Heather Rae Young may currently be making headlines for her role in Netflix’s Selling Sunset and her relationship with HGTV star Tarek El Moussa, but the real estate expert has been used to having all eyes on her for many years now.
Before starting her career as a high-end real estate agent, the 32-year-old was a model by trade, landing her big break as Playboy’s Miss February back in 2010. She recently chatted with the magazine about how her time as a Playmate changed her life for the better — and revealed that does not regret posing nude.
“It was an amazing experience,” Young told the famous men’s magazine of her time with the brand. “I would never take it back. I believe everything happens for a reason. I really, truly do. If I hadn’t posed for Playboy, I wouldn’t have met the people who led me to where I am now.”
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Heather Rae Young, right, pictured with Ne-Yo
As a self-proclaimed “small-town girl” from Big Bear, California, Young says shooting for Playboy taught her how to be good in front of crowds, and how to work a camera — something that has come in handy while filming her reality show Selling Sunset. The Netflix series, which is now streaming its second season, follows her and her coworkers at The Oppenheim Group in Los Angeles, a real estate firm that specializes in high-profile and high net-worth clientele.
“Meeting fans as a Playmate prepped me for the fans I have now, from the show,” she added. “I talk to everyone. I take photos with everyone. It has changed my life.”
Young says real estate was a natural next step for her after Playboy because of both the connections she made, as well as her ability to foster positive relationships with others.
“I studied my ass off, I passed the test and then within my first three months of doing real estate, I sold a $7.2 million house and a $1.5 million condo,” she recalls of her career change. She joined the Oppenheim Group in 2014, and the rest is history.
That said, Young says there are still times when she finds it hard to be taken seriously, especially in real estate, which she says “is still a man’s game."
“Some people judge me right away,” she says. “Like, men expect me to be a little Barbie doll and be stupid. Men will meet me and say, ‘Wow, you’re actually smart.’ And I’m like, Well, what did you think? Because I’m a Playmate, or a model, or a woman, I can’t be smart as well? All the Playmates I’ve ever met have so much going on. We’re not slutty like people think.”
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She hopes Selling Sunset shows viewers that women are rising in the real estate industry, and that there’s nothing a man can do that she can’t do better.
“It’s supposed to be about women’s empowerment,” she says of the show. “You can be a pretty woman and still be successful and not just arm candy for a man.”
Young also hopes that fans see her Playboy past as empowering — because having the freedom to do what she wanted with her body was empowering for her.
“Posing nude has not hurt me,” she says. “I’m already out there; I’ve done it. I’m proud of myself and what I’ve done. It’s a celebration of our bodies and our choices, and I find it empowering.”
Season 2 of Selling Sunset is now streaming on Netflix.