Rich Listers star Holly Cassidy ‘I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty’

This Auckland beauty queen doesn’t back down when things get ugly in the world of real estate

For most people, being thrown into the spotlight on new reality show Rich Listers would be a little daunting. But not for former Miss Universe New Zealand winner Holly Cassidy.

The Auckland-based beauty queen, who grew up performing on stage, competed in the world’s biggest pageant in Moscow in 2013, while juggling her burgeoning real estate career.

“I grew up singing and dancing, which really built up my confidence,” she explains. “And then when I was in my teens, I was approached to do promotional work, which led me to pageants.”

And while she didn’t take out the Miss Universe crown, the world of pageants did help her develop a thick skin and a love of the limelight – both of which have come in handy in her latest role on Bravo’s sassy real estate reality show.

“I used to get comments about my body all the time,” Holly, 31, says of her Miss Universe days. “I was either too muscly for pageants or I was too short to be a model, but I would try to ignore it because otherwise it just drains you.”

Someone who knows the trouble of trolls all too well is Holly’s Rich Listers co-star, former deputy prime minister Paula Bennett, who was only too happy to dish out some sage advice.

“When the trailer came out, I couldn’t help but read a few articles,” Holly says. “Paula warned me against it. She said, ‘If you see negative comments, just keep going – forget about it.’ She’s very seasoned and the best person to talk to about that stuff. She told me some crazy stories about things that have happened to her, but we’ll keep that between us.”

Filmed across Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, the eight-part series follows Aotearoa’s best real estate agents and opens the door to some of the most incredible properties in the world.

Think mansions with views over the Hauraki Gulf, private islands, alpine estates in Central Otago worth over $30 million, vineyards and the most expensive Wellington waterfront penthouse suite ever to go on the market.

The Rich Listers (from left): Dominique and Dave McCartney, Cheryl, Holly, Paula, Annabel Marshall, Diego Traglia and Karl Matakatea.

While the show might be about million-dollar listings, it’s also about the drama and Holly admits she often found herself at the centre of it. But she wasn’t alone, her grandmother, real estate legend Cheryl Whiting, also joined the cast and the duo weren’t shy about sharing some fiery moments on set.

“We fight in real life – I mean, we are family after all,” laughs Holly, who suggested her nan to the show’s producers. “We quite often disagree on real estate because she’s a hard seller and I’m much softer, so you’ll see us clash a fair bit. But funnily enough, that’s what makes us a good team. That’s why we sold properties together for two years and we did really well. She’s an inspiration in the real- estate game and I’ve learnt a lot from her.”

While Holly might be softer than her nan, that doesn’t mean she won’t get her hands dirty to clinch a sale… literally.

“I sold a house whilst driving a quad bike around Queenstown with my phone and my hand,” she says.

With her pageant background and stylish wardrobe – her bold suits are her signature look – Holly is used to people underestimating her.

“The biggest misconception viewers will have about me is that I’m not as accomplished as the other agents on the show,” she says. “If you compare me to others, my number of sales might not be as big, but I’ve actually worked across all areas of real estate. From a PA to an operations manager, I’ve had about 12 different roles and that’s what sets me apart.”

Despite Rich Listers being her first foray into reality TV, Holly is a big fan of Netflix’s real estate show Selling Sunset, where she picked up a few tricks of the trade.

“People will see a different side of me on the TV,” she says. “I’ve acted up a little bit for the show as opposed to my normal everyday self because I’m playing the part. I’ve tried to be firmer when I was doing some of the deals and I’ve said things that I probably wouldn’t normally say.”

And just like Christine Quinn on Selling Sunset, she reckons Rich Listers has its very own villain. While Holly is happy not to wear this particular crown, she’s pretty sure she knows who’s taken out the title.

Holly and her straight-talking nan. “You’ll see us clash a fair bit,” says Holly.

“It’s probably my nan,” she laughs. “The rest of us all tried to avoid that tag, but Nan doesn’t care. Some of the things she says – usually to me – are absolute gold. She has that ‘been there, done that’ attitude that people will love. We can’t wait to watch it together.”

Catch Rich Listers at 7.30pm, Thursdays on Bravo.

Related stories