Appearing on reality TV wasn’t always a priority for Hernan, who runs a plant-based empanada company, Emma Leigh & Co. But she’s no stranger to selling high-end real estate; plus, she already has some connections to the cast (including sharing an ex with Christine Quinn). BAZAAR.com catches up with Hernan to find out what it’s really like joining Selling Sunset, whether she’s still on speaking terms with Quinn after all the onscreen drama, and what fans can expect from Season 5.
What was it like joining Selling Sunset? Was it intimidating?
No, for me it was second nature, because the people on the show are, in real life, my actual family. They’re some of my best friends. I’ve been around them for about five years now and have formed some great bonds with them.
Have you always wanted to be on reality TV?
No, not at all. I’ve always been very business focused. It was never a goal of mine to be on reality TV; it just kind of fell onto my lap. I made the decision because I wanted to show my story. I’ve always been very private about my personal life, very private about my business life. I came from nothing, and I built this really big—what I call an empire. I wanted to go out there and inspire young people to do the same.
It’s interesting that you weren’t looking to be on reality TV, because you seem like such a natural.
Everyone keeps saying, “You’re such a natural on camera.” But I’m the same person with the cameras up and the cameras down. I’m very genuine. I think that’s why I’m so comfortable on camera—because it’s not acting. And, of course, having my best friends be on the show with me, we’re having natural interactions that are funny and fun and witty and all that.
The trailer made it seem like you were the new “villain” of the show, but throughout Season 4, everybody seems to like you so much. Is your real life drama free? Have you gotten any negative feedback because of Selling Sunset?
No. Honestly, that was never even a concern of mine. I have probably the biggest heart in the entire world. My heart is made of gold, and I love to give back. I love to inspire people. My family will tell you I’m like Santa Claus coming in on Christmas, spoiling everybody. I live to make other people happy—I know that’s so cliché, but it’s true. So I knew that coming onto the show, there was no way that I could be portrayed in a light that wasn’t anything but pure and genuine. And I do think I’m funny, so you get to see more of that.
They kept the trailer very interesting. They obviously wanted to portray that I am a boss and I’m a woman entrepreneur and I’ve accomplished a lot, and I think confidence can sometimes be misconstrued. I’m a very confident person, but being kind and loving is way above everything else for me.
I definitely feel it’s so important to support other women. I will tell you, I am everybody else’s number one cheerleader, rooting them on to make sure that they do the best they can and sell $10, $20, $50, $60 million houses … because who doesn’t want to see their friends succeed?
Selling Sunset Season 4 focuses on your past connection with Christine Quinn. Was it difficult exploring old relationship drama in front of the cameras, and were you ready for Christine’s reaction to you joining the show?
I think the only thing that was difficult about that is … well, actually there’s two things. One would be having to relive a difficult time. I feel like I handled the situation with grace, and everyone will tell you that back in the day, when all of the interactions were happening, I took the high road time and time and time again. Having to relive that was a little bit difficult, but I’m very confident with who I am as a person. And the only other difficult thing would just be the fact that I would never want that situation to overshadow everything that I’ve accomplished in life and how big my heart is. But besides that, I’m unbothered.
It seemed like a hard situation to be put in.
Yeah, for sure. I had to address it. But I’m very to the point, and I come with the facts. Everything that you hear that comes out of my mouth is the truth, and you see that on the show. And as the audience watches, they’ll connect with that, and they’ll understand what’s going on. I’m very confident about that.
Are you on speaking terms with Christine now?
No … we are not on speaking terms. I don’t think anyone is surprised or blames me. At the end of the day, like I said, I always take the high road, and I have for years now, and I will continue to do that.
Aside from real estate, you run several businesses. Do you have any advice for anyone hoping to start their own business?
My advice would be go for it. I think that people need to believe in themselves. My mom always told me I could do anything in the entire world, and people probably thought she was crazy—mother’s love. But I truly believed her. So when I went into any situation, I thought that I could accomplish anything that I put my mind to, and I have.
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes, we run into bumps in the road, but that just leads you to a better path. I’ve seen that time and time again in businesses. Even with my food company, I was going to do a deal with a different brand, and then everything fell into place the way that it was supposed to. At the time, you can be disappointed, but every journey that we’re on is a path that we’re supposed to be on.
What are you working on besides Selling Sunset?
Oh, my goodness, I could be on the phone with you all day talking about that. I’m constantly investing in different companies; I’ve been an angel investor for years. I invest avidly in the stock market as well. I’m working on a few really cool businesses, which I will be announcing soon. Some of the businesses that I’m involved in, I really do think will change the world. I’m talking multibillion-dollar businesses. So you guys will have to stay tuned for that one.This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
The food company that I started couldn’t be going any better. I’m a hundred percent woman-owned company. I’ve gotten multiple offers. I’m talking over 30 different offers from different companies, begging to get involved and invest. And I’ve turned everyone down so far. I’ve self-funded. I bought my own manufacturing facility back in Boston. We’re taking over all of the stores in the United States and the goal, of course, is to go global.
Fashion is a really big part of the show. Who are your fashion go-tos, and do you have a favorite designer right now?
I love fashion. You cannot go wrong with Tom Ford. When it comes to jackets and everything like that, he’s probably my favorite designer. I’m trying to think of some of the fun ones that I wore on the show. Cult Gaia, I think that they have a really cool line of products, and I feel like that’s the new generation. It’s almost like a mix between social media style and high fashion. I love new innovative brands, so I always try and get ahead of everybody else with that.
Shopping for the show must’ve been quite the challenge.
I will say that was a new experience for me. I was like, “Okay, this is the Selling Sunset runway show. I got the message, I came prepared. I understand the assignment. All right, let’s do this.”
Who are some of your style icons?
Brigitte Bardot. Kate Moss. And then, Gisele [Bündchen] I feel is timeless. I love her as an individual, and her style is almost effortless. I try to stay true to who I am, and I feel like those three embody who I am and what I’m going for.
Do you have any favorite hair and makeup products, or tips that have helped develop your look so far?
Well, definitely my hair and makeup team that come over every single day! There’s Sheila Harris—she actually happens to be my best friend in the entire world—and then Ricky Fraser, who does my hair. They are amazing. I should just give them a room in my house at this point.
I love all of Charlotte Tilbury‘s products. One of my favorite lip glosses is actually Maybelline. It’s called Lifter Gloss, and you can go to the store and just get it yourself. Sometimes it’s easy to just go pop into a CVS or a Rite Aid and get something that works. All of the girls on the show ended up falling in love with my lip gloss, and they went and got the same one, which is so funny.