Selling Sunset has it all: drama, fashion, opulence, meme-able moments, heartbreak, and even an insider view of the real estate world. It’s no wonder that the guilty pleasure reality TV show quickly skyrocketed to fame. Having launched a year before the pandemic started, it was the perfect pick for viewers to buckle in and binge-watch alongside their favorite PJs and snacks — a clear-cut recipe for success. Another reason for the show’s popularity? Each one of the women on the show brings something completely different to the table. Whether you love them or hate them, you’re guaranteed to have a strong opinion. Maya Vander for her part is often seen as the neutral, voice of reason at The Oppenheim Group in Los Angeles, and that’s exactly why fans love her.
Selling Sunset season five dropped on Netflix last Friday; and if you already watched all ten episodes, you know that Vander shared her announcement that she is planning on relocating full-time to Miami to be with her family. This past year, Vander experienced the tragic loss of her baby after having a stillbirth. With season five having been filmed while she was pregnant with the child she eventually lost, we recently caught up with the 40-year-old who explained why the drama on the show feels like “high school” in comparison to her personal grief and the loss of baby Mason. Still, Vander admits the drama — particularly centering on her and her co-stars’ relationship with Christine Quinn — is a major reason fans keep watching, and she understands it’s part of the game.
Read ahead for our exclusive interview with Vander who discusses trying for a new baby, where her relationship stands with Quinn, real estate tips, and starting her own firm, called the Maya Vander Group, in Miami.
SheKnows: So first of all, how are you and what have you been up to lately?
Maya Vander: I’m doing good. I had a crazy four months since I lost my baby. The first two months were terrible for me, I just didn’t realize what the heck had happened. I think I caught up kind of in a shock in dealing with grief, which I had never dealt with in my life. So it’s been a crazy situation that I’m still dealing with, but I’m doing better. Workwise, it’s been super busy. I am growing my team. I have three girls on my team in Miami right now, which I’m very proud of. We tried to push and sell a lot of real estate in Miami. And that helps me to balance my mom life, being a wife, and also my work and all the other amazing opportunities we get through Selling Sunset. So it’s been really really busy for months, nonstop actually!
SK: A big part of this season was centered around Christine kind of being on the outs with the rest of the girls. Where does your relationship with Christine stand?
MV: Christine and I are cordial. I mean, she messaged me the other day. I like Christine, but she does things sometimes that I’m like, ‘why?’—including something she just tweeted this morning. So you know, we are all here to make a successful show and I know Christine provides the drama. But sometimes it’s a little bit difficult. It’s really difficult to understand where she’s coming from with different things that she does and says ‘look, she’s impulsive. I get it, I’ve known her for a long time.’ I wish she would count to 10 before she says or does things. Me and Davina [Potratz] were really trying to have her back but you cannot have someone’s back all the time when you don’t agree with certain actions. This is not just for her, it’s with any one of my friends. If they do something that I don’t think is right, I’ll tell them.
SK: You’ve always been a bit of a neutral source.
MV: I mean, I try. I have opinions and I try to be very honest and direct, but also I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to say things that might hurt someone. I don’t want to be involved in the drama, you know, I have my crazy personal life drama with my baby loss. So really, the Selling Sunset drama is really high school drama. But you know, I am proud of it. We have things that unfortunately happen in the show with drama and it is what it is.
SK: Speaking of social media, I did see that Christine posted on her Instagram story today a recent quote of yours where you said ‘Christine runs Selling Sunset’—
MV: Oh, she used that! She didn’t text me to say ‘thank you’, and the other girls got mad at me for saying that. Let’s face it, Chrishell and Christine basically are the big characters on the show. When Chrishell joined us, nobody knew about Selling Sunset. We kind of got the spotlight because she was married to a celebrity and that helps. I think she was a brilliant addition to the show. Each and every one of us brings something to the show. Whether it’s Mary, Chrishell, or Emma. I think Chelsea is also a great addition to the show. And even Davina, she says one line and then everybody loves to hate on it so it creates some sort of buzz! And Amanza and Vanessa, they all bring something amazing to the show. With Christine, it’s the drama a little bit more, because technically we all get along. I wish the show showed a bit more of the real estate drama, because I think we can all contribute in that sense, versus that personal drama.
SK: A lot of the fan reactions to this new season are people who are feeling really bad for Christine this time around. They’ve specifically mentioned bullying and the reaction of the girls specifically at the broker’s open.
MV: Nobody is bullying Christine. Just because you share an honest opinion about how you feel about someone’s behavior [doesn’t make it bullying]. She does things that create certain reactions for Emma [Hernan] or Chrishell [Stause] or even with Davina. I mean, she said things about me too. It is what it is. I don’t think we’re bullying her, nobody’s bullying her. It’s not fair to say that because people also don’t know what happens behind the scenes and things that she does that create a reaction from the girls. That scene specifically at the broker’s open when Amanza [Smith] escalated from a private conversation to us all sitting on the couch — I didn’t want to say anything because I agreed with Amanza. So how can I go defend Christine when I disagree a little bit.
SK: Well, a bit away from the drama. Fans did see your departure to Miami. Can you share a little bit about your move and why you decided it was time?
MV: I’ve been in Miami, but the show got picked up and I was trying to make it to be part of the show because I had a feeling it’s going to be a successful show. I did a lot of commuting and I rented a place in LA. I did long-distance with my husband. I was pregnant and then pregnant again. And at some point, I’ve been selling real estate by the way in Miami the whole time, so my business is really good here. I’m really trying to do even more high-end stuff. It’s been going really well and I work really hard.
I just want to focus on my family. I want to get pregnant again, after my loss, it’s something that’s very important for me. You know, I just want to spend time with my kids. I want to focus on that and I don’t want to say goodbye completely to Selling Sunset. I like the girls and I like being part of it, I just don’t want to fly every week. I think it’s time for me to really focus on Miami and just kind of take it easy a little bit.
SK: I think it would be fun to have cameras follow you around in Miami or even have your own spin-off show with the Maya Vander group. I’d be all for it.
MV: I don’t think they want to do it because I think they want drama! And my goal is really to have nothing to do with drama. I think Miami is interesting because it has a different ethnicity and background. Obviously, it has a very heavy Latin culture. I think my girls are solid and they’re not into drama. On the one hand, I get the opportunity to be in a very successful TV show, but if I’m selling real estate, I also have to be careful with drama. I want people to take me seriously.
SK: You’ve talked about it a little bit already, but I know you suffered a loss recently with baby Mason, and that production for this season stopped filming before that was shown. What has it been like to rewatch these scenes?
MV: That’s a great question. I was wondering how I was going to feel about it. I stopped filming the season when I was 32 weeks, which is the cutoff for traveling. So you know, I’m looking at myself, fully pregnant and I could have an almost five months old baby right now. It’s hard. I mean, did I sit there and start bursting in tears? No, I’m pretty strong. I can hold myself together and stay calm, but it is hard. It just shows you that life, you know, we plan things and you just don’t know what’s gonna happen. And my story, it really was a joke that I’m pregnant every season. It’s not because I want to be pregnant every season. It’s because I’m 40 years old, and my clock is ticking. So I was like, bang, bang, bang, trying to do it fast! It’s part of life and I’m pushing through.
SK: I’ve been following your journey and I know that you’ve been using your platform on social media to educate and inform the masses on resources they can turn to about loss. What have you learned on your personal journey and how has social media either helped or hurt in the process?
MV: For me, it really helped me because I felt like I’m not alone. I have so many messages from women that reached out to me and said it was very helpful to them that I shared my story. Back then nobody talked about it and now people are able to say ‘okay, someone else experienced it’. I’m going to continue sharing. I’m going to continue sharing exactly what happened. It helps my healing and I think it helps other women and families knowing that they’re not alone. It’s more common than people actually think.
SK: In your healing process, has there been any piece of advice that you’ve been given that has stuck with you?
MV: I think books really help. I think people who understand my situation and reach out. Those who say ‘your grief is your grief, and it’s okay to be sad.’ Just acknowledge your grief and deal with it. I think that’s helpful advice. You just deal with the grief, it’s also okay to sometimes not even think about the grief and just put it aside and then come back to it.
SK: Since the show aired, there’s been so much interest in real estate. What are the two biggest tips that you have for those who do wish to pursue this career?
MV: I think it’s really important to know that [this] business is people business. You want to really try to be personal and honest with people and be consistent. It takes time. It takes time so you gotta be consistent. If you financially cannot just wait for that commission check, try to either have a part-time job to support you until you sell something, or save enough money to have a cushion for at least one year of you not selling a house because it takes time — especially in this market. We have very little inventory. Working with buyers is difficult because of that. So consistency and passion. You want to be passionate about real estate.
SK: You do it all! Do you have any advice for moms who are working full time, and how to juggle both?
MV: I would say maybe time block, prioritize what is important to get done that day. Let’s say you have a nine to five, when you come home at 5 pm, be with your children, try to be with them as much as you can until they go to bed. I try to do all my stuff while they’re in daycare, [but] sometimes they’re sick, and they’re not in daycare, and then my whole schedule is completely changed. But it’s fine, they’re my kids and I love being there for them. We don’t have a nanny, it’s just me and my husband. So I think time blocking is very important. I really try to prioritize what’s important, what I need to absolutely get done by like, 4:35 pm when my kids are back from school, and then obviously in real estate I have to do showings on the weekend, but I try to literally do it in like two hours so I could spend the rest of the day with the kids and do fun activities with them. Time blocking is key.
SK: What’s next for you both personally and professionally?
MV: Professionally, just growing my team and focusing on more real estate in Miami. I want to try and create a brand name for myself. I always believe that hard work pays off.
And my goal personally is just my family. Hopefully, I can grow my family with one more baby. Just enjoying the little things in life and honestly, the important things in life, which is my husband, my children, and my dog. My dog is cute too!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
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