The actress-turned-real estate agent (and wife of This Is Us star Justin Hartley), 37, spills on reality show Selling Sunset (on Netflix now). Watch the trailer below.
How hard was it for you to transition from acting into real estate?
It was a pretty big transition. There are just so many facts to learn and people really want to come to you and they have a million questions, and you could study forever and not know all the answers, so I just found that the key was that if I didn't know the answer not to act like I knew it and say, "Let me figure it out for you." But now I feel like I have my feet underneath me and I feel good about it.
Whave came first: the job or the show. Or when you started at the Oppenheim Group was doing the show part of the deal?
It all came together. I was working for a separate company doing real estate and I got approached about joining their office. It was something to think about because they do such amazing business so it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up and if I decided to join the company, they'd be filming a show about it. Even though it was a little scary, I was like, "OK, let's do this."
And so the angle was: let's bring someone new into this group because we're making a TV show not a documentary and we want a bit of drama and friction, which bringing you in could potentially lead to. And as we saw, it did ...
Right. I didn't really know that that was the plan when I signed up, but that seems to have been the plan now I see how it's worked itself out.
Presumably you've watched some reality TV before and obviously it's different from acting because you're being yourself instead of playing a role. Were you prepared for that side of things or did it take you by surprise?
It definitely took me by surprise because I did think we were going to focus more on the real estate side of it [in the show], but I understand it. When I watch the show, I am proud of it, but that's not my strong suit - I really don't like drama and it makes me extremely uncomfortable, but I understand where they're coming from and they’re trying to make a show that’s fun to watch. I was a little unprepared because I thought we were doing straight real estate transactions, so I had to learn on my feet.
We hear these things about reality shows being scripted. How scripted is the show on a scale of not at all to we're told exactly what to say?
So it's not scripted at all - the dynamics are real - however there are times when they will basically want you to ... They'll just say, "Hey, tonight at dinner, make sure you ask Mary about whatever it is that is going on." So it's not scripted but they just want to hit certain points. I guess I would say maybe a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 10.
So it's like, "Here's the scenario you're in. You say whatever you want."
Exactly, there are guidelines, but in between those guidelines, there's a free-for-all.
In the final episode of Season 1 when the company's new billboard was being unveiled, for example, I did wonder if you were told to wait to join the others in order to ramp up the drama or whether you just happened to be late that day.
In that instance, there really was drama as far as it felt as if she [Christine] didn't want me to be in the group. And you know when you're at the bottom you feel like, "If somebody doesn't want me there, I don't want to be there." So there was a little drama of whether or not the dynamics were going to work with me in the group. And so I did decide to not let her win and I did decide to join, so to keep things clean, because I didn't want to have to see her until I had to because I didn't want any fighting at all off camera, I chose to show up later. I just wanted to deal with her as little as possible and as professionally as possible, and keep it short and sweet. And so I chose to come in a little later so I could have as little interaction as possible. I really did not want any more drama.
So let's talk about Christine. What's your take on her - is she putting stuff on for the camera or is what we see really her?
I definitely think what you see is what you get with her. I’ve had several interactions with her away from the cameras and that is who she is, and I think she’s proud of it. Some people watch the show and love her and hate me – she’s very polarising, however that really is her.
You've been on Days of our Lives and your character, Jordan, would go at it with other characters and there'd be slaps and fights. I guess it's one thing to play that as a character but when it's in real life it must be quite confronting.
I would much rather it be in character. I really like those scenes when we slap and whatever in Days of our Lives. They're really fun and amazing. But yes, when it's not scripted and things like that happen, I tend to kind of shrink. I need to do a better job of standing my ground and saying what I want to say in the moment instead of thinking of all the things I wish I'd said afterwards.
We saw your colleagues’ partners, but not your husband, Justin. Why’s that?
It was a conflict for Fox Studios, who own This Is Us, but I think it played nicely. He’s the most supportive person in my life and I couldn’t have done this without him, but I like that I wasn’t subjecting him to any of that drama. It would have been too much for me - I already had so much to deal with with the girls. I really loved having him as my rock outside of the show. I'm not saying he won't ever pop up if we continue this show but I prefer to keep the drama to that situation and then be able to come home to my safe place.
You're both really busy with your respective jobs. With all that going on, is it easy for you to find time for each other?
You know, sometimes it is easy and sometimes it's not. We just make it work. He just filmed a movie in Canada so I went to Canada for a week and I got Bella up, his daughter, and we stayed up there for a week. So we just make it work. It's not always ideal, but it's a priority, so we always make sure that that's the most important thing. Before I take a job - I actually just turned one down that would have taken me away for too long and it was bad timing and we wouldn't have seen each other, so it's just one of those things we try to prioritise and make work. And when it's not ideal, we just look forward to the time when we get back to be together.
The situation that caused all the drama for you was the relationship between Mary and Romain, and you asking questions about it. What's the update on them?
They're still happily together and planning their wedding which is exciting. They're as happy as can be. I just saw them last night.
Have things in the office developed since filming stopped or have they settled down?
They ebb and flow. It's probably like any work environment. Unfortunately there have been things that have been said. Sometimes everybody's getting along in the office and sometimes these two aren't and sometimes those two aren't, so I've definitely offered to work from home a few days when things are a little awkward. There's always a lot of stuff to film when we're not filming.
Any regrets about doing the show?
I don't have any regrets but the only thing I'd say is that I love when women can work together and empower each other, so I just hope that going forward we can embrace that more.