Chelsea Lazkani said she always felt out of place at past workplaces. The Nigerian-English real estate agent recalls walking into into her corporate office feeling fabulous, at first — then feeling like the odd one out.
"I was an outlier. I went to work in six-inch Loubouttins. and everyone would look at me like, 'Why is she wearing that?'" Lazkani told TODAY.
Then, she encountered the real estate agents of Oppenheim Group — who are seemingly always clad in magazine cover-worthy clothes — and felt instantly at home. Introduced in the fifth season of "Selling Sunset," the newcomer keeps pace with the other extravagantly dressed agents.
“Typically, real estate agents are not considered glamorous. But I always considered myself glamorous."
"Typically, real estate agents are not considered glamorous. But I always considered myself glamorous. I was like, 'Wow. I can work and do what I love to do, and elevate myself, and be around these really inspiring women — but not have to dull my dress and my attitude and my fabulousness. I can be who I want to be organically and still shine."
But, who is Chelsea Lazkani?
Based on her plotlines in her first season, she's a direct communicator, taking a no-nonsense approach to the Oppenheim Group's tangled personal relationships. She's a mother-of-two and a wife. She's an Aquarius. She has a degree in economics.
And she's so much more. Given her direct personality, we'll give Lazkani the mic, and let her introduce herself. Here's what she wants you to know.
Chelsea joined 'Selling Sunset' to be an example
After getting her real estate license in 2017, Lazkani struggled to find other Black women in luxury real estate that could serve as a role model and inspiration.
"It was very (anxiety-inducing) to be in an industry and want to have these have these really grandiose and big visions for yourself but not see anyone that looks like you," she said.
“I know that this is not just about me — it’s about people like me at large.”Chelsea Lazkani
Eventually, Lazkani did find a mentor. When she heard of an opportunity to join the Oppenheim Group and appear on "Selling Sunset," she thought back to her own journey toward finding a tangible example of inspiration – and decided that going on "Selling Sunset" was a "no brainer."
"I'm going to be able to be great representation for other women that want to get into the industry that don't have a role model," she said. "I know that this is not just about me — it's about people like me at large."
Already, she's been overwhelmed by feedback on social media. "I get so many messages from women that are like, 'Oh my gosh, I really wanted to get in real estate and seeing you has given me the notification I need to get my real estate license.' I love that, because that's what I needed," she said.
Here's why she prefers direct communication
Lazkani isn't afraid to throw herself into the fray. For example, after witnessing the other agents confront Quinn, she confronts them right back and labels their actions bullying.
"My mom always said I've got the gift of the gab. She always told me I talked too much. I thought I would figure it out along the way. I genuinely believed that I would be able to figure out how to like keep my trap sharp. I didn't. I just didn't," Lazkani said, laughing.
She said "gift of the gab" is what makes her a successful real estate agent, too.
"I speak things into existence. I talk on the show about wanting to sell a $20 to 30 million home. That was all manifestation — but (now) I have a $20 million listing hitting the market next week. The power of your tongue is really, really, really special, and I'm going to continue talking," she said.
Lazkani is still friends with Christine, and 'respects' her confidence
Lazkani watched "Selling Sunset" for the first time after hearing about the opportunity to join the Oppenheim Group. She called the show "TV gold."
She encountered her through "Selling Sunset," but the first time Lazkani met Christine Quinn — who has become notorious for her penchant for drama — was at the showing depicted in episode one. According to Lazkani, theirs was friendship at first sight.
"Everything you saw transpire is exactly how it happened. Our relationship has always been electric, vibrant, fun boss vibes," she said.
“Everything you saw transpire is exactly how it happened. Our relationship has always been electric, vibrant, fun boss vibes."
Lazkani remains friends with Quinn, unshaken by fellow Oppenheim Group agents' accusations of her betrayals. She believes Quinn's confident demeanor is the result of "(overcoming) trauma."
"I think whenever you see somebody that is so strong outwardly, you have to understand that they've overcome trauma — a lot of it. So I respect anybody that is confident and boisterous because it takes a lot to be confident and boisterous in a world where people are so judgmental and make you feel like you can't do all these things that you want to do," she said.
Their relationship, Lazkani said, is based on their mutual desire to dream big.
"I'm constantly inspired by her ability to be like, 'I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that' — and then doing it. It's it's amazing to be around people that dream big. I love it," she said.
She also thinks Christine is 'really funny'
As for how she squares her image of Quinn, with all the criticism Quinn receives from other women on the show? Lazkani shrugs it off.
"I just think she's really bloody funny," she said. "Maybe it's something to do with the fact that I'm Nigerian, but my parents used to say wild stuff growing up — you had to have a thick skin to survive in my household."
"That's kind of a bit of my personality. I'm not really a sensitive Sally. I don't take anything to heart. When something is funny, I'm gonna laugh every single time," she said.
But she's close to other cast members, too
Walking into the Oppenheim Group's office, Lazkani was also walking into a web of years-long drama. She makes a point of forming her own opinions, as opposed to letting stories dictate her judgment.
Lazkani said her approach resulted in her being friends with the show's two primary camps: Christine Quinn, and everyone else.
"I went in there going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and hoping they'd give me the same too. It worked in my favor because I'm great friends with Christine — but I've become closer with some of the other ladies and it hasn't actually hindered my relationship with Christine," Lazkani said.
"If I came in there with a different attitude, I don't know if I would have been able to have such great relationships with the other girls like I do now," she said.
As for Davina? She says they have 'different values'
Lazkani and fellow agent Davina Potratz have a heated argument in season five of "Selling Sunset." She described their relationship today as "cordial."
"I think Davina and I just have a difference of values. A different methodology, should I say, for life."
"Not everyone needs to be your bestie. I think Davina and I just have a difference of values. A different methodology, should I say, for life. Fundamentally that's probably why we're not on the same page," she said.
At one point, Potratz made a joke about Lazkani meeting her husband on a dating site for sugar babies. Lazkani didn't speak up in the show, but reflecting on the joke, she told TODAY, "Well, you know, they say everything's projection. So maybe that's where she wants to meet her husband."
Her husband isn't caught up on 'Selling Sunset' drama
Lazkani met her husband, Jeff Lazkani, soon after traveling to L.A. for what was meant to be a "short break," as she wrote on Instagram. She continued, "I stayed because I fell in love... It was the best decision I’ve ever made." They've been married since 2017.
Lazkani said that while her husband is a "huge support" for her, his job as the managing partner at Icon Media Direct, a marketing and advertising company, keeps him busy — often too busy to keep up with the drama.
"As far as the drama is concerned, I don't think he really cares. Sometimes I try (to catch him up), but he's in between like 10 meetings and he's like, 'Who's Vanessa?' And I'm like, 'She's someone,'" Lazkani said, laughing.
She wants her two kids to see her working
Lazkani and her husband share two children, a son named Maddox and a daughter named Melia. As much as she wants to be an example to audiences through "Selling Sunset," she hopes to be an example to her kids, too.
"What gave me this work ethic was seeing my parents bust their a--. What I want to instill in my kids is they have this great life that they should be so grateful for and fortunate for but you see me and your father work in every day to maintain it," she said.
According to her bio on the Oppenheim Group website, her mother, Elizabeth Adefioye, is a human resources executive at the engineering company Emerson, and her father, Segun Adefioye, is a property developer.
"I hope that they get a little bit of a hustle," she said. "But you don't have to follow the traditional route to be successful. I’m on reality TV and I sell real estate, nothing of which I learned in school. I just want them to be passionate. about something and willing to work hard."
She hopes 'Selling Sunset' season 6 shows off her vulnerable side
Lazkani sees her debut season of "Selling Sunset" as an audition, of sorts, to prove she could keep up with what was required of her at the "O Group."
"This season I came on and it was really about me proving myself and showing a little bit about my strength and my personality and how I'm here to work really hard," she said.
Next season, she hopes to show more "vulnerability."
"It's really difficult being a mother, being a wife and being a working woman. I hope to hone in on some of those vulnerable, tougher moments — to show that it's not all Dolce and Gabbana and Christian Louboutin heels," she said.
"Things may look one way, but they're not always that way. Appearances can be deceiving," she said.