With a fairy-tale home life and a pow­er­house per­sonal brand, E! per­son­al­ity and dy­namic en­tre­pre­neur Giuliana Rancic strides into her 15th year with the net­work—happy, healthy, and lov­ing her new life.

Capitol File - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by BILL RANCIC pho­tog­ra­phy by ERIC LEVIN

With a fairy-tale home life and a pow­er­house per­sonal brand, E! per­son­al­ity and en­tre­pre­neur Giuliana Rancic strides into her 15th year with the net­work—happy, healthy, and lov­ing her new life.

WHAT AN EPIC FIVE YEARS it’s been for Giuliana Rancic. The long­time star of E!’s Fash­ion Po­lice was de­clared can­cer-free af­ter a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy in 2012, then wel­comed her son, Duke, later that year. Since then, she has stepped back into the spot­light in a se­ri­ous way, launch­ing the wildly pop­u­lar HSN fash­ion col­lec­tion G by Giuliana and the wine line Xo, G; writ­ing a New York Times best seller, Go­ing Off Script; and part­ner­ing with hus­band Bill Rancic to ex­pand the RPM din­ing brand with the re­cently opened restau­rant RPM Ital­ian in DC. With Rancic grac­ing her first Capi­tol File cover, it was clear that only her hus­band could do the in­ter­view jus­tice—and the for­mer win­ner of The Ap­pren­tice was happy to oblige. In a play­ful pre-awards-sea­son chat, Giuliana talks openly with Bill about her new­found peace, the life-chang­ing lessons of the past five years, and what it’s like to come home to DC.

Giuliana, thank you for sit­ting down with me. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate you tak­ing the time. It is an honor and a priv­i­lege.

My good­ness! I wasn’t pre­pared for some­thing so of­fi­cial.

I try to be a pro­fes­sional in ev­ery way I can. Just re­cently you cel­e­brated five years since hav­ing your fi­nal surgery. Take us through the jour­ney of the last five years.

The five-year mile­stone is so im­por­tant in breast can­cer. I feel like I’ve come full cir­cle. [Five years ago] there was just so much fear and un­cer­tainty in my fu­ture. At five years, I’m so much more calm, and I’m such a dif­fer­ent per­son in a way, and re­ally bet­ter be­cause of it.

Which leads me to my next ques­tion. When you look back at the five years, tell me the three big­gest changes in Giuliana.

There are so many, but I think the main one is I just ap­pre­ci­ate life more. I mean, you just do. When you go through some­thing like breast can­cer, as you al­ways say, Bill—I’m go­ing to steal a line from you, and I’m giv­ing you credit—

—which is very rare.

Nor­mally, I steal lines from you but I don’t give you credit.

That’s okay.

Here I’m go­ing to give you credit, since you’re here in front of me. You al­ways say, “When you go through some­thing big in life, you turn down the vol­ume on the lit­tle things and the things that don’t mat­ter, and you turn up the vol­ume on the things that do mat­ter.” I think that’s what I’ve done in the past five years, and I think you can see it through the de­ci­sions I’ve made, es­pe­cially with work.


And per­son­ally as well. The big­gest has been pulling back on the day-to-day work life so that I could move to Chicago and be able to take Duke to school ev­ery day. Go­ing back to your ques­tion, I think I’m much stronger than I was be­fore.

I agree.

I used to think I was strong, but I didn’t re­al­ize how strong I could be. I re­mem­ber a great quote that I used to al­ways look at, some­thing along the lines of “You re­al­ize your true strength when you have no other choice but to be strong.”

You’re out of op­tions.

I had no choice… and I re­al­ized, Wow, I’m a strong chick. That was one of the pos­i­tives of breast can­cer, that re­al­iza­tion, be­cause it has helped me go through other things th­ese past five years. The third thing is... You know, I’ve al­ways been em­pa­thetic, but I think that got turned up a lot, es­pe­cially with women and the is­sues women go through.

Speak­ing of that, I think one of the things I’m ex­tremely proud of you for do­ing is cre­at­ing Fab-U-Wish. Tell me what that has meant to you.

Fab-U-Wish I cre­ated not long af­ter I had my surgery. You and I were driv­ing in the car one night, and we came up with the name Fab-U-Wish.

We did.

You like to think you came up with the name, right?

Are you kid­ding me?

I think I came up with it.

Wow, this is un­be­liev­able.

Okay, you’re right. Maybe you did.

I have to have a trade­mark at­tor­ney on re­tainer in the house. [Laughs]

Fab-U-Wish was a way to give back to other women go­ing through breast can­cer, but re­ally tied to my own ex­pe­ri­ence. I re­mem­ber go­ing back to work for the first time af­ter my dou­ble mas­tec­tomy. I got my hair and makeup done, and I put on a pretty dress, and I looked in the mir­ror, and it was the

first time in a very long time I rec­og­nized the per­son look­ing back at me.

The old you.

The old me. The girl be­fore the breast can­cer. See­ing that re­ally helped me say, “You know what? I don’t have to be a dif­fer­ent per­son. I can be my­self. I can still have the life I had be­fore. I’m go­ing to get through this, and I’m go­ing to stay the same woman that I am.” That was very help­ful, and I thought, I wish I could do this for other women and just let them feel fab­u­lous for the day. That’s how Fab-U-Wish came about. We’re al­most five years in, and since then we’ve part­nered with the Pink Agenda, which is un­der the Breast Can­cer Re­search Foun­da­tion. To­gether, we ful­fill wishes and also raise money for breast can­cer re­search. It’s been in­cred­i­ble.

Speak­ing of Fab-U-Wish, this is Capi­tol File’s Spring Fash­ion Is­sue. What ex­cites you about fash­ion?

Ev­ery­thing. I love fash­ion, but I grew up in a fash­ion-cen­tric house­hold. My fa­ther [Ed­uardo DePandi] is still, at 79, a mas­ter tai­lor from Naples, Italy. Still, ev­ery day, he makes th­ese beau­ti­ful cus­tom Ital­ian suits for some of the best-dressed men in Wash­ing­ton, DC. I’m very proud of my fa­ther.

It’s in your DNA.

Just grow­ing up in that house­hold, my mom loves fash­ion, my sis­ter used to work for Versace when she first started her ca­reer. I re­mem­ber one night we were go­ing to a very nice party in DC. I was a teenager. I came down in a pantsuit. My dad said, “No, Giuliana. Go back up­stairs and get your big sis­ter’s Versace dress out of her closet.” I’m like, “Okay, when Mon­ica finds out that I’m wear­ing this Versace dress, you’ve got to de­fend me, Dad.” The point is, my dad had such a great eye.

You have quite an eye for it, so much so that you’ve cre­ated the G by Giuliana line of cloth­ing for HSN. What can we ex­pect in the Spring col­lec­tion? Are you wear­ing it now? I know you are.

I’m al­ways wear­ing G by Giuliana. I hear other de­sign­ers say, “Oh, I don’t nec­es­sar­ily de­sign for my­self. I de­sign for all women.” But first and fore­most, I think you should de­sign what you love, and then take it from there. Be­cause you need to love it and you need to want to wear it.

Let’s shift gears. You grew up in Bethesda and chose to at­tend un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate school in the DC metro area. Why did you de­cide to stay close to home?

I chose Univer­sity of Mary­land at Col­lege Park for their ex­cep­tional jour­nal­ism pro­gram. I had my eye on Mary­land’s pro­gram for many years and was thrilled when I was ac­cepted. As for grad­u­ate school, Amer­i­can Univer­sity has a ter­rific pro­gram that al­lows stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence re­port­ing in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. Each day, we would choose a dif­fer­ent beat to cover: the Supreme Court, the Pen­tagon, the White House, the State Depart­ment, or Capi­tol Hill. We had in­cred­i­ble ac­cess. I wouldn’t have been able to get that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence at many other schools. Be­ing part of that pro­gram gave me a solid foun­da­tion and truly shaped me as a jour­nal­ist.

When you moved to LA, what was the first thing you missed about DC?

My fam­ily and friends! I grad­u­ated on a Sun­day and was on a flight to LA the fol­low­ing Fri­day. It was my first time liv­ing away from home and I was com­pletely alone. I was ter­ri­fied but ex­cited. I didn’t know a soul in Los An­ge­les—no fa­mous un­cle or any other con­nec­tions to the busi­ness—so I had to fig­ure things out quickly. But I’m glad that was the case, be­cause it made me fight harder from the start. I al­ways knew my old life would be wait­ing for me back in DC if things didn’t work out, and that gave me tremen­dous com­fort in hard times.

I thought you were go­ing to say you missed Mama DePandi’s cook­ing the most!

Oh wait, I take back ev­ery­thing I said… Yes, there is noth­ing I missed more than my mom’s pasta!

When you first got into the restau­rant busi­ness, did you know you would want to open one in DC?

It was al­ways on my mind, but I never lob­bied for it be­cause we were so fo­cused on be­ing the best in the Chicago mar­ket with RPM Ital­ian and RPM Steak. When our part­ners ap­proached us about mak­ing DC our first ven­ture out­side of Chicago, I was over the moon. What drew my fam­ily here from Naples, Italy, in the first place was the suc­cess story of two of my un­cles who owned a slew of pop­u­lar restau­rants in the DC area—Tiberio, Tra­gara, Ter­razza, Pic­colo Mondo, Otello, and Rigo­letto. An­other un­cle later opened Pasta Mia in Adams Mor­gan. We im­mi­grated when I was 7, and I grew up in th­ese restau­rants. That time in my life holds a spe­cial place in my heart. So for me it’s very per­sonal. I’ve al­ways loved com­ing home, but now that we have a restau­rant here, it’s even bet­ter.

What do you want RPM Ital­ian to feel like, look like, taste like when DC din­ers visit?

One thing I want is for peo­ple to love the am­bi­ence. I love the way RPM feels—it’s chic and sexy and has in­cred­i­ble en­ergy, yet you can still hear ev­ery­one at the ta­ble talk­ing with­out get­ting drowned out by loud mu­sic or bad acous­tics. A mem­o­rable din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence comes from that per­fect alchemy of get­ting ev­ery el­e­ment right, even the sound waves. Ob­vi­ously, the two most im­por­tant fac­tors are al­ways go­ing to be the food and the ser­vice, and I think we’ve nailed both.

I know the an­swer to this ques­tion, but what is your fa­vorite dish on the menu?

You know me too well, honey… Mama DePandi’s Bu­ca­tini Po­modoro, of course. I have a con­fes­sion to make that I have never told any­one be­fore: The last time we were at RPM in DC with my mom, she leaned over and whis­pered to me that she thinks the way the Neapoli­tan chef pre­pares her pasta is even bet­ter than the way she pre­pares it at home! I could not be­lieve th­ese words came out of her mouth, but then she or­dered a sec­ond serv­ing—no joke—and I knew she was for real. Too funny!

Was it dif­fer­ent pre­par­ing to open a restau­rant in your home­town, where your mother, whose recipes in­spired the menu, lives?

It was dif­fer­ent. I wanted to con­tinue the fam­ily legacy of fine Ital­ian din­ing. At the end of the day, that meant be­ing both de­li­cious and au­then­tic. As you well know, au­then­tic­ity is para­mount to me, in ev­ery as­pect of my life, so I wanted peo­ple to feel like they were en­joy­ing a meal just like they would get at the best restau­rants in Italy. But also, I knew my home­town friends would be din­ing here, and a lot of them grew up on my mom’s cook­ing, so I wanted to make sure the food was out­stand­ing for them as well.

Last ques­tion: What’s it like be­ing a mother?

It’s a life-changer, but it’s the best thing that’s ever hap­pened to me—you and Duke are the best things that have ever hap­pened to me. He’s just the best. Ev­ery day, it’s some­thing new and adorable. It’s a type of joy you just don’t get any­where else. I love to laugh, as you know. Ital­ian fam­ily, lots of laugh­ter. But the kind of laugh that I ex­pe­ri­ence when my son makes me laugh is un­like any­thing I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced. When I look at him, I see you, and you’re the best dad I could have dreamed of. I just feel like my life’s com­plete. Things change, but right now life is beau­ti­ful.

I think that’s won­der­ful. Giuliana. On be­half of Capi­tol File mag­a­zine, thank you.

My good­ness. I feel like I’m on the To­day show and you’re Matt Lauer.

I ap­pre­ci­ate your can­dor, and I think our read­ers are re­ally go­ing to en­joy this.

Thank you, Matt. I mean Bill. You had me fooled for a minute there.


Dress, Pamella Roland ($2,990). Neiman Marcus, Tysons Gal­le­ria, 703-7611600; neiman­mar­cus.com. Co­p­ley di­a­mond ban­gle and 18k Co­p­ley ban­gle (prices on re­quest), Hearts on Fire. jame­sand­sons.com. Choker and ban­gles, Rancic’s own

Beaded dress, Pamella Roland ($3,630). Neiman Marcus, Tysons Gal­le­ria, 703761-1600; neiman­mar­cus.com.

18k Lorelei di­a­mond criss­cross ring, Hearts on Fire (price on re­quest). jame­sand­sons.com

Styling by Kate Loscalzo

Hair by Mor­gan Leek

Makeup by Ofe­lia Suar Fe­her

for Mario Tric­oci

Shot on lo­ca­tion at In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Chicago Mag­nif­i­cent Mile, 505 N. Michi­gan Ave., 312-944-4100; ic­chicago­ho­tel.com

The In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal was built in 1929 and re­mains a true Chicago icon. Sit­u­ated on the city’s Mag­nif­i­cent Mile, the ho­tel of­fers guests easy ac­cess to Michael Jor­dan’s Steak­house, ENO Wine Bar, the I-Club and his­toric in­door pool, high-end shop­ping, and all the at­trac­tions Chicago has to of­fer.

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