A major VIP on the Newport Beach social scene, the outspoken, ambitious blonde was first introduced to the Bravo ladies by Kelly Dodd. Vargas’ manager, David Weintraub, then paved the way for the socialite to get on the show.
“Elizabeth lives a very extravagant lifestyle,” Dodd said on the first episode. “She has jet planes and a whole bunch of big mansions.”
“Elizabeth is a big personality. She’s fun, she takes no s**t from anyone,” Braunwyn Windham-Burke added in an interview during the episode. “She showed up at the bougie Balboa Bay Club wearing a onesie pajama with a butt flap. That’s how little s**t she cares.”
Want to know more about the new housewife? Vargas sat down with OK! for an exclusive interview, where she opened up about her childhood and her new vodka company.
Check out five things to know about Elizabeth Vargas below.
1. She Comes From Humble Beginnings
Raised in the Midwest as one of five children, Vargas didn’t always lead the glamorous OC life she has now.
“When I was younger I was raised dirt poor and my goal was to come to California and find gold,” she told OK!. “Coming from Missouri my work ethic was huge. I would cut cords of wood with my mom, we would sell the cords of wood, we would clean out garages from people who passed away and sell that. My father was a pinto mechanic and salesman. Whatever we could to make ends meet.”
She later came out to California to see her grandparents, and the rest was history.
“There were so many fancy cars and rich people,” she said. “It was totally different than Missouri and the trailer parks. And I thought, this is the life I want.”
In one of her debut RHOC scenes, Vargas reflected how her humble beginning turned her into the successful entrepreneur she is today.
“Once I realized money got me out of poverty, I never stopped working,” she said.
2. She’s Starting A New Chapter
Vargas originally arrived in Orange County with her now businessman ex-husband, Bernt Bodal. While filming her first RHOC season, she was navigating the final stages of her divorce.
“Over the years I just lost myself being married to my ex,” she said in a confessional on the first episode. “My marriage influence how I walked, how I dressed, how I talked, how big my boobs were. I just became the bobblehead wife. I could never be the smart, intelligent entrepreneur, I was always going to be the arm candy billionaire’s wife. I couldn’t not stand it.”
3. She Has Her Own Vodka Line
The Bravo star recently launched her own spirit, Vargas Vodka. She first came up with the idea nine years ago but felt like it wasn’t the right time. Little did she know 2020 would create the perfect opportunity.
“The pandemic hit and people were drinking a lot so I said to myself, now is the best time ever to launch a vodka because people are drinking, getting lushy, so why not get lushy on my vodka,” she told OK!. “So I built this wonderful business based on my name and the love for vodka I have today.”
“Rich in heritage, Vargas Vodka is inspired by the first Spanish explorers lured by the legend of Queen Califia, the emperor of the fabled island of California blessed with an abundance of gold protected by soldier griffins — guardians of the divine,” the description reads.
4. She Founded An Animal Rescue
Is Vargas the Lisa Vanderpump of the OC? Inspired by her love for animals, Vargas founded the We Care Rescue Ranch Foundation. Before the pandemic, she was working on building a space where animals that were deemed un-adoptable would be rehabilitated.
“During COVID, I wasn’t able to continue to look for property for that ranch and during this time,” she explained. “Most people took time off but during COVID, a lot of rescues were reaching out to me saying ‘I know you are building a ranch later but I know you can raise money and we need it.'”
Hearing how others were struggling with not being able to feed their animals, Vargas pivoted the We Care Rescue Ranch mission to help others.
“I started donating my own money during COVID, researching all the ranches and all the rescues out there,” she said. “I spent my time focusing on how to I could help the animals. I didn’t sleep almost the entire time because there was so much help needed. So, now that I understand that. I’m proud to continue with We Care Rescue Ranch and building it.”
Her rescue husky, Coda, was a big inspiration. “Since I adopted Coda, he’s been the light of my life. During my divorce, I was depressed for three years on my couch,” she shared in an interview during the first episode. “He gives me purpose.”
5. She’s A Jazz Singer
Vargas attended Cornish College of the Arts as a jazz vocal major and even had her own dinner theater called the Vargas Girls Cabaret. She thought about pursuing singing professionally but ultimately figured out a better way to make her mark on the music industry.
“I was bound and determined to be a jazz singer growing up because I always felt that music helped the soul, helped soothed the soul and really healed people,” she said. “I said to myself, I can really make this a career and what ended up happening was that you can’t make money singing jazz, you can make money by owning the company.”
And that’s exactly what she did. She went on to to business school and started a company called Edge Music Network that streams music video content globally while working to pay artists themselves.
“I do sing on occasion at little clubs and bars or Skibo Castle in Scotland, sometimes the Four Seasons, private events, all over the world,” she said. “When there’s a piano throw me up there and I’ll hit a tune.”
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