Melissa Gorga joined the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey in 2011. Since her first appearance, she’s become a key housewife in the series, there’s always some kind of scandal surrounding her, and she’s got serious main character energy. Her whole family has appeared on the show, and she’s never been afraid to let viewers and her fellow castmates know what’s on her mind. However, there’s a side to Gorga that isn’t always picked up by the cameras.

Gorga and her family have been on TV for 11 years. That’s no walk in the park. In season 11’s trailer for RHONJ, it’s teased that she’s going through a rocky patch with her husband and fellow cast member, Joe Gorga. She told U.S. Weekly, "This season, it’s very raw. It’s very real. It’s very different this season for Joe and I. We’ve done very good for 11 years. We’re a great couple. We try really hard. We fight really hard for our family and it’s not easy to be on reality TV for 11 years and still stand strong."

RHONJ returns on Feb. 17 and if you can’t wait until then, here’s everything you need to know about the Real Housewives of Jersey’s Melissa Gorga.

Melissa Gorga had open heart surgery when she was 8 years old

Gorga is a New Jersey Girl, born and bred. Radar Online explains that Gorga hasn’t only touched upon her childhood, parents, and their marriage on the show but has also written about them in her book and on her blog. Gorga has shared incredibly sweet pictures from her childhood with her 2.1 million Instagram followers and U.S Weekly reports that she grew up with two sisters. One is 10 years older, and the other is 12 years older. However, she shared another story with the publication which had fans shocked.

As a young child, Gorga had open-heart surgery, explains U.S. Weekly. Some outlets say the operation happened when she was 7. But on Instagram, she wrote, "So happy to be here with @womansdaymag supporting the #reddressawards. Most people don’t know that I had open-heart surgery at 8 years old. I’m so happy to support healthy hearts." In 2011, she opened up about it. Fame 10 wrote that the surgery was meant to correct a "coarctation of the aorta." Gorga was quoted as saying, "I’m the second person in the world to have heart surgery through the back." She’s worked with charities supporting people with heart and lung conditions.

Melissa Gorga has a college degree

Like many of the other Housewives, Gorga has a lot of side hustles. She’d been used to juggling multiple projects since before she found the limelight. Gorga shared her degree certificate on Instagram, and Bravo reported that she studied elementary education at New Jersey City University.

NJ.com also reported that during her time as a student, she worked in a tanning salon. The publication added that she became a tanning consultant in 2001 and never ended up using her degree, as she met and married her husband three years later and chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

Melissa Gorga’s a singer and a big fan of the ’80s

According to Bravo, Gorga hasn’t just found fame and success in reality TV. A decade ago she released a series of club tracks that hit pretty high on the charts. "On Display," "I Just Wanna," and "How Many Times" built Gorgo’s reputation as a pretty successful artist. U.S. Weekly reported that she had two songs that made the Top 10 iTunes dance charts.

While she hasn’t released any new music in a few years it doesn’t stop her from bringing a bit of her dance track energy into the house. She told U.S. Weekly, "My daughter Antonia and I sing Mary J. Blige‘s ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ like nobody’s business." She also revealed that Michael Jackson was her childhood idol, she thinks she can sing the lyrics to almost every ’80s song, and her first concert was New Kids on the Block. That’s a kitchen karaoke session we’d love to see.

In recent years she’s said she’s not planning on putting her singing abilities front and center on RHONJ. However, she’s not totally closed the door on singing. Speaking to All About Real Housewives she said, "It’s crazy how many people ask me that. That was a time in my life that I absolutely loved; I couldn’t be happier to have had multiple songs on the Dance charts. Right now, it just makes more sense for me to do things that keep me in the state of New Jersey, but I never say never."

Melissa Gorga’s all about sharing her beauty secrets

Gorga is arguably one of the most stylish housewives in New Jersey and in 2014 she released a collection of jewelry with the Home Shopping Network. When speaking about the pieces, she said they were "sexy and sophisticated" and all fell under a budget of $100, according to Lifetime.

If you want to get Gorga’s look or a little bit of it, then she also shared some of her biggest beauty secrets with U.S. Weekly. She said, "I used Aussie Sprunch hair spray for 20 years" and "I’ve worn Thierry Mugler’s Angel for 15 years." She also shared her three-step facial skincare routine with Borghese to show fans how she gets that glow (via YouTube). She told Bravo that highlighter is her must-have makeup item. "I feel like I don’t look the same without it," she said.

Melissa Gorga’s frozen her eggs in case she wants to have more kids

The Gorga’s invite viewers into their home and family during the filming of RHONJ. This means that the couple has often been open to questions about their family planning. They currently have three children, Antonia, Gino, and Joey. However, she said on the Wendy Williams Show in 2020 that she’d taken the steps to freeze her eggs to keep the couple’s options open in the future (via U.S. Weekly).

She told U.S. Weekly that she’d really thought about adding to their brood but that "I feel like, you know what, I’ve done that. I accomplished that. I have three healthy kids. Thank God. It’s like, now I’m at [a] time where I can actually work and be successful and have my own thing. So it’s like … I think I’m good."