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Gypsy Rose Blanchard Talks Lifetime Show, Prison Release, Taylor Swift

Gypsy Rose Blanchard Talks Lifetime Show, Prison Release, Taylor Swift

Gypsy Rose Blanchard knows what people have read about her in the media, and she’s ready to share the truth behind those stories in her new Lifetime docuseries, Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up.

As a reminder, Blanchard was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016 after she pleaded guilty to persuading Nicholas Godejohn, a boyfriend she met online, to kill her mother. Dee Dee Blanchard had forced Blanchard to pretend for years that she was suffering from serious illnesses, including leukemia and muscular dystrophy. She was released on parole from Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center on Dec. 28 after serving 85 percent of her original sentence.

Since then, her life has been a whirlwind of navigating paparazzi and unexpected fame (she was confronted with cameras on her first day out while shopping for a new pair of shoes), filing for divorce from husband Ryan Anderson (whom she met and wed while in prison), and reuniting with her ex-fiancé, Ken Urker (whom she also met while in prison). At age 32, she spent a quarter of her life behind bars and is now learning to navigate basic skills most of us take for granted, like how to text, cook and drive — not to mention social media. 

For 18 months of her prison term, she talked to producers for her first Lifetime docuseries, The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, which debuted in January. (All six episodes are available to buy on Apple TV, Prime Video and other video-on-demand platforms.) Her upcoming eight-part series, Life After Lock Up, dives into her new life starting just before her prison release and through the weeks and months afterward. It features her last prison interview, where she’s asked why she wants to let cameras in.

“Ever since my case was all over the media, all over the news, people have been on this journey with me, and I think that I’ve outgrown this prison version of myself that I think a lot of people have come to associate me with,” she says in the series. “I want to be Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a survivor, an advocate for people that have been through what I have been through, and I want to be someone that my family could be proud of.”

Ahead of the show’s premiere, Blanchard talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her life now, dealing with fame and what viewers can expect from the series.

At the beginning of the first episode, you explain why you wanted to open up for the cameras while you were still in prison. Now, you’re letting viewers see your life post-prison. Why was it important to you to do that again?

It was very important to me because when we were working on Prison Confessions, I had been so open and honest and raw about what prison life was like for me. And so I was sitting in my jail cell at the end of December, and I was like, I’m so tired of all these prison labels and all these labels that people put on me, and I want to show that I’m more than that.

I’m about to head into a new chapter in my life, a new look, a new me, new style, new everything. So I think that showing people and taking them on that journey with me was important for me because you get little bits and pieces of what my life has been like in the last five months from articles online, TikTok videos, social media, little bits here and there. But no one gets to actually be in the room with me except for my family. So having the cameras follow me basically on a daily basis shows the events that people were hearing about all this time, but they don’t know what all was said. This definitely brings the viewers along in a very intimate way. And for me that was important to show, no, this is who I am.

In that first episode, we see you going to buy shoes and there’s paparazzi there already, and you’ve only been out of prison for about a day. You were behind prison walls for eight-plus years and all of a sudden you’re out, and everyone’s documenting everything. Has that gotten any easier for you or is it still an adjustment?

It’s still an adjustment. I kind of feel like, when I went to go buy those pairs of shoes, I didn’t expect that anybody would know my name. So coming out it was a huge shock to me that anybody even know who knew who I was. So now having gone through a couple of months of paparazzi and people knowing who I am and being so aggressive and wanting to know about my personal life, it’s less about navigating going out of my front door, and now more about navigating social media.

You did delete some of your accounts, right? Do you feel a lot of your stress has been relieved by taking a step back?

I had deleted my public Instagram, and I had deactivated my public TikTok, with like 9.8 million followers, back in late February, early March, and recently came back on it. So I started a new Instagram and probably have about 50,000 followers now, and I still have the 9.8 million on TikTok. And I think knowing if you want to post, post with caution, because everything is very critiqued. I could look at a post and see something innocent while everybody else will rip it apart. So I do daily check-ins where I’m like, “OK, how am I doing, mentally and emotionally on social media right now? Do I need to take a step back?” And if I feel like that is necessary, I’ll do that for my own mental health.

What’s interesting too is the average person probably doesn’t realize this, but when you got out of prison, you were having to learn how to text somebody and navigate all this stuff that didn’t really exist in this way before you went in. So it’s sort of like this whole brave new world that you’re embarking on. What were some of the other things that you had to learn? 

You’ll see in the show that I don’t know how to cook. I don’t know how to drive. There are so many things that someone of my age should know how to do and I’m not back from that. So I’m just learning that at 32 years old. Even the simplest of stuff was new to me and a challenge. So it’s kind of like, “OK, how do you use the laptop? How do you do this?”

In the show, we see that your parole officers in Missouri and Louisiana are not on the same page regarding whether you have to go to Louisiana straight away or whether you can stay in Kansas City for a few days as planned. Your attorney says that even though you’re out of prison, you’re not really free at that point. Do you feel now like you’re free, or do you still feel a little bit of that? 

At that moment in time, it was a situational feeling. I was reacting to a high-stress situation, and my natural instinct was to cry and shut down. So I didn’t feel free at that point. However, now having a better rapport with my parole officers … I have a better communication with them. They’ve had me for a client for a couple of months now, so I’ve been able to have something established there where they know me, I know them, we can communicate better. So I am very transparent with my parole officer and in everything. As long as I keep that transparency up, I feel free; he levels with me and tells me how it is, and I feel like I have that freedom now.

Have you seen the show? I’m just wondering how it feels to relive some of these moments.

I’ve not seen them yet. So I’m going to be watching it with the rest of everybody, but I know what happened because I lived it. I was watching the trailer when it came out. I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is going to be so good.” I lived it. it was my life, but I’m still going to watch it because of how juicy it is.

We know you’re a Taylor Swift fan, and one of my colleagues noted that you’re sort of in your “reality TV era,” if you want to put it in Taylor Swift terms. I wanted to ask, are there any other reality TV stars that you relate to?

I’m not actually a big reality TV watcher. The only show that I watch is 90 Day Fiancé. I have binge-watched 90 Day Fiancé.

Back to Taylor Swift. Have you had a chance to listen to her new album, The Tortured Poets Department?

I have; it’s a good album.

Do you have a favorite song?

I like “Down Bad.” I think that each different era that she goes through has a different vibe, and I think this one is just like real chill.

We talked a few months ago when you got out of prison, and I had asked you at the time, if Dancing With the Stars or another show like that came calling, would you participate? Are you getting offers like that?

No, not at all. And I can’t dance. Can’t sing, can’t dance.

Something else that played out in the media and will be documented in the show was your cosmetic surgery. [Editor’s note: She had a rhinoplasty in April.] Do you anticipate doing anything else like that in the future? Are you happy with how that turned out?

I always wanted my nose done. That was [something that] I felt low self-esteem in and so having the nose job was like the one thing I wanted to correct about myself. As for everything else, I’m happy; I wouldn’t change anything else.

Are the paparazzi still following you like they were when you first get out, or do you feel like it’s died down a little bit?

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It’s died down a little bit. [They were around when] I was in L.A. and New York as well. Those are the only two times I’ve left the state. But obviously, people knew that I was going to be there, so the paparazzi was there. A lot of times I just try and give them a quick picture to be nice because they won’t leave you alone if you don’t. But it’s still pretty shocking — that paparazzi experience. It’s kind of scary.

You kind of alluded to this earlier, but are you surprised at the level of interest in you that people are taking?

I am surprised because this is just me personally, but there’s no one on the face of the planet that I am so intrigued by that I want to dive into their life so much like people have dived into mine. So maybe I’m one of the few that just don’t get it, but I just don’t.

We also see, in the episodes to come, your divorce and also how you reconnected with Ken. The question I see a lot of people asking you online is, are you happy now?

Yes, I’m happy. I’m finally happy.

There were also some pregnancy rumors too, and I think those get addressed this season in the show. Is that correct?

Those do get addressed in the season as well.

Is it hard for you to read this personal stuff online about your everyday life?

Sometimes you have to draw a certain line of realizing that the comments that people make they only are so brave because you can’t see their faces. They are hiding behind a username, and so oftentimes I think a lot of people would just spit out the craziest thing to get a response. So I’ve had to kind of learn not to take it too personally because they don’t know me on a personal level.

Is there anything that you haven’t gotten to do yet that’s on your bucket list?

I am actively working on trying to get my driver’s license. I took one driver’s ed class, and then I didn’t go back because I was too overwhelmed. There was a lot to learn. I’m like, I don’t even know the anatomy of a car, and you’re giving me the breakdown of what not to do. So that’s something that I’m actively working on.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know about your new series?

Even if you haven’t really followed my story from my past, I think even just looking at this as someone transitioning out of prison is something to be excited to watch because that’s a revelation in itself. Most prisoners have a very difficult time adjusting to society after any lengthy amount of time in prison. So I really hope that people watch this with open eyes and, and, hopefully, it will be a little bit more of a [show] for people to be enlightened by.

Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up premieres on Lifetime on June 3 at 9 p.m. and runs through July 22.

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