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Interview with Justin Sylvester of "Beverly Hills Nannies" on
ABC Family 7/19/12
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Justin SylvesteróBeverly
Moderator Could you tell us about a scene from your life that for no
other reason didnít make it onto the show but you wish we got to see it?
J. Sylvester Itís a little to say because itís only been two episodes
and I havenít seen the rest of them. Iím hoping everything gets put in.
I donít want to spoil anything. I think as of now from the first two
episodes, everything Iíve done has been showcased on the show.
Maybe going through Marikaís closet. Itís a very fascinating place, that
closet. That didnít get put on the show.
I think the bickering and the banter between Marika and I, itís more
like brother and sister as opposed to employee and employer. I think
that got cut out of the first two episodes. Thatís sort of a letdown for
me because itís so funny and it shows the love that Marika and I have
for each other. But, also weíre so different. Weíre like brother and
sister. Itís funny; itís great and that got cut out.
Moderator It seems like youíre set up to be the break-out star of the
nannies. But, do you know if any of the other people might be competing
with you? Who do you think is your main competition for being number one
nanny of the crew?
J. Sylvester I think everybody. The competition is up in the air. I
think everybody brings something different to the table from Amanda who
brings her home town humbleness and kindness with her to Shaun whoís an
author and an illustrator to even Maggie. I think everyone has that
certain something. Iím really excited for you guys to see how Maggieís
story unfolds because Maggieís got so much to offer that you havenít
seen in the first two episodes that youíre going to be really surprised
by at the end of this season.
Moderator You work as a real nanny and you get paid to be a real nanny,
but does the show compensate you as well?
J. Sylvester Well, I work as a Ladysitter, and I do get paid. When
youíre on reality TV and you have that time, you do get compensated.
Itís not anything crazy. But, yes, you do get compensated for your time.
Moderator If you would happen to quit your nanny job or heaven forbid
get fired, would the show follow you, or would you have to leave the
show at that point?
J. Sylvester Itís so funny. I think at this point you will see there
will be a change in my employment and they follow that. Obviously, you
saw me on episode two interview Lindsay Faulk. Something changes in the
next two weeks.
But, I think as being a part of Nanny and a part of something, thereís
always some downtime. Thereís some change. Itís my life and Iím a nanny
no matter what, if Iím employed or if Iím unemployed. It will follow me
if I were to be looking for another job or unemployed at the moment.
Moderator Being from the South, what do you find comparable in the
people and culture of California to where you were raised in Louisiana?
J. Sylvester In the big scheme of things, I feel as if Iíve been very
lucky to work for the people I have worked for. I think the main thing
that brings me back to my roots and that reminds me of home is that no
matter how rich, how poor, how busy, or how successful a family is I
think the main theme is love throughout. I love every family Iíve been
paired with in California thus far in the past few years. Itís been
There are so many different things that are not like Louisiana. There
are so many different people. There are so many different jobs,
industries, everything. But, in the grand scheme of things, it all comes
back to the love that these families have for one another and how much
respect they have for one another. The goal is the same, a happy,
Moderator Being in California is there anything then that you really
miss about Louisiana?
J. Sylvester Yes! The food...I miss the food. I miss the French Quarter
in New Orleans. This is really weird Ė I miss the heat because for some
reason, the heat brought everyone together. Itís just a fun place to be
during festival season. Louisiana is an unbelievable place. It should be
a country on its own.
Moderator What is one unique thing about you that makes you a great
J. Sylvester I think the one unique thing about myself that makes me a
great nanny is that Iím a Ladysitter. As a nanny, you only care for the
kids. But, as a Ladysitter, you have a multifaceted job. Iím a personal
assistant; Iím a nanny; Iím a stylist; Iím a consultant; Iím a life
coach. In this series, youíll see it all unfold and youíll see how I
play a huge part in not only the kidsí lives, but in the mothersí lives
Moderator I like that a lot. That really makes you a bigger part of the
kidsí lives because I have a five-year-old daughter and Iím all of those
things to myself and her and my husband. So, itís just a bigger part of
being a part of their family, I think.
Do you like being nanny-sitter or a Ladysitter better?
J. Sylvester I like being a Ladysitter because itís...everything put
together and your day is very different. But, I think the most rewarding
part about being a Ladysitter is every Ladysitting client Iíve ever had
has hired me and has wanted to spend more time with their kids. So, what
I do is remediate some of the stress for the mom. She can be a better
mother, a better wife, and a better business woman.
So, I basically help women juggle it all, because in this day and age,
women can have it all. Thatís one of the most important things is being
able to make someoneís life easier so that they can spend time with
their kids. I know the kids appreciate it, I know the moms appreciate
it, and I know the husbands appreciate it. Itís an unbelievable job and
I would never give it up for the world.
Moderator Itís really cool to see an out man of color on TV. We donít
get enough of that. Iím curious has it helped your career and in what
way being black and gay?
J. Sylvester I guess growing up in the South, being black and being gay
was supposed to be a taboo. But, I didnít see it that way. Iíve always
been comfortable with who I am, so I never thought about myself as black
Iíve always just thought about myself as Justin. So, itís really hard to
even gauge that because I donít even think about people looking at my
color or my sexual orientation. I always feel like they need me and my
personality. I was surrounded by great people growing up.
I always just relied on who I was and my character and my morals. I
donít know. Itís a tough question. I donít know if that even plays a
factor in my career.
Moderator Some of these other famous housewives and people like that
have created these incredible careers. Iím curious what would you like
to do? Where can we find you say in a year from now leveraging your
J. Sylvester Itís so funny that you ask that because the reason why Iíve
always wanted to move to L.A. since I was 13 years old. When I was 13
years old, about two months before Christmas, I saw a GAP holiday
commercial. I thought to myself, I have to move to L.A. because I have
to be on like a GAP holiday commercial.
That was my dream when I was 13 years old. Every time they would come
on, I would put on this cape and I would dance and I would learn the GAP
holiday commercials. I would write to GAP and tell them I wanted to be
in a holiday commercial. How corny was I at 13?
But, I have a degree in advertising from LSU and I really would like to
be either doing something with my degree, or, my biggest goal to date is
I would love to empower women, whether itís through affordable clothing,
coming up with a clothing line thatís affordable for the everyday woman
with style. Thatís a really big dream of mine. I think Iím going to make
it happen, hopefully.
Moderator There seems to be a lot of interest on TV these days about
nannies. You have Disney Channelís Jessie, ABC Familyís Melissa and
Joey, and to a lesser extent, Baby Daddy. What do you think is the
reason that the au pair profession has had an interest generated in
J. Sylvester I think the interest comes from watching other reality
shows like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You almost want to know
everything. Youíve seen it from the housewifeís point of view. Youíve
seen it from the husbandís point of view. But, you never see it from the
helpís point of view.
I think the profession has been around for so long and it has evolved so
much that everyoneís interested in it. I think it took shows like Real
Housewives and Downton Abbey to really bring it to life and that the
help actually had something to say. It was our time. I think the worldís
just ready for it. Theyíre ready for everything Ė the truth and the
nitty-gritty. So, thatís why theyíre all interested in the nannies now.
Moderator How do you feel that the scripted shows like Jessie and
Melissa and Joey portray the actual work involved in being a nanny?
J. Sylvester I donít think they show a lot of the tough stuff. Being a
nanny is really tough and itís a lot of pressure because itís someone
elseís children and itís someone elseís property. So, you really have to
be careful. Some of them donít show some of the real things that people
go through being a nanny; like going through puberty with someone or
dealing with divorce or single parenting.
Itís very tough to get the real reaction and the real interaction when
there are problems and issues like that, like teen pregnancy and drugs
and alcohol. I think that sometimes on TV itís hard to address those
things in a scripted sense because not everyone has the same reaction
about the same experiences. So, thatís how I think itís a little bit
I think once this show grows, weíll get deeper and the characters will
get deeper and their relationships and the bonds will get deeper. I
think itís all going to evolve. Youíre going to see how real life
circumstances play a big part in this docu-series as opposed to the
Moderator Have you ever been asked to do something that you have been
taken off guard by or you just refused to do?
J. Sylvester There are a lot of things that you are asked to do. I think
sometimes taking to kids about divorce is really hard. At some point, a
mom may ask you to do that. That was a request that was brought to me.
She thought I would be the best person to talk her daughter about it
because we had such a close relationship. She thought that she would
take the news from me a little bit better because my parents are
separated. It did catch me off guard.
But, I get where she was coming from. She just wanted her daughter to
have someone to relate to and to talk to about it. She didnít think her
daughter would be open and honest with her. So, she asked me to do it.
Yes, it did catch me off guard. I almost didnít want to do it because I
But, Iím happy that I did it and Iím happy that I gave that child a
place to come and to talk and to vent. Four years later, I still talk to
her daughter today about the same issues and about how sheís coping with
her parentsí divorce because itís an ongoing thing and it will be an
ongoing thing for the rest of her life. Iím happy to be a part of her
life and a part of that chapter for her.
Moderator Is there anything that any past employer or present owns that
surprises you as over the top?
J. Sylvester I think at one time an employer had a G-IV jet that she
would take everywhere. I But, that was the most extravagant thing. She
actually got it for her 40th birthday as a gift.
Moderator What is the strangest thing you have seen so far on the show?
J. Sylvester Oh, my god. I think the strangest thing I have to say is
Marikaís breast milk. The problem was you didnít get to see the amount.
I wish I could have taken out all of the bags for you because I
seriously thought that Marika was hiding like six Guatemalan wet nurses
in her attic. I knew she was lying to me and she was hiding them because
there was no way Marika can make that much milk.
It was unbelievable. The deep freezer, the freezer-freezer; it was
unreal. That to me was probably the gnarliest thing Iíve ever
experienced in my life.
Moderator What is she doing with it?
J. Sylvester I have no idea. She was giving it to her dogs. Sheís going
to save the world with it. She does her hair with it. Itís really
unbelievable. But, more power to her that she feeds and pumps that much
Moderator On the show, who are you friends with or closest to?
J. Sylvester Iím closest to Amanda. Towards the end of the season, there
will be a divide. Youíll see it play out. Itís actually really, really
organic how different groups come together for different reasons.
Thatís one of the most exciting and important relationships on this show
are the group of friends that are made through something like drama.
Youíll see it all play out. Iím really excited for you guys to see it.
Itís going to be great.
Moderator Who would you like to be closer to?
J. Sylvester I think I would like to get to know Maggie a lot better
because I feel like Maggie has a lot to offer. Sheís full of surprises.
Youíll see every time we meet, I learn something new about her; every
single time. She never ceases to amaze me. She is literally a jack of
I wish that she would channel that into something. I think she will. I
think as the series goes on I think me and Maggie will have a strong
Moderator What do you really like to do with the kids?
J. Sylvester With the kids, I think my biggest motivation is going
outside because as a child my grandmother raised me with my mother. Her
rule was if you came in the house you had to take a nap. So, I spent a
lot of time outside. As a kid, we ran everywhere in Louisiana because
there was just so much land. You can run everywhere. It was basically
like a Huckleberry Finn situation.
So, for me my childhood was made so much fun to just be outside with my
friends. I think kids these days are in front of a TV, on an iPhone, on
an iPad, or in front of a computer too much. I just want to remind them
that some of the best times happen with a tree or with a bird and just
to be outside because you will never get that time back. You have all
this time during your adult life to sit in front of a computer. Youíre
just wasting it away.
I wish I could be twelve again to run outside and ride a bicycle all
day. My favorite thing to do with kids is be anywhere outside: at a
park, in the yard, playing basketball. Thatís what I like to do.
Moderator What age range of kids you prefer; babies or toddlers?
J. Sylvester I have two age ranges. I like from the ages of three to six
because they start saying the darnedest things. They say things that
they donít even realize. They start to mimic people. They start to get
Then, I also like girls 13 to 16 because they a little sassy. I like a
little fight. I like it when someone gives me a little fight. I like the
Moderator Do you feel that the cameras make your job as the nanny a bit
J. Sylvester I think yes because thereís so much pressure. But, I think
everyoneís nervous in the first three episodes because the cameras are
there. Then, you get used to them. So, then it just becomes natural.
Itís kind of scary that it becomes natural, that you have five extra
people at your work and you donít even realize that theyíre there. But,
yes, it makes it very hard because people will be judging you and not
everybody will agree with your methods or how you handle things. Itís
your call, itís your job and theyíre going to just have to live with it.
Moderator Do you feel that the cameras maybe have a negative influence
and create situations that might not normally occur?
J. Sylvester No. I actually think the cameras subdue the kids that I was
watching because they didnít want to embarrass themselves on camera.
But, again, I think once you get used to them being there you kind of
open up and you let it go. I think a lot of my time was spent with the
lady that I ended up with because I am a Ladysitter.
We opened up a lot. I get really personal about my life and she gets
really personal about her life. We figure things out together and we
work on our business. Weíre just very open and honest. I donít think the
cameras really make a difference toward the end. I think you just want
to be yourself and you forget that theyíre even there.
Moderator A lot of people would love to see more of you on TV. So, Iím
curious if you could guest star on any of the ABC Family dramas, which
one would you like to be on?
J. Sylvester Girl, I already have this role picked out. I want to work
on Pretty Little Liars and I just want to work as a hot barista at the
coffee shop and have one or two lines every now and then and just hang
out at the coffee shop because I think itís cool. I would like my job on
Felicity whenever I was a kid. I wanted to work with Steven DeLuca and
I think if I could be the sassy black gay man that works at the coffee
shop and helps the girls figure everything out-that would be like my
Moderator If you could work for any family, who would your dream
J. Sylvester Itís so weird. Everyone asks me that question. I think I
already had my dream job. Working for Kyle Richards was such an
unbelievable experience. It was literally a dream come true and it was
the best job to have fresh out of college. I think I had my dream job.
My second dream job I think would have to be working for Beyoncť because
she traveled so much. Sheís so creative and she has her hand in
everything. To learn everything from her would be unbelievable.
Moderator I just saw on Twitter that you use Craigís List, which I think
is super cool and down to earth. I just was curious if you have a budget
when it comes to things that you do with the kids or is that just kind
of a free for all?
J. Sylvester It just depends on the family. I always try to budget
because Iím very weird about money. I didnít grow up with a lot of money
and as a nanny I donít have that much money. Iíve been balancing
checkbooks since I was 15 years old. So, I budget through life no matter
what. If I can get a generic brand or secondhand, nicely used something,
I will do it before I buy something brand new. Thatís just how I am. Iím
going to be that way my whole life.
That is something that I would like to bring to the kids that I work
with: a sense of responsibility in money management. Just because you
can afford it doesnít mean you necessarily have to have it. Thatís my
motto. If I can find something thatís secondhand, I would do it in a
heartbeat. It has so much more character and it comes with a story.
Moderator Do the employers that you work for like it when you want to
take interest in their kids like that; teach them life skills and not
just be their babysitter?
J. Sylvester I think that is probably why Iíve held jobs for a long
time. I think they do appreciate that. No one wants someone just to come
in and see their kids as a way to pay their rent. Thatís not what people
want. When Iím invested in a job, I want to give 100% of it. I want to
give myself wholeheartedly and I want to dedicate myself to my job.
With kids, itís extra important to do your best and to always be on
point because these kids are defining themselves at this moment. Theyíre
looking to you for guidance and to know what to do in life. Youíre their
role models. You become a part of who theyíre going to become. So, for
me, yes, I want to put all my heart and soul into it. Itís such a great
thing to say that you had an impact on someoneís life.
I think itís important and I do love it. I think thatís why my Southern
hospitality and my Southern upbringing is a testament to that. Itís why
I am the way I am.
Moderator Where you see yourself in five years?
J. Sylvester In 2017, I see myself previewing my seventh or eighth
collection for Ross or Marshalls or something somewhere where women
around the country can afford to be stylish and look good and be great,
and just feel great about themselves. Thatís really what I want to do is
to bring that L.A. flair and that California style to every woman in
America at an affordable price.
Moderator Go a little deeper and where do you see yourself in 25 years?
J. Sylvester In 25 years, I see myself going to my daughterís graduation
I see myself going to my daughterís graduation from Princeton and
talking about the three right behind me, because Iím going to have a
Moderator You touched on this a little bit earlier, but can you tell us
maybe your most embarrassing or most disgusting moment that youíve had
being a nanny?
J. Sylvester I think my most embarrassing moment of being a nanny was I
was 17 years old. When I was 17, I babysat this little girl who came
everywhere with me. She was literally like my daughter and I thought it
I was walking around and I see this guy I have a crush on and we talk in
the mall and weíre hanging out. He goes, ďDo you smell that?Ē and I was
like, ďNo, I donít smell anything.Ē At this point, the baby was probably
about 13 months. Iím holding it against me. I finally started to smell
it. I looked down and the little girl had pooped through her diaper and
itís all over me.
It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life because I
thought I was too cool for school. I had this cute baby that I babysat.
We were at the mall and I got s**t on my shirt.
Moderator Where would you draw the line and say no, Iím not going to do
this. Iím out of here.
J. Sylvester Oh, rubbing Marikaís feet; rubbing Marikaís feet 100%. That
was the line. But, you know what? Itís so funny. I have rubbed plenty of
wivesí feet when they need it, when theyíve had a long day at work or
whatever. I donít know. If itís immoral or illegal, I wonít do it.
But, Iím pretty tolerant of a lot of things and a lot of people have a
lot of outlandish requests. Thereís not a lot I wouldnít do. I mean if
itís legal and sane, and I wouldnít get hurt from it or throw up, Iím
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