It was December 28, 2023. Gypsy Rose Blanchard-Anderson had just been released from a Missouri prison. Mere hours later, she was photographed by paparazzi with her husband Ryan Anderson, whom she married while in prison, carting suitcases from a hotel as she began to live her life for the first time as a free woman.
Getting photographed by the paparazzi is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Blanchard-Anderson's still-novel status as a cultural icon. Her release from prison coincided with not only the premiere of a Lifetime docuseries, "The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard," but an ebook titled "Released: Conversations on the Eve of Freedom," containing interview transcripts with her co-authors from her time in prison. Between premiere events, appearances on shows like "The View," and a social media following now tallied in the millions, Blanchard-Anderson is more in the spotlight now than she's ever been.
With newfound visibility has come a wave of support, turning Blanchard-Anderson into a social media star of sorts. It's a surprise for the 32-year-old, who was released in the final days of 2023 after serving 85% of her original 10-year sentence for second-degree murder in relation to the killing of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard.
The story of Blanchard, who is now believed to have had Munchausen by proxy and subjected her daughter to numerous unnecessary medical procedures as a child, has been told on screen numerous times, most notably in the HBO documentary "Mommy Dead and Dearest" and the fictionalized Hulu series "The Act," while Blanchard-Anderson sat in prison.
In "The Prison Confessions," Blanchard-Anderson finally gets to tell her own story. It's an opportunity that executive producer Melissa Moore, who also co-authored Blanchard-Anderson's ebook, wanted to give her after first meeting Blanchard-Anderson in 2017. But according to Moore, Blanchard-Anderson didn't anticipate — nevermind engineer — the media storm that followed her release.
The two also share something in common: Both of their lives in the public sphere have been tied to a crime — one that they've had to see reinterpreted and imagined in both documentary and fictional properties. Moore has written and spoken extensively about being the daughter of Keith Jesperson, also known as the "Happy Face Killer."
Moore spoke with Business Insider about how she ended up working in true crime, setting boundaries with her documentary subjects, and how Blanchard-Anderson's shocking post-prison popularity wasn't something she intended.
How did you initially get in contact with Gypsy seven years ago?
I was working for "The Dr. Oz Show" at the time as a true-crime correspondent, and "Mommy Dead and Dearest" by Erin Carr had just been released. They wanted to invite Gypsy on to talk about the doc, so the show actually flew me to Chillicothe Prison. I made the request for her to meet with me and she agreed.
I flew in and met her in the general population meeting room. When you go to a prison, it's a very different environment than just visiting someone for coffee at Starbucks. I handed her the coins for the vending machine. She's like, "Oh, no, no, no." She shoved my hand away. "I can't take it." And I had to go to the vending machine and pick what she wanted because she can't touch any coins. When she started to cry at one point in the conversation, I touched her arm and she's like, "Oh no, you can't touch me." It's kind of jarring.
I asked her if she'd be interested in talking more about the doc, and she said no. At that point, this was a lot for her to just even talk. And I said, "Well, let's stay in touch." And then we started to talk about guys. She wanted advice about boys and relationship advice. And the conversation went off that.
I felt immediately that this is a girl; this was a young lady who was becoming a woman. And that's instantly what I felt when I met her, is that she's a woman becoming.
You've written and spoken pretty extensively about your own story. What made you decide to work in true-crime media after that?
Well, one thing that Gypsy and I had in common was that we both had pain in our life. And I think we both related to each other in the sense that people think they know us based on a crime. I know there was more to me in relation to my father than what was told in the media, so I also understood that aspect for Gypsy. We both were connected to people that I would say were narcissistic, or they had mental health issues, and so I could relate to Gypsy on that level too. Outsiders are telling our story, and we don't have a say in it.
That's what got me into creating documentaries: wanting to give the microphone to the people that need to have it, the people whose stories are being talked about. They should have a say in how their story is perceived, and not just perceived, but the truth. Because there's a lot of misconceptions when there's dramatizations or movies based on your life or your parents' crimes, and people take it as nonfiction.
I saw that happening with, in particular, "The Act," for Gypsy. While it got a lot of things correct, Gypsy was not a part of "The Act." That's a misconception that people have, that she participated in that. She was in prison while people were playing her as a character in Hollywood.
Getting Emmy nominations for playing her, too.
Yeah. She was a janitor sweeping the floors while actresses are getting awards being her. I don't think people understand how it can skew your identity. What am I, then? Am I a character? Am I a real person?
To me, documentaries are very empowering because you get to give the floor to the subject to say what they need to say. And Gypsy had multiple years working with me to say everything she wanted to say, and I felt really good about having that premiere, knowing that people thought they knew her, but they were going to see her in a different way.
The media buzz around Gypsy's release has been really intriguing, between the Lifetime series and "Released," plus how vocal she's been on social media and during her press tour. What has it been like to see her take ownership of her narrative like that, both as a producer and as a friend?
Well, as a friend — I have adult children and they graduated from high school — it feels kind of like a graduation day, in the sense that she served her sentence of eight-and-a-half years in prison. She became what we saw at the beginning of the doc, which is a frail, fragile, undernourished, shaven-head Gypsy, to this person who is in her 30s now. She's 32. And walking out in such a bold, public way is very surreal.
But I'm proud of her because I know she's ready to take on what she has to take on because she has the help of a therapist. She has people, she has her family, which gives me so much comfort.
It's been stunning to see the wave of support for her and there are lots of people rooting for her. But obviously, some people are critical of how visible she's become after her release.
That's not her fault. That's my fault. It's my fault for airing a documentary at her release.
I was curious about your thoughts on that.
She genuinely did not know what she was walking into when she left. I actually recall when she was released, I had to tell her there was paparazzi. And she was shocked. She was like, "Why are they here?"
She was so surprised. I mean, she wasn't expecting this level of attention, and she didn't plan this to be the case.
I also think, genuinely, people were rooting for her to be released, and the fascination and the excitement for her release just compounded. It was bigger than her.
You said in the docuseries press conference that from here on out, your role is to support Gypsy as she lives her life and makes her own choices. I'm curious what that means to you now that the documentary is released, and what hopes you have for her.
With Gypsy, it was always about what she wants. I had to realign because my vision for her wasn't her vision for her.
Her choice to get married in prison was one that I really grappled with. Actually, we didn't talk for about 30 days. When she broke the news to me that she was getting married, I was taken aback, and I told her that I honestly felt that she was making a mistake, and it felt like I couldn't protect her from herself. But as I got to know her intentions, and that she's a strong 32-year-old woman, she reminded me that she knows what's best for her.
Her family felt the same way. We were all nervous about that choice for her, but she made that choice for her. Ultimately, that's what we have to do, is let people make their own choices. And that's what the 30-day pause was — for me, it was not about us being upset with each other. We were not. It was more about that I had to take a step back because I got too close.
How do you manage that kind of deep investment in your subjects as a producer or writer?
That was my first fall, and my mistake was that I did get too invested in seeing a vision for her. Because I did: I pictured her being released from prison, and I saw her living this independent female life and dating on the outside. I had a whole vision for her. And then I came to realize that she has a different vision for her. But that was the learning lesson, is that I need to go back to being the observer. And there have to be boundaries.
After that 30-day pause, we reduced the amount of time that we were actually talking. We were talking weekly at that point, and I was doing recordings with her every Tuesday. And so then, I made it so we were just doing recordings once a month or every couple of weeks, and taking a step back and being more of the observer and not giving any advice. Because that's what friends do, but producers don't give advice.
I imagine that's a difficult boundary to set.
Right now, I'm really happy that she has a therapist and she has her family, because now what I can say to her is, "Hey, what does your therapist think?" I can hear her tell her story. I can listen and not have a response of, "Hey, I think you should do this, or that."
Now my response is, "Oh, have you talked to your mom about this?" She calls her stepmom, Kristy, mom. "Have you talked to your mom about this? What does your dad think about this? How do you feel about this?" And just deflect back onto her own intuition and her own guidance, what she feels is best for her.
One of the most shocking bits in "Released" was that Gypsy said that she was considered "too well" to be able to see a therapist in prison. It's good to hear that she has one now. Is there anything else that you think people should know that we haven't touched on?
I feel that people probably are concerned about the people that are in her life. She was isolated by a master manipulator and they wonder, is she safe now as a free woman? I can attest that she has a strong support system. Her father is protective, her mother is protective, her half-sister, Mia — I love Mia. I can always trust that Mia's going to say what I'm thinking, so I don't have to say it. Now I just say, "Gypsy, have you talked to Mia?"
I'm excited for her future because there's a lot of life for her to live, and everything is new. I think Gypsy is getting her footing to become a very strong advocate in the medical community about health, and Munchausen by proxy. I think she's going to bring a lot of change in that area, and I'm excited to watch her do that.
I saw Gypsy posted a TikTok the other day starting to do that work, and explaining what Munchausen by proxy is. And I can imagine the comfort, in her position, to be able to actually see your medical chart.
Can you imagine her fear when a doctor brings out a notepad and starts making notes? It's just probably going to bring back, "Well, what is he writing in that chart, and how does that affect me? Does he have more control over my body than I do?" And I think that's going to be something new that she's going to be exploring for herself, just how much more empowered she is with doctor's visits.
It seems like people are really invested in her and her well-being. Though I can imagine the publicity, and social media attention, becoming overwhelming.
That's one thing that I did notice while we were in public, is that people recognized her. When we go out to lunch and stuff, people's sentiment when they walk up to her is that they're wishing her well, and success in her life. And that's amazing to see, and I hope that it continues. I think she deserves those sentiments.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
"The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard" is available to stream in the Lifetime app.
Read the original article on Business Insider