Stacie Scott Turner, with her master’s degree from Harvard University and her track record as a top producer in the Washington, D.C., real estate market, is also a "housewife" — though if there’s a definition for that job, her life strains it.
Put away your suburban domestic stereotypes, please, as hers is not exactly a cul-de-sac existence. Nope, there are no Saturday-morning kids’ soccer leagues in this woman’s life, no carpools, no cramming of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into lunchboxes while racing for the school bus — not on camera, anyway.
Instead, we voyeurs see her at dinners in Washington’s top-tier restaurants. Janet Jackson’s private chef hangs out in her kitchen. She pals around with people who play polo.
But she’s a "real" housewife, all right — one of the "Real Housewives of Washington, D.C."
Turner — along with a trio of similarly well-dressed, well-coifed and well-off women — has joined the throngs who have decided it’s a good idea to invite reality-show cameras into her life, and the public is invited to watch it unfold on "Real Housewives of Washington, D.C." each week on the Bravo cable channel, beginning Aug. 5.
It’s the latest "Housewives" series in the franchise — cameras have tagged along with affluent women for the past few television seasons in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Orange County, Calif. The women have generated desirable ratings for the shows while finding their way into the pages of People magazine.
But the title of this particular version might ring a bell for another reason: One of Turner’s fellow Capitol City "housewives" is Michaele Salahi, who sent Washington into convulsions last fall after she and husband Taureq sashayed into a state dinner at the White House, allegedly uninvited.
"I was shocked that anybody would have the gall to crash a party like that," Turner said in an interview for the show. "She said she didn’t crash it," that she was invited. A federal grand jury is still investigating the matter.
But Turner acknowledged that the notoriety of the Salahis probably will draw viewers to the show, and insisted that the state-dinner incident will not be the focus of the series, though she admitted she hadn’t seen any of the episodes.
"We were totally caught off-guard, like the rest of America, when it happened," she said. "They had been nothing but nice and normal around us."
"Normal" is an interesting word choice for the four showily affluent women’s daily existences, if the show’s premiere episode, sent to media for screening, is an indication of what’s to come.
They party and they air-kiss a lot. True to the "Housewives" format, there’s a generous amount of hissing and eye-rolling at each other’s behavior. They snarkily discuss each other’s politics.
Yet Turner, of the four, comes off as comparatively centered — reading bedtime stories to her two young children, clowning around with her husband, Jason. At some points in the series, she said, viewers will see her showing houses to buyers.
"I’m still practicing real estate full time," she said. "My being a businesswoman is a big part of who I am, so I’m sure they’ll give that as a backdrop, but (the show) will focus on the experiences we live."
Turner, 42, graduated with a degree in finance from Howard University and received her master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Business School in 1996. She then held jobs in various business sectors, including vice president of marketing for BET Interactive, a division of Black Entertainment Television, before going into real estate in 2002.
She joined Long & Foster Real Estate in 2002, then went to TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in 2007, returning to Long & Foster this year, according to her resume.
She said she didn’t solicit a spot on "Real Housewives."
"I decided to do the show last September," she said. "I was first contacted in July. I was in Mexico with my family for the month. I got a call from the producer out of the blue. My first reaction was, ‘No, I’d watch it but I couldn’t be the focus of it.’ "
Then she reconsidered. "It’s a great way to bring attention to my real estate business and to my charity, so I decided to do it," she said.
Turner, who spent the first months of her life in foster care before being adopted, is a founder of Extra-Ordinary Life, a charity devoted to teen girls in foster care. (A portion of the show will focus on her search for her biological father, she said.)
"I consider myself one of the lucky ones," Turner said of her adoption. "There are over 2,000 teen women in D.C. foster care. I started (Extra-Ordinary Life) to provide exposure to people and places and things that could help them turn around their lives."
She recently led a group that took eight of the teens to South Africa to see the World Cup competition.
"They got to see the country and the culture and the people," she said. "The girls really blossomed and got to see that the world is their oyster and that all things are possible."
During the filming of the show, Turner tried to maintain a focus on her business, she said. Generally, the inclusion of cameras to the job wasn’t a problem — most clients seemed to be OK with it, she said.
But she strove to maintain confidentiality where it was needed, she said. Some were worried that she wouldn’t have enough time for marketing their houses, she said, but because hers is a team of three agents and one support-staff person, it wasn’t a problem.
"Actually, most of my sellers were excited," she said. They thought it might get their houses sold.
"They said, ‘When they go to your website, they’ll see my house.’ "
But her friends, she said, weren’t entirely enthusiastic about Turner jumping into the show.
"It’s been 50-50," Turner said. "Most of my friends were, ‘Have you lost your mind?’ About half of them have been supportive, but probably happy that it’s not them on the show."
"The other half said, ‘Be careful, develop a thick skin.’ "
In all, she said, it was a positive experience. "I’d do it again," she said, though the subject of a second season hasn’t come up yet.
"They say it’s the calm before the storm," she said. "And it has been calm."
Mary Umberger is a freelance writer in Chicago.
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