By: Alexandra Anastasio + Jonathan Calixto
Netflix’s first English-language docusoap to hit the streaming service, Selling Sunset is the guilty pleasure we all seem to need in our lives right now. The brainchild of Adam DiVello, creator of the hit show “The Hills,” “Selling Sunset” follows the lives and careers of top real estate agents at the Oppenheim Group, a brokerage agency that specializes in high-profile clients and luxury properties in West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip.
Run by Jason Oppenheim and his twin brother Brett, the show is filled with some of the most amazing multi-million dollar homes one can imagine. But it’s not all business at the OG, as it wouldn’t be binge-worthy TV if there wasn’t a bit of drama added to the mix. Season one, which debuted in 2019, introduced viewers to the six beautiful, successful real estate agents all vying to sell some of LA’s priciest properties.
This past May, season two debuted with another eight drama-filled episodes and a new member of the team. From an engagement announcement and baby news, to a $75 million dollar listing and a season finale wedding, viewers eagerly await the third season, which debuts globally August 7, 2020.
BELLA had the chance to talk with each of the “Selling Sunset” stars about their work both on-screen and off.
The Oppenheim Brothers
As the founder and president of the Oppenheim Group, real estate runs in Jason Oppenheim’s blood, but it was surprisingly not his first career choice. After working as a lawyer, he decided to leave the business in 2007 and traveled for the next three years.
Upon his return, Jason decided to go into real estate full-time, a business that has been a part of his family’s legacy for over 100 years (his great-great-grandfather was the late Jacob Stern.
Fast-forward 10 years later and Jason, along with his twin brother, Brett, run one of the most dominant real estate brokerage firms in the Hollywood Hills and Sunset Strip.
The show contains its fair share of drama, which you and your brother don’t get involved in. Do you find that challenging at times, especially when it spills into the office?
That’s no accident—I prefer it that way. I think I have the best gig on the show. I’m not someone who engages in drama, I just focus on my business and my work. I am who I am on the show.
In season 1 viewers were introduced to a $40 million listing; inquiring minds want to know, did you sell the home?
That house was spectacular; I showed it a couple dozen times, it was not an easy sell. We got a lot of people up there but there was always one thing or another that stopped them from moving forward. We did find this young couple, it was their dream home. But you don’t just rush into that; they were very careful and thoughtful. It was exciting for me to have my biggest sale, and it was cool to have it be such a young couple that appreciated it. Plus, I was hoping to sell it because you can imagine the letdown—the “in conclusion” to the past two seasons.
You are passionate about giving back to your community and work closely with “Food on Foot.” What drew you to the organization?
I got involved with them in 2010 when I came back from traveling. I returned with a bunch of credit card debt so I needed to find an organization where I could dedicate my time because I didn’t have much money to donate. It is privately run and encourages those who want to pick themselves up and improve their lives the opportunity to do so. Over the last decade I’ve become much more financially successful, and I’m able to contribute financially. Almost everyone at the brokerage is involved; it’s nice to be able to have a tangible effect on your local community.
A successful lawyer before making the move into real estate, Brett Oppenheim, one half of the Oppenheim Group, says looking back now, it seems odd he didn’t begin his career in a business that dates back to his great-great-grandfather.
“I’m not sure why it took me so long…stubbornness, insecurity about whether I would be successful, a fondness and aptitude for higher education?” ponders Brett.
Despite all of those reasons, he says he has no regrets. Not only did he learn much during his legal career years, he says, they also made him both a better broker and a well-rounded person.
Unlike the rest of the cast, this is your first show. With three seasons under your belt do you think TV is something you’d like to do more of ?
I can’t imagine doing anything after “Selling Sunset,” although I never would have predicted this, so who knows what the future holds? The older I get, the more I realize how pointless it is to predict the future.
In addition to selling these beautiful homes, you also love buying and flipping high-end properties. Has there ever been a property you didn’t want to let go of ?
After I spend hundreds of hours renovating a project I am very attached to it, so I don’t think I will ever sell a property I don’t hate letting go of. Without the ability to sell properties you’re attached to, the journey would end, and for me, the journey is paramount.
What is it about “Selling Sunset” that has fans binge-watching through each season?
My friends and I are fortunate enough to live lives filled with things that many people think bring happiness. The show provides them with a glimpse into those things, but also exposes the complexities of our lives. For many, it is a vivid journey into a different world, and I think that is the essence of entertainment.
HEATHER RAE YOUNG
It was such a fun and incredible experience. It was our first time on camera together, and we had so much fun. Filming for his show is much different than ours; it’s fast-paced and on the spot. When the cameras turn on, you start. With mine, it’s reality, so it’s me being me, and us girls talking about our life, work, etc. We film for hours and hours and the cameras capture that.
I take into account where we will be filming that day, and I try to match the vibe as best as possible. For example, when Davina and I went to the $75 million house I knew there were soft pink accents throughout the space. I played up the pink with my Cher from “Clueless” ensemble that day. I also love a snatched pony–it makes me feel fierce. You know when I have a snatched pony, shit is about to go down!
Working as a model I learned about confidence, perspective, and was lucky enough to participate in some of the most amazing experiences. One of the downsides though can be the constant traveling; you don’t really have a “home base.” I was also curious about real estate and wanted to learn more. That, combined with the desire to live in one city and work with new people all of the time, lead to opportunities that became a career.