VPRs' Raquel Leviss breaks her silence with Bethenny Frankel interview

Vanderpump Rules’ Raquel Leviss FINALLY breaks silence on Scandoval – months after she was outed for affair with Ariana Madix’s boyfriend: Reality star blames heartbreak and alcohol for her behavior as she issues tearful apology to ‘the people she hurt’

  • Bravo star, 28, has faced intense backlash over her affair with Tom Sandoval, 40
  • The show’s reunion in June saw her face the wrath for ex BFF Ariana Madix, 38
  • Filming for season 11 of the reality series has been underway since late June

Vanderpump Rules star Raquel Leviss has sat down for her first interview since the height of the ‘Scandoval’ cheating drama, tearfully opening up to Real Housewives of New York alum Bethenny Frankel about her part in the shocking affair.

The 28-year-old – who now goes by her birth name, Rachel – has remained out of the limelight since the show’s reunion episodes aired in June saw her come under intense backlash over her months-long affair with her BFF Ariana Madix’s, 38, boyfriend Tom Sandoval, 40.

Opening up about why she chose to take a step back from the public eye, the Bravo star told Bethenny: ‘It’s been a whirlwind, it’s been chaos. But I’ve taken some time to myself to reflect and try to understand my actions. And I finally have come to the place where it makes sense to me.

‘Part of the reason why I wanted to take some time away is just because it was so chaotic and loud, and there was such vitriol online.’

Getting candid: Vanderpump Rules star Raquel Leviss has sat down for a tell-all chat with Real Housewives of New York alum Bethenny Frankel

The reality star then explained that she chose to spend time in a treatment facility in an attempt to ‘understand my behaviors’. 

She stated: ‘But then the other part of the reason why I wanted to go to a treatment facility was to understand my behaviors and my goal was to really get down to the bottom of, “OK why am I choosing men that are unavailable, why do I keep finding myself in unhealthy relationships, what are the things that I need to change about my behavior.”

‘And in knowing that I needed to make a change, I first had to know what leads to those behaviors.’

During the conversation, Rachel seemingly confirmed she has no plans to return to the show as she told Bethenny: ‘I feel like I’ve been portrayed as the ultimate villain. My mistakes that I’ve made on camera live on forever. And you mentioned something about the addiction of doing reality TV and the way that they always dangle that carrot in front of you, like, “Well, you need to tell your side of the story otherwise it’s gonna be written for you.” 

‘And that’s terrifying. So I almost went back, I know just because of that.’

She did not expand further on what she meant by ‘almost went back’ but the star has remained in her home state of Arizona – while filming for season 11 of the highly-popular Bravo reality series has been underway since late June.

Wednesday morning saw Bethenny tease the chat on Instagram as she shared a snap of the pair, stating: ‘A woman’s voice is very powerful. Now Rachel is using hers to tell her own story…for the first time…’ 

Smiling Rachel looked healthy and in good spirits after recently checking herself into a mental health facility after facing the wrath of her co-stars during the show’s three-part reunion that taped in March. 

‘Scandoval’: The star was the target of intense backlash after her months-long affair with BFF Ariana Madix’s, 38, boyfriend Tom Sandoval, 40, was exposed; trio seen in November 2022

Breakdown: The star – who now goes by Rachel – checked herself into a mental health facility after facing the wrath of her co-stars during the show’s reunion that taped in March (pictured)

She since checked out of the facility in mid-July and has reportedly to be staying with family in Arizona.

Bethenny explained that she had felt sympathy for Rachel while witnessing the Scandoval backlash and stated that she felt the star’s life was being ‘exploited’ without compensation.

The former RHONY star stated: ‘[The backlash] seemed disproportionate to me. I was watching clips on social media and hearing about this Scandoval — that had a name, was being marketed and it was being pumped through the PR machine. And I did say … “Everybody’s gonna be more well known than they were before because of this.”

‘And my mind was, “They’re on a reality show. It’s set in a bar, is what I think. It’s fueled by alcohol and partying and multiple affairs. So what respectfully, what the hell is the big deal that everyone’s talking about?” … And I said your name just as an example of what I imagined to be somebody who had been exploited. And for the rest of your life, that content will be out there without compensation.’ 

Thankful Rachel responded: ‘It’s so nice to have you validate that experience because for a moment I thought I was going crazy. And it’s true, reality TV is edited, it is contrived to create a certain storyline. So it’s not all factual. 

‘As a viewer tuning in, it’s easy to get wrapped up in that. Then the concept of an affair hits really hard to a lot of people. So I think there was a lot of projection happening, a lot of emotions that came up for people, and unfortunately I was the punching bag for a lot of that.’

Hard time: She checked out of the facility in mid-July and is reported to be staying with family in Arizona; seen with Tom and Ariana last year

The TV star made it clear that she understood why there was so much rage from both her co-stars and viewers as she continued: ‘I do want to take a moment though to just acknowledge the hurt that I brought to a lot of people. I was not careful in my actions and I was not thinking long-term. I was completely wrapped up in heartbreak and wanting to get certain needs met.’

Reflecting on the true reason for her behavior, she claimed: ‘Looking back now, I can see that I was still healing from a relationship from someone I thought I was going to marry. And in ending that, I still haven’t healed yet.’

Rachel then confirmed that she had been turning to alcohol to try and get through the tough time, something she stated was not the best solution to her problem. 

‘When I was filming, I was drinking a lot to ease that anxiety and in a reality TV environment, I wasn’t getting that safe space for me to express my emotions in a healthy way.’

When Bethenny stated that viewers – and Bravo producer Andy Cohen – had no true understanding of what it feels like to be part of a big reality show scandal that continues to manufactured unrealistic scenarios, Rachel agreed.

The reality star then breathed an audible sigh of relief over getting the chance to share her side of the story and she told Bethenny: ‘It feels like I have this opportunity to share how much I’ve grown, and how hard I’m trying to be a better person. 

‘That person that I saw watching back on my TV is someone who is completely out of character from who I truly am. I feel like having this opportunity to represent myself in a way that I feel like is true to who I am is all I could ever ask for’.

The star took time to explain her name changes as she stated: ‘I changed my name Raquel in first grade, there was a few other Rachel’s in my class and I wanted to be special. I also feel like, deep down, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin and I wanted to be somebody better – in my eyes.’

Distance: As for her and Tom, the pair have not been seen together since Rachel left the facility

Moving on? Tom was seen leaving The Fleur Room Lounge with singer-songwriter Tii in West Hollywood, California on August 6

She claimed changing the name allowed her to ‘be that person’ but confirmed that her family never stopped calling her ‘Rachel’.

Rachel explained that her therapist told her that she was Rachel ‘to her core’ but put up a wall by being called Raquel.

The star explained that this persona may have manifested due to her long-term struggles with ‘social anxiety’ and being judged by other people.

She explained that she is now introducing herself by her birth name as a way to return to her roots. 

Rachel thanked her family for supporting her and helping her spend a 90 day stint in the facility so she could get the treatment she needed.

‘We are a really tight-knit family. My mom is very torn up about this situation,’ the star explained. ‘I feel that pain for her because I put our family in this situation that’s a very hard dynamic to navigate. But both my parents have been so supportive’. 

Rachel revealed that she had dealt with ‘so many betrayals’ from friends who she thought she could trust – after seeing her private information shared with media.

The reality star claimed she ‘has no friends in LA’, and revealed that only a few people have defended her since Scandoval.

She claimed that the friends who weren’t attacking her still felt forced to unfollow her because they were getting harassed to do so by fans of the show.

As for her relationship with former BFF Ariana, Rachel explained that she did not expect her co-stars to forgive her anytime soon but insisted she was ‘remorseful’ for causing her friend ‘a lot of pain’.

Lonely: The reality star claimed she ‘has no friends in LA’, and revealed that only a few people have defended her since Scandoval

She took time to dismiss the narrative that the pair had been best friends as she explained: ‘We were acquaintances who became friends through the show… We never had a deep conversation that I would have with a best friend. 

‘It’s painful to think I hurt her in this way because that wasn’t my intention… I call these people my friends because I really did believe they were my friends.’

Sharing her response to the fact Ariana was now being painted as ‘America’s sweetheart’ and capitalizing on the moment with endorsement deals, Rachel said: ‘ Part of me says, good for you, because take advantage of these opportunities while they come your way.

‘But it is hurtful to me just to think that — my nature is very kind and forgiving and understanding of other people, so the concept of me being the ultimate reality TV villain just blows my mind… And the way that she spoke to me at the reunion, I feel like it was uncalled for.’

The reality star also hinted that the problems in Tom and Ariana’s relationship had been clear before she began an affair with him.  

‘I would not be involved in this affair, secrecy type situation if I thought there was longevity in this relationship between Tom and Ariana,’ she said. ‘The people closest to them can see their relationship has not been what they portray on camera. Tom always told me they’re a brand, they’re an image… They’re business partners.’

She admitted that she was not ‘in love’ with Tom, but felt that the pair did believe they were in love during their affair.

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