Name: Gabrielle Guarnaccia
Location: New York, New York
Profession: Former intern of Bravo star Sonja Morgan. Recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and working in public relations as an influencer marketing coordinator.
PEOPLE: How did you first hear about this internship?
I recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and a classmate in my Spanish class was Sonja Morgan's intern at the time. I was looking for an internship for my senior year, so I asked him how he got it. He told me he emailed a link in her Instagram bio, so I reached out and sent my résumé. I also let her know that I love the Real Housewives of New York and explained why I would be a good fit. I didn't hear back for a while, and then my final semester came around. I told myself that I had to keep trying because it would be my last chance. I was determined to do it. I followed up and got an email back this time.
We went back and forth for a little bit to figure out what my role would be and when we could make it work. Then at the end of December 2020, Sonja texted me and told me to come to her house to get started. So literally that day, I'm pretty sure it was Dec. 22 because it was right before Christmas, I went to her townhouse. From there, I jumped right into managing her social media.
Her famous townhouse on the Upper East Side?
Yes, that one.
What was going through your mind?
Walking up to the door, I couldn't believe what was happening. I've seen the townhouse so many times [on the show]. It's beautiful inside. I would love to live in a townhouse like that. It was really cool and her daughter was there. Her assistant opened the door and her dog was super sweet. I love that dog so much.
A star in his own right.
He's the nicest dog.
Did you apply to be any other Housewives' intern?
I emailed a couple of the other ladies that had their emails in their bio but Sonja was the one I really wanted because I know she has a history with interns and could provide really great connections and experiences.
How long was the internship?
Six months. From the end of December to the end of May.
Meeting Sonja for the first time, would you say she's exactly who you see on the show?
I've had previous experience working with VIPs, high-end clients and celebrities so when we met, I was like okay, I've done this before. It was just weird to be in her space instead of being at a fashion show or an event that I had helped plan. She was super nice, super normal and welcomed me right away. She really made me feel comfortable and I don't have a bad thing to say about the experience.
Sophy Holland/Bravo RHONY season 12 cast
Would you say that her personality on the show is pretty similar to who she is as a boss?
There's definitely a bit of separation [from who we see on Housewives] to who she is as a boss. She's a really smart businesswoman who knows what her followers and audience want, and what is expected of her. And on the show, she knows what's expected of her, too. She's obviously going to be a bit different when promoting something on social media versus when she's at a dinner on the show but overall, she was definitely the same person: really funny, really outspoken and a total boss.
Can you describe your first day?
Sonja was leaving to go home for Christmas. She was headed to visit family in Tennessee so she showed me the rundown of how she likes things organized and then I helped her pack. Then she gave me the logins for her social media and sent me all the social media content she wanted me to plan out for her.
I was very protective over her social media. I would never go on it if I wasn't working on something for her.
Did you have to sign a contract?
What did the contract entail?
Basically, just keep what's supposed to be private, private.
Can you walk me through some of the things you did for Sonja during your internship?
Social media was my main priority. I communicated with her every day and we would text about the social plan for either the day, week, or as far out in advance as I could. We would go back and forth on captions, tags, what she was wearing, the order of the way she wanted to post. We would make sure that it all fit her brand.
Does she write her own captions?
For the most part, it was her. I would give my input but in the end, it was her making the final call. I would maybe draft something and she would edit it and make it her own, so she definitely had a big part in that.
What do Sonja Morgan's DMs look like?
She has a lot of fans that really love her. They leave very nice notes about why she's important to them. It was great to be able to go through those and send them to her because, I mean, who doesn't want to hear that? We also like to repost fan Stories because they're not just her fans, they're people who have supported her every step of the way. It's very important for her to communicate with them and keep that relationship.
She has a really nice relationship with a lot of the Bravo fan accounts that make content of her. She was always very grateful and loved to repost what they would send her. She would thank them for making such good content and for being so supportive. It was a lot of that in her DMs, and the occasional Bravolebrity.
Have you ever seen any celeb guys trying to slide in her DMs?
I haven't. I've seen some cool actresses that had been like, "Oh, I'm such a fan of you." Debra Messing really loves her, and had a friend that really loved her and wanted a video. There's people from all over that you don't even realize are invested in the Housewives who love her and the show.
Would you say Debra Messing is the most famous fan you've seen?
Probably. I mean, she does have her messages with Andy Cohen, obviously. In my mind, Andy Cohen is A-list of the A-lists. Debra Messing was a good one but also, if it didn't pertain to my job, I tried to respect that it was her DMs, so I stuck to my lane with that.
Sonja's talked about having an OnlyFans. Have you had to help her with her account?
I have not. She told me she got a separate intern for that, but if she did, I never met the intern.
During your internship, was there anything that was off limits?
Nothing crazy, besides very normal things. I would never take pictures of her or post when I was with her. I would never take pictures inside her house or anything.
Were you ever asked to be filmed on the show?
I wasn't. I was interning while they were filming, but it was very remote for me then. By the time it became less remote, filming was done. Her other interns and assistant are filmed a lot.
What's the most bizarre request you've ever had to complete on the job?
Probably editing a picture or a video of her dog Millou's funeral.
[Editor's note: Sonja's dog Millou died in 2014 and the star held a memorial that was filmed on RHONY in an episode called "Requiem for a Poodle."]
Oh my gosh.
I got that a couple of days into my internship, and I was like, okay, I kind of remember this scene [from the show] actually. I had to clip it, edit it and save it for future content. It was so sad, that dog was so cute.
Was there anything that she wanted to post that you felt wasn't a good idea?
No, she's very aware of that. She really does understand her audience and her responsibility to a lot of people and her followers. There was never a time I was thinking, this is not appropriate to post.
Was there a protocol for dealing with hateful comments?
I did not interact with them. I didn't want to give them any attention. I tried not to show Sonja those. I would show her the very positive ones. I mean, she can go on her own Instagram and see them for herself. She doesn't need me to tell her, as a public figure, that there's not always super nice comments.
Throughout my time, I learned that the way you or I would run our Instagrams, as personal Instagrams, is very different from how someone with her status would run hers. Her social media is her life and her brand so it's really important for her.
Most of us don't face the pressure she has to balance being authentic and true to herself while upholding her responsibilities. It was really interesting to witness. She has really thick skin and there were so many things that I personally would not be cut out for. Some of the comments, even if she is a public figure, are not nice so I can imagine that it could be tough to handle. That's why I have so much respect for her.
What's the best advice you got from Sonja?
The best advice would probably be not anything she's specifically said, but more of what I learned from observing how she acted. She stood up for herself, knew what she wanted and was confident. She really cares about her daughter and the people who work for her. She upheld high standards. I respect that because when you have so much pressure on you, it's really easy to cave to the mean comments or criticism, and have it affect how you treat others. But she is who she is and that's why she's so successful.