The Real Housewives of Miami finally has an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ in the main cast with Julia Lemigova. (She's the franchise's second such cast member, following The Real Housewives of Orange County's Braunwyn Windham-Burke.) The show enters its fourth revamped season full of drama, ever-evolving personal relationships and an OnlyFans scandal.
Lemigova is a former model, farmer and current wife of tennis legend Martina Navratilova. Lemigova left Russia at age 17 not being able to speak English, and she had no money. After becoming established with London's leading agency for modeling, her career took off quickly.
She was brought into the Housewives' fold by cast member Adriana de Moura. Lemigova talked about the experience on a recent phone call just before the holidays.
Windy City Times: Start off by telling our readers how you were cast on The Real Housewives of Miami. It was through your friend?
Julia Lemigova: Yes, through Adriana. She had the vision to see us as partners on the show because she knows how much we are in our daily life. She called me one day and invited me to join the cast.
I didn't know at first because I had not seen the show yet. In the next three days, I watched all three previous seasons. I was thrilled and said, "Yes, let's do it, girl, and go for it!" Martina was very supportive, and here we are today.
WCT: How does Martina feel about being on the show?
JL: Normally, she is a very private person. We have been asked before to join some other series together and show our private life. We always said no. She saw me being so excited about this new life adventure and encouraged me to do it. We did it and are loving it!
WCT: Martina's art is being spotlighted on the show, and I imagine many people don't know about that.
JL: She has been doing it for years and years. She has a book about it and exhibitions all over the world. She liked having that spotlight you mentioned in our favorite city in the world: Miami. This was all organic and natural.
WCT: Did you feel pressure being the first out housewife [on the Miami series]?
JL: Yes. Being a visible part of the LGBT community comes with a lot of responsibility. I am quite new to this. I would not even try to pretend that I am a spokesperson for the entire community.
What I am happy to be is a spokesperson for myself and my family. I hope as a family that we represent the LGBT community well. I am so happy and proud, I don't use the word proud lightly or often, to shine a light on the simple aspects of our family and show the world how we live. I hope we reach out to some hearts who really need it.
WCT: Already in the first few episodes you are showing the farm life, as opposed to a life of riches. Have you always been into farming?
JL: When I lived in Russia, our apartment was small so I couldn't have all the creatures I wanted to have. Living in Miami gave me this opportunity.
When I was a little girl in Moscow I would spend the summer at my grandmother's little wooden house where we had all kinds of little animals such as chickens, goats and cows. I loved it.
I grew up wearing high heels at night and I would be in galoshes during the day shoveling chicken manure if necessary. I always felt equally comfortable.
The people on the show have a luxurious life, but I have a different idea of luxury. You don't have to necessarily talk about your diamonds, planes and boats. To me, if I was offered a diamond or a mini-cow, I would take the miniature cow. That is just me!
That is my new thing with Martina. I am trying to convince her to buy one for me. Don't give me presents for Christmas. I want a mini-cow!
WCT: Do you name the various animals?
JL: Yes. When I was modeling in the prime of my career working for Armani and living in Paris, I had a chicken on my rooftop garden there. Her name was Miranda. All the models would come over for omelets!
WCT: Have you ever played tennis against Martina just for fun?
JL: I did it just for fun, but it ended very badly. I know how to play a little tennis, but my daughter can play better than me. I have fun playing tennis with my daughter, but Martina and I had a challenge once. I told her I would never play tennis with Martina again. That was a few years ago. When I played tennis with Martina that time and she was teaching me, according to her I was actually teaching her to play. We had an argument and that was it.
WCT: How tall are you? You seem statuesque compared to the other Housewives.
JL: I am 5'11" and a half.
WCT: Have you been to Chicago before?
JL: I have been to Chicago once. It was like a fairy tale and during Christmastime. I was at somebody's house and there was a Christmas tree. I came from my tiny apartment in Paris ,and Chicago was like a storybook. It was fantastic and I want to go back.
WCT: My friend is a manager at the gay bar Twist, in Miami. Have you been there before?
JL: I have heard about it, but have not been there yet. As soon as the pandemic is over I will check it out.
WCT: Is there anything else you can tell our readers about the rest of this season of the Housewives?
JL: With me being new to The Real Housewives franchise, I watched the first three seasonsbut this one is so different. The cast is so diverse. Emotions run high and the things you will see are very vibrant. Many unexpected things happen along the way. It is way beyond a typical drama. There are much deeper things happening and people will discover a lot about every single one of us. It is a rollercoaster from the beginning until the end.
WCT: What do you expect to get out of being on The Real Housewives of Miami overall?
JL: What is melting my heart is the opportunity that the show is giving me. Being on national TV and normalizing something that should already have been normalized a long time ago is important. It is about time. Before I was a shy, conservative person. I have come out of my shell a million times more thanks to this show and it is just the beginning! [laughs]
I don't know where this adventure is going to take me, but I am full of hope and joy. I love the show and my cast members. It was an amazing ride!
Visit PeacockTV.com every Thursday to stream The Real Housewives of Miami.