Selling Sunset star Amanza Smith doesn’t pick up when I call. I text, call again, leave a voicemail. Nothing. When her PR rep tells me that she can’t find Amanza either, we’re about to reschedule and then...ping! “Omg I thought it was at 12. Yes call now.”
If there’s a single unifying theme to Amanza’s appearances in Selling Sunset Season 3, it’s that she’s late for everything, from meetings to multi-million dollar house showings. That she’s 30 minutes late for our call is almost endearing in a Look! Just like on TV! kind of way. I even jump to her defense, telling her I think “the twins” — her bosses Brett and Jason Oppenheim — are too hard on her. She’s dealing with a missing co-parent, not just traffic on the 10.
But Amanza laughs like we’ve been caught. “I'm actually at Brett's house as we're having this conversation,” she tells me, gently intimating how wrong I’ve read the situation. “The kids and I came over last night because we hadn't seen Uncle Brett in a long time. We actually stayed [here] last night, and you're on speaker. So I think he just heard that.”
Amanza may be the newest realtor at the brokerage, but she's been friends with the Oppenheims and Mary Fitzgerald for decades, which means she doesn’t need to resort to sh*t-stirring to steal scenes. In fact, as she tries to wrangle her two kids out of Uncle Brett’s and into the car as we talk, it's clear her real life is pretty close to what's portrayed on the show.
Read on for updates about Amanza's custody case, which scenes made her cry this season, and why she still can't get figure out Christine Quinn.
I've never met anyone named Amanza before.
I was named after my grandmother, actually, so it's not a Hollywood made-up name. It's my legit birth certificate name.
Last season your ex-husband was missing. This season jumps forward in time, and you're filing for sole custody of your children. What’s happening now?
There's really been no change. He's still not present. Filing for full custody seemed so simple. I thought you just go down to the courthouse, hire an attorney, fill out some paperwork and then, boom, it's done and over. But in reality, it's a way bigger process than that.
Then with the [coronavirus] lockdown court dates have been paused. So we're still in the middle of... I can't even call it a custody battle because it's just me. Meanwhile, they charge me for every phone call and every email. It's not cheap.
When you signed on to Selling Sunset, did you know how much your personal life would be featured?
When I signed on, my life was much different. Two weeks into filming is when everything happened for me and my kids. Had that happened beforehand, maybe I wouldn't have been so willing to jump on a show where I was going to be followed by cameras 24/7. I had to make the decisions as I was filming on how much I was willing to share. I was a little apprehensive in Season 2 to say too much, because I didn't know if he was going to be gone a week, two weeks, a month. Then seven and a half months later, when we're still filming and nothing has changed, I started to open up a bit more and share, because you can only hide so much when you're filming a reality show.
It's the joke in Season 3 how late I am or how scatterbrained, but for what I was going through, I actually was doing very good.
Have you watched Season 3? What were some of the moments that got you?
I think I cried through five of the eight episodes. It was a really emotional season. Of course Chrishell's divorce [from This Is Us actor Justin Hartley] hit us all like a ton of bricks. It was hard to watch back. It was hard to see her suffer.
Then for me personally, just the scene with my kids. I remember that day [at the park] and hanging out, and I remember them telling me really sweet things, but I guess I hadn't seen it from the other side.
When I was watching, it seemed like everyone knew what was going on in everyone's lives, but it sounds like you catch up at the end of the season like the rest of us.
I'm super close to Chrishell, but obviously I wasn't there when she went home to see her family and the emotional scenes with her sister. She's really been through it.
Then you have people like Christine texting you every other day and checking in and being super kind, and then you walk out [after watching] and you're like, "Oh, she actually really hates me."
If she hates you, that doesn't seem to be a unique position to be in with her.
I haven't quite figured her out yet. You know what they say? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I never understood that statement until I met Christine Quinn. I feel like that's exactly what I'm doing.
[To her kids.] Can you put those boots in those bags?
Sorry! Welcome to motherhood. I often have to look in the mirror before I leave, and I'm like, "Do I have shoes on? Both of them? I've got the same shoes. Do I have a bra on? Did I brush my teeth today?"
[To Brett.] What's happening? Where's my Matcha? Hold on. Brett, where did you put my Matcha?
OK, OK. Sorry. I'm back!
Reality TV is a genre dominated by white casts and Selling Sunset isn’t an exception. Is that something you thought about at all when you joined the show?
Yes, I did actually. After Season 1, a couple people asked, "Why is it so vanilla?" It wasn't on purpose. It was not like they had an audition for Selling Sunset. It was a brokerage that already existed. It just happened to be the nature of the environment.
I had recently got my real estate license and it worked out the way it worked out. It wasn't like they went out and found the new ethnically ambiguous or Black girl to make sure they didn't get any disrespect. But I did think about it. And I think that — we haven't really talked about it — but I feel like maybe I helped them out as much as they helped me out on that subject.
But people message me and say, "Is it just beautiful blonde women?" There are actually a handful of men that work at the Oppenheim Group too! They're just not on the show.
This interview has been edited and condensed.