Chrishell Stause Opens the Lid on Her “Humiliating” Past, After Trying To Keep It Hidden for Decades
| LAST UPDATE 11/27/2022
With beauty, fame, and fortune, it seems that Chrishell Stause has it all. However, with some explosive new details revealed about her past, it appears everything is not as it seems in Hollywood...
Making its Netflix debut in March 2019, Selling Sunset was an overnight phenomenon. With all the glitz, glam, and scandal the series entailed, it raised the bar for future reality television.
The show's appeal was easy to understand as audiences were given a glance into how the other half lives. Homes costing tens of millions of dollars, with multiple swimming pools and breathtaking views of Hollywood, it was escapism at its best. The cherry on top was the beautiful female realtors showing us around.
As season one began, we were introduced to the newest member of the Oppenheim group - Chrishell Stause. Entering the room with her big smile and bubbly personality, she immediately stole the show, becoming the popular fan favorite. With her shiny hair and beautiful clothes, she was the woman everyone wanted to be.
Just in case the audience wasn't envious enough of her seemingly perfect life, she introduced herself as the wife of This Is Us star, Justin Hartley. Chrishell and the rest of the Oppenheim team of female realtors oozed glamor and perfection, often being criticized for their seemingly out-of-touch lifestyles.
What many are not aware of is that the show's main star has a better understanding than most of what it means to live a difficult life. Chrishell may now be the epitome of glamor, dating all the hottest celebrities in the industry and living in a $3+ million Beverly Hills mansion - but behind all of that lies a tumultuous past.
Although she has briefly made some references to her harrowing past throughout the show, she never provided full details, working tirelessly to keep this part of her life hidden from the world. After years of burying the truth, she was finally ready to let all of her skeletons out of the closet...
In February 2022, the Selling Sunset star released her memoir, Under Construction: Because Living My Best Life Took a Little Work. In this book, she opened up for the first time about the unbelievable struggles she went through from a young age. The bombshell revelations shocked the world.
While at first glance it may seem she left all her troubles behind when finding fame, the later chapters sadly revealed that sorrow followed her into her adult life. Tragedies of a different nature to those experienced when she was younger; some were made public, while others took place behind the scenes...
A Bitter Divorce
One major scandal that Chrishell was unable to keep out of the headlines was her divorce from her ex-husband Justin Hartley. The seemingly picture-perfect marriage came crumbling down when Hartley allegedly texted Strause that he had filed for their divorce.
"I found out because he text[ed] me that we were filed. Forty-five minutes later, the world knew," she told her co-workers in Selling Sunset's season three finale. "Because of the crazy way in which this went down, people want answers, and I f—king want answers. We were together for six years."
Nowhere To Hide
Going through a divorce is incredibly difficult for anyone, but Chrishell had the extra burden of it being filmed for the show. Dealing with all the emotions of mourning a marriage, the Selling Sunset crew were by her side throughout the journey... with their cameras.
"It's an embarrassing, humiliating type of thing to go through without cameras and without people judging you, so I just hope people are gentle when they watch," Stause told Us Weekly. "We're real people. This was a traumatizing time in my life, and it's going to be hard for me to watch it myself."
Finding A Home
On top of the pain of heartbreak, Chrishell found herself 'homeless,' as Justin had owned the couple's marital home. After moving into a temporary apartment, she began the tiresome search for her new permanent home. Determined not to be in this situation again, she excitedly purchased a home of her own.
Admittedly she paid for the home with the $3.3 million she made from selling the engagement ring from Justin Hartley. Speaking on the Kelly Clarkson Show, the relator laughed, "When sometimes life gives you lemons, sometimes you've gotta add a little vodka. I was trying to, you know, make the best out of a situation."
Mere months after losing the love of her life, Chrishell received the agonizing news that her stepfather Jeff had passed away after losing his fight against lung cancer. After adopting her at birth, Jeff raised Chrishell "as his own," and the two shared an unbreakable bond.
In her memoir, Chrishell talked at length about Jeff, whom she loved dearly. She recalled how she would help out her rock and roll drummer stepfather, working as a roadie in her younger years. In honor of his legacy, Chrishell and her sisters donned band shirts at his funeral.
The Loss Of Her Mother
Just when Chrishell was beginning to adjust to life without Jeff, tragedy struck again. This time it was her mother, Ranae, who had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer and been given two months to live. With her daughters by her side, she passed away in July 2020.
"Losing Justin and her mom were devastating blows," a source told Us Weekly. She "was knocked sideways for a while by both these setbacks. But Chrishell has this amazing ability to bounce back from tough situations even when the odds are stacked against her."
Dancing With The Stars
Things were finally looking up for the Selling Sunset star when she landed herself a place alongside Gleb Savchenko on the 29th season of Dancing With The Stars in November 2020. With this, Chrishell planned to show the world her impressive ability to bounce back - literally.
"Listen, I've already fallen flat on my face in front of America already, so I really got that out of the way," she told Entertainment Tonight in the lead-up to the season premiere. "I don't have anything else to lose, so it's only going up from here!"
A Gift From Mom
As Chrishell continued to shine on stage week after week, she had flipped her narrative on its head. "Doing Dancing With The Stars took me from victim to victor real quick," she wrote in her memoir." "It helped me channel my grief and the love I felt for my mom and dad into art."
The realtor believed the casting had been a gift from her late mother, who would have known it was what she needed at that time. "My favorite memories were dancing with her in the living room," Chrishell told Woman's Health. "Anytime she was in a bad mood, or I was in a bad mood, that'd be her way to get us out of our funk."
Freezing Her Eggs
Desperate for children but not having met 'the one,' Chrishell decided to freeze her eggs and extend her time period to find a partner. "I'm going to do everything I can to take that power in the situation," she told People. "Hopefully, that will empower me going forward in the dating world, so there's not so much pressure."
However, as anyone who has gone through the egg-freezing process will know, this decision came with immense physical and emotional pain. While backstage at Dancing With The Stars, she was constantly heading to the bathroom to administer the treatment to herself.
With everything the Selling Sunset star had gone through until now, it was somewhat of a miracle she was still smiling. Many on and off the show questioned how she was able to stay so positive throughout. Stause credits therapy for getting her through this tough time.
Additionally, while training on Dancing With The Stars, she discovered a love for pilates, which she found greatly helped her mental health. "I always thought that you had to run like crazy and do all this cardio. But when I started dancing, I realized it is more about connecting the mind and body," she told Women's Health.
Dating Her Boss
In July 2021, Chrishell caused a media frenzy when she posted a series of photos while on vacation in Italy. In particular, the buzz was due to the last picture on the slide where she sat cozied up to her boss, Jason Oppenheim. Instantly, fans were speculating whether this was confirmation of their romantic relationship.
Later that day, Jason revealed to US Weekly that the rumors were true. "Chrishell and I became close friends, and it has developed into an amazing relationship. I care about her deeply, and we're very happy together." Had Chrishell finally found her happy ending?
Sadly, this relationship also ended in tears as the pair announced their split just a few months later. Despite the heartbreak, the star chose to look on the bright side, recognizing the beauty in the relationship that had not existed in the ones before it.
"My last relationship was such a beautiful relationship in every sense, except for the fact that we just want different things," she told Women's Health. "I had an old-school way of thinking that if you didn't ride off into the sunset, the relationship was a failure. And the relationship with Jason changed my thinking."
The Time Had Come
Although it was embarrassing for her personal and real troubles to become so public, Chrishell was thankful the media was discussing her current life rather than exposing the secrets of her past. That being said, she knew it was a matter of time until it all went public - and she wanted to get ahead of the narrative.
Taking control, she decided to release the story on her own terms in her memoir. Although she felt incredibly embarrassed about what she had gone through as a child, she also believed that what she had experienced made her stronger and gave her the tools to get through whatever came after.
Telling Her Real Story
As all the misconceptions about her continued to spread, Chrishell decided to "fill in the blanks," giving people the missing part of the story. "It is nice to give people a little more context to some things," she told Women's Health in the months leading up to the book's release.
Additionally, she told the magazine that she had learned to trust the public with her vulnerabilities, as they had shown their support over the few details released. "When I've gotten vulnerable in the past with things that have been here on the show, it just shows me that transparency is how we all connect."
A Kentucky Girl
On 21 July 1981, Terrina Chrishell Stause was born in Draffenville, Kentucky. From the moment she entered the world, her life was difficult as her family navigated the challenges associated with tremendous poverty. A family consisting of two parents and five daughters, there were many mouths to feed.
Although there was an abundance of love within the family, the resources were limited. Over the years, Chrishell's stepfather Jeff went in and out of employment, and the family found themselves homeless many times. "It was really hard growing up," she recalled to Page Six.
The hardest period of Stause's life was when she entered the seventh grade. It was during this time that the family remained homeless for the longest time yet. Although briefly finding shelter, they were back on the streets by the time she was in tenth grade.
For Chrishell, the only thing worse than the living conditions was the bullying. "As you can imagine, as a high schooler, it wasn't the coolest thing," she told Page Six. "It was just really hard to live the lie at school and make sure no one knows and being really embarrassed about it. Even talking about it now, I start to sweat."
No Running Water
How bad did it get? Well, at one point, Chrishell admitted that the family had no access to running water or electricity. She recalled how she was left to be "the smelly kid" in school because she had no ability to wash herself or clean her clothes.
"I definitely relate to any kid who has lived without running water or electricity. It's hard. I really relate to them," she penned in her memoir. "I want to help them as much as possible. It's a unique situation that you'll never forget where you came from."
"[P]eople see me now and assume I was born in a $20 million LA Mansion," she wrote in her book. "Instead of being someone whose childhood was filled with eviction notices." After the family lost their home in a fire, they were forced to live in a tent for a year, moving "from campsite to campsite."
With no shower on site, Chrishell and her sisters had no choice but to wash their hair in the river. In her memoir, she admitted that when people call her a "high-maintenance girl," she contemplates revealing these dire living conditions that caused her to miss a year of middle school.
The Abandoned Schoolhouse
By the time Chrishell was in high school, the family had moved into an "abandoned schoolhouse that had a leaky roof and a room full of old, creepy dolls in it... We lived [there] for a while when I was in high school, and to this day, I cannot stand the smell of mildew," she wrote in her book.
"The collapsed roof meant that the old mattress I slept on was always a little wet and mildewy," she continued. "No utilities, but there was an old janitor's closet and some puddles of dirty water … It was a source of deep humiliation for me. I was terrified people would find out we were actually squatting there."
To make matters worse, Chrishell revealed in an interview with Kaitlyn Bristowe that her parents "struggled with different things with addiction and mental illness, depression … and so there were some times where they'd be really good, and then there were other times, and they would not be."
Despite their issues, Chrishell has always recognized her parents' strength and praised their resilience. "Yes, they had their struggles with addiction and mental illness," she said. "[But] in hindsight, I'm thankful that I grew up learning how to be resilient and resourceful. My parents were freedom-loving hippies at heart."
Trailer Park Girl
In the years after high school, her family moved into a trailer park. When news of this surfaced on the internet in recent years, the Selling Sunset star found herself targetted with derogatory insults. But being the thick-skinned woman she learned to be, she took it in her stride.
Choosing to remain proud of her struggles, she crafted the perfect response. "I am from a trailer park. In fact, when I lived in a trailer park, that meant we were doing better than usual," she wrote. "I got mocked my whole life for that – now I stand proud for all the kids that do the best with what they are dealt."
Joining a 'Cult'
In yet another bombshell revelation, Chrishell discussed her family's involvement with an organization that strongly resembled a cult. Named the Worldwide Church of God, she explained that while "legally [she] can't say it was a cult … it sure felt like a cult." "I was about 10 years old," she recalled in her memoir.
"They forbade members from celebrating birthdays and Christmas, and they would randomly make house calls to make sure you were still earning your way to heaven," she wrote. "Reader, if you go to a church and you have a 'leader,' instead of a pastor or rabbi or minister, that's your first clue that this might be a cult."
To this day, despite her impressive fortunes, Crishell insists she has held onto the mentalities she developed during the darker days. "I'm still really cheap!" she jokingly admitted to Page Six. At the same time, she's also "now super grateful about everything."
She also admitted to "doing the most ridiculous things," such as reusing eye makeup remover pads when she "only used half of it." "It sounds embarrassing to say out loud, but I didn't even think twice about it - it does sound gross! I have to reevaluate," she laughed.
Making It On Her Own
Desperate to forge a path of her own and create a better life for herself, she graduated from Murray State University, Kentucky, in 2003 with a degree in theater. From then, she established herself as a soap actress, slowly rising through the ranks of fame.
Her first big break came when she landed the role of Amanda Dillion in All My Children in 2005. Two years after leaving the character in 2011, she then played Jordan Ridgeway on Days Of Our Lives for the next two years. Finally, in 2019, her fame exploded when she won the hearts of the nation in Selling Sunset.
Finding Love Again
At long last, after an entire lifetime of ups and downs, it seems that Chrishell has finally found a sense of peace and tranquility. Alongside her flourishing real-estate career, Selling Sunset has been confirmed for two more seasons. She has also fallen in love, gushing on the Selling Sunset reunion about her new partner.
"I recently have been spending a lot of time with someone that's very important to me, their name is G Flip," she revealed. "They're non-binary, so they go by they/them. And they are an extremely talented musician. And it started because, you know, I was just going to be in their video. It's about this chaotic love story."
After everything she went through, Chrishell holds tightly onto the life lessons she learned along the way. Moreover, she has turned these experiences into motivation. "Life has a way of knocking you on your *ss when you least expect it, and so conditioning yourself to turn tragedies into triumphs is key," her memoir concludes.
"I've gone through [life] with a determination that no matter what, I would never end up washing my hair in a river again … it's key to remember that no matter what life hands you, you have to suck it up, believe in your abilities, and go after your wildest dreams."
Coming Full Circle
While working hard to ensure she never finds herself living in the same conditions as her younger self, she also does what she can to ensure no one else does either. Chrishell is incredibly passionate about giving back to those less fortunate than her.
She organizes charity fundraisers and events and recruits her famous friends to help her achieve her goal. Over the years, she has donated life-changing sums to various charities combating homelessness and poverty. Understanding the cause better than most, it's the ultimate full-circle moment...