Bethenny Frankel on Acting and the Comedians She Wants to Work With

Bethenny Frankel is in her adventure era, and her latest such adventure has brought the Real Housewives of New York City alum back to television. No, not for more reality TV, but rather her Lifetime movie debut.

Danger in the Dorm marks the former Bravo star's first official movie role—a "surreal" experience for which Frankel is thankful.

"It was part of my adventure era that I have entered into," Frankel told Parade in a one-on-one interview. "So I'm grateful. I'm humbled. I was excited."

The movie, inspired by true-crime novelist Ann Rule’s story of the same name, sees the TV personality play Joanne, the mother of a college student whose childhood friend and fellow classmate is murdered on campus.

While Frankel's own daughter, Bryn Hoppy, is still a few years away from heading off to college—she'll be entering high school later this year—the businesswoman already has plans for when Bryn does leave the nest. "She'll go to college and I'll get an apartment near there and we say that as joke, but that will happen," Frankel said.

She noted that they will be going to a college in a nice warm weather climate. "We're going to school somewhere that has nice weather and beaches," Frankel shared. "That's just what we are doing."

Continue reading to find out what Bethenny Frankel told Parade about managing parental anxiety and why moms are her people.

<p>Courtesy of Lifetime</p>

Courtesy of Lifetime

You briefly attempted acting in your 20s. Why was now the time to give it another go?

Well, I was offered this role and I think that subconsciously, I probably thought in my 20s I wasn't good. I didn't really get to do it, but when I would audition, I was in my head and I would choke. I would always read things the way that I thought that someone else would want me to read them. I was so desperate and wanted it so badly. Where now, someone was giving me the license to do something in a way that felt true to me, the way that I do everything else, where I just walk on a stage and do things my way. It lined up because acting is very honest. And finding your own non-preconceived way to portray a role is where I do think my sweet spot was here. It doesn't come easily to everybody. And I actually think I was pretty good. I think I did stick the landing.

You did stick the landing—

You think so? You watched it? You saw the whole thing?

I did!

Oh my God! So I didn't, because I'm waiting to watch it with other people. My daughter did and she was like, "Mom, you were good." And my publicist, who represents real actresses, said I was good and people that I work with said I was good. I think I was actually pretty good.

I know, that's why I was wondering why did it take you so long—

Wait! You could tell me if I sucked.

No, you did not suck at all!

I mean, I don't think I was Meryl Streep, but I think I stuck the landing. I wasn't an embarrassment to anyone, I don't think.

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You did stick the landing and you're playing a mother, which is obviously a role you're familiar with. I don't have kids, but this movie makes me think about the day I do, all the worries that are going to come with sending them off to school. As a parent, did this movie give you parental anxiety?

I had it already. And every time I hear a different story, like about trafficking or about Uber drivers or about drinks being [spiked], I dump it on my daughter, the only place to dump it. If I hear something, I send it because I panic that she doesn't know this one detail about trafficking at sporting events and so I'm on her. Next year she's gonna get a permit, and I'm already panic-stricken, like, How am I gonna have somebody else driving the car in the car so she thinks it's actually her driving, but someone else is really driving? I have irrational fears all day long. So I didn't need this to add to it. It just did.

How do you manage your anxiety aside from talking to Bryn? Are there other things you do to help yourself, to reassure yourself that things are going to be okay?

I mean, I'm not worked up into a lather. Nothing different than any other area of my life. I walk on the beach, I do yoga, I breathe, I try to be present. And I change the subject in my mind. I love my daughter so deeply, the connection is so strong. It happens with pets, too. My daughter was crying the other night because she was so connected to the dogs. She's worried about their age and them getting older. And they're 7. They're not 15, but I get it. It makes her sad. She loves them so much. So we have irrational fears. You just work through it. Have a conversation and keep it moving.

Did this movie make you think about the day that Bryn will leave the nest like [your onscreen daughter] Kathleen left the nest?

Yes, but she's not really leaving the nest. She'll go to college and I'll get an apartment near there and we say that as joke, but that will happen. And I don't care if it's popular. I'm not moving in the dorm...I might...But I'm gonna move close, or have a place close. We can have a place close that's a good investment. It's a real estate opportunity. It's not gonna be a waste of money. It's something that I can invest in that I can go to if I want to. And we're definitely going to go to a college in a nice warm weather climate, so I can take my beach walks.

You can come down here to Miami, the University of Miami.

We have our eyes on Pepperdine [University] or Santa Barbara. Yeah. We're going to school somewhere that has nice weather and beaches. That's just what we are doing.

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I know she's only 14, but does she talk about that, or is she at the age where it's like I want to be with mom forever [and] doesn't want to leave you?

She's not "don't want to leave you," but she enjoys me and I've already heard that at her age, it's like "Stop." She's just like "I love you so much mama." She's like "You're the most funny person in the world. You're my favorite person in the world." She does really enjoy our time together, which is so great. It's so fun. She loves to go out to dinner. She likes to get dressed up and, you know, she's so sweet. She's such a good girl.

<p>Courtesy of Lifetime</p>

Courtesy of Lifetime

Joanne in the movie tells Kathleen that having her made her a badass. Do you feel the same way?  

It's a fierceness that is another story. Moms know it. I was on the beach. I walked away to get a drink, a man was talking to my child, another mom swooped in like a freaking hawk. You know, go to Bryn's comments [on social media]. You ever see a negative comment, those moms will fly in there like buzzards and they will rip somebody to shreds. They will just go in and crush. So when I'm not there, they're like my babysitters. Moms do not play. At all. I will cut a b-tch if you come near my kid. And that's how everybody is, so those are my people. The moms are my people. And those are the Lifetime people. That's why I was a good choice for Lifetime even though they didn't know what an incredible, wonderful, hopefully Emmy-winning actress I would be. They just took a chance on love.

Now that you've done this movie, do you feel like you've caught the acting bug? Is this something you want to pursue?

I haven't caught a bug just like I didn't catch—I did well doing stand up, too. Not like I was Chris Rock, but I did well and Chris Rock actually gave me advice to do it. And I was good at it. And now I know I can do it. So I know that now that [acting] is in my toolbox. If someone wants me to do a role, I have the skillset to do it and if I liked it, I could do it. I don't search things out. I don't search out men, business, opportunities. I put things into the universe and the universe brings it in with the tide. 

What kind of roles interest you? What kind of roles would you like to explore and who would you love to work with?

Comedy roles interest me a lot. I would love to work with Kristen Wiig. I would love to work with Maya Rudolph with David Spade, who I know... Chris Rock isn't having me in a movie, he's too big, but Chris Rock. Oh my God, Dave Chappelle! Oh, Nikki Glaser ... I think Nikki Glaser and I should be best friends in a movie together.

I think you need to pitch that—

Yeah, I am right now. Get it out there.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Danger in the Dorm premieres Sunday, June 16, at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

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