Gretchen Rossi joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County for the show’s fourth season. Since then, it’s been constant headlines for the California girl. In her spare time, the 32-year-old reality TV starlet has been searching for eternal beauty tips with the Gretchen project and producing her makeup line, Gretchen Christine Beaute. Gretchen opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her inspirational 9-year-old stepson Grayson, her late fiancé Jeff Beitzel, and her hopes to have “a football team of kids” with main squeeze Slade Smiley.
CBS: You’ve been dating Slade Smiley for months now. Do you consider yourself stepmom to his sons?
GR: “Yes, I am stepmom in some ways. Both of Slade’s sons are great. His oldest son Gavin is turning 20 this weekend and we’re celebrating with him at Disneyland which will be so much fun. And Slade’s youngest son Grayson is so amazing.”
CBS: Grayson has been fighting inoperable brain cancer since preschool. How is he doing now?
GR: “Grayson is doing as well as can be expected. His condition is always up in the air. He’s been through so many surgeries and procedures, it’s hard to keep count. But through it all, he’s had the most amazing attitude and outlook on life. You’ll never see him down and out about his condition. It’s been really hard on Slade over the years. We can only keep hoping and praying for his health.”
CBS: Does Grayson inspire you with all that he’s been through in his short life?
GR: “Grayson is such an inspiration to us all. He always says to his dad, ‘My last name is Smiley, so I have to make people smile!’ Even when he’s going through surgeries and chemo treatments, he’s always the one smiling while the rest of us are a mess.
He’s been through so much in his short life. He’s constantly in and out of the hospital and we never really know what each day will bring. Being in his presence always gives me such a sense of perspective. He is such an amazing boy and we love spending time with him.”
CBS: How do Slade and his ex co-parent? Do they get along well?
GR: “Grayson lives with his mom and they live close to the hospital in case of any emergencies. They live father away than we’d like, but he needs to be in close proximity to the hospital.
Slade and his ex both have Grayson’s best interest at heart, although it’s been hard at times. For the most part, things are good between them and they make sure that his health and treatments come before anything.
We wish he lived closer though since we’d love to see him more often.”
CBS: Do you hope to have your own children one day? Are you and Slade
talking about having kids together?
GR: “I joke to Slade that I want a football team of kids! We’ve definitely talked about having kids, but I’m old fashioned and I’d like to be married before the kids come into the picture. So we’ll see what happens, but I definitely want my own kids one day.”
CBS: Tell us about how you nursed your fiancé Jeff Beitzel who died of acute leukemia.
GR: “I was by Jeff’s side every day in the hospital as he was dying from leukemia. It was the toughest time of my life and I remember feeling like I was in survival mode. For a long time after he died I wondered if I had done enough. Had I asked the right questions to the doctors? Had I done enough research? Did I say the right things to Jeff? I felt hopeless while he was dying and for quite a while after he passed.
When I talked to my mom I would ask her ‘Why did this happen to Jeff? Did I do enough?’ My mom said that god wouldn’t have taken Jeff if it wasn’t his time. No matter what any doctor did or didn’t do, it was his time. That was the only thing that got me through those tough months after his death.
Through it all, I barely had time for myself, let alone my friends or my family. But one person who often checked in with me was Slade. He was going through so much with Grayson, so he knew that I was having a hard time dealing with Jeff’s illness and death.
I didn’t start to even think about dating until several months after his death. At that time, Slade and I saw each other and went ‘huh.’ We hadn’t looked at each other outside of a friendship. But the timing was right for us and we’ve been super happy ever since.”
CBS: Tell us about the Gretchen project.
CR: “The Gretchen project started very organically. I’ve always been interested in different beauty procedures and I started looking around for ways to avoid going under the knife. As we know, all women want to keep their youthful looks for as long as possible. So I started researching the best of the best beauty procedures. I traveled to Europe and interviewed doctors and beauty experts on the topic. I’m here to help women find alternatives to plastic surgery, not that I’m against it, but I’m hoping to find less-invasive ways to maintain our beauty.
CBS: Tell us about your new makeup line.
GR: “I’m so excited about my new makeup line called Gretchen Christine Beaute. A few years ago, I was struggling financially just like so many other people and I wasn’t able to buy the expensive makeup I loved. So I decided to create my own line of makeup that was just as good as the expensive stuff but affordable to everyone.
We have so many amazing products to choose from. The eyeshadows are so smooth and luxurious. They come in the nicest packaging. And everything is just so affordable. I’m really proud of the products and have been working night and day at creating the products.”
CBS: You are outspoken about outer beauty. What are your thoughts about inner beauty?
GR: “At the end of the day, your inner beauty is really all that matters. It’s what will get you through life and what makes you truly beautiful. I’ve met so many people in this business who are beautiful on the outside, but ugly on the inside. That will catch up with you one day. I believe inner beauty is what truly matters in life.”
CBS: You also star on Real Housewives of Orange County. You’re busy!
“Yes, I’ve been working non-stop lately, but it’s been good. I also wrote and recorded Nothing Without You which you can download off my site. I love doing it all and I’m always working on other exciting projects for the future.”