Kendra Wilkinson became a break-out TV personality as one of E!'s The Girls Next Door. From 2004 to 2009, Wilkinson, along with her then-fellow Playboy Mansion house bunnies Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt, entertained viewers with a behind-the-scenes peek at their unconventional living arrangement as the live-in "girlfriends" of the late Hugh Hefner. Following that series' demise, Wilkinson parlayed her success into the three-season spin-off series Kendra, focusing on her post-mansion life, engagement and subsequent marriage to footballer Hank Baskett. Following a stint on Dancing with the Stars, Wilkinson then moved to WE tv and enjoyed a six-season run on Kendra on Top, which ended in 2017. Now, after a TV sabbatical, Wilkinson is back with new vigor and a new vocation in the six-episode unscripted series Kendra Sells Hollywood streaming on discovery+. Much has changed for Wilkinson since we last saw her. She's now a single mom raising two kids and trying to survive. During the COVID-19 lockdown Wilkinson took stock of her life, obtaining her real estate license with the intention of moving from reality to realty ... until a phone call changed everything.
"It's been years since I filmed any reality TV," she explained during an exclusive MediaVillage interview. "Honestly, I didn't think it was in the cards anymore, so I'd started preparing for life off-camera. Then I got the call from HGTV/discovery+. I felt blessed to have the opportunity to show how it is starting a business with the cameras on. I've had [my license] for a year, but I only started in the business a couple of months ago. With the pandemic, it was a little nerve-wracking starting a new business and I didn't know how to get out there. So, I got vaccinated, started working with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, and we filmed it all from the beginning; the personal growth, learning, failing and getting back up."
As part of this new phase of life, Wilkinson had to seriously hit the books -- also new territory. "This was my first time sitting down, opening a book, truly studying, and learning something," she recalled. "I was in a very vulnerable situation because I was 35, a single mom of two, so picking up and learning something new at my age, with the world watching, is scary. But I have no shame when it comes to admitting that I'm learning something new in life.
"I moved to LA at 18 years old," she continued. "I started filming a show and have been on TV for 15 years or so. But I never really had the opportunity to study and learn. This was my chance to learn something new and start a business. It was a part of life I'd not experienced, and now that I am, I'm so excited. My kids are watching, too, and are so proud, but it's not a business until $1.00 is earned, and that I'm yet to make."
One might think that having celebrity (and mover and shaker friends in the entertainment industry) would be beneficial when starting a new venture. According to Wilkinson, that's not the case. "[That's] a very interesting situation," she shared. "I reached out to people I've known throughout the years in Hollywood when I was entering this business, and so far, I've had no success. I don't know if the celebrity thing scares people. I'm just trying to provide for my two kids and prioritize this business. When I come home, the kids are so excited to ask, 'Did you do it yet? Did you sell a house?' They're not asking me about TV ratings, they're asking me if I've sold a house!"
At the time of our interview, that was yet to happen. Still one small part of her new business, and never having an office job, was sparking joy -- her cubicle! "That's so amazing," she said. "I experienced a very rock-star lifestyle in my 20s and hit a lot of high points as a celebrity, as a woman, and I had a lot of fun. But right now, entering this new experience, having a cubicle in an office is the high point in my life! It's something my kids can say they're proud of. I'm excited to teach them these life experiences, and how you can get up at any point in life, learn something new, and enter a new phase. I've never had a real feeling of security. We're not living in a mansion with housekeepers and nannies. We have great co-parenting, but I've been on my own for three years now. It's up to me to bring home the money and take care of things.
"I went through years of healing," she added. "And I've healed. That healing process was extreme and in these last few years I found myself. I have a new mindset, a new heart, new motivation, and drive. So, my outlook on life is different now."
Wilkinson is also thankful for the legion of fans who have followed her journey over the years. "I feel so blessed that I have such a strong fan base who've been willing to follow my adventures, and my life's ups and my downs, to this new journey," she admitted. "This has been an amazing experience. I'm back with a new show with my name in it, and that's cool."
In addition to some Kendra-style entertainment, she's hopeful there's a takeaway for viewers. "Waking up today, I couldn't be prouder of myself as a woman and as a mom," she reflected in closing. "The truth lives in the eyes of your children, and my children are so proud of me. I've gone through so much, like to hell and back, and experienced so much healing. If I can inspire anyone entering a new business about getting your mind right … it's about confidence, self-esteem and growing. If you're at that point in life, this show is for you."
Kendra Sells Hollywood is available to stream beginning Wednesday, Nov. 17 on discovery+.
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