While you may know Jenni Pulos as Jeff Lewis’s co-star and home makeover project manager on the hit Bravo series “Flipping Out,” interior design is only one of her many passions. Pulos is also a mom, actress, author and children’s rapper (she’s won an Apollo award and released an album called “Old School Kids Beats”). Another thing she’s passionate about? Chicago, where she is a part-time resident.
We caught up with this busy lady and got the scoop on Season 9 of “Flipping Out,” what success means to her and her favorite parts of the Windy City.
SPLASH: You do a lot of different things. You’re an interior designer, you’re a mom, you act, you write.
JENNI PULOS: I’m multi-tasking. You work your job and you put your everything into it and you shouldn’t dial it in wherever you are, but you shouldn’t give up on the passion. Some people say, “I could never do that, I could never start that.” But those stories, of the people that say, “I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna try,” usually end up as the biggest, craziest success stories you hear about. And you’ll see this season on our show, Jeff is living through it — we talk about this at length often, to be a long-term, true success you have to endure many failures. Most recently in my personal life, I went through a lot of failure, and it had to be on our show, but then I ended up somewhere that so superseded anything I had expected or hoped for in my life as far as my husband and my daughter.
S: You are also a children’s rapper. Can you talk about how you got started with that?
JP: I wanted to do a children’s album even before I had my daughter, Alianna. [My album is] basically a throwback for parents of our generation, the beats that we used to love with great messages for kids like “Brush your Teeth,” “The Birthday Dance,” “Bullies Aren’t Cool.” I think it’s important to put good messages out there for the next generation. I keep rapping [and] you keep doing what you want and you don’t let people discourage your dreams. I’m the poster child for that. Expect the unexpected. When people usually say you can’t do something, it means you’re headed in the right direction.
S: If you had to pick a proudest success moment, what would it be?
JP: My proudest success moment is my daughter. She has been the great success of my life. And I am very career driven, and everybody talks lately about [being a] #girlboss, but [motherhood] has made, for me, everything take a backseat. In many ways, it has made everything flow easier for me, because the pressure has been off. It’s like, this is the best thing I’ll ever do. Winning the Apollo was up there too, as well as seeing our Emmy nomination for our show, and that was the episode my daughter was born, so talk about things coming full circle.
S: What are you most excited for people to see this season on “Flipping Out”?
JP: [Jeff] is becoming a father very soon, so you’re going to see a lot of that this year. And I’m trying to have another child, so I’m open about my struggles with that. But I can’t spoil everything for you, can I? I can’t tell you what the outcome is! [I’m also excited about] Jeff getting back into his own flips and his big project, probably the biggest project he’s ever done, on Hollywood Boulevard. And I don’t want to promise, but there could be a visit to Chicago, actually. So stay tuned!
S: What design tips can you give Splash readers? Dos and don’ts, particularly things that people can do on their own?
JP: I think a “do” would be just to re-paint. It’s affordable and can make [for] an amazing makeover. Painting an accent wall — it transforms the whole space. [Also,] if you can redo your floors. I’m loving wider plank, lighter floors. My big thing is that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just start one room at a time, little by little. You’ll be surprised at what a transformation can occur. I enjoy, for myself, stencil walls. I know there [are] great people in the Chicago area that do it [she recommends Prestige Faux Design, 824 Stonegate, New Lenox]. Get the stencil, get the paint. Wallpaper is stunning, don’t get me wrong, but this in an affordable choice, [and] it’s easier to change if you’re renting or you get tired of it.
S: When you come to Chicago, what are you favorite things to do? What kid-friendly spots do you like to visit in Chicago with your daughter?
JP: I’ve fallen in love with [the city] for so many reasons. There’s so many things to do and they’re quality. One of my favorite things is the architectural boat tour. The [Kohl] Children’s Museum in Glenview is great, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo. Seriously, I know it sounds like I’m going on and on. And we can talk deep-dish pizza until I’m blue in the face. And steak. I can’t get enough of Chicago. I hope Chicago loves me as much as I love it.
“Flipping Out” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m on Bravo.