“There is this outpouring of, ‘Why don’t you act this way, Erika? Why aren’t you compassionate? Why don’t you have empathy?’ And the truth is, I do. I’m also under a lot of legal pressure,” the reality star, 50, exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, May 10, while promoting the upcoming season of RHOBH. “I’ve walked right up to the line. I’m fighting with one hand tied behind my back.”
The Bravo personality noted that she shared “just about everything” about her case that she could on screen. “So for that whole situation, it was continuously boiling over. It’s like, ‘What about listening to the woman that’s in front of you? What about listening to what I have to say?” Erika continued. “What if I came to this group and opened up as more than I ever had before and I was criticized for that until that wasn’t true. At some point, you get very frustrated with that.”
Erika’s legal drama has been an ongoing topic of conversation on the hit reality show. While filming season 11 in 2020, the “Painkillr” performer and her now-estranged husband, Tom Girardi, were accused of stealing settlement funds intended for the families of victims killed in a 2018 plane crash. The news came one month after Erika filed for divorce from Tom, 82, in November 2020 after 20 years of marriage.
The Georgia native has continued to claim that she had no knowledge of the former lawyer’s alleged wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and later placed under a conservatorship with his brother, Robert Girardi, acting as the effective conservator of the Colorado native’s person and estate in July 2021.
In the season 12 trailer, viewers saw a glimpse of the clash between Erika and her costars when they continued to question her involvement in the legal situation. During the sneak peek clip, the former Broadway star calls out Crystal, 36, for not siding with her. “You wanna be on the side of the victims because you think that’s cool,” Erika said. “I don’t give a f–k about anybody else but me.”
Ahead of the new season, the Real Coco founder also opened up about how her friendship with Erika has changed.
“Last year I was brand new and it all was unveiling itself. I certainly didn’t feel like I had any right to ask questions and I know other girls did, but I had just met her,” Crystal explained to Us earlier this month. “When she filed for divorce, I had met her three weeks prior, so I’m not gonna grill someone, especially when she is getting a divorce, I’m gonna end up leading with compassion as opposed to judgment.”
With one season under her belt, Crystal said she felt more comfortable questioning her costar. “Things have settled and now it’s really the aftermath and I feel more comfortable in our friendship to ask those harder questions. Because I will always be on the side of victims and that doesn’t mean I’m against others,” she added. “But in this situation, there’s a lot of people that were hurt and are owed a lot and I will speak up for them.”
The California native also pointed out that she was trying to see both sides of the situation. “I can’t control anyone and I can’t tell them what to do. I really try to understand where people are coming from and I tend to give a lot of grace on all sides,” Crystal shared. “But with this situation, there’s no question for me that it’s easy to support [the] victims.”
Erika, for her part, revealed that she had “survival” on her mind going into season 12. “The season before was a real fallout. This season is about really trying to pull yourself together and go on. It was tough but ultimately, I’ll get there and it’s part of the human experience,” the performer explained, telling Us that she “mixed alcohol and antidepressants” while filming.. “You can’t go through what I have gone through the previous season and not feel something. I wanted to have some fun and I wanted to not feel so heavy. So that’s what I did.”
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season 12 premieres on Bravo Wednesday, May 11, at 8 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi