Rachel Uchitel is known to many as the woman at the center of Tiger Woods' mistresses scandal of 2009-2010. But now, after more than year, the former nightclub manager is reinventing herself with a new career and a clean slate. She's currently featured on VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" and recently announced she's studying to become a private investigator. Wonderwall spoke with Uchitel exclusively about being judged by strangers, her future and more.
WONDERWALL: So, you're really going to become a private investigator?
RACHEL UCHITEL: I know it sounds really random. It's so funny to me to be flipping the channels and see (that) one of the scrolling stories on CNN international news is [about how] I am becoming a private investigator. I'm not really sure why anyone is interested by this. So it's surprises me that anyone even finds it remotely interesting.
WW: It does seem like a random choice.
RU: Well, it's not as scandalous as everyone would like to think ... People that have ever done research on me know that for many years I was a producer at Bloomberg News. I love news. I was in the media for quite a long time. When I worked in the nightclub [scene], I was the media contact for all of the people who were writing stuff. I have always been in the media field, and I have always enjoyed it. Another thing I have always enjoyed privately, I guess, is watching shows like Jane Velez-Mitchell, CNN, Nancy Grace, To Catch a Predator. All those shows that are about missing children, or crimes, or cold cases -- I'm just really interested in all that stuff and the criminal mind.
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WW: Is that why you chose this particular field?
RU: I had majored in psychology in school. After doing "Celebrity Rehab," I was continuing my work with Dr. Drew and trying to figure where I was going to go with my life. I have lost my credibility in the last year, and I want to get it back. I can't just go into a newsroom and say, "Hey, I want my job as a producer back." I need the credibility behind me, so I decided to apply for my masters in forensics psychology. I got into a program, and I've completed my first semester. I am also taking a course in California at DGA Detectives, which is an intensive course to get your certificate in forensic investigations ... I am in that class intensively every week.
WW: Once you're done, what's your ultimate goal?
RU: My ultimate goal is to get back into the media, be a correspondent and talk about things related to the field of forensic investigations. To be able to be a correspondent on Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace and to be part of the panel discussing the mind of a criminal, discussing where a missing child might be, discussing the ins and outs of a case ... that is my ultimate goal ... and to have the credibility behind me, whether it be on TV, radio or newspapers.
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WW: New year, new life?
RU: Everyone should be so lucky that they go through such a dark patch in their life. It's not even that they have the guts to start over, it's that they're forced to start over. I have been forced to start over. I am going back to school, and I'm doing my best to do something I have always wanted to do. It may sound really random to some people, but I don't care. It makes me really happy.
WW: Why did you join "Celebrity Rehab"?
RU: I wanted people to see who I was, and if they wanted to hate me after watching that, fine. I don't think anyone would hate me after watching that. They would see that I am a normal person with flaws like anybody else. I'm not a threatening cartoon character like I was made out to be. I wanted the chance to show people who I was. That's all.
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WW: What exactly are you addicted to?
RU: There was an outing that we did [on the show] where a boy named Aaron who had a problem with prescription pills has a seizure and goes into a coma. His mind works like yours and mine, but his body is a complete vegetable. It was the first time that I identified myself as an addict ... I started to get into understanding love addictions. I started to really embrace that and say, 'OK I'm Rachel. I'm a love addict.' And then after we met Aaron, I 100% was like 'Oh my god, that just changed my life. I am never doing prescription pills again.' I have been in complete denial ... I finally admit that I took too many prescription pills.
WW: How are you now?
RU: I haven't taken one pill since then.
WW: The show has received a lot of negative press. Is it legit?
RU: I am not an actress. I have never been on a reality show. There is no way, shape or form that I would even know how to go into an area like that and become an actress ... No, this whole thing was real. Everyone has their motivation for getting in front of the camera. All I can do is speak for myself. And I can tell you is that it changed my life. I was in rehab and there happened to be cameras there.
WW: Do you still keep in touch with people from "Celebrity Rehab"?
RU: I just got off the phone with Leif [Garrett] like 15 minutes ago. I talked to him every other day. We're really close, Leif, Jeremy [London] and Jason [Davis]. Jason Davis comes to my house every Wednesday to watch the show. I am really, really close to them. I adore them.
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WW: What do you hope this new year brings for you?
RU: I hope that people can learn how to stop being so hard on everybody else. It's been a really hard year for me. I had to deal with a lot of people's anger, and bitterness and I don't even know what. I've had to deal with a lot of that. And I've really internalized that and what I'd like this year is to able to feel proud of what I'm doing and what I'm accomplishing ... I'm just a person and I'm doing my best.
WW: Do you see love and your own family in the future?
RU: I hope this year brings me acceptance, love and happiness.