This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mary Fitzgerald, a top Los Angeles real estate agent on Netflix’s hit reality show “Selling Sunset.” It has been edited for length and clarity.
People may or may not be surprised to hear this but — reality shows are actually not my cup of tea.
Watching drama and people fighting makes me uneasy. Take our show’s spinoff “Selling the O.C.,” for example — that’s more drama than I like to watch or be around on a daily basis. It’s definitely a different show than “Selling Sunset,” as the agents are younger and they have a lot more drama going on.
As far as I know, it’s doing really well — which is great, but I’d rather be watching food or travel shows, or romantic comedies.
That being said, being on “Selling Sunset” has been good for our business.
I think I speak for all the ladies when I say we’ve gotten clients from the show, and we’re selling at higher price points. For me personally, I have price cutoffs now: I won’t sell any house under $2 million unless it’s a favor for a friend.
We’re so busy with filming now, and selling a house at a lower price point takes just as much time and energy and you only get a fraction of the money.
There’s definitely both good and bad about being in business while on a reality show
While I do get a lot of clients from the show, I also get a lot of fake clients because of the exposure. People write in and pretend to be potential clients because they want to meet us. We have to be extra cautious about vetting people to avoid wasting our time.
We also have to be extra careful about our safety in ways we didn’t have to before — hosting open houses to make a sale is so much more difficult to do now. We have to have security there with us because there are so many crazies out there.
Working in the Oppenheim Group office has also changed a lot since “Selling Sunset.” We have to have armed security guards outside the doors, especially when we’re filming and there are swarms of people outside. It makes it harder to work there for sure.
When we’re advertising, we never divulge where we’re going to be at a certain time, especially if going alone.
Being recognized when I’m out and about is really uncomfortable for me
You probably can’t tell from the show, but I’m actually a private person — so being on “Selling Sunset” has definitely changed things for me. I’m great on camera because I’m with friends I’m comfortable with and have known for years.
I’m even comfortable on stage, whether I’m presenting an award, or whatever — those things don’t bother me at all. I guess that’s my work mode.
But if I go to dinner with a couple friends, and people are staring or taking pictures and videos, I’m just like, “Oh my God, stop.” It makes me so nervous. In my private life, I like to be closed off a little bit, but it’s hard to do that now.
This is what we signed up for, but there are still days when I feel like I don’t want to do this
I’m on hormones right now because Romain and I are doing fertility stuff — so basically I’ve been a hormonal mess the past few days. Just the other day I was crying, like “I don’t wanna do this anymore.” But I think we know not to take anything I’m saying too seriously this month.
We’ve all had days where being on the show gets overwhelming. We have lives that the show doesn’t cover. Filming takes a lot of time, and trying to balance family, kids, work — normal work that isn’t being seen on a show — is a lot.
We all have good relationships with one another and that helps immensely with the changes and pressures of being on the show. We confide in and lean on our colleagues whenever we’re feeling stressed or frustrated because we’re all going through the same things, or we at least understand where the other person is coming from.
My persona on the show isn’t a problem for me in my real-life business — but that might be different for the other cast members
I’m sure at some point our credibility as realtors has been affected with a client after the show aired. I think I’m portrayed fairly well and I’m not in the middle of the drama. That’s pretty authentic to who I am — so I don’t think my image from the show affects me as much as some of the other girls.
Production often says they want to peel back the layers a bit more on my personal life — but I’m happy with the way I’m portrayed. I’d say the only misconception might be that I’m less introverted than I actually am in real life.
Having drama follow you doesn’t automatically mean bad business though. The girls that cause a lot of drama get clients from the show too — so I’d say it’s really about whatever the client’s personality is and if they gravitate towards that person. They might think that’s really cool, who knows? I think it works out for all of us.
The first season of the show was the scariest
I was really concerned about the first season of “Selling Sunset” because we had no way of knowing what we were getting into as far as how we’d be portrayed by production.
Some of the new cast members can look back and have an idea of what it’s going to be like — but for those of us who were on from the beginning, we didn’t know if they were going to twist the storylines and the stuff we said to make us look terrible.
It was a big risk and we were all very, very nervous. We fought with production a lot during that time, because we’d ask “Why do you want to do it like this?” After that first season, I think we loosened up a bit and were more natural, because we understood what was going to happen.
We know the production has a job to do
We have around 15 or 20 agents in the LA office. Production did a casting and met all of us, and decided who they liked, which is how we have the agents people see on the show. Some of the agents just didn’t want to be on “Selling Sunset” — they don’t want to put their lives out there, which is understandable.
Most of the time I think there’s a lot more trust than there was before, between us and production. We also understand they have a job to do — so if we say something when we’re mic’d up that we didn’t want them to hear, then that’s too bad. They’re going to use it.
We just have to be careful in that sense and know they’re not always going to protect us. I will say that they do a good job of telling the story if we feel that something we said came out wrong, because they’ll give us a chance to talk about it in interviews and clarify.
At the end of the day, our priority is to sell great houses
I think I’m the second highest selling agent in the office, after Jason. Chelsea, our new addition from the last season, is doing really well this year. Our agent Nicole has been with the company for some time but will be new to the show — and she’s killing it as well.
Having the support system among the cast makes it so much easier than if we were doing this with a bunch of strangers. Even though it’s definitely a lot to get used to, it’s so much fun. I know how blessed we are to have the opportunity to do this and get so many great clients and opportunities, so I’m very thankful.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said Fitzgerald is a real estate broker. She is a real estate agent.
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