Hunky handyman Rib Hillis from EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION joins Madison Michele on Hollywood 411. They discuss his transitions from male model and soap star to do-gooder with tools. Get the low-down on how he got so handy!
Rib Hillis featured on The Insider: Rapid Fire Gossip
We can't seem to get enough of Rib Hillis around the Daytime
Confidential/Pop Confidential universe. The likeable ex-soap hunk
(ABC's Port Charles; NBC's Passions)-turned-reality TV handyman (
ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Editiion; A&E's $100 Makeover) is
just so, well—real— we just love chatting with him! This time Hillis
opens up about what it's like being a single, Hollywood dad to 7-
year-old twins Dane and Hannah. Hillis shares how essential it has
been to keep a healthy, supportive relationship going with his ex-
wife Melissa Blackler, as they navigate raising kids in Hollyweird.
He also gives us a glimpse into a typical day at the House of Hillis.
Pop Confidential: In addition to being an in demand model,
TV host and actor, you're also a single father, sharing custody
of your twins, Dane and Hannah. How do you balance
auditioning, walking the runway and hosting shows like
A&E's $100 Makeover, with raising a pair of tykes?
Rib Hillis: A lot of caffeine and a lot of help. But seriously, juggling
a career and family is hard work, as any working parent will tell you.
I try to schedule my work around when my kids are with their
mother, but that is not always possible. When there is a scheduling
conflict, I have a tremendous support system of close friends. I am
also extremely close to my ex and her family, so we all just do our
best to make it work out. Dad doesn't get as much sleep as he
would like....but in the end, I would gladly sacrifice sleep to see my
kids happy...and they are.
PC: You are divorced from Dane and Hannah's mother,
Melissa Blackler. Celebs like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett
Smith have successfully co-parented with Will's ex, and the
mother of his first son. And until recent, unfortunate tabloid
rumors, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis
appeared to head up a near-perfect blended family. Do you
think exes getting along and communicating is key to co-
RH: Getting along with your ex is paramount to co-parenting and doing your best to raise healthy/happy kids. Melissa and I
decided to make it work as opposed to making it not work. I have the deepest respect and sincerest love for Melissa. She is an
incredible mother and quite frankly the best 'ex-wife' ever...although, she is my only one! [Laughs] I think that love and respect
are key to getting along with your ex. I loved her once enough to marry her and have children with her. Why should that change
now? We shared some wonderful times together, have two incredible children together...but we want to continue our lives apart. I
have heard it said that the key to a happy life is a happy wife; the same can be said for a happy divorce. I truly wish for her
happiness and will do what ever I can to make that happen. I think she feels the same way. When you are trying to co-parent, a
cooperative, healthy relationship is essential. I am just making this up as I go along, but so far it is working. We have a wonderful
family, albeit we live in two separate homes.
PC: How old are Dane and Hannah? What do they think of seeing Dad on TV?
RH: Dane and Hannah are 7-years-old. They enjoy seeing dad on TV, but to be honest...to them, it is not that big of a deal. They
have grown up seeing dad in magazines and on TV, meeting other people in the entertainment industry and seeing them on TV or
hearing their voices in commercials and movies. They aren't classic 'Hollywood Industry' kids, but they don't know any different.
They also have done some work, both print and commercial, so it is not totally foreign to them. But like all kids, work is that thing
that keeps their daddy away from them.
PC: Are there times when you have to miss out on an event involving your kids because of work? If so, how do you
RH: Absolutely, I have missed out on events and moments in my kids' lives because of work. It is never good to miss out on
something. I try to keep in mind that my job affords me a lot of free time to spend with my kids and I try to take advantage of
every moment. So when those wonderful opportunities come along to work, I am happy to do it. We live a very non-traditional
lifestyle. My kids have grown up with that. They know that there are times when dad will be away, but there are also wonderful
times that we get to spend together and do some pretty amazing things...at least that's what I tell myself so I don't feel awful
about missing those special moments with my kids. I guess all parents go through this.
PC: Do you ever take Dane and Hannah to the set with you?
RH: Taking my kids to set is one of the small perks to working in the entertainment industry. I love to show them what daddy
does at work and introduce them to the amazing people I work with. I realize that to them it isn't that unique, but some day they
will be sitting around with friends in college, talking about their childhood and they will be able to share stories and experiences
that most kids would never have had.
PC: When your kids are with you, what's a typical day look like at the House of Hillis?
RH: When I have the kids, the day starts off early, 6:15 am for me. I get up, drag myself to the kitchen, start the coffee, try to
rub the sleep out of my eyes, then I start preparing breakfast and lunches. I get them up around 6:30 am, have them eat
breakfast, get their teeth brushed and get dressed for school. We are out the door by 7:15 am. I drive them to school, park and walk them on campus, wait with them during the Pledge of Allegiance, then kiss them goodbye as they go into their classroom.
Most days, it seems, I have to head to Los Angeles for work, castings or meetings, so I run (literally run) back to my car and fight
the horrific traffic to get up to LA. I try to schedule everything early in the day so I can make it back in time to pick them up from
school. I wait outside their door and see their happy faces as they come out of their classroom. We try to go home right after
school and get their homework done, then it's play time. We have play dates or just chase each other around on the beach. I try to
fit in some 'work' and get things done on my computer as well. I make dinner at home most days, so it's dinner, then I have them
read to me. We like to snuggle on the couch and watch a little TV before bed. Wipeout is our favorite show. Then off to brush our
teeth and hop in bed. I try to read them a bedtime story. Right now I am reading The Iliad by Homer. By this point I am usually
so exhausted that I fall asleep with them, but some nights I have to get up and answer emails. The days are very full, but
PC: If someone were to write a TV series based on your day-to-day life as a single, celebrity dad, would it be a sitcom
or a soap opera, and why?
RH: I am going to say it would be a 'drama-dy' (a combination of the two). My life is definitely full of ridiculous situations that
would make you laugh out loud if you saw them, but there is a fair amount of drama in my life as well. Mostly it is just me being
overly 'dramatic' or stressing out on something trivial (I tend to do that), but occasionally there are some real issues that come up
which raise the intensity level. We all manage to cope pretty well, have a good laugh ... and occasionally a good cry, and then it's
all back to normal, or at least what we call normal in the "House of Hillis". [Laughs]