EXCLUSIVE: For Amber Portwood, being in the spotlight isn’t always easy.
Portwood and Glennon share a 2-year-old son named James. She is also a mom to 12-year-old daughter Leah, whom she shares with ex Gary Shirley. She previously opened up about her legal troubles in an episode that aired in April 2020.
"I personally believe in being honest," Portwood told Fox News. "If you’re going to be on TV, a reality TV show or a docu-series, if you’re not honest, there’s no reason for you to be on TV. We are here to either make a point or use our platform for a good reason. We all have different stories. We all have our own way of showing them, and that’s the beauty of it."
"There are people that come up to us and give us amazing strength because they let us know that they feel the same way," she continued. "They’re going through the same things or even worse, and it puts things in perspective for me. I start to understand that I’m not alone as much."
Portwood has faced other personal battles while chronicling her life story for the MTV series. She was arrested in 2019 for allegedly attacking Glennon while he was holding their son, People magazine reported.
According to the outlet, Portwood was charged with domestic battery, criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon and domestic battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old. Glennon filed for custody shortly after the arrest.
While MTV cameras weren’t allowed inside the courtroom, Glennon’s victim statement was heard through audio, the outlet shared.
Portwood said she has no regrets about appearing in the reality TV series. Despite the public scrutiny, she hopes her story will resonate with other young parents going through similar struggles.
"To sit here and find out that you’ve helped so many people throughout over a decade of your life – I mean, that’s a beautiful thing to have that platform," she explained. "That’s a beautiful thing to understand that you might not have a degree in something, but you’ve helped so many people… move forward. Because we need that. It’s been pretty amazing, honestly. If I’m not authentic, I don’t want to be filmed."
Portwood’s co-star Maci Bookout also told Fox News the women endure harsh criticism from the press. However, she insisted their children have always been the focus. The 29-year-old is a mom of three.
"I feel like what’s on the show is real," Bookout told Fox News. "I’ll be honest, I don’t really look at social media… I do know that in the tabloids, I’m constantly pregnant or something. I’ve had 30-something children by now. That gets annoying."
Still, Bookout said it’s been "very important" to document their lives.
"I think the purpose changes for all the girls on a season-to-season basis," she explained. "I think it’s important for people to see that we’re human, so we all go through different struggles and different experiences like everyone else. I think that, for a lot of people, when we share our struggles or something that we’re dealing with or trying to navigate through, it helps, and maybe they’re going through something similar."
"… And it makes us feel we’re not alone, too," Bookout shared. "So it’s really important for us to share our stories and be authentic about it. It’s definitely not easy."
The new season of "Teen Mom OG" explores the biggest challenge the cast has faced: parenting during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It’s been difficult," Portwood admitted. "I have to drive to see my children [at least] an hour there and an hour back, so usually, it’s about a four-hour drive just to see my kids most of the time. That’s me being out in the public a lot, touching the gas nozzles a little extra. I’m doing too much. It’s a little scary. It puts me out in the public more than I wanted to be, but it’s an every week thing, and you just move forward."
"You do what you need to do," Portwood shared. "You stay clean. You try to listen to what the scientists are saying, which I truly believe in. You just try to make sure that whatever you’re doing is the safest thing for you, your kids and your family. It’s hard… But I still go. I drive in that cold weather and still try to be the best mom that I can be and be there for my kids."
"Teen Mom OG" airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.