'Summer House' star Danielle Olivera video chats with ET about the highs and lows of season 5, including the just-taped reunion.
Summer House first introduced viewers to Danielle Olivera in season 2, but for many fans, they’re just starting to get to know the 32-year-old tech/finance professional. It’s thanks to season 5’s format pivot. While the first four seasons of the series documented the weekend comings and goings of a group of friends in a Hamptons share house, season 5 captured the 24/7 lives of the housemates for six weeks straight. It was a change made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, but it paid off, helping Summer House to deliver its best season ever.
"I think that there was definitely more of me to see," Danielle muses to ET over video chat, trying to nail down why exactly she finally "clicked" with viewers four seasons in. "For me, I didn't love myself on TV in the previous seasons. I'm thankful for what I was portrayed as this time around."
Danielle says she mostly stays off Twitter (thanks in part to the often toxic atmosphere it breeds around reality TV commentary), but she is aware of the shift she's had with viewers this year -- and she welcomes all the positivity and love with open arms.
"I love that people are responding to me and that I'm representing in a way that makes a lot of people that look like me very proud," Danielle, who is of Puerto Rican descent, remarks. She's proud to represent the Latinx community -- and the nerd community. As the only Summer House-mate with a corporate job, she jokes she lives a "double life." The show's used that to its editing advantage in season 5, with Danielle's corporate jargon punctuating work week montages in nearly every episode.
"I am obsessed with my team and the people I work with because they have a sense of humor, and they see the humor in me having this double life," she shares. "They know I'm a fun time after work. So they could see how I would be on the show, and being in tech, they're like, ‘You're living our dream!’ Because when you're with a bunch of engineers who only code every single second of their lives, they love that one of them is out there, I guess, representing. Nerds can be cool and party, too."
It's getting to see that mix of all sides of herself -- young professional, family-oriented and best friend to many -- that finally brought Danielle out of the Bravo shadows, so to speak.
"In previous seasons, you just saw me sweating, coming off of a train, getting to the venue and just immediately start drinking and being 'party girl Danielle,'" she notes. "Most of my life is not 'party girl Danielle.' I really like to focus on work and my career, and before you didn't really get to see that side of me. So you could never really understand why I was coming out so hot on the weekends."
Making things even more complicated is the fact that, in season 4, Danielle wasn't a full-time house guest. She bunked with Lindsay Hubbard on much-needed party weekends.
"Everyone was like, 'She's thirsty, she's trying too hard,'" she continues. "I'm like, no. All that steam from an insane workweek is just coming off. And I've been going to the Hamptons for many, many years before the show, and ... I use it as a way to get drunk -- and before Robert -- hook up with people. That's always been me, and so this time you get to see that I really am this balanced person, that I do work hard, and then I play hard."
Robert is Robert Sieber, an executive chef whom Danielle started dating just weeks before she started filming Summer House last year, after meeting him at an intimate dinner party he catered. He temporarily moved into the house for the end of summer, as viewers saw last week, and Danielle is excited for people to see more of him in the final episodes to come.
"I was so, so nervous," she admits of bringing her man into the orbit of reality television. "I think that I was just nervous that he wouldn't take well to the environment, and that is not only the [cast], but it's our crew, as well. So, I was honestly so excited that he was just a ham. He was a natural. I think that when he watches himself, he still freaks out. He was pacing back and forth over the ‘suicidal caterpillar’ conversation. He's like, 'How are they going to do us like that? ... That's not us! We're fun. We're cool. Right?' I'm like, 'No, I know that, but this is your first foray into an edit...'"
Before the edit came the experience for Robert, and it was quite the experience. Within his first few minutes at the house, Danielle realized that her co-star Hannah Berner and Hannah’s visiting boyfriend, her now-fiancé Des Bishop, were christening multiple rooms of the house -- including castmates Amanda Batula and Kyle Cooke's bathroom.
"I had no idea what they were doing in their bathroom because, in my mind, that would be the last thing that I would think two people would do to people that they call friends," Danielle says. "I did know that they were trying to get after it in every part of the house. I only can confirm the laundry room, which is not big by the way. It wasn't very large and there were a lot of bugs in there, so I wouldn't have chosen it as a place to have sex in, but that's the only place that I knew for sure that they were doing the dirty in. And even then, I was just like, 'Oh, dear Lord. OK, Des. Nice to meet you.'"
It's been a rough season for Hannah, who started the season off at odds with Danielle’s BFF Lindsay, going on to feud with ex-fling Luke Gulbranson, as well as Kyle. Danielle promises the cast unpacked everything at the just-shot reunion in New York City.
"I'm still fully recovering from what happened," she discloses, calling the day "chaos," while promising host Andy Cohen left "no stone unturned."
"You could probably slice in half the room on who sees each other often versus what we needed to really get off our chest from people that we haven't seen since we wrapped, and getting that all out took hours and hours of time and, honestly, not sure if it was all resolved," she adds. "Luke, [Carl Radke], myself, Lindsay, Kyle, Amanda, I can say we love each other pretty hard, I think in the reunion, you're going to see a lot of that."
"I will say, at this point, it is up to Hannah," she offers of where the group goes after season 5. "We literally threw it all out there. She has two ears. She definitely heard us, but it will take, I think, a lot of even her rewatching it and truly listening to what we had to say and then actions afterward. Because, again, still there's a lot of still unresolved issues there."
Some of those issues pop up in the final two episodes of season 5.
"What is addressed towards the end with Hannah and Amanda is super important, plus Paige," she teases. "I mean, that's a friendship dynamic that is flawed. It's struggling a bit, and we see that play out."
The last couple of weeks also document more of Danielle playing therapist/sounding board to Lindsay, as she deals with her breakup/makeup with on-again, off-again boyfriend Stephen 'Stravy' Traversie. When Lindsay admits to Danielle that she "drunkenly" got back together with Stravy, Danielle tells her pal, "I still don’t think that he’s the guy for you." It’s an instinct she’d had since the first time she saw Lindsay and Stravy as a couple.
"I was dealing with a lot of their relationship stuff way before we were filming," she recalls. "What you see on TV is not played up for the cameras at all. If anything, maybe it's toned down, really."
Danielle says Stravy made it a habit to go MIA after fights -- much like he did when they broke up on Lindsay’s birthday amid filming season 5, moving out of the house and fleeing into the night in an Uber -- a pattern Danielle knew wasn’t sustainable.
"They got to a point in their relationship where I think she even proposed having the location shared, just so she knew that he wasn't in a gutter somewhere, because he would just flee the scene," she says. "Lindsay is the most loyal person. She has abandonment issues. When he started demonstrating that behavior early on, I was like, I don't think he has it in him to be the right guy. He's a great guy, nice guy, better for someone else, not for our girl Lindsay."
Danielle says Lindsay needs a guy who can look past her "sometimes suck-y" delivery and appreciate her directness, a man who is confident in who he is and not intimidated by her success. Speculation is circulating online that she may have found said guy while filming the Summer House spinoff series Winter House earlier this year, getting together with a to-be-revealed cast member.
"I cannot confirm nor deny that," Danielle divulges. "[But] let's say they're very happy."
With so many new romances in the Summer House (now extended) universe, there's a chance season 6 turns into a bit of a love nest thanks to all the couples. Danielle doesn’t expect Robert to move in, though.
"I honestly hope that we return to working in the city and then just going out to the Hamptons on the weekends," Danielle says of a hypothetical sixth season. "Hopefully the pandemic is in a good enough spot … so that we could film on, for us, a more regular schedule and not be in the house the whole time."
"Robert just accepted a new chef job, he's an executive chef at a place in Midtown, so he's going to be insanely busy," she adds. "So, it's going to be different that he's going to be working all the time. I really hope that we get to film at his restaurant because that might be the only way I get to see him."
She and Robert have been seeing a lot of each other since Summer House wrapped filming last September. The pair moved in together soon after returning to the city.
"We talk, we kid about marriage, kids," she confesses, but with the addendum that she does not have a "Timeline 4 Life" written out, like Lindsay. Danielle says she and Robert are just taking things day by day, enjoying time together, contemplating getting a dog and, of course, watching Summer House -- even the awkward moments, like when Danielle offered Carl, her ex-boyfriend, a hand job to calm his nerves after a near-brawl at the front door with Luke.
"Before Robert saw it, I texted him," she explains. "I was like, by the way, this episode, I offer Carl a hand job. He's like, ‘A hand jibber? He called it a ‘hand jibber.’ He got the humor in it. He knew that it was not a serious thing."
"I wasn't actually going to give the guy a hand job," she adds. "I love and I'm obsessed with Robert. … I was like, OK, let me make sure Carl's OK, and the only way that I know to diffuse the situation is to bring humor into it. So, that's what happened."
As for the end of season 5, Danielle’s just excited she gets to share it with Robert, and Robert with the audience.
"I'm most excited for viewers to see more of Robert because I adore him," she gushes. "I don't know if I can tease this, but he does cook for Kyle and Amanda's faux wedding, and just the reception of Robert and the partying, it was so awesome to see how well received he was by the guys, by the girls. It felt so natural that he was part of our crew."
"Ultimately, we do love each other," she says of that crew. "I always love our ending, jumping in the pool naked. -- you're definitely going to see that again, and Robert was part of that, of course -- so I just think that, at the end of the day, we have our issues. Some of them are unresolved, but when it came to rallying and being there for Kyle and Amanda, we did it, and I love that we end on that note."
Summer House airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.