Brandi Passante Talks “Storage Wars,” Mom Guilt and More!
It isn’t easy being one of the only women in a male-dominated business, but such is the case for Brandi Passante of A&E’s hit series “Storage Wars.” We caught up with Passante to learn about her secret to keeping up with the guys, her passion for cooking, how she handles “mom guilt” and how she and boyfriend Jarrod Schulz manage to separate the stress of being in business together from their home life.
Q: How do you manage to balance family plus career?
A: If there’s a formula, I haven’t figured it out yet! I don’t have much family outside of Jarrod and the kids, and Jarrod comes from a very small family, so when we were just starting out, we’d rely on neighbors and even some of Jarrod’s buddies for extra support. Now we can afford to hire some help – I work all the time, so I need someone to assist with the day-to-day stuff, but I do try to make time for the kids. In fact, we are going to Universal Studios in a few days. Oh – also, I rely heavily on caffeine to make it through the day!
Q: What about meals? Do you cook?
A: I love to cook! I’m Sicilian, so it is in my blood! In fact, I once thought about becoming a chef. But it is time-consuming, so I have learned how to cut corners. I rely on roasted chickens a lot – I use them to make things like soups and pot pies. They make it possible for me to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Jarrod has to watch his cholesterol, so I also use the chicken as a substitute for red meat. One of my specialties is “Chicken Stroganoff” instead of Beef Stroganoff.
Q: What are some misconceptions that people have about you?
A: This may come as a surprise to some people, but I’m actually a very shy person. I even get anxiety when I have to go out to the store or to the gas station because I’m afraid of people approaching me. I was even shy as a child – I used to give everyone dirty looks! I think I’m perceived as a bitch on the show, but I’m just trying to run a business and save money!
Q: How do you stay in shape?
A: I used to do Pilates all the time. I’d wake up at 5 am, but then I’d be up late doing things around like house like laundry and then I’d be exhausted. Now I try to eat on the healthy side, especially since Jarrod is watching his cholesterol. I find that little things like substituting almond milk for regular milk make a big difference. I try to keep my weight down, because the television makes you look heavier. A complete stranger told me last night that I looked bigger on television than I did in person, but I didn’t take it as a compliment!
Q: You and Jarrod work together AND live together. Is that hard on the relationship?
A: When we were first starting out, we would have rock-star fights! It was exhausting, so we had to make the decision not to bring what happened on the show home. We have to let it go. It can be hard sometimes, because there are some emotional days and sometimes we say hurtful things to each other in the heat of the moment while shooting.
Q: Is it tough to work in a very male-dominated industry?
A: It forces me to be tougher and not to wear my heart on my sleeve. I grew up with brothers, and they used to beat the crap out of me when we were younger, and I think that toughened me up a bit! I find that the men in my business will walk all over you once they discover your weaknesses, so you have no choice but to develop a thick skin.
Q: How do you unwind after a long day?
A: I’m a big reader. I especially like to read rock-star autobiographies. I just finished reading the Gregg Allman book. I’m also addicted to Pinterest. Whenever we have to go somewhere, Jarrod drives so I can spend time looking at other people’s boards and pinning!
Q: Do you ever experience “mom guilt” because you work?
A: I think I’m a better parent because I work. I used to be a stay-at-home mom and it was very difficult for me. I love my kids, but I felt alienated and depressed when I didn’t have a career, so I think I’m a better parent because I work. I’m happier because of it.