What Most People Don't Know About Braunwyn Windham-Burke

Braunwyn Windham-Burke entered the "Real Housewives" universe back in 2019 when she joined the cast of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." She quickly proved to stand out from the pack, given that she was a mother of seven children, and had been a stay-at-home mom for nearly two decades; "RHOC," she once joked in an Instagram post, was her first job.

As "RHOC" fans are well aware, Braunwyn is no shrinking violet, and was instantly adept when it came to going head-to-head with her fellow Housewives. When she wasn't invited back for the 2021 season, she could at least rest assured that she'd made an impact on the franchise — and, like the unexpected return of fellow "RHOC" alum Heather Dubrow, who's to say that Braunwyn won't be making a comeback at some point in the future? 

She's no stranger to controversy, scandal, and headlines, yet how much do her fans really know about this mommy blogger who rocks an extravagant lower back tattoo? Find out by reading further to discover what most people don't know about Braunwyn Windham-Burke.

Braunwyn Windham-Burke has been candid about her battle with alcoholism

A big reason why Braunwyn Windham-Burke became a fan favorite on "The Real Housewives of Orange County" has been her raw and unfiltered honesty. Nowhere has that been more apparent than with her drinking. During the premiere of the 15th season, Windham-Burke appeared in a confessional, where she looked into the camera and said, "I don't know if it's divine intervention, but for the first time I can say, 'My name is Braunwyn, and I'm an alcoholic.'" 

She elaborated in a deeply personal essay she wrote for Glamour, revealing she was forced to confront her drinking when she saw herself in boozy "RHOC" scenes she had "no recollection" of filming. "When I first got sober, I was scared I wouldn't be fun anymore, that my life was going to be boring," she said. Ultimately, however, she discovered that "I actually have way more fun now."

In June 2021, Braunwyn took to Instagram to celebrate a major milestone by marking her 500th consecutive day of sobriety. "For those of you struggling to get sober, the beginning is definitely the hardest part," she wrote. "The first three months are tough, I can't sugar coat it. However, it gets easier, then it gets amazing."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Stress is still a major trigger for Braunwyn Windham-Burke's sobriety

At the time Braunwyn Windham-Burke wrote about her alcoholism for Glamour, she took to Instagram to celebrate being 258 days sober. However, she's also shared that stressful circumstances leave her feeling tempted to have a drink. One particularly fraught occasion that proved to be a challenge was "The Real Housewives of Orange County" Season 15 postseason special. 

"Before the reunion I was right there next to my bed, on the floor, crying hysterically," Braunwyn revealed during an interview with the "Access Hollywood" web series "Housewives Nightcap." "I almost drank — I mean, this is horrible — I almost drank because I thought if I drink, I can go to rehab and won't have to go to the reunion."

According to Braunwyn, she was in such a complicated state of mind due to stress over the reunion that going off the wagon and then entering rehab "seemed like a perfectly logical explanation" in order to avoid appearing on the reunion. "I almost drank so I wouldn't have to do my job," she admitted. "My sobriety is not fake, and this is hard, and I do struggle."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Why Braunwyn Windham-Burke believes joining RHOC has been 'one of the best decisions' she's ever made

Braunwyn Windham-Burke was a relatively late arrival to the "Real Housewives" franchise, joining the 14th season of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Speaking to the Orange County Register in 2019 about becoming the series' latest Housewife, the mother of seven explained that after raising all those kids she was beyond ready. "I've been a stay-at-home mom for 19 years now. So when they initially reached out to me I said, 'You know what? Absolutely! I think it's time in my life for me to do something for myself, and I think I would really enjoy this,'" she said. Opening her life to reality TV cameras, she explained, was "like everything else — you kind of jump into and you hope for the best, but expect the worst."  

As she told People, becoming a Housewife "has been one of the best decisions I've ever made, because it made Braunwyn a fully formed person instead of just a mom." To drive that point home, she reminded that she had "almost been breastfeeding for 18 years straight... for the most part, I have had a baby either inside of me or on me."

Braunwyn Windham-Burke surprised everyone when she came out as a lesbian

Braunwyn Windham-Burke shared a big announcement in a video interview with GLAAD in December of 2020. "I like women," she declared. "I'm gay... I'm a lesbian, and it has taken me 42 years to say that but I am so proud of where I am right now. I'm so happy where I am. To be able to be comfortable in my own skin after so long is just so nice."

As for the impact this revelation was having on her marriage to husband Sean Burke, she explained, "I love Sean. I love him dearly, he is my person, he is my family. But I'm not attracted to men and I never have been."

There are many reactions a husband might have to his wife revealing she's gay, and Sean told host Andy Cohen during the "The Real Housewives of Orange County" Season 15 reunion that he felt "relief" at her admission. "Because the elephant in the room is, this isn't something we can't fix," he said, via People. "She's attracted to women."

Sean Burke and Braunwyn Windham-Burke are determined to make it work

Braunwyn Windham-Burke also told GLAAD that she and her husband were planning on remaining married, ostensibly for the sake of their seven children. "Honestly, we are in uncharted territories," she admitted. "We are not sleeping in the same bedroom right now, but we are in the same house. We are raising our kids together, he's my best friend." Her husband even "knows the girl I'm dating," she added.

Clearly, if the couple remained married, living in the same home but dating other people, that would fit the definition of a so-called "open marriage." Braunwyn confirmed that in a reply to a comment on Instagram. "We know it might be impossible," she wrote, "but we are trying to make this 'open' marriage work." While there's no denying her marital situation was unconventional, she shared with GLAAD that "it's only as weird as you make it."

Open marriage has been complicated for Braunwyn Windham-Burke

Braunwyn Windham-Burke's decision to remain in her marriage — albeit an open one — after coming out as gay was not without its complications. In fact, she addressed that precise issue in an interview with the "People Every Day" podcast. "I had a relationship with a girlfriend that was platonic, but I fell in love with her," Braunwyn explained. "And a lot of things were happening in my marriage at the time. Sean had someone else in our home, I had feelings for another woman, a lot of things were occurring off-camera at that time. And it basically kind of blew up."

According to Braunwyn, maintaining that open marriage is a process that ebbs and flows, and changes from day to day. "Some days have been great and some days have been really hard," she said on the podcast. "We are trying to navigate having this open relationship. We do want to stay married, we do want to stay parents, we are best friends. And some days that seems very attainable, and some days it doesn't."

On July 13, 2021, Braunwyn and Sean announced their separation on Instagram Live (via People), sharing that they "are going to take a few months apart."

The reason she's 'done' with Kelly Dodd

As faithful viewers of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" well know, there's been no love lost between Braunwyn Windham-Burke and former co-star Kelly Dodd. (Both were axed from the show in 2021, along with Elizabeth Lyn-Vargas.)

The animosity between the two really heated up after they were fired, with Kelly sharing a text conversation with Braunwyn on social media. In the screengrabs, we see Kelly blame her former co-star for her firing. "This was your fault," Kelly texted Braunwyn, accusing her of labelling her as a "homophobe" and "racist," adding, "We'd still be on the show if you didn't make things so dark and ugly and brought all that political woke BS."

When Kelly posted a video on social media of Braunwyn's home, even displaying her car's license plate, that was the boiling point. "When she doxxed my house, and put all my personal information and my address, and put my kids' lives in jeopardy — done, game over," Braunwyn declared in an interview with Us Weekly. "For me that was a line you don't cross; you don't eff with my family."

Braunwyn Windham-Burke's family drama ended up in the public eye

It's no secret that Braunwyn Windham-Burke became embroiled in fraught situations with some of the other members of the cast while she was on "The Real Housewives of Orange County." However, she also found herself facing drama in her own home. 

While the family dynamics were shifting amidst Braunwyn's coming out, Page Six reported that her daughter Rowan apparently had an opinion to share about her mother. "F**k. You. Mom," the teen wrote in the caption to a photo of herself she posted on Instagram.

While Rowan subsequently deleted that caption, Braunwyn offered up a statement that she shared on Instagram Story, added Page Six. "Our family asks for your understanding as we work through some challenging circumstances," Braunwyn wrote at that time. "45 million Americans will experience mental health issues. This effects almost every family, and ours is no different. We will share with you more when the time is right. We kindly ask for your grace and kindness, and thank everyone for their support."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She wasn't happy about being bounced from RHOC

In June 2021, People reported that Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Kelly Dodd, and Elizabeth Lyn-Vargas were not invited back for the 16th season of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Braunwyn subsequently appeared on Instagram Live to confirm her firing, adding, "That sucks."

Following the news, Bravo emperor Andy Cohen explained his rationale behind firing Braunwyn on his SiriusXM radio show. "Listening to [Braunwyn] at the reunion made [us] feel like, maybe at this moment in time, being on TV wasn't the healthiest spot for she and her family," he shared. "I think she was dealing with some real stuff with herself, with her marriage, with her children. It was a lot."

Braunwyn told Us Weekly that she "was not in the healthiest place at the reunion," due to being "less than a year sober" and "struggling a lot." However, she said she'd improved substantially since then, and was shocked when nobody from the show contacted her before she was abruptly fired. "Because where I was six months ago and where I am now are so different," she added. "So that did hurt just because no one took the time to call."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Braunwyn Windham-Burke bonded with RHOC star Tamra Judge

Braunwyn Windham-Burke clearly butted heads with multiple members of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" cast. Despite that, there was one woman associated with the show who became a friend and stayed one long the cameras turned off: Tamra Judge, who debuted in the third season and remained part of the cast through to the 14th. 

During a December 2020 back-and-forth exchange with fans on Instagram, one commenter warned Braunwyn to beware of Tamra. Braunwyn, however, dismissed that notion entirely, instead offering a spirited defense of her fellow "Real Housewives" alum. 

"Tamara [sic] has been the only person from Rhoc that has been there for me," she replied, via Us Weekly. "She knew I was sober and kept it to herself, she knew we were struggling with our daughter's mental health issues and listened, she got me through a day that was so hard I was physically shaking.... whatever you think you know, you don't."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She's dating another Real Housewives alum

Braunwyn Windham-Burke may have gotten along well with her "The Real Housewives of Orange County" co-star Tamra Judge, but she grew even closer with Tamra's pal Fernanda Rocha. Braunwyn spoke with Page Six in June 2021 and confirmed that she and Fernanda — who appeared in the sixth season of "RHOC" as a "friend of" — were dating, although they weren't exclusive. 

"Having someone special in my life who was an out and proud woman on reality television was so helpful in the beginning stages of our relationship," Braunwyn explained to the outlet. "What started as a friendship has become something more — I am so grateful for her — she is beyond amazing," she added. "Not only has she been a source of strength, but she has taken me under her wing and helped me navigate my coming out. Without the show, I never would have met Fernanda, so I am forever grateful for that."

As Braunwyn told E! News, she and Fernanda had been "hanging out," and it was only just "recently" that the two had become "more than friends... she's definitely special."

Braunwyn Windham-Burke's net worth may prove surprising

Braunwyn Windham-Burke made her debut in the 14th season of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," and only wound up appearing in two seasons. While she hasn't publicly disclosed her "RHOC" salary, the Celebrity Net Worth website estimates that she's worth a tidy $3 million. 

Braunwyn herself has confirmed that Sean Burke is the real earner in the family. "I mean, Sean makes it. I spend it," Braunwyn joked during an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen."

According to Sean's LinkedIn bio, he's is the founder and president of Channelstars, a tech firm. While speaking with Cohen on "WWHL," however, Braunwyn didn't quite seem to be too clear on what exactly it is that her estranged husband does to make that money she spends. "But... he's in technology?" she told Cohen. "Stuff? Like, I really don't know. I got this, I got this. He does high... scale infrastructure, infrastructure for state, local, and federal governments." Talk about some impressive stuff.