As a member of the cast of The Real Housewives of New York City, Luann D’Agostino has seen her fair share of catfights, wine glasses thrown, and emotional breakdowns. But it turns out the Bravo star was more prepared for the drama of the Housewives world than even she anticipated, thanks to her time as a nurse years before she found fame on reality TV.
That’s right — “The Countess” is a licensed practical nurse. And now Luann is using her voice as a nurse to team up with Einstein Bros. Bagels to spread awareness for National Nurses Week. The RHONY star spoke exclusively with OK! about the partnership, her own time as a nurse, and even gave us a sneak peak into her wedding to Tom D’Agostino, which fans have been anxiously awaiting all season!
Why have you teamed up with Einstein Bros. Bagels to raise awareness for National Nurses Week?
I’m a licensed practical nurse, so when Einstein asked me to help give nurses the recognition they deserve, I couldn’t say no. We want to get the word out there to raise awareness.
What should people know about Einstein Bros. Bagels’ National Nurses Week promotion?
On Thursday, May 11, 2017, participating Einstein Bros. Bagels stores are giving a free Espresso Buzz Bagel and schmear to any nurse who stops by wearing his or her scrubs or shows nurse ID. They also have a Boosted Bagel line with bagels containing caffeine, omegas, proteins, and antioxidants, which is awesome, because nurses work long hours. We all drink coffee, but this is another way of getting that boost!
Why is this cause important to you?
It’s a profession I’m very proud to have had in the past. I loved being a nurse, so when they approached me, I was thrilled to do it, because I don’t feel like nurses get the recognition they deserve — it’s always the doctors. It came up on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, right? He thanked the nurses out there, which is awesome, because they work so hard, and it’s usually the doctors that get all of the praise. So it’s very personal to me.
How did you get involved in nursing?
I grew up in a big family in Connecticut, and we all had to work. I babysat for a family who owned a rest home for the elderly. I wanted to make more money…so I would do dishes in the [rest home] kitchen. And my mother used to come and pick me up, and I’d be waiting outside for her, and I’d be sitting with the elderly [who lived there].
I would talk to them and I just found them so extremely interesting. I just found my passion…I went to nursing school, and I went back to work in that rest home. So from doing dishes to being a nurse…it was great. It was one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done in my life. I just fell in love with them. I literally fell in love with the elderly.
How long were you a nurse? Why did you stop?
I was a nurse for about three years. I had a nurse’s aid that worked for me, who was beautiful, who said, “I’m going in the Miss Connecticut beauty pageant, but I won’t go unless you come with me…” Finally, I said, “Okay, all right, I’ll go with you.” And I did terrible! But there was a guy there who told me [about a modeling competition in Hartford]…so I was like, “Okay, I’ve come this far, why not?” I went into this little competition they had in Hartford, and I won a photo shoot in NYC.
From this one [photo shoot]…I started getting bookings. I used to work on the side as a model in New York…I eventually moved to New York. Then I got my license to practice in New York…I was still working as a nurse. So I was a model slash nurse. Usually it’s a model slash actress [or a] model slash waitress!
How has being a nurse impacted your life? Has it influenced your approach to relationships on the show?
Nursing serves you your whole life…whether it’s from having children to being on the show, to dealing with the death of my father in hospice, it teaches you a lot. And it’s something that’s very helpful in life in general.
Would you ever go back to nursing?
I love helping, and I just might. I’m actually thinking about doing something in terms of health care facilities for the elderly…I feel like the elderly are put by the wayside, and I think there’s a real need for beautiful places for them to live out the last years of their lives.
You recently got married! Can fans look forward to seeing your wedding to Tom on this season of RHONY?
I wanted my wedding to be personal and private, so we decided that we didn’t want to have the wedding filmed [by Bravo]. We had a videographer who took footage of the wedding, and so I’m going to share some of that footage [on the show]…I felt it was important to share some of that special moment with my fans.
Was there a favorite moment from your wedding weekend?
I have to say walking down the aisle with my eldest brother, because my father passed away, so just walking down that aisle and seeing my children walking down that aisle before me.
Did you know Luann was a nurse before her RHONY fame? Let us know in the comments below!
Fans can also show their appreciation for nurses by sharing a thank you message for a nurse who made a difference in their lives at www.nursethebuzz.com or on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #NurseTheBuzzSweepstakes. Fans submitting messages will be rewarded with a coupon for a free Boosted Bagel and shmear with purchase and will be entered for a chance to win one free bagel with shmear from Einstein Bros.® Bagels each week for a year.