Editor’s note: Every Friday, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series, which explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).
In this installment, Melissa Gorga -- cast member of Bravo's “Real Housewives of New Jersey” (the season 5 premiere of which debuts on June 2 at 8 p.m. ET), singer and author -- opens up about cat fights, sibling rivalries and her career outside the reality TV show.
HLN: When was the first time you remember having a tiff with a family member?
Melissa Gorga: You know, nothing really stands out in my mind. Of course, there were always the typical grade school arguments over who’s sleeping over at who’s house, but nothing major that stands out.
HLN: You’ve had several fights with your sister-in-law, Teresa, on the show. Where do you, Teresa and Joe stand now?
MG: We’re all in a really good spot right now. We actually just went out to celebrate Teresa’s birthday. It wasn’t easy to get here, but Teresa and Joe are better than they’ve been in a long time. And I think in season five, you’ll see how hard it’s taken us to get here. It’s been quite the emotional road to get here.
HLN: What can we expect to see this season?
MG: This is a season that the fans will be so excited to watch. It might be a little hard for them at the beginning, but as they see the resolution, they’ll be very happy. I think our cast is wilder than others -- we let it all out there and say it like it is. So you can definitely expect to see a lot of funny times. I think we’re hysterical! But then there are also crazy scenes. We love hard and we fight hard. We’re very passionate people.
HLN: How’s your music career going? Will we hear a new single from you?
MG: Yes, I have a new single called “Never Let Me Go.” I started working with Johnny Wright, and it’s pretty amazing that he took me on. On the show, you will see how he brings me down to Orlando and puts me through this boot camp and really believes in me. He’ll fly from working with Justin Timberlake to me and it’s crazy that he puts his time and energy into me. It really keeps me motivated.
HLN: Do you have plans to release a full album?
MG: I do have plans to do a full album. I’m really excited about it! I know people get on the "Housewives" because they think we only sing because we’re on TV, but I truly love and enjoy it. I’m not doing it for the money or for the fame. It’s not easy to put yourself out there like that and be judged by everyone. It’s not easy, but I don’t mind doing it because I truly love it.
HLN: What else are you working on right now?
MG: I’m writing a new book called "Love Italian Style: Secrets to My Hot and Happy Marriage," which comes out Sept. 17. A lot of our fans say they love my and Joe’s relationship, so I share our secrets about how to keep it fresh and sexy.
HLN: What kind of precautions do you take when it comes to featuring your kids in the show?
MG: I’m very cautious about them and don’t put them front and center in the show. The boys are so young, they don’t really know what’s going on. With Antonia, it’s up to her: If she says she doesn’t want to be on camera, I don’t push her. I don’t want her to look back and say, “You made me do this.” Most of the time she loves it, though, and it doesn’t bother her. They’re all still young enough to where it’s not affecting their lives yet.
HLN: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from this show?
MG: I’ve learned to have thicker skin and that not everyone is going to agree with you. There will be people who love you and absolutely hate you, but I have to live my life and do what I want to do and not worry about what others will think. I don’t have to sway what I think just because I need to say the right thing. If it’s on my mind, I say it and it’s worked for me.