Rachel Reilly knows a thing or two about reality television. She made her first appearance on the small screen in 2010 during Season 12 of "Big Brother," where she met Brendon Villegas. They married, and remain one of the most memorable "Big Brother" couples of the entire series. Fast-forward through the duo's redeeming return in Season 13, exciting runs on unscripted staples "The Amazing Race" and "Celebrity Fear Factor," and, of course, the births of their two children, and Reilly and hubby are ready to tackle their next big adventure: moving across the country. Of course, they're bringing the cameras along with them.
As she told Nicki Swift in an exclusive interview, Reilly and the fam are documenting their travels in a new show, "I Love the Brenchels – Moving On," coming soon to digital streaming channel bspoketv. But don't expect the series, which references their adorable couple nickname, to be your typical drama joyride. While traveling across the country, Reilly and her family will be participating in service projects and meeting local communities in hopes of making a positive impact.
It's all par for the course for Reilly, and as anyone who follows her on Instagram knows, she's gone on to work in reality show casting, become an outspoken advocate for body positivity, and learned to take her platform as an influencer seriously since her arrival on television a decade ago. She's only got one regret — but more on that later.
First off, how has pandemic life been treating you? I know we're on the up curve of it all.
I mean, it's been crazy. There's a few things that I think we all probably appreciate about the pandemic, like getting to work from home and spending more time with your actual family. And you can kind of tell people, "Oh, I'm sorry I can't come because it's a pandemic."
It's kind of been nice. I had the baby in November, so I was pregnant for most of the pandemic. And then after the pregnancy, I just kind of got to take an extra break. I will say, I know it's been crazy for everyone, but it hasn't been... It's been a year, I guess. It's been fun. I spend more time with my family, and get to stay at home a little bit more, and do more arts and crafts, and be a little more laid back.
It seems like you haven't really slowed down at all, work wise. You're about to embark on this big journey with your new show "I Love the Brenchels – Moving On." How did that opportunity come along?
I missed "Big Brother All-Stars," as we all know. I was so sad and bummed about that because I would have totally loved to be on that show. After I had the baby, I was like, I've always been creating shows, but I started really reaching out to people.
My husband Brendon [Villegas] is going to be doing a residency, so he had no idea where we were going. First, let me set that up for you. He did this residency program and it's called The Match. During the match process, you don't even know where you're ending up. We literally just found out where we're moving. Crazy, right? We literally just found out where we're moving.
And so with the move, I was like, "I've filmed my wedding on television, Brendon and I met on television, we're moving from LA, we've been here for 10 years. Let's go ahead and film that." We partnered with bspoketv and I really love working with them because they're so innovative. They're so talent-focused where they really allow the creators to kind of be in control of their own destiny, which is really a unique and cool thing about this show. It's like I created it. Along the way, I'm picking the destinations. I'm picking what we're going to do for the service work. I'm picking the reality stars we meet up with. I wanted to create something that was going to be about ... what I've been doing for the past 10 years. I wanted to bring my reality friends along. It just kind of made sense to me to involve them in this show. I've made so many amazing friendships over the past 10 years being on all these shows.
And when we decided we wanted to kind of start traveling, I was like, well, if we're going to do something, I want to teach my children what's really important about the world. We're kind of pairing up with service organizations and different ways that we can help in each individual community, and kind of make a sustainable impact.
This is definitely a much more personal show. We've seen you on these competition shows and we did see the wedding but was it a harder decision to take on a show that's more focused on you and your family?
Yeah, not really (laughs) I love it. I feel like I'm such a sharing kind of person and it's kind of fun because I've shared my journey in little bits, of course, on social media. We all do, right?
I've gotten to kind of share my journey a little bit with my followers on social media. And so now with the opportunity with [bspoketv], I was just like, "Yes, let's do this We're moving. It's going to be fun and crazy, but we're going to mix that with like an actual show format." I'm really excited about it.
So, you're linking up with some other reality stars. Are these going to be first-time reunions with people or some of the friends you've stayed in touch with?
A little bit of both. Definitely some people that I have kept in touch with over the years, of course. They're the first people I called, right? We get to hang out with our friends again, which is amazing. One of the very first episodes we're going to go visit my best friend, Ryan [Allen Carrillo], he was on "Expedition Impossible." We had a show together called "Reality Relapse," and we're going to go visit him at his new castle house in Joshua Tree. We kind of get to catch up with him. Yeah, it's epic.
And then some other people — I've been working in casting, so [they're] people that I actually cast for a reality show who went on to win that show and do big things. I'm really excited about that because it's like a full circle thing. It's kind of cool I've actually got to put people on reality [TV] in the same position that I've been in. So we're going to meet up with some friends that I've cast on shows and some that we've been keeping in touch with, some people that we haven't seen for a few years but are really excited to partner with us to do some cool projects in their area. It's going to be a really fun adventure.
The service aspect is definitely a big part of the show and it's a wonderful thing to teach your kids and anyone watching. I know you're big on using your platform for good, but I was wondering at what point did you realize, "Wow, I have a platform. I have all these people following me. How am I going to navigate that?"
Okay, I think about this all the time. I'm always like, "What am I going to put out there to the world?" That's the first thing I think about. Because when I did "Big Brother" the first time, the only thing that was really big was Twitter. I mean, this was years ago, right? We didn't have Instagram, we didn't have TikTok. Now I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I have all these people who are following me and who I can actually maybe influence to do something in their community." And actually, if I'm going to be an influencer, as they call us, right, I want to make sure that that is leaving an impact and a sustainable impact. And I think for this show, it was probably one of the first things I thought about because I was like, "What do I want to do?"
Michael, who's the CEO at [bspoketv] was like, "Well, what do you want to film? Do you just want to film the move? Is that just kind of like what the show is going to be?" And I was like, "No. You know what, if I can actually do this, I want to do something that is going to make an impact, that's going to leave a sustainable imprint in the community. Something that people can kind of follow along and maybe they'll get involved with also when they're traveling or just people that are locals in the community."
So for me, it was kind of something that was a no-brainer because I am always involved with a lot of service organizations, even just in LA. But when we have the opportunity on the road to do these projects, I got really excited. Because I know it's like you think you can't make an impact in 24 hours and it can be overwhelming, but the truth is you can make an impact in 10 minutes in someone's life. Like a smile makes an impact.
So there are these little things we can do instead of just going in and being crazy, like how I have been in some of the other shows. We can go in and we can make a difference and leave a sustainable impact in that community.
We've been watching you for about ten years since you were on "Big Brother." Does it feel like it's been that long of a journey?
Oh my gosh. Yeah, actually I feel... Time flies, right?
It sure does.
It feels like 10 years was yesterday. But in actuality, I feel like it was a full lifetime ago. I'm not the same Rachel anymore. And Brendon and I've been married now since 2012, which is so long. And we had got together in 2010 so it's been like 11 years, which some days it feels like it's been an eternity, like I've known him for my whole life, and some days it feels like it's been just like a minute. It goes by so quick you don't even realize it.
I'm sure you've made a lot of great memories on "Big Brother," "Celebrity Fear Factor," and "The Amazing Race," but do you have any regrets from the show or things you wish you did differently, especially looking back older and more mature?
Yes, older, more mature Rachel would have shaved her head. No, in all seriousness, that's funny, that's the only thing I really regret. I'm like, I always wonder and question what would have happened if I would have shaved my head on "Amazing Race" in Season 20, because I think we could have won that show. The thing is, is you never know. We could have just won that one leg or whatever, but looking back, I'm like, I don't know. I was getting married so I was thinking in my head, "I'm going to get married in a few months, I need my hair." But looking back, I'm like, I should've just done it. The fearless Rachel in me, I think if I would've had five more minutes, would have just gone ahead and done it. If Brendan would've convinced me, I would have done it. But Brendon, he just didn't want to go there.
Shifting gears a bit to social media which is a big part of your job. Do you have any tips for people trying to navigate having a presence on these platforms and maintaining their mental health?
What I always think about is when I was on ["Big Brother"] Season 12 ... I just had so many people on "Big Brother" that just didn't like me, and on Twitter, that was all we had. People would come at me so hard and it was kind of the beginning of this social media meanness, I guess, where the trolls or whoever, they would just come at you and they were so mean. And I had never experienced that and I didn't really know, like, how to navigate it. I did go into a little bit of a depression. It really did, it affected me and it influenced my own personal outlook on life.
And then I started thinking in my head, I am this amazing person, I went on this show. Even in real life, for social media people, you're an amazing person. You're putting your life out there. These people aren't putting their lives out there, right? I went on the show, I put my life out there. I took this opportunity and this risk. I went on an adventure and I did it. And so if they don't like me, they don't like me.
And I also realized in ["Big Brother"] Season 13, the same people that hated me totally changed their tune and were my biggest fans in Season 13. I just was like, you know what, people out in the internet world don't matter. What matters is your family, what matters is what you think about yourself. And it's really important to continuously remind yourself, you're not competing with someone. You're not trying to be this other person. You are who you are and people will follow you. And if they don't follow you, who cares, but they're going to, right?
I read this quote recently that even people that don't let you know, you're still making an impact on their lives. So sometimes you don't even know who you're influencing or who you're making an impact on and that's just because you shared something that someone related to or they needed to hear it that day.
And so I just think mental health is so important. Don't let the internet influence your own mental health. But if it is, then maybe step away from it. Otherwise, if you're able to, have fun, put yourself out there, be creative, be who you are. And I think that's the most important message is we're going to love who you are and who you're sharing, and that's going to attract the right people.
Yeah, for sure. And thankfully, we've gotten a bit past the days where there were only Twitter trolls. Now we have Insta, we can show pictures, and TikTok and make cute videos. There's definitely uplifting spaces I think when you look for them.
A hundred percent. I feel like when you're looking for uplifting spaces, it's a million different things you can find. But when you're looking for the negative things as well, you can flood your brain with that too.
And you know what, these are our brains, we can think what we want. We can put in front of ourselves what we want to see. And if we make those conscious decisions to find the good news, to find the good people that are putting out the fun and putting out the good energy and putting out — something as simple as their beautiful artwork. It could be a person that's just having a positive message in the morning. If you put that in front of yourself, it's going to impact your whole day.
And I've also had to do that sometimes too. I'm like, "I can't watch the news today. I need to just focus on the good, focus on what's coming next and focus on just making myself like mental okay and present."
Body positivity has been another lane you've definitely leaned into on social media. I was wondering what kind of inspired that decision to open up about that for you and why was it important, especially being a mom now?
I feel that with being a mom it's so important for us to leave a good impression on our children. I have a daughter and I do not want her to be raised thinking that she needs to worry about what she looks like at all, in general. But especially, I don't want her to think about her body image. I want her to have a positive body image no matter what that body looks like. I want her to just embrace it and embrace the beautiful person that she is inside.
And so for me, it's been scary and sometimes I'm like, "Ah, what am I doing?" But I just wanted to embrace that and I wanted to try to be the best example I could for her. Because I look at her, and she's five years old now, and she looks at me, she listens to everything I say. Whatever it is that I'm saying, they're absorbing it. And it's not just your immediate family, the kids on the internet are absorbing it too.
If you can have any type of— put that message out there where it's like body positivity and embrace who you are and embrace your uniqueness, embrace your flaws. I love that the media is doing that these days too. Because I feel like I feel more comfortable in my own skin and I feel like we're embracing all these different things that people used to not embrace. You don't have to look a certain way. We love it when you don't, you know what I mean? And I think that's so important too.
Yeah, we have so many years of negative self-talk we're going to have to overcome. And then just hearing that from a young age, I think that's really awesome and super inspiring.
A hundred percent. Like for me, I had to change my point of view too, because I wasn't raised thinking body positivity. It wasn't really a thing when we were growing up for my generation. I think that I want to make sure that it is a thing now with my daughter's generation.
Reality TV has grown a lot over the years, as have you and your career. I was wondering, do you still watch reality shows like "Amazing Race" and "Big Brother?"
Oh my gosh, I love all reality TV. I love it all ... I mean, I love "Amazing Race." I love "Tough as Nails." I love all the CBS shows, obviously. I love "Big Brother." I watched this whole "Big Brother" season. Oh my gosh, every single live feed moment, everything, even the boring stuff. I love "Survivor." We had the most epic "Survivor" season with the all-star season, like the winners, you know what I mean? So that "Survivor" season really ignited my passion for "Survivor" again.
What else am I watching? I watch the Housewives ... I watch "The Circle." [It's] so good. I mean, I can't get over how good it is, and this season is so fun. I was actually not sure how the Season 2 would be because Season 1 was so different, and both seasons are so different. Oh, I watched "Canadian Big Brother." I mean, we watch a lot of reality TV here. I mean, it's what I do. I cast for unscripted as well, so it's just kind of what we do.
Right, you've got to stay very plugged in and then it's also delicious watching. How can you not?
Oh my gosh, and all the dating shows too. Of course, I watch "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," but I'm really into "Love Island." I'm really into "Too Hot to Handle." That was such a fun one.
I watched "Love is Blind," I'm like, "Aw, maybe love's real."
I love that show. It was so good. I can't wait for the next season.
Has working in casting for unscripted shows and being on reality TV at the same time made you look at either side differently?
Oh, a hundred percent. It's really been beneficial to have a casting background now with my own reality show, because now I can like reach out to people. I've been able to reach out to organizations that I maybe wouldn't have known how to reach out to people without that casting background, because now I feel like I'm casting my own show, kind of.
I also have noticed with my experience on reality [TV], I can really recognize quickly who's going to be good on what kind of show. As we say in the casting world, "ABC: always be casting." I meet people now and I'm just like, "Oh my gosh, you have to apply for this show. I'm not casting for it now, but I will be." Or I'll meet people and I'll be like, "You'd be so great on this game show. You have to go. This is my friend who's casting it."
it's been really fun because I have that background and it's really fun to get people on the shows. Because half of the time, I only cast for unscripted, so half the time I'm like, "Maybe you'll meet your soulmate. Maybe you'll meet your best friend, or maybe you'll win a million dollars." It's so fun. I get to be an influence on those people's lives.
Do you have anything else to add about the show or projects in the works before we go?
No. I mean, well, follow me on Instagram @rachelereillyvillegas because we will be posting so much content when we're filming in June. We start filming in June and I'm going to need the audience's help because I'm going to be going to these different locations and I want to really involve people in each individual community. And so if they're making a difference or an impact in their community, we really want to somehow get them involved with the show. If it's an interview, if it's connecting them with someone, that's what the show is about.
And sometimes I'm like, we're like the connectors, the matchmakers. We're matching people with what good opportunities they can do to make a difference in their community. I mean, I'm really excited about that. I think that's the biggest plug for the show is that I'm really excited to see how it's going to evolve and what we've been coming up with so far. And we have so many fun, different activities that we've been coming up with and that are really going to make an impact. And I think it's going to leave a sustainable impact, which is really, really exciting.
Plus, you guys are doing good for the community and you're moving a family across the country, which, two birds, one stone.
Yeah, it's going be a lot of fun.