O.C. women star in 'Gallery Girls'
Starting Monday, a little slice of Orange County is going to appear on Bravo's new reality TV show, "Gallery Girls."
The series follows the lives of seven ambitious young women as they try to make their mark in the ultra-competitive world of the New York City gallery and art scene. It will air at 10 p.m. Mondays through the fall.
One of the girls, Angela Pham, was born and raised in Orange County. Another, Liz Margulies, lived here for three years.
Margulies, 25, resided in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and loved her experience in Orange County.
"How could you not?" said the daughter of well-known art collector Martin Z. Margulies. "The weather is amazing. The weather, the beach, the air – it's refreshing and clean. I miss the air."
Liz Margulies, a student at New York's School of Visual Arts, attended classes at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo and worked at Fred's Mexican CafÃ© in Huntington Beach. She also spent time at Sober Living by the Sea in Newport Beach, recovering from a cocaine addiction.
"I needed a change of scenery," she said. "It definitely helped me. It changed my whole outlook."
In "Gallery Girls," Margulies is portrayed as the privileged girl who interns at Eli Klein Fine Art. She's the daughter of a wealthy, respected collector who doesn't want to do strenuous, physical work or ruin her outfit by painting walls or carrying artworks.
"I don't like every single scene (in the premiere), but that's how it goes," said the Miami native. "I agreed to do the show. In Eli's gallery, I did wind up picking up some paintings, but they cut a few little pieces out of that to make it look like I didn't want to work or get stuff on my outfit. But I was carrying paintings."
Pham, 24, was born in Anaheim and grew up in Yorba Linda. She attended Troy High School in Fullerton, Fairmont private school in Anaheim Hills and Travis Ranch School in Yorba Linda. For college, she attended New York University and received a specialized degree with study in photography and communications.
In "Gallery Girls," she is an aspiring photographer who does freelance shoots at social events, works at a restaurant and does some modeling gigs. She clearly doesn't have the highest opinion of her home turf.
"Orange County doesn't have the best reputation for diversity or culture or anything interesting," she says in the premiere of "Gallery Girls."
"I left Orange County because me and my friends were considered freaks and weirdos. One of the last things that I kinda want to do is surround myself by the types of girls that made me want to leave in the first place."
She backed away slightly from those statements during a recent interview. "I don't truly think Orange County is a cultural wasteland," she said. "Being the only Asian person in elementary school, I was different, and I felt like I didn't belong. Yorba Linda is more homogeneous. But I love things that were going on in the O.C."
In a scene that illustrates the cattiness and competitiveness of the New York art world, Pham and Margulies have a conversation about Orange County during the premiere of "Gallery Girls."
Margulies says she lived there, and Pham says, "You look like a O.C. girl."
Then Pham proceeds to talk behind Margulies' back and make fun of her. "I lived in Orange County!" says Pham, imitating Margulies. "I know, you look like one!" she says, laughing to her friends.
In the show, Margulies responds, "Whatever." During her interview with the Register, she said, "She was talking (trash) about me for living in Orange County, but that's where she's from."
Pham tried to explain her comments. "I guess at that moment, I wanted to separate myself from the other blond cast members," she said. "I associated Liz with "The Real Housewives of Orange County," and I wanted to make a bitchy statement."
Despite coming off in the show as an Orange County hater, Pham says there are some things she likes and misses about her home county.
"I like mall culture – Cinnabon, Brea Mall, South Coast Plaza. I miss my pho spots. There's a lack of good Vietnamese food in New York. I miss Westminster and Garden Grove and paying $5 for a steaming hot bowl of good pho, as opposed to $10 in New York for a so-so bowl."
Finally, Pham would like to formally apologize to her parents, for appearing in a nude photo shoot in "Gallery Girls," partying, dating and leading a single life.
"My parents are very traditional and Vietnamese," she said. "My mom is very conservative. She doesn't understand why women would go to bars. I want to apologize for potentially embarrassing them. I love them very much."
Still, Pham says she would be thrilled if "Gallery Girls" is picked up for a second season.
"I just want to make lots of money and get paid to go to parties," she said. "I want enough money to retire in a nice cottage in England by the time I'm 40."
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