Interview with Justin Sylvester of " Beverly Hills Nannies" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Justin Sylvester

Interview with Justin Sylvester of "Beverly Hills Nannies" on ABC Family 7/19/12

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Justin SylvesteróBeverly Hills Nannies

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 unbelievable.

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, healthy life.

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 nanny?

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 as well.

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 or gay.

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 success?

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 them?

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 different.

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 scripted.

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 felt uncomfortable.

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 milk.

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 all trades.

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 relationship.

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 their personalities.

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 sassy ages.

Moderator Do you feel that the cameras make your job as the nanny a bit more difficult?

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 everybody.

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 dream role.

Moderator If you could work for any family, who would your dream employer be?

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 from Princeton.
I see myself going to my daughterís graduation from Princeton and talking about the three right behind me, because Iím going to have a Brady Bunch.

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 was unbelievable.

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 fine.

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