“SELLING SUNSET” Stars Shine Bright

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.

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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

JASON

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.

BRETT

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

No stranger to the screen, Heather Rae Young, a former model and actress, transitioned to a career in real estate five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. A natural networker, Heather is passionate about building relationships, one of the many attributes that make her a successful agent and one of the stars of Netflix’s hottest unscripted shows.
Despite selling some of the most beautiful, and expensive real estate, Heather’s small town roots (she grew up in Running Springs, CA) are what keep her grounded. “I’m so grateful I grew up there because it made me humble and appreciate the life I have today,” she says.
Has it been a big adjustment opening up your life for the cameras?
Yes! Reality TV is much different than a scripted movie or TV show; this is our real life, showcasing our emotions, our relationships, our breakups. What people forgot is that when the cameras turn off, our real life doesn’t. Some of the arguments or events affect me for days—even weeks.
How do you balance the drama that goes on for the cameras with the work that you’re doing?
For me, I don’t have a lot of time to feed into the drama. I’m balancing a relationship, my boyfriend’s children, my own stress, and commuting from Newport Beach to West Hollywood. I voice my opinion when I feel it’s needed. A lot of people mistake my kindness for weakness; I am not weak, I am poised. I have a huge heart and I am sensitive, but I also fight for what I believe in.
You’ve also filmed an episode of “Flipping 101” with your boyfriend Tarek. How was the experience?

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.

CHRISTINE QUINN

A woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, Christine Quinn, the real estate agent- turned- Netflix-star, has quickly become one of the most talked-about cast members amongst fans. Known for her quick wit, sky-high heels, snatched ponytail, and fabulous outfits (she does all of her own styling), Christine offers no apologies for who she is.
“People always deem me ‘the villain,’ but why? Is it because I speak my mind, because I have opinions, or is it because I have a clear, concise idea of what I want?” In comparing herself to “Maleficent,” one of her favorite characters growing up, underneath the tough exterior is a heart of gold, she says.
You originally moved to LA from Dallas to pursue a modeling and acting career. How did your path lead you to real estate?
I was friends with Jason before he became my tyrant boss [laughing], and I saw him living this glamorous, cool lifestyle where he made his own hours and did what he wanted to do. I quickly phased out of acting and modeling because I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be made, and that meant copious amounts of red bottoms and Louis Vuitton, pour moi. I love couture, and I found a way to buy it all!
You have an eye for fashion; how do you choose your looks for the show?

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!

DAVINA PORATZ

As a member of the Top Agent Network, Davina Poratz is a leader in the real estate industry. With over a decade of experience and half a billion dollars in sales, Davina has sold some of the biggest condo projects in LA. In addition to her work for the Oppenheim Group, she also runs her own company, The Davina Group, which focuses on multiunit developments.
With an eye for aesthetics coupled with a love for beauty, Davina has also created beauty products in collaboration with a company called, withSimplicity.
Do you have a favorite moment from either the first or second season?
One of my favorite moments from the second season was with my client Adnan Sen. I’ve known him for about five years. He’s always been warm and sweet with me, but I got to see another side of him at our listing appointment. It was quite fun for me as his negotiating tactic was to throw me off. That’s why I try to stay calm—to observe and stay logical instead of being led by emotions.
Before becoming a real estate agent you worked as a model for over 10 years; what led the career change?

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.

AMANZA SMITH

She may be new to the show, but Amanza Smith, Mary Fitzpatrick, and Jason Oppenheim have been a part of the same circle for the past 20 years. Since getting her real estate license and officially joining the Oppenheim Group, the trio is spending much more time together.
“It doesn’t feel like work when I get to hang out with my best friends,” says Amanza.Those genuine friendships come through on camera, and Amanza is happy viewers get to see the bond she and Mary share as they’ve literally been through everything together. “A lot of people don’t have friends for that long and I really cherish it, everyone should have a friend like Mary.”
How has the experience been joining the show?
I was nervous, but it was fun. My life took a pretty big flip on its head two weeks into filming, so that was nerve-wracking—not knowing how much of that to share on camera. A lot of times I was holding things in I didn’t want to bring into the show, so that made the experience a little more stressful.
Along with real estate, what other new projects do you have in the works?

I’m designing a furniture line, which combines a lot of the different styles I like. I enjoy mixing things up, doing the unexpected. I have an edgy style; I really like art-deco, mid-century-modern, as well as traditional, so I combine a lot of what I love into one piece. I also get ideas from other pieces and add my own flair. I’m working on a website now so that anyone, not just private clients, can order my pieces. I enjoy being creative, and I’m also planning on launching a t-shirt line. I’d love to do some more modeling and after my experience on the show maybe I can host my own—maybe a design show. I put those things on my vision board, and I’ll be working toward making those dreams come true. But for now, I’ve got the show, my design, my furniture, my t-shirts, and my kids.

MAYA VANDER

Known for her go-get-it attitude, Maya Vander is breaking all misconceptions that come with being a real estate agent on TV. Becoming a mother while on the show has been part of her journey, but another snippet has been living a life back and forth from LA to Miami.
Through this new lens of being a mommy with two zip codes, she is making it work while dealing with all the drama and good times that come along with being part of the Oppenheim Group. It’s her cooler-than-life spirit, and saying what she means without ruffling any feathers that make Maya one of the most-liked personalities on the show.
Describe how you balance being a mom of two babies and real estate life?
It’s never that easy or perfect. I am just a very productive person and usually good with sticking to a schedule. Real estate can be flexible, so that allows me to coordinate showings in a time that works for me. I do have my in-laws here as well, which is super helpful.
What has been your favorite moment from being part of “Selling Sunset”?
Although you see mini drama between the girls, we do get along and we all enjoy filming. It is nice to hang and spend time together because once the cameras are off we are not always at the office or at the same open houses. We are all very busy.
What is a misconception people have about being a real estate agent in Hollywood Hills?
In general, people think it is easy…you get a listing or work with a buyer, and boom—it’s under contract. It takes more than that, and many times deals are not happening, you can lose a listing, your buyer can flake, etc.
What has been the most difficult part of adjusting to this new normal in your industry?
It is a people business. The interaction, the hand holding. Now things are slowly starting to reopen, but in the last three months doing virtual is not ideal—it is less personal.
How do you juggle being a mom and flying back and forth to Miami for work?

Now with two kids, it will be hard. I will most likely stay more in Miami unless I have a very serious client that will be worth the time flying for a day or two back to LA. Before, it was more flexible for me (even traveling with one baby); now things are different. I am working on growing my business here in Miami.

MARY FITZGERALD

Not only have we seen Mary win at love, but viewers have witnessed her dominate the real estate game on “Selling Sunset.” As a pro in the industry, Mary even defies, Jason, co-owner of The Oppenheim Group, to get her clients the best price. As she puts it, “I want my clients not to lose money!”
Throughout her journey, Mary’s fiery spirit and louder-than-life attitude has made her one of the must-watch realtors—viewers can’t wait to see what’s next. From the friendship drama to hosting an on-site walk-through the day of her wedding, there’s nothing Mary can’t handle, proving the key to success entails, “brain, talent, and professional drive.”
What’s the biggest misconception about real-estate?
It’s that agents can take the test and hit the ground running making millions. In reality, it takes a good amount of time and effort to build a substantial clientele base and become successful.
Advice for women looking to get into real-estate?
Definitely get in with a good brokerage that has a mentor system in place. Also, be professional at all times; don’t allow the perception of “sexy agent” to overpower your image as a powerful woman. Let your brain, talent, and professional drive be the dominating factors to your success!
How has this past year of marriage been?
Romain and I are extremely happy together and just taking in this whole experience of the show.  However, we’ve been swamped with work, and we desperately need a getaway. Between filming, both of our crazy work schedules, and our honeymoon having to be cancelled/postponed due to COVID, we are definitely looking forward to the travel ban being lifted so we can spend some long overdue quality time together.
How was quarantine life like?
Our quarantine was work as usual, just in a face mask and gloves.  What can we expect to see more of from you on season 3?More impressive home sales, and of course, more relationship drama!
What can we expect to see more of you from on season 3?

More impressive sales, and of course, more relationship drama!

CHRISHELL STAUSE

Chrishell stepped into the scene of Netflix’s Selling Sunset as the “new girl” during its first season. Through her bubbly personality and determination to step out of the norm to conquer the real-estate industry, Chrishell immediately became a fan favorite.
Recognized for her acting role as Amanda Dillon on ABC’s soap opera, “All My Children,” many people didn’t know Chrishell had already pursued real estate, just on a smaller scale. Her transition from scripted to reality TV has served as a new beginning, which has come with many new lessons, especially to “know who you are and stick to it, and you’ll be fine,” as Chrishell explains.
How do you balance the drama that naturally happens amongst you all in the workplace?
Very carefully! Ha! Try and remember exactly what was said, and you have to know who you can trust.
Reality TV, or a TV series: What has been the biggest adjustment from one to the other?
I am more comfortable with  scripted just because there is no element of surprise. The biggest adjustment I had to make in doing reality TV is being able to just relinquish the idea of having any control over what is done or said and trust the process so you can just be yourself. It really doesn’t work otherwise.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned during your time on Selling Sunset?
Know who you are and stick to it and you’ll be fine. Chrishell stepped into the scene of Netflix’s Selling Sunset as the “new girl” during its first season.

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