Lu says this season of RHONY is all about redemption and hopes fans will see she's back in "control."
It's a new Luann de Lesseps this season on "Real Housewives of New York," which begins with the reality star completing the terms of her probation and finally putting her legal issues behind her following her 2017 Christmas Eve arrest.
And while she believes her costars think she "paid [her] dues" and put in the work, she hopes fans feel the same way, especially when it comes to her decision to drink alcohol again.
"I've had a lot of hard times the last couple of years," Lu told TooFab. "I feel like this season is really a good one for me and I get to redeem myself and move on with my life."
Luann was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, on charges of battery, trespassing and disorderly intoxication in 2017. She entered an alcohol treatment center and vowed to stay sober, prompting the judge overseeing her case to impose probation instead of jail time. Luann was required to stay clean and sober, complete 50 hours of community service, attend two AA meetings per week and attend a Victim Impact Class organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Lu relapsed in July of 2018, which was followed by a challenging period in which she tried to buy a $6 million mansion in Upstate New York. She re-entered treatment with the help of recently exited "RHONY" star Bethenny Frankel, who also spearheaded the intervention.
In April 2019, Luann failed an alcohol test and admitted to "drinking 2 glasses of mimosas after a [cabaret] performance she had in Chicago." She was taken into custody for violating her probation, prompting the judge to order additional conditions, including keeping a breathalyzer in her car, weekly phone sessions with a therapist, monthly in-person meetings with a psychiatrist and taking Antabuse, a prescription drug that treats alcoholism. She completed all terms of her probation in August 2019 and, in January 2020 revealed she had begun drinking again.
"I take it day by day," she told TooFab of her decision to drink. "I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into not drinking -- meaning not being able to have a glass of wine or champagne and to drink socially. So I take it day by day, I try not to label it and, for the moment, I'm not drinking. Like I said, it's really on occasion."
She notes that her decision "might be a big deal for some people" watching at home. "I just hope that the fans will see that I'm back in control and in the driver's seat," she continued. "I've been filming this show for 12 years and I never had an issue with alcohol, on the contrary, aside from falling into a bush once. I hope that they can relate and that they'll be forgiving as I am forgiving with myself."
With her probation over, Lu felt support from her costars and like a weight was lifted off her shoulders.
"They felt for me. Dorinda said in the past, it could have happened to anybody, you know?" she explained. "So I feel that they really felt for me and felt that I paid my dues and they've been supportive. So that's an amazing feeling because that has not always been the case."
"I've had a lot of hard times the last couple of years," she reiterated, "I feel like this season and really a good one for me and I get to redeem myself and move on with my life and work on my cabaret and my music."
de Lesseps is still working on her upcoming "Marry, Eff, Kill" stage show, which she promises will be completely different from her Countess and Friends tour. She also has a new dance song coming out later this year with Desmond Child which she'll work into the show.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new season of RHONY without a little drama and the trailer for its return teased what looks like a showdown between Lu and Dorinda in the Berkshires. "Well, you know, what happens in the Berkshires stays in the Berkshires until it goes on television," Lu teased, "It seems like Dorinda gets into it with a lot of us this season. She has some issues going on and you'll see that unfold."
"Real Housewives of New York" premieres Thursday, April 2 on Bravo.