn't have a problem with any team in the whole house winning once we went home. It is what it is now, and it's out of our control, and there's nothing we can do but see what happens.
Reality TV World: After your elimination, you commented how the experience helped you two get closer. How do you think participating in Crowned strengthened your relationship?
Heather: I think it definitely -- most definitely -- strengthened our relationship. Being away in college for almost six years, it's hard just spending time with my mom on breaks and everything. That was our whole point in doing the show, was to bring us closer together and it definitely did so. I was so proud that we were able to work well together and get along together -- and still be real, and still argue like mother and daughter do. It definitely brought us closer together. (laughing) Spending that much time together and sleeping on bunk beds, I don't know who it wouldn't bring closer together! Brenda: It's true, it was great. I think it will forever change the dynamics of our relationship because we have this memory, and it's something that very few people have. Heather: And can share. Brenda: Yeah. It's like we did this together. We did this for each other. We sacrificed a lot, but we learned a lot and gained a lot too. Heather: We're thankful for the opportunity, and no regrets. Brenda: Nope.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you two?
Brenda: I wouldn't put it past Heather to be doing another reality show if the opportunity knocks, but other than that no. We're trying to get Heather out of law school and become successful. I work everyday, and have a good time doing so. I'm just boring me now, and Heather's still exciting Heather!