Exclusive Interview - 'NYC Prep' Dad Speaks Up, Sebastian 'Has Taken it in Stride'

Filed under: Celeb Kids, Media, Teen Culture

The buzz about the teen cast members, and their interesting behavior, on Bravo's "NYC Prep" continues to heat up. But we're curious about their parents. Are they proud? Embarrassed? Completely out of the loop?

Mostly, we just want to know why on earth anyone would agree to let their child be on a reality show.

ParentDish had an email chat with one of these parents -- Sebastian's father, Jeff Oppenheim -- about the show and how his son is handling his 15 minutes.

NYC Prep

    NYC Prep, Tuesdays on Bravo (10-11 p.m. ET) Pictured: Bottom row, left to right, Camille, Jessie, Kelli, Taylor, standing. Top row, left to right, Sebastian, PC.

    Virginia Sherwood, Bravo

    Sebastian, far left, and Kelli seated, second from right.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo


    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

    Camille, left, and Kelli, center.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

    Sebastian, left.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

    Camille, Taylor and Kelli.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

    Jessie, center.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

    Camille, Kelli and Taylor.

    Heidi Gutman, Bravo


    Heidi Gutman, Bravo


    Heidi Gutman, Bravo

: How did Sebastian get involved with the show?

Jeff Oppenheim: Our son came to us and presented the opportunity. After much discussion with the producers and amongst ourselves as a family, we agreed to let our son Sebastian join the show. We knew that he was balanced enough to handle not only the professional pressures and responsibilities, but also to survive the potential maelstrom of living in the public eye.

PD: How has the show affected the daily flow around the house?

JO: Although the producers were very respectful of our son's academic life and extracurricular life, the demands of production were an added item on all of our schedules. But my wife and I were pleased at how our son treated this responsibility as he would a job or an internship and rose to the occasion. Now, everything is back to life as usual, which still means we're all juggling an active schedule.

PD: How has the TV spotlight affected your lives?

JO: Believe it or not, it has affected us very little. The only thing we didn't expect was the number and, for that matter, the types of folks who have started to recognize him. But all in all, he has taken it in stride as we knew he would.

PD: Do you think the show is an accurate portrayal of New York City prep school life, or does it seem exaggerated for the sake of story line?

JO: Obviously there is an entertainment value that is part of the unique Bravo brand but I think the show and its producers have...been able to address very real issues. Many of these issues have been part of the teen/parent experience through the generations but added to this with kids nowadays is that all of them are willingly living their lives in the public eye through things such as Facebook and MySpace and Skype. Not to mention that all of them are always armed with their phone, which also has a digital camera as a standard feature. But ultimately the core desires and issues facing teens remain the same as they ever were as they seek independence and continue to identify themselves. And for that matter the core values of parenting teens remains the same, but all we have to arm ourselves with...is love, trust and open communication.

PD: How do you feel about seeing your child on TV?

JO: I enjoy seeing our son every moment of the day as he spreads his wings and takes flight. We love being part of his life and love our close relationship. Having him on TV is just one more way to enjoy his company when he's not there.

PD: Will you be making regular appearances on the show?

JO: I was just seen on this week's episode...I seem to be on at least two more episodes.

Additional reporting by Gabrielle Linzer and Sara Abadi.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.