Dolores Catania: Behind the Scenes with Bravo TV’s ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’

As the much anticipated 13th season of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ premieres February 7th, Paterson, NJ native, Dolores Catania spends a rainy afternoon at Westgate New York Grand Central with ‘Millennium Magazine.’

We have all seen Dolores Catania with her Jersey toughness and tenderness rolled into one on Bravo’s hit reality show ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey.’  As the New Jersey housewives showcase their lives on camera with their friendships, families, breakups, romances, fights and plenty of drama, one has to wonder what their true personalities are off the television screen.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Catania throughout the day as she prepared for her interview and photoshoot for ‘Millennium Magazine.’

The moment Catania entered through the doors of the cozy suite, the setting for her interview, her big smile set the tone of the day.  No mention of the pouring rain outside or being delayed by traffic.  Rather, she came in like a burst of sunshine ready to give it her all and make everyone in the room feel like lifelong friends.

As Catania was getting ready for her photoshoot, we sorted through the many outfits she had brought with her and discussed color schemes and styles for the photos.  One outfit she had brought was a white feather pantsuit that I was planning on purchasing myself, but was not familiar with the fit of the designer.  When I mentioned this to Catania, without hesitation she offered for me to try on the outfit myself to see if I liked it and get a feel for the sizing.  That small gesture alone made me see what a giving heart Catania had and as the day progressed, she consistently displayed similar actions that attributed to my initial feeling of her.  Her thoughtfulness to each person in the room was a testament of Catania’s true character of making those around her feel special.

While Catania was getting her hair and makeup done, she spoke to the crowded room full of women as if we had all known each other for years. It was our own little version of ‘RHONJ’ without the drama and yelling!  Conversations flowed naturally, and she gave a listening ear when others spoke.  She shared her life with us in a way that made us truly care for her as a person, not just as the television personality everyone knows her as.

Being a celebrity correspondent for close to a decade now, I have had the opportunity to meet many talented and intriguing people in the entertainment industry and have developed a keen sense of reading someone’s vibe.  I found Catania as someone who cares about her values, character and friends and family.  She was giving us her authentic self.  She has a true love for being on Bravo’s ‘RHONJ’ now in its 13th season and appreciates the opportunity and platform she has been given.

After a few wardrobe changes on Catania’s part and a glamorous photoshoot in the hotel lobby and bar, it was time to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation about her life as a New Jersey “housewife” and how being a regular on the show has opened new opportunities for her to give back to others through her platform.

The new season of ‘RHONJ’ has a few new faces with newcomers Danielle Cabral and Rachel Fuda as housewives and Jennifer Fessler as a friend.  While Cabral, Fuda, and Fessler are new to the viewers of “RHONJ,” Catania mentioned that she and the other housewives were already familiar with them and a few already had organic relationships.  While it is typically hard to bring in new women to a group, Catania believes that these women were a good fit for them and the show.

When asked how she connects with new women being brought on the show, Catania replied, “in any setting or any group, somebody new coming in should always be welcomed with open arms.  That’s across the board.”

In regards to the women already having associations with some of the housewives, Catania noted, “in New Jersey, everyone knows everyone and I like to say that New Jersey is very incestuous.  There are no secrets there.”

Clearly as we have seen on past seasons of ‘RHONJ’ any secrets one may have will most certainly be exposed on the show!  Certainly new alliances and a dash of fresh drama will be brought on with the new ladies.

Catania brings out her grit when needed, but she definitely lives with a giving heart.  Her giving nature extends beyond the reality show as she has been able to use her public persona and platform to help others.  She is not only self-aware, but very aware and considerate of others.

Case in point, while she was posting an Instagram story on her page during the day, Catania was adamant to include and tag everyone in the room that was part of the day including the hair and makeup artists, photographers, magazine, correspondents, etc.  She is clearly a woman that not only recognizes, but also appreciates everyone around her.

Catania’s warmth and generosity extends far beyond her immediate surroundings as she has a huge love for her four-legged friends.

Together with her daughter Gabby, Catania extends herself to help dogs in need.  Catania recalls, “when my daughter was younger she had a fascination with all animals and she grew up and became a vet.”

At the age of three, Gabby was calling herself a dog doctor and fixing dogs with bandaids!  Catania is extremely proud of the accomplishments her daughter has made. Now together they rescue dogs and at any time, there could be anywhere from three to ten dogs in Catania’s home!  Sadly, Catania continues to mourn over the passing of her beloved dog, “Big Boss,” but is grateful for the many dogs she has in her life.

“If you want to know what it is like to be loved, get a dog,” Catania shares.

Today, Catania uses her platform to showcase and assist non-profit organizations such as ‘Halfway Home Animal Rescue’ and shares dogs looking for loving homes on her Instagram stories where recently, Shiloh who was in need of a forever home is now living the good life in a shore house with plenty of love and attention.

Catania’s dream is to one day own a dog sanctuary.  “I know what that entails, but if I can do it one day, I would love to have one with my daughter.  That is our dream.”

The generosity of Catania goes anywhere that it is needed.  She and her siblings did not grow up with a lot, but they were taught that there was always someone who needed more.  Catania used this lesson and has since found the ability to use her social platform to assist with a women’s shelter.  A few year’s back, Catania’s brother who is a police officer made her aware of a dilapidated home in Paterson, NJ.  There was a young boy playing in front of the house with his grandmother and her brother overheard the boy call her “Nana” which is what all their kids call Catania’s mom.  This struck home to Catania’s brother as upon further investigation of this home, it was revealed that it was a halfway house sheltering women of domestic abuse.

With the assistance of her brother, Catania got to know more about the shelter and the little boy and fell in love. Immediately she knew she had to help as this was not a big halfway house that received much funding. Through her assistance on sharing the needs of the shelter, ‘Hilltop Haven Shelter’ now receives all the supplies they need to house women and their children.  From clean sheets to Christmas presents, Catania’s use of her platform has greatly provided necessities for those who needed it the most.

Being in her early 50’s Catania has experienced much in life from divorce, being a mother, starting a new life in the public eye and so much more.  When asked what advice she can give to others based on her experiences, without hesitation she responded, “know your worth.”

She explains, “each experience made me stronger, made me who I am.  It molded me, but it never broke me.  But I was also used to fighting, it made me tough.  I want everyone to know that you are stronger than you think you are.”

Catania’s goals in life are to continue to eat healthy and have a better gym regimen.

“It’s important for people to get a healthy regimen, because the second half of your life comes before you know it.”

Catania’s grandmother lived to be 105 years old.  She never ate junk food and lived a healthy life until she died.  Catania strives to do the same.

For anyone that ever comes across Catania in public, there is no diva persona about her.  During her photoshoot for the interview, she offered to take pictures with anyone who was in the lobby with her.  Catania is as real as it gets, and it’s no surprise that she continues to be loved on the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey.’

Catania adds, “anyone who sees me, you are always welcomed to ask me anything I know about.  I don’t have all the answers, but I can speak on what I have gone through.”

In regards to her fans, “I don’t call them fans, when “friends” come up to me and want to take a picture with me, I love it!”

The Creative Team | Megan Williams: Photographer, Jazmine Vieira: Photographer Assistant, Portia Backus: Celebrity Journalist (Video), Inez Barberio: Celebrity Journalist (Digital/Print), Amy Campbell: Assistant to Barberio, Anna Swiderska: Makeup Artist, Ewa Berton: Makeup Artist Assistant, Mika Rumo: Hair Stylist, Goran: Photographer for Behind the Scenes, Josh Moore: Production Assistant, Marta Wadolowski: Executive Assistant to the Publisher.

Special Thanks to the Westgate New York Grand Central Hotel and staff for hosting and their gracious accommodations.