Whitney Rose is not only the youngest of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” the 34-year-old is the only one of the six who’s a grandmother. Through marriage, that is.
“I’m officially a stepgrandmother now!” Rose recently said with delight.
You won’t see it on this season of the Bravo show, which finished filming back in March. One of her stepsons got married a few weeks ago — and his new wife is the mother of young twin boys.
“They’re the cutest things,” Whitney told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Whitney is joined in Season 1 of “RHOSLC” by her husband, Justin, and their two elementary school-age children. Their 10-year-old daughter, Bobbi, was a lot more enthusiastic about being on camera than their 7-year-old son, Brooks.
“My daughter loves it. She thinks she’s the star of the show,” Whitney said. “My son hates everything about it.”
She left it up to her kids to decide if they’d appear on camera “because I didn’t want to force them to do something they were uncomfortable with.”
“And my stepkids — I wish we got to see more of them. But hopefully, there’ll be future seasons so we can get to know the rest of my family. Because not only are Justin and I unique for Utah, but we have an incredible relationship with my stepkids.”
Well, Whitney and Justin aren’t entirely unique to Utah, but their story is outside the Latter-day Saint mainstream from which they came. They met in 2009, when she was 23 and he was 41. Whitney was a new employee at Nu Skin Enterprises; Justin, a Brigham Young University grad, was the president of the company. And — although they were both married to other people and Justin was the father of three — they began an affair.
They married 11 years ago, when Whitney was pregnant with their first child. And, not surprisingly, their family and friends weren’t particularly supportive.
“When you decide to take a different path that deviates from what your parents and siblings want from you,” Whitney said, “it’s hard. I get it. I understand fully why they are not on board. But also, it hurt.”
Whitney and Justin are both successful. She operates her own skincare line, Iris + Beau; he’s now the chief sales officer at LifeVantage. And they both left their church membership behind.
(Whitney said on air that she had been excommunicated; she later told “Entertainment Tonight” that she “wasn’t forced out” and was “unofficially excommunicated” — she stopped wearing her temple garments and attending church.)
And much of her family wasn’t exactly thrilled when she signed on to “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”
“Obviously, I speak very openly and freely about my experience being raised Mormon, how I met my husband and no longer being Mormon,” she said. “And I think that my Mormon family [members] just felt a little bit hesitant and suspicious about me being so open and honest about my journey because they don’t feel the same way I do about religion. Life. Everything.
“It’s been something that’s been hard to work through.”
Joining the ‘Housewives’
Fellow Housewife Heather Gay is also her cousin, and she “roped me into this,” Whitney said. Heather alerted “Real Housewives” producers to Whitney, whose initial response when she was contacted about joining the cast was a quick yes.
“And then when it came down to the final decision — the final hour — I had a lot of hesitation,” Whitney said, “because I knew if I was going to do this, I was going to be real and authentic and share my real life. And that’s terrifying, to put your family in the public eye. I thought a lot about — what does this mean for my children? What does this mean for my husband? But at the end of the day, and I’m here for it and I’m so glad I made the choice to do it.”
She said she’s never been shy about sharing the details behind how she and Justin became a couple.
“I own my life,” Whitney said. “I’ve been very open about my family, my marriage, my past. But it’s different in this dynamic with five other women and cameras and knowing that the entire world is going to have a say about your life.”
And it’s not just viewers weighing in, it’s friends, family and neighbors. “I know it’s going on behind my back, because I can just see it already within my neighborhood a little bit” with people “pulling away,” she said. “When someone says something, it always gets back to you.
“It is very, very interesting to see how my close friends and family have reacted throughout the process,” Whitney said, adding there’s “definitely been some strain on relationships.” In part because — while she hesitated to use the word “jealous,” that’s the vibe she caught from more than a few people.
“Even if they say they wouldn’t want this, everyone wants this,” she said. “Most of my friends would be lying if they said they didn’t want to do it. So I think it’s just natural when you want something and you can’t have it — jealousy is a thing, right?”
Whitney said things happened throughout the season that she didn’t expect — not the least of which is her father becoming part of the show. The self-described “daddy’s girl” and her father, Steve, both talk about his longtime struggle with prescription painkillers, and his attempts to overcome his addiction and rebuild his life.
He had just gotten out of rehab when filming began on “RHOSLC,” and viewers have seen him accompany Whitney when they attend church with fellow Housewife Mary Cosby’s congregation.
“There are a lot of amazing moments and bonding, and it’s deep and it’s personal,” Whitney said. “And all of that has really led me down a path of growth.”
While Whitney has caught the attention of viewers and raised eyebrows with her nontraditional love story and her commitment to helping her father, she’s also become closely identified with … stripper poles. We’ve seen her either on one herself or hiring others to entertain by swinging on them in each of the four episodes that have aired to date.
“It’s fun!” Whitney said. As to the apparent rumors that Whitney and Justin are swingers — Whitney categorically denies that, and she’s clearly annoyed that such rumors are out there.
She’d rather be known as a successful businesswoman. She attributes her success to her “Mormon pioneer heritage. Because my family came across the plains and fought for what they believed in.”
And she encourages other women to follow her lead.
“It’s 2020. Women can have it all,” Whitney said. “And it’s hard. It’s very difficult to find balance. But you can be a great wife, mother and business owner and have a career. It just takes a lot of prioritizing and a lot of work, that’s for sure.”
And taking time to be on “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is a decision she does not regret.
“What I’ve gotten out of this, aside from anything materialistic at all, is I have grown so much as a human being,” Whitney said. “I would never want to take that away.
“Now, does that make me insane? Probably. We’ll see as episodes get crazier and crazier and crazier. We’re definitely a unique group of friends and it’s very dynamic and explosive.”
“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Wednesdays on Bravo — 8 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11 p.m. on Comcast.