Get to Know Wendell Holland From 'Hot Mess House'
Lear how the craftsman went from lawyer to 'Survivor' to HGTV.
When tuning into Season 2 of Hot Mess House, you may wonder how to organize so efficiently in your own home. But another question may pop up: Who is Wendell Holland, and why does he look so familiar?
You may recognize him from Season 1 of the fan-favorite show, but there's a good chance you've seen him in a few other places. He’s had appearances on Home Town Takeover and Beach Cabana Royale, to name a couple. To find out where else you may have spotted Wendell, keep reading for facts about the master craftsman who tackles projects alongside Cas Aarssen.
From Law School to Master Craftsman
Wendell might be the muscle and craftsman on Hot Mess House, but it’s been a journey up until this point.
“I have quite the story,” he tells HGTV. “My life has been a rambling path to get to where I am today but I’m appreciative of every stop along the way.”
Those stops, you might ask? Fresh out of undergrad, Wendell went to law school at UPenn. While clerking for a few judges in Philadelphia, it dawned on him that he needed a new bed, and he wasn’t in a spot to buy one from some high-end store.
“I always was handy and I could always build things and put things together, but I needed a bed for myself,” he says. “And on a law clerk salary, I wasn’t purchasing any fancy beds from any of these fancy stores, so I decided to try my hand at making a bed for myself.”
It was that fateful decision back in 2014 that ultimately kickstarted Wendell’s whirlwind career, eventually landing him on HGTV.
“Because I was so proud of this bed that I made — and when I look back at the photos of that bed, it wasn’t the best bed. It didn’t look so great, compared to what I make now, but it was something I was so proud of back then — I posted it on social media and people pretty much started asking me to build them custom pieces from then on,” he recalls.
While building as a side hustle, another turn of fate occurred: Wendell’s judge retired.
“At that point, I’d been building a lot on the side and I thought that it would be a good chance to try to really do this thing,” he shares. “So I started my company: Beve Unlimited.” Beve — pronounced like ‘Eve’ but with a ‘B’ in front of it — is Wendell’s childhood nickname
A Dream Come True
While establishing his furniture company, Wendell had another dream on the horizon: to compete on Survivor. Little did he know,after many, many auditions, not only would he make the show, he’d go on to win it.
“When Survivor came along, it was crazy because I’d been a fan of the show for a while and had been applying for a very long time,” he recalls. “I was pretty clean-cut in law school and as a law clerk, and then when I get artsy-fartsy, I grow the hair out and grow the beard out; I get a little more artsy, and I think that’s when Survivor decided that that was the version of Wendell that they thought would be best for Survivor, [and so] they pulled me for 'Season 36: Ghost Island'.”
In Wendell’s eyes, it all came down to perfect timing. “I think I was on at the right time because I’d lived a little bit,” he says. “I was on when I’d turned 33, and I had had enough successes and failures in life to ... do pretty well on a show like that, that requires looking past certain lies and really connecting with and analyzing folks.”
The Secret to Building
As a cast member and competitor on Survivor, Wendell had to put his building skills to the test, only without the tools and access to advice that he prefers.
“I’m someone who will never, ever think that I know everything, so I always look to my mentors and to people that are better than me or who have done it first,” he says, noting that that holds true within his role on Hot Mess House, too.
While Wendell never went through any kind of formal training, he relied on YouTube videos (which he jokingly refers to as YouTube University) and his mentors.
“I have a great mentor here in Philadelphia,” he says. “He’s an older guy who has been building for a long, long time. And he even has mentors. So if I ever have questions or need help with builds, I’ll go to him.”
Another place he’ll turn? To the craftsman universe that he’s a part of in Philly.
“I’ve made some good [craftsman] friends, some of whom I’ve tapped to help out with the show,” he says. “When I can’t do it all, they’ll come in and help me with mechanical, they’ll help me with steel, something like that."
Wendell specifically mentions his friend Derek Weston, a builder and welder in Philadelphia as one collaborator he turns to when he wants to make sure an idea is plausible.
"If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll ask somebody or look it up. I can’t stress the importance enough of having good mentors.”
Working With Cas Aarssen
Another person who inspires Wendell in his daily job? His co-host, Cas.
“I feel so blessed,” he says. “I’m a goal-setter and one of my goals was to get on Survivor and one of my goals was to get on HGTV.” While he’s best known for his role on Hot Mess House, Wendell has also appeared on Home Town Takeover with Ben and Erin Napier, as well as Beach Cabana Royale, alongside Karla Graves and Snooki from Jersey Shore.
“And now, to be on this show with Cas — she’s an incredible organizer, she’s so great,” he says. “I’m the Robin to her Batman. She’s our fearless leader, you know, and I just think we complement each other well because we’re so different."
Where Cas declutters and works through difficult conversations with the families, Wendell puts his craftsman skills to good use to build organizational systems that will help them remain tidy in the days, weeks, months and years to come.
“I think it’s really cool because you don’t always see this kind of show on HGTV,” he says, referencing how clutter is something that we all deal with in some capacity or another.
“It pulls at the heartstrings. We deal with clients who sometimes really have things to overcome in order to have real breakthroughs with getting rid of clutter. And I think that their stories will really translate to the country because a lot of people have clutter or know someone who has clutter. And if those people watch this show, then maybe they can have these breakthroughs too.”
Life’s Biggest Lesson
Through all of Wendell’s twists and turns through life — and especially within his career — one main approach has remained front and center: To remain grateful and growth-oriented.
“I can’t discount the journey that got me here,” he says. “Every step of the way … What I love about how I view life is that I try to learn something from everyone I encounter, but I also try to gain something valuable through every experience, be it good or bad, positive or negative. I try to gain something from it.”