If Olivia Caridi looks familiar to you, it's probably because you're guilty of having watched Ben Higgin's season of The Bachelor. Olivia was a contestant on said season and experienced the production of reality TV at its worst, being mocked, victimized and villainized by the producers with the intent to create a "drama-filled" plot. Since then, she has gracefully landed back on her feet in New York City where she can be found hosting and producing one of Facebook's most popular live-stream shows, modeling, and hanging out with one of my family friends, Lexi Stout. (Thanks for the connection, Lexi!) It's who ya know, isn't it?
So why interview Olivia when she has no ties to Columbus and this is supposedly a Columbus-centered blog? Well, my blog, my rules. Olivia's experience which lead to her current career path is nothing less than interesting and unique, providing young professionals in any city with a good read and a different perspective. I hope you enjoy reading her responses as much as I did.
The Reference Club: Let’s get the elephant-in-the-room questions out of the way…The Bachelor. What was it like being on the show and how has it changed your life?
Olivia Caridi: The show was definitely an interesting experience and something I would have always wondered about. The show was a lot like a social experiment, being pumped with alcohol, not sleeping at all, obsessing over someone you could barely see – it’s a recipe for disaster for people and it certainly was for me. Traveling and seeing new places was cool, but I’m a competitive person and a major introvert and the whole recipe didn’t vibe with my personality type. As far as my life, the past year has been tough. I have been battling depression, have dealt with people saying horrible things about me, I’ve been rejected from jobs because of the edit that I got…I mean, life has been changed forever. I’m always going to be “the crazy girl from the Bachelor” and that’s something I’ve accepted, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing. But in many ways, the show has opened doors for me (helped me to get my current job) and I’ve met some genuinely amazing people along the way. I’ve really tried to just go back to normal. I have myself a great job again and I’m working full-time and doing what makes me happy.
TRC: Its no secret producers targeted you as the villain on the season, what’s your take on that?
OC: I mean, there always has to be a villain – every season is the exact same recipe when you think about it. I lost all respect for production in general, and I felt betrayed and hurt. I haven’t spoken to any producers in a long time, and I’ve spent the last year distancing myself from everything. It’s hard for me to imagine messing with people for a living, but to each their own. They saw that I was uncomfortable and lonely and awkward and they capitalized on it for their benefit, and that hurt my heart. The show was hard enough for me in real time, but to see it air and look completely different than actuality was simply heartbreaking for me.
TRC: It's unfortunate that many viewers don't realize how easy it is for producers to take a scene and deliberately misconstrue it into something totally different. During the Women Tell All episode, you mentioned how you were being bullied on social media after the show. What was that like?
OC: Opening up my phone and seeing messages on Twitter and Instagram about how much of a c-word I was, how crazy I was, people saying that if I killed myself, no one would care…it was the worst form of bullying I’ve ever experienced. I was overweight growing up and I know bullying firsthand, but it was something I never imagined. I had to give my sister my passwords and tell her to change them, it just wasn’t healthy to look at comments anymore. It got to the point where people would go to my sister and mom’s Instagram and say their daughter/sister is a b*tch. I mean, who does that?! My feed has definitely improved and my skin is much thicker, but it baffles me that people feel the need to comment horrific things on someone’s social media.
TRC: Bullying behind the safety of a screen gives some people such a power-trip these days and it's awful. I can't imagine what that was like. Last one; If you could go back in time, would you do it over again?
OC: I would never do The Bachelor again, no. It’s just too competitive for me and when I meet someone, I actually want to spend time with them (shocker). When Bachelor in Paradise was airing, I was getting so many tweets from people saying, “I miss you Olivia, where are you?” and I certainly wasn’t expecting that. I do believe that the show can work in terms of falling in love, and I really do want to fall in love and meet the right person for me. So I’m hoping that when Paradise rolls around, I have a lovely relationship and I don’t need to potentially get embarrassed on national television again, but if not…you never know.
TRC: I'll be rooting for you! Now for the important stuff. Tell us about New York. What are you doing now?
OC: I love New York! I was born here and have been visiting my dad’s side of the family here for years and I always had a feeling I wanted to move here. My sister graduated from college recently and got a job in New York City and I decided to take a leap of faith and move here, too! I’m currently the host and producer of Distractify Live, one of the leading Facebook live shows that features celebrities, famous pets, unique experiences – anything interesting and quirky! I’m also a model for MSA, and when I’m not working, I’m brunching, staying out way too late with my girlfriends, and forcing myself to *try* to date.
TRC: Looking ahead, whats one thing you didn't get to accomplish this year and what's on your list for 2017?
OC: As far as what I didn’t get to accomplish this year, I’d say it’s to get more comfortable with dating. I’ve been on the fence about a relationship for a few months now, and I regret wasting time on one person rather than getting out there and meeting new people. I need to get it together! And then what I want for 2017, my resolution if you will, is to learn how to dress with style. My sister always makes fun of me because she says I dress like a hobo even on my Facebook live show, so next year I’d like to start taking my wardrobe seriously, because I think what you wear says a lot about you and my wardrobe isn’t saying much, haha!
TRC: I am so glad you didn't say something gym-related. Adele or Beyonce?
OC: Beyonce FOR SURE.
TRC: Phew, I don't have to cancel this interview. Where do you want to be five years from now?
OC: Five years from now, I’d love to have a major podcast and be a host on a show like E! News. I miss anchoring, but I’d want to go into more entertainment reporting than hard news. And then of course, I’d love to be in a serious relationship. I’m ready for that!
TRC: On a scale of 1-10 how likely is Nick Vaill to find love? Kidding. How has your level of fame impacted your ability to network?
OC: Ha! I’ve never met Nick, but let’s see…based on the track record of the show, I’m going to say a 6! I’d say that’s still high, right?! Ah, level of fame – well I always go back to the way I got my job. I was a guest on Distractify Live when I got off the show, and it went so well that we all thought – let’s make her the host! So without the show and the fame, I wouldn’t have the job that I do. And then obviously it’s helped as far as making friends from other television shows. I’ve become good friends with the Vanderpump Rules cast, and I sometimes close my eyes and say to myself, “What the heck? I’m friends with these people I used to watch on TV!” But they’re so normal and I appreciate that the platform I was given has helped me to meet people who are in the same boat and have similar levels of fame.
TRC: What's a piece of advice you’d share with other 20-somethings on the verge of a big move or career change?
OC: My biggest piece of advice, and it’s something my mom taught me, is to have the courage to trust yourself. Have the courage to listen to what your gut is telling you (because I think listening to your instinct is essential) and pursue whatever your gut is saying. I think the moment you trust yourself and the decisions you make is the moment you realize that you can make anything work, whether it’s a big move, a career change, an embarrassing edit on a show – as long as you can look at yourself and say, “I got this,” I think you’re golden. If your gut says to move to New York City, you should do it. If it’s telling you that the career you’re in probably isn’t for you, then find your passion. We’re only young once and, although change is hard, it can be so incredibly exciting and fulfilling.
PSA: I'd really like to thank Olivia for her willingness to share details of such an emotionally difficult experience. Just a friendly reminder to think twice before casually dishing out nasty comments to people. Even though it's just social media it's not so casual and harmless when you're the receiver.
~Hate gets you nowhere.~