You met Amber Portwood as a pregnant teenager on the hit MTV series “16 & Pregnant,” watched her story unfold on the popular show “Teen Mom” and even read about her life through the tabloids. But now fans will get to hear Portwood’s story from the reality TV star herself. And according to the controversial celebrity, what she has to say may just shock you.
Portwood, now 24, released on Aug. 26 her tell-all memoir, “Never Too Late,” which explained her downward spiral as well as her road to recovery. International Business Times caught up with the reality star to get the latest scoop on her jaw-dropping biography.
International Business Times: Fans are excited to hear you tell your story through this memoir instead of reading tidbits about your life in the tabloids. But I’m curious, what sparked your interest to lay it all out on the table like this?
Amber Portwood: There wasn’t one reason. I just felt like the time I got out of prison I had a story to tell and a journey that could help others. I’ve had a book deal within TV years before, and I just never used it. There was no purpose or substance to what was going on in my life. I just felt now it could show me in a better light. Like me coming out on the other end and trying to help others. I really felt like it was the time to do it.
IBT: Did your exit from “Teen Mom” in 2012 influence your decision in wanting to show fans a new side of yourself?
AP: No. That’s an iffy thing because I didn’t make the book in order to prove myself to anyone. I made it because I felt like it had a purpose now and that it could help others. I promised my friends in prison I would help people when I got out. It felt like the right time to tell my story. Even though it’s not finished, I felt like a chapter was closed after I came out of prison.
IBT: How have your fans responded to your memoir?
AP: I’ve read a lot of great comments -- mostly on my Twitter. There was one comment that said, “We all know this. This is repetitive.” And it’s not. Yes, you know my life -- you know all of our lives on “Teen Mom” -- but to know it in our words and where we came from before “Teen Mom” you have no clue. So, I wanted to start from a really early age, which was five when my sister died, all the way up to what’s going on now.
I really feel like a lot of things get twisted and you have to just let people know exactly what happened in your thoughts because it’s your life. Nobody can tell your story better than you. No matter what the tabloids say, no matter what the media has ever said about me, 90 percent of it isn’t true.
IBT: You’ve revealed some very dark stories in your memoir, from your struggle with drugs to suicide attempts. What was it like sharing such personal moments from your life?
AP: To tell your own story, to be completely honest with yourself because you know it’s going to help someone is very therapeutic. You relive these stories when you tell them. It was very, very therapeutic for me.
IBT: Was there any moments that were too difficult to touch upon?
AP: There were many, many moments. We started out with the death of my sister, and that’s pretty much the beginning of everything -- the pain, the hurt, the first time ever feeling lost. There’s going to prison, when I lost custody of Leah, when I spun out of control. I’m very honest in my book and I pride myself on that because I believe that if you’re not honest with people they can call your bull----. And they can’t connect with you. There’s no way somebody can connect with a fake story.
IBT: What was your favorite part within “Never Too Late”?
AP: This is going to sound cliché, but the birth of my child. Me having Leah -- I felt a love I had never felt before. It was amazing. If you’re not a mother you don’t know what I’m saying. But you love this little human being so much. I think that’s been the highlight of my life no matter what I’ve done.
IBT: You’ve attributed Leah to what inspired you of wanting to turn your life around. Can you tell me about your relationship with your daughter now?
AP: Me and Leah actually have a really, really good relationship now. In the beginning when I got [out of prison] I hard to relearn everything about her pretty much. She was talking more, she was bigger, she liked to dress up -- it was very shocking to me. We’re at a really great place. It’s back to normal I think.
IBT: You spent 17 months away from her in prison, right? That must have been terrible.
AP: Especially when you’re completely sober -- it was bad.
IBT: What does she think of her mom putting out a book?
AP: She thinks it’s neat. She actually brought paper over, a marker and tape and wanted to make her own book. I actually have it. It’s like four pieces of paper with drawings on it. It’s freakin’ adorable. She just thinks its neat seeing my face on my book. She wanted me to sign a book for her -- I’m guessing she got it from Gary because he wanted me to sign a book for him.
IBT: So, Gary has read your work?
AP: Yes, he has. The other day he goes, “You know there’s some parts in your book that just aren’t’ true.” And I’m like, “Like what, Gary?’ And he said, “Oh, like me cheating on you.” And I said, “Gary, did you cheat on me?” And he goes, “Yes, but I didn’t cheat on you with three girls.” And I said, “Didn’t you tell me you cheated on me with three girls?” And he said, “Yes, but I was just –“ And I’m like, “Well, then that’s what you told me.” I said, "Gary, I got this from you. You can’t tell me it’s not right if you said it.” He’s actually reading my book, which is weird.
IBT: You’ve spoken very highly of The CLIFFprogram. Can you explain what exactly the program is and how it helped you during your time in prison?
AP: I believe the CLIFF program is the main thing that helped me with my recovery. To me I call it Rehab College. You are in class sitting for an hour-and-a-half every single day, several classes, and then you have your extracurricular classes.
You learn everything there is to know about substance abuse or alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety. It is an amazing program if you’re lucky enough to get into it. And when I got into CLIFF I took full advantage of it. It was great practice for what I want to do in life. I speak very highly of CLIFF. There needs to be more programs like that. A lot of rehab programs out here can really take some notes from CLIFF -- they really could.
IBT: You said CLIFF is great practice for what you want to do in the future. What exactly do you want to do?
AP: By the age of 30 I at least want to have one rehab open. It just takes so much time and effort. I have to be patient with it. But that is my goal.
By the time I die -- and it sounds weird -- but by the time I die at least I know I will have these facilities up and they will keep on going past my life and that’s all that matters. I feel that is what I’m supposed to do with my life. My whole life is not going to be about substance abuse but I believe that I should help others with the things that I’ve been through.
IBT: How did you decide on the title of your memoir, “Never Too Late”?
AP: There’s many reasons but when I was in prison I was with a lot of older women who had years under their belt and they had hope still. Those are the ones who really helped me. And it’s never too late to change no matter where you are; if you’re sitting in a cell, if you’re in rehab you just always have to remember it’s never too late. You still have yourself no matter where you’re at. Maybe it’s an institutionalized way of thinking but it’s the truth.
IBT: Is there anything else you want people to know about "Never Too Late"?
AP: I just really think people should give it a chance. They might be surprised with some of the events in it. I mean I think it’s a good book -- it’s my life in the book so I hope it’s good!
IBT: Do you think anything is going to shock your readers?
AP: I think there’s a lot of shocking moments in the book, honestly. I think there’s a lot of behind the scenes things that people didn’t know. Very dark things, also. I don’t think it’s just for entertainment. I think the book has purpose to it. I’m proud of it.