Gypsy Rose Blanchard is ready for the world to hear her side of the story.
Over the course of 18 months, Blanchard was interviewed in prison for the Lifetime documentary The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, which premieres at 8 p.m. Friday. (The six-part series airs Friday, Saturday and Sunday in two-episode installments.)
The doc features several revelations that Blanchard hasn’t shared with many, if any, other people to this point, many of which will surprise viewers (no spoilers here).
While her story has been told numerous times in news stories, an HBO doc and even in scripted form (Hulu’s The Act), plus a prison interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, this is the first time she’s talked about the events leading up to her mother’s murder in such detail. It also gives viewers insight into her time in prison, her marriage to Ryan Anderson (they met and wed while she was incarcerated) and her regrets about her actions that led to her sentence.
For those who may not know, Blanchard was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016 after she pleaded guilty to persuading Nicholas Godejohn, a boyfriend she met online, to kill her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who had forced Blanchard to pretend for years that she was suffering from serious illnesses, including leukemia, muscular dystrophy and other serious illnesses. She was released on parole from Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center on Dec. 28 after serving 85 percent of her original sentence.
“I’ve had a chance to dissect everything that’s happened to me, and now I’m finally telling the whole story from my words,” she says in the doc.
Ahead of its premiere, Blanchard spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why she wanted to open up in such a candid way, what she’s been doing since her release and what her advice would be to others in her previous situation.
Congratulations on your parole. What have you been doing since your release?
Honestly, I’ve been spending my time reconnecting with my dad [Rod Blanchard] and my stepmom, Kristy, and really spending time with my husband. We’re back home in Louisiana now, and we’re settling into married life. I definitely had to kind of go peeking through his closet and putting my clothes on the shelf and integrating myself into his life now. I’m making this my home.
You say in the Lifetime documentary that the first thing you wanted to do when you got released was to hug your family for 10 minutes. Were you able to have that special moment with them?
I did. It was the most beautiful moment. I think I hugged each person for 10 minutes.
You share a lot of revelations in this documentary that nobody knew, including your own family. What made you want to open up in such an honest way?
I think the biggest reason why I held back all this time, and am kind of coming forward now, is because I just wasn’t emotionally ready at the time. There are a lot of things to unpack in my life — more than just with my mother. And so I think at the time of doing my previous interviews, everything was so surrounded around my mother and I. So I think now I’m coming to a place where I could be more confident to open up a little bit more and feel like I’m in a safe space enough to [open up]. That’s why I’m so candid in this documentary.
I actually have not seen anything, like the documentaries or The Act. I haven’t seen that, and so I don’t know what is inaccurate in those versions of things. I’m just coming into it, sharing my whole truth. And I guess people can pick out if they self-correct those inaccuracies on their own by watching this documentary series. So I’m just kind of coming out and sharing my story and the whole truth. That’s how I’m doing it.
In the doc, you talk about the importance of therapy. Do you feel like this was a form of therapy?
In a sense it was because you’re talking about it, you’re getting it out there. You know, there were times that I was hitting on emotions that I didn’t quite expect. So, yeah, I think opening up in interviews is a form of therapy in itself.
The producers also reveal things to you that you weren’t aware of that your mom had told your doctors, including the the lie that you were scared to eat, which resulted in the insertion of a feeding tube. Do you still feel like there are a lot of things you don’t know about what she was telling people?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. There’s a lot to unpack in my life, and I only know my perspective. So when I’m talking with family, I’m constantly learning new revelations from them that I had no idea about. So it’s like I’ve got my version of my life and then everybody else has their own version of things. So I’m piecing things together as I go.
In the doc, a doctor you’ve met with calls your mom a “psychopath.” Do you think that’s an accurate assessment of her, or do you think that’s a little harsh?
I actually didn’t know that. So you just told me something. I didn’t know. I don’t think that that is an accurate description. I know that she suffered from mental health issues, but I am not even close to having a Ph.D. to know what the definitions of a psychopath are. But to that effect, the way it’s used in a common, insulting kind of way, [that is] absolutely not [true]. She was a very sick lady that had a lot of mental health issues and she would have needed medication. She would have needed mental health therapy, and she wasn’t getting treated for it. So that’s what I think the issue with my mom was, I don’t think she was a devious person. I just think that she would have needed a lot of mental health therapy and help.
You say that you were a “people-pleaser” when you entered prison, and that if you hadn’t gotten jail time you wouldn’t have been prepared for what came next. What do you think was the biggest change in you during your time in prison?
Honestly, I think maturity because I wasn’t allowed to have those experiences that form maturity. So now in prison, I was able to have those experiences and grow from that. I’m the type of person that, I will make a mistake, learn from it and move on, and hopefully never make it again. So I definitely think that that level of maturity kicked in and you can see the the transformation from when I first got to prison to me actually walking out of prison and feeling, as a confident woman, like I could stand my ground, say no when I need to, be my best advocate. That is the journey that I went through in prison, is being my best advocate.
What’s next? Where do you go from here?
Right now I’m just trying to take it day by day, just trying to be really present in the moment and enjoy the time that I have because everyone says, if you blink, your life is over. So I’m enjoying like, for the last eight and a half years, I’ve been excited about this new life and just ready to start it. Every day is a day-by-day type of process for me.
Do you have Hollywood ambitions? What if, say, the Dancing With the Stars producers come calling?
No, no, I can’t dance, (Laughs.) I’m not the best person with rhythm, but you never know. Sometimes opportunities arise and it depends if I want to take it on or not. So, I’m just taking it day by day and we’ll see, whatever opportunities come up, we’ll see if I want to go through with it.
I saw that you are Taylor Swift fan. What’s your favorite song of hers? Is there one that resonates most?
Yeah, I am a Swiftie. All of her songs are really, really good. I really like the song “Eyes Open,” and I’m really digging “Karma” right now. “Karma” has been what I have been playing on my playlist a lot. So I’m jamming out to that.
On a more serious note, what do you want to say to victims of abuse or those suffering from Munchausen Syndome by Proxy? Is there any message you’d like to share?
Absolutely. I think I would just like to share that you’re not alone. Somebody will listen to you. If you have a friend, even one friend, or even if you just go up to someone at the grocery store and tell somebody, “Listen, I think I’m in a bad situation right now and I would need some help. Can you help me?” It’s what I wish I would have done. I regret how things had turned out for me. I regret the choices that I made, and I wish I would have had someone give me that kind of message before I did what I did.