Why Rebecca Minkoff’s Alleged RHONY Casting Is Already Controversial

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As if there wasn’t enough buzz about all the Real Housewives news this week, a rumored casting set off even more. On Tuesday, it was reported that Rebecca Minkoff joined the cast of RHONY for Season 15. Bravo hasn’t officially commented on this casting, and there’s been a lot of RHONY casting rumors that didn’t pan out. But Reality Tea confirmed she’s filmed scenes already. However, it’s unclear if she was officially offered a “friend of” role or a main Housewife. Either way, Rebecca is already causing controversy amongst the Real Housewives of New York fandom.

Who is alleged RHONY newbie Rebecca Minkoff?

Like Jenna Lyons, Rebecca Minkoff is a major force in the fashion industry. She’s best known for her handbags, which have many celebrity fans. Rebecca created her fashion line back in 2005 alongside her brother, Uri Minkoff. Today, the siblings also have a menswear line named after Uri. In 2018, she launched the Female Founder Collective to support fellow female business owners. She is married to commercial director Gavin Bellour, with whom she shares four children.

If the rumors are true, RHONY won’t be Rebecca’s first Bravo appearance. She was also a guest judge on Project Runway.

What is the controversy?

Rebecca is a self-proclaimed Scientologist. Notably, her career took off when famous Scientologist Jenna Elfman wore one of her t-shirts on a talk show appearance.

Scientology itself is already controversial. But Rebecca also has ties to one of its most notorious members, Danny Masterson. The designer previously dated Ben Schulman, who was close friends with the actor. Danny was photographed with Rebecca at her store opening in 2015.

Rebecca’s family is also reportedly involved in Scientology. According to Yashar Ali, the Minkoff family donated millions. Ali also claims that Uri, Rebecca’s brother and business partner, is an enforcer for Scientology intelligence agency OSA. Her father, David Minkoff, was also named in connection with a major Scientology scandal after the death of Lisa McPherson in 1995. David admitted in court to prescribing Lisa sleeping pills without examining her first.

According to Page Six, insiders at Bravo are allegedly concerned about these connections.

What has Rebecca said about Scientology?

In a 2021 New York Times interview, the designer said she’s “totally open” about her membership in the controversial church. However, she didn’t write about it in her memoir. Explaining why, she said, “It’s not my job to proselytize”.

She called Scientology “more of a self-improvement philosophy” than a religion, and denied she prays to founder L. Ron Hubbard. “I study it, I take classes and that’s the extent of it, and it’s helped me stay centered. I don’t have all the answers. When I needed someone, it was a place for me to go get some answers.”

Also in 2021, she appeared on the Dinner Party with Jeremy Fall podcast, where she explained identifying as both Jewish and a Scientologist.

“Scientology, which the word itself means knowledge,” she said, “I’m Jewish so I have my beliefs with Judaism and God and I go to Scientology to learn knowledge.” She continued, “It has personally helped me from my own demons, my own things I’m not happy about myself.”

At the time, Rebecca also defended Scientology from its various critics and controversies. “I’ve been around it and in it for the better part of 20 years and I’ve never seen anything kooky or weird or anything,” she said, “except a bunch of nice people who go out of their way to help others in need.” Of the more infamous members, she said, “You can’t take a bad person and equate it with the original tenants.” She denied Scientologists believe in “all the crazy stuff, the aliens are gonna come, whatever.”

Of course, it should be noted that the above quotes are from several years ago. The designer may have a different outlook now.

How did RHONY fans react?

When rumors of Rebecca’s casting first hit, some fans on social media were thrilled. Others, however, were worried that a big-name designer, with a brand to protect, would be a poor fit for the show.

Once the quotes from Rebecca about Scientology were unearthed, however, many on Twitter and Instagram voiced their disapproval. Some fans even tagged Leah Remini in their posts.

Would this come up on RHONY?

If Rebecca is just a “friend of”, her beliefs may not come up on the show at all. However, any role in the series would shine a new spotlight. The news of her casting already has.

Rebecca also has a brand to maintain. But if she hides a major part of her life to protect that, it could backfire. Jenna and Ubah Hassan were both criticized for this after Season 14.

Since Rebecca’s role isn’t set in stone yet, it’s also possible that her appearances could be limited.