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Long before Captain Sandy Yawn took the helm on Below Deck Mediterranean, her girlfriend, Leah Shafer could have been a cast member on The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Shafer grew up in Orange County and is friends with several of the cast members. She recently recalled how she was considered for the cast but revealed why she never appeared on the show. “I remember when [Andy Cohen] started the OC Housewives because I was supposed to be an OC Housewife back in the day,” she dished with Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

But, “I was with the churches so they said no, you can’t do that show,” Shafer added. When RHOC debuted, Shafer was married to motivational speaker Ross Shafer. She was also a gospel singer and extremely involved with her church.

Leah Shafer opened up to Andy Cohen when they were in Cannes

Shafer’s life completely changed when she met and fell in love with Yawn. When she went public with the romance, she was quickly shunned by the church and lost her career as a gospel singer. Shafer and her husband divorced and she has been with Yawn ever since.

Leah Shafer, Andy Cohen, Captain Sandy Yawn smile for a photo at the NBC Universal TV and Media Awards
Leah Shafer, Andy Cohen, Captain Sandy Yawn | Photo courtesy of Leah Shafer

For the first time, Shafer shared her coming out story with Cohen when they attended the NBCUniversal TV and Media Awards in Cannes, France. “This was the first time I really opened up,” she recalled about having a personal conversation with Cohen.

“He really didn’t know anything about me personally,” she continued. “It was always quick and in passing. But he is the nicest guy. I mean truly so genuine. And this trip I actually opened up to him because he talked about how he came out kinda on one of the reunion shows to everyone.”

She reveals how coming out destroyed her career

“So with Andy, it was the first time I pulled him aside and said, hey I was in the gospel industry and kind of told him my story. And that when I came out, I lost my entire career. He was just like, ‘Wow, I had no idea.’ And then I told him about my daughter, so it was just really nice for him to see that side of me.” Shafer and her ex-husband share a daughter who is now a teenager.

Captain Sandy Yawn and Leah Shafer on a boat
Captain Sand Yawn and Leah Shafer | Photo courtesy of Leah Shafer

Shafer places importance on sharing her coming out story in the hopes it can help others. “I feel responsible to tell my story because I know will help a lot of people.” Shafer and Yawn shared their love story with Showbiz Cheat Sheet for the first time in 2019. Shafer said being able to talk about her experience through the years has helped her get more comfortable.

Captain Sandy and Leah Shafer are supportive of one another

“I just want to continue that because it’s a beautiful thing to just love who you love,” she added. “And it doesn’t need to be weird or you don’t need to be ashamed of it. And in the gospel industry, I’m just tired of people making you feel like God is weird and that it’s some freak show. It’s like no, God loves you and Sandy and I love God. We’re not religious, but, we pray together. We talk about God. We love listening to worship. I just want to honor that.”

Captain Sandy Yawn and Leah Shafer
Captain Sand Yawn and Leah Shafer | Photo courtesy of Leah Shafer

‘Below Deck Mediterranean’: Captain Sandy’s Girlfriend Leah Shafer Shares What It’s Like to Date Someone Famous (Exclusive)

“I just feel free and I’m in love, there’s a difference,” she said. “And I think coming from the entertainment background was perfect because it helped me understand Sandy’s role. I’m OK taking pictures for her, I’m OK doing her makeup. Usually, it would be me on stage or singing. But I’m fine because we are evolving together and we’re so supportive of one another.”

Shafer added that being included in many events at the NBCUniversal TV and Media Awards took her by surprise. “And honestly in Cannes, I knew I was going into the situation as [Yawn’s] partner and that’s her work,” Shafer said. “So I didn’t think I would go to the NBC dinners and stuff. I just got to be so close with them. All of a sudden they come up, ‘We want you at the dinner. You want you part of this.’ It was very accepting, and it was cool.”

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