Entertainment: Sheree Zampino on Being Hesitant to Join 'RHOBH' and All Those Social Media Rumors (Exclusive)

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Sheree Zampino felt like she'd been there, done that when it comes to reality TV thanks to her time on VH1's Hollywood Exes... then The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills came calling. Or rather, texting.

"It started with a text from Garcelle [Beauvais], and she reached out and said that the casting director was going to give me a call and I'm thinking, 'For what? I am not doing reality because I did reality...'" Sheree recalls, speaking with ET over video chat. "I was kind of content to not and I said, 'You know what? ... Let me take the call,' and at least be in a position to turn something down, you know what I mean? Like that's just a smart way to do it. And before you know it, I went through the process and ... here we are, and it has been a very interesting ride."

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Sheree stepped into the RHOBH ensemble about a quarter of the way through filming season 12, but she didn't pick up a diamond. Instead, she's a "friend of" the cast, alongside Kathy Hilton.

"It was just interesting because I'm a fan. I watched the show," she confesses. "So, there were times when it just felt like I was in a virtual reality experience and I had to remind myself, you're really here because I was just like, my mouth was open like, this is insane!"

Sheree's slipped in quite nicely, though, receiving plenty of fan praise online, with some viewers referring to her as a "voice of reason" and "what this group needed."

"I am grateful for the welcoming reception and all the kind words that the fans have had to stay," she gushes. "I am most grateful and I just pray to keep that going. Remember you like me. Just remember that. If I say something you don't, just remember you like me, OK?"

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All that praise has been balanced with some online attacks, too, with some people questioning Sheree's social media -- a former first lady of a church, Sheree will sometimes open up her Cash App to followers who want to "sow into the word" -- and coming for her online boutique, which sells designer-inspired merchandise. Gossip blogs claim the FBI is looking into Sheree's business for selling knockoff goods, but Sheree shuts that down.

"This is the thing, I think you have to take it all," Sheree says of the good and bad of social media. "I think people sometimes read things and believe what they read. They don't do any research, they take everything at face value, and it's unfair and we can all do better. Let's try to at least try to understand the story a little bit. With the boutique, who doesn't? It's a trickle-down effect. The things that I sell are designer inspired. Nothing has a logo, nothing is stamped with a designer name. You know what I mean? It's like, so that's crazy. But I'm like, OK, welcome to the Housewives. Here we go! I knew it was a matter of time. I didn't think it was going to be this soon, because I'm still a friend, but I mean, here it goes."

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"And then the tithing, I will say that if it doesn't make sense to you-- what happens is, when I do these inspirational messages, a lot of people reach out to me and say to me, 'I want to sow, I want to sow into the word, what's your Cash App?'" she explains. "What we understand, we understand what sowing is. If you don't sow, you don't reap. It's a spiritual concept, but it's a universal thing. It's sowing and reaping. It's karma. It's the same thing, but we understand it differently. So, for people that don't understand it, you don't have to. We know that if you put seed in good ground, you reap and it's coming into agreement with something, but people that don't understand it, just don't do it."

Then there's that rumor a rat bit Sheree while attending an event at Lisa Rinna's house, seemingly at the Rinna Rosè wine tasting party that aired last week.

"Where does this stuff come from?!" she asks. "Where does it come from? There were no rats. I was like, is this a real story? And then my friends started to ask me, they were texting me 'You good?' 'Did you get bit?' I said, 'Are you kidding?' This is a real story? People really believe this?! So, I actually reached out to Lisa and I said, 'What is this about? I'll address it. Let me tell people that I didn't get bit by a rat because now my friends are starting to worry, my family's worried.' So yeah, I don't know where this stuff comes from. There were no rats there."

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No rats, but a little cat-fighting took place, as Lisa unleashed on Sutton Stracke over what seemed to be buried drama involving tickets purchased for an Elton John-hosted charity event. It's one of the many trial-by-fire moments Sheree experienced filming with these women, as Garcelle refused to give her any insight into how anyone operates.

"She let me explore on my own, which is actually bittersweet," Sheree shares. "The sweet part of it is, she didn't try to poison my mind or try to say, 'This is who this person is, this is who that person...' So, I was able to really go in and be present and really kind of form my own opinions and understanding of the dynamics and who the ladies were. But on one hand, it's like -- I always say to her -- our thing is, I'll look at her and just be like, 'What the hell?!'"

Having been a viewer, though, Sheree did have a few preconceived notions about these ladies -- much of which was proven wrong the more she got to know them.

"There were a couple that I didn't like," she confesses. "And then I said, you know what? But I understand reality and you don't always see everything in context. So, I'm going to give them a fair shot and you're going to ask me who it is!"

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"It was Erika [Jayne]," she coughs up. "Erika, I was like, oh my god... yeah, I didn't care for her, but I will say too, that in hearing what all the other women are saying, and then knowing what I know is, she's less guarded, she's more present, she's more engaged. So, that was nice to see."

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Sheree also took a liking to Crystal Kung Minkoff, whom she says is "a lot more fun than she's portrayed on the show." She's also a fan of newbie Diana Jenkins, even if the audience is a bit cold toward the diamond-holder.

"I'm from New York, so I always like to know where I stand, you know what I mean? Even if you don't like me, I like to know that," she says. "Don't play that you like me and you don't. .... She's super like, you know where you stand, she is who she is."

Sheree also enjoys OG Kyle Richards, despite what some recent headlines from an interview she did on the Behind the Velvet Rope podcast might imply. When Sheree suggested Kyle "sit down" during group issues, she really meant to sit some out.

"I didn't mean it in a very negative, dismissive kind of way," she clarifies. "Sometimes, it's the two cents is not necessary. You kind of let things play out and you let people have their moment. So, that's what I meant."

The show also created a new bond for Sheree and Garcelle, who have been friends for years. Sheree made a cameo appearance during Garcelle's first season on Housewives back in 2020, which sort of sparked the campaign to bring her onboard in a more official capacity. That connection helped the pair navigate the cast trip to Aspen, Colorado, which Sheree sums up as "bonkers."

"It's from zero to a hundred," Sheree teases. Ahead of the season, Erika hinted at an explosive moment between herself and the group Sheree was staying with on the trip -- Garcelle, Crystal and Sutton -- saying it's the one thing from season 12 she wishes she could take back on the Two Ts in a Pod podcast.

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"It's crazy because we'll be having a great time, and then all of a sudden, it just goes left and it's like a sucker punch," Sheree shares. "You don't know when it's coming. It's like, OK, here we go..."

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A moment from the mid-season trailer seems like it might be about this altercation. On FaceTime, Garcelle tells Sheree, "She could be on fire and I've got no fire to throw on her," to which Sheree replies, "We gotta at least spit on her." Now, Sheree admits she can't recall who they were talking about in that moment.

"I don't have a great memory -- and it's not an age thing, I have always been like this," she notes, going on to say that, from what she remembers about Aspen, she's not looking forward to watching it back on TV.

"There's nothing that I'd like to relive," Sheree cracks. "I think once is more than enough. These are very full and overwhelming experiences, so I'm good. It's like eating too much cake or something. So, whatever it's like you'll get sick if you stay in that place and continue to, so you really do have to you kind of have to move back, step back, and I had to do a lot of that. A lot of stepping back, times in solitude just to get my equilibrium back. So, there is nothing that I'd like to relive. No."

She will be happy to see some gaps filled in, though, as she gets to see moments she wasn't in the room for when they happened (like the much-rumored drama with Kathy).

"I'm not in everything, I'm not at every time they taped, I wasn't there," she explains. "I mean, I got some of the details, the information, it was told to me. So, to see that play out is going to be like, yeah... big box of popcorn."

While there's still a lot of season 12 left to watch, fans are always dream-casting the next season -- and Sheree's down to test out a diamond should the offer come her way. She didn't quite get the full fantasy experience this time around, at least not yet, seeing as she has not sat down for on-camera confessional interviews.

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"I can't lie, it would be very nice to be offered a diamond," she confesses. "I don't know what I'm going to do with the diamond, but it would be very nice to be offered the diamond."

It would also give Sheree a chance to show off more of her life. A major reason for saying "yes" to the show was the platform of it; along with her online boutique, Sheree has a skincare range called Whoop Ash. She says she's struggled in business because she's a sensitive, creative type, not brash in the boardroom.

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"That might be a good thing to see played out, because I'm sure like myself, there are many women who might struggle with their confidence in business," she reflects.

Viewers would also likely see her family, which includes her 29-year-old son, Trey, whom she shares with ex-husband Will Smith. Sheree's described herself, Will and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as the "poster children for blended families," seeing as they spend holidays together and celebrate life's milestones as an extended fam. The whole group was together in March when Will won the Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Awards, a night that took an unexpected turn when the King Richard star stormed the stage to slap presenter Chris Rock after he made a joke at Jada's expense. Will went into hiding, to an extent, in the aftermath of the awards, resurfacing last week with an apology message posted to social media.

"I don't have any concrete information to report, so it would just be for me, a lot of speculation other than the fact that, Will is good," Sheree offers as an update, revealing that the actor didn't give the family a heads-up that his video was going up online.

"He's a great man and he's human and he's evolving just like the rest of us are," she shares. "My thing is, he's been in this business so long and he loves people. He loves people. There are a lot of people that are entertainers and actors that are introverts that don't just don't even necessarily want to be famous, but the gift makes them famous. He does it with such grace and love and dignity. He's so kind to people. And I just hope that people give him that same grace and kindness and love back, that's what I hope for him."

Sheree says Will and Jada have been nothing but supportive of her journey to RHOBH, but she doesn't know if they're watching her on the show.

"I just can't bring myself to ask!" she admits. "I just, I can't muster up like, 'Will, are you watching me? Jada, are you watching me on my...' I just, yeah..."

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.

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