Behind the Scenes With Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson
The Married to Real Estate co-hosts and Rock the Block competitors open up about body positivity, their three-part meet-cute and life in front of the camera.
Egypt Sherrod unapologetically speaks her mind.
“We’ll answer all your questions — and more,” she says with a laugh, as she and her husband, Mike Jackson, sit down with me in the lobby of the JW Marriott across from Central Park. They’re in New York — the city where they met — on a press tour. The first season of their show Married to Real Estate wrapped the week before, and season 3 of Rock the Block, HGTV’s hit competition series in which Egypt and Mike are contestants, is mid-season. It’s not yet public knowledge that Egypt and Mike were dubbed season 3 Rock the Block champions, an honor they’re (no doubt) still basking in.
The pair has generously agreed to squeeze in a chat with me between appearances on The Drew Barrymore Show and The Today Show. Live television, Egypt says, is more nerve-wracking than filming for HGTV. The award-winning Atlanta realtor is what we call an HGTV original. She’s been a host since 2012 — first on Property Virgins and then on Flipping Virgins.
Conversely, Egypt’s Married to Real Estate co-host Mike feels fine in front of a live camera (or any camera for that matter). Mike is confident, charismatic, and if you’ve seen season 3 of Rock the Block you’ve probably enjoyed watching him build pretty much anything.
It’s an exciting time for the couple. No one can deny their hard work has brought them success, especially lately. And though they were never searching for fame — “We do what we do to build a legacy for our children,” Egypt says — they accept the responsibility and sometimes scrutiny that comes with the spotlight, even when it’s not easy.
Three weeks ago, Egypt responded to a false claim on social media that she'd had plastic surgery to enhance her figure. She’d seen “trolling” comments about her weight on her social platforms before “and it hurt my feelings, but you keep moving and you keep trucking. You ignore it,” she says. On this particular day, however, Egypt decided to face the controversy head on. “If there’s a problem,” she says, “especially one that allows for growth, let’s address it. Let’s talk about it.”
She commented back on Twitter: “I didn’t … I had a baby over 40!” Then she followed up with an Instagram post setting the record straight.
Her powerful response gained immediate traction and more than 18,000 likes. People even picked up the story. And Mike backed up his wife all the way. He was driving when he saw her response, pulled over and went live on Instagram. “My goal was to remind her of how amazing she is, how beautiful she is,” he says. “What the people say doesn’t even matter.”
But Egypt makes clear her response wasn’t just in her own defense. “I was going to stand up for myself and for all women who feel attacked,” she says. “Love the skin you’re in. We’re here and we’re healthy, and we should learn that. As many people as we've lost over the last few years, we should just be happy we’re here — whatever shape that may be.”
On the couch next to Egypt, Mike nods in agreement. They glance at each other. They smile, and it’s obvious I’m sitting in front of a couple who keeps their romance alive — though they’re open about the fact that their relationship (or any relationship for that matter) takes work. It’s all about trial and error, Mike admits. They’re raising kids together, running a business together and filming together.
And throughout it all, they’re doing the best they can to stay real — which is exactly what they did during our 30-minute interview. The ensuing conversation was peppered with lots of laughter on their end and lots of finishing each other's stories. (“Can I tell this part?” Egypt asks Mike as he recounts the second of their three meet-cutes.)
So what does life look like for Egypt and Mike now? They told us everything.
On Their HGTV Accomplishments
HGTV: You’ve had so much success with season 1 of Married to Real Estate, and now you’re getting even more exposure on Rock the Block season 3. How do you both stay grounded?
Mike: First and foremost, we stay grounded with or without the shows regarding our marriage. It’s a lot of communication, and we have an amazing support system. When I say support system I mean family: my mother; her mother; my aunt; uncle Mark, who’s in our show; cousin David. We have all hands on deck — everyone wants us to succeed. It’s amazing.
Egypt: I think it’s also remembering our reason why. We’re definitely not doing this for fame. We’re doing this to build a family legacy, and we have an opportunity with such amazing platforms to create something much larger. I also think we’ve lived in our skin a bit. You live a little bit, get a little seasoned. I think you start to recognize humility and gratitude go further.
On Balancing Family and a Career
HGTV: A lot of people want to be able to balance family and a flourishing career, and you both seem to do it all. What advice do you have for other working parents?
Egypt: Number one is definitely to recharge your batteries. Whether it’s getting a massage weekly, getting a pedicure, taking time to meditate, gardening. Whatever feeds you and brings you peace, it’s important to nurture that, because without balance, nothing is going to work.
Mike: We consistently do a lot of planning where we sit down and see what our schedule is going to look like. Be on the same team. Create the support system of family members and friends, and bring them in. In this day and age, it’s hard with kids, trying to run a business and make it happen.
Egypt: It takes a village. We’ve been blessed to have our family and friends that we’ve made family.
On Social Media
HGTV: Social media played a pretty big role in the inception of Married to Real Estate. In a recent interview with HGTV, you even said the positive response you got on social media during the pandemic is what gave you the idea to shoot a sizzle reel for HGTV. How do you both stay real on social media and in front of the camera in general?
Egypt: Honestly, all that — TikTok, Instagram — was a catharsis for us. With all that was going on in our life and in our world, let’s have some fun. Let’s make people laugh. That’s how we approached our social media accounts. It’s therapy. It’s fun, crazy therapy. And, when everybody got holed up because of the pandemic, we too were homeschooling our kids, running our business on one end of the kitchen counter, schooling our kids on the other. It was a zoo in our house. Mike said, "Babe, we need to film this. If for nothing else to make people laugh." Our goal was always to just relate, give people a reprieve and make people laugh. And people loved the realness. And we don’t know any other way to be but real.
Mike: The question was how do you keep it real? Just keep it real! Be your authentic self. The reason we do it is because we know we have something to offer. I feel like we’re in a position because God said, “I need you to show the gifts that I’ve given you, so give them back in your own way.” And how do you do that? Keep it real.
On Body Positivity
HGTV: Egypt, what made you want to respond to a social media comment about your body, and why do you think body positivity is so important?
Egypt: What makes this world so beautiful is that we all look so different. If we all looked the same, that would be very boring. I just felt like it needed to be addressed — and not just for women who’ve had babies, but for women everywhere. We just have to be kinder and gentler to each other. If I’ve learned anything through the pandemic, it's to give people grace.
HGTV: Do you both talk about body positivity with your three girls?
Mike: We do. With Kendall and her height. She's 10, but she looks 15. We've been grooming her to love her height and herself. We discuss how their bodies will change and that we can't place so much emphasis on physical exterior beauty. Real beauty is inside. In service to others; in leaving a good impression; in allowing your light to shine and inspire people. What can you do to leave a legacy on the world? That’s beauty. All we can continue to say every day is, “You’re beautiful. Not just because of the outside, but because of the inside, too.”
On How They Met
HGTV: You guys were recently live on Instagram talking about how you met. Can we get the long version of your meet-cute?
Mike: I always love the long version. The long version is this. My wife and I were both in the entertainment business. We were both radio DJs. I saw her from afar at a nightclub. There were 10,000 people there.
Egypt: It was our big concert, and I was hosting the concert.
Mike: And I saw her backstage and the light was literally only on her. From that moment on, I knew she was my wife. I told the security guard to let me back there, because I needed to talk to someone.
HGTV: Egypt, you had no idea?
Egypt: No, I come to the top of the steps and see him staring as if I’m supposed to know him, and he says, “Excuse me, can I talk to you for a minute?” Then he ran what I thought was a line on me. He said, “There was a light shining on you like I was supposed to meet you.” And I’m like, “Guy, can you just move out of my way?”
HGTV: Mike, were you nervous to go talk to her?
Mike: No. No, because I knew. I was like that’s her.
Egypt: [Laughing] It was so weird, though.
HGTV: Egypt, did you think he was cute?
Egypt: I instantly thought he was attractive. I mean, come on, look at him! But I was in another mode where I was focusing on my inner work, my self work.
Mike: So, fast-forward six months later.
HGTV: Mike, had you been thinking about her?
Mike: Yeah, oh yeah. I didn’t know when, but I knew I was going to see her again. So, six months later, it’s the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. I'm on a float rehearsing, and she’s on another float. Hot day — so I didn't have my shirt on, and unbeknownst to me, she had walked past that float several times trying to get my attention.
Egypt: I’m on my float with my friend, and I look over and I just see pecs! I didn't recognize him at all. I didn't even look at his face. I just saw these pecs DJing, and I said to my friend, “I gotta get a closer look. Let’s act like we're going to McDonald's and walk past his float.” We walk by a few times, and then I hear someone call my name. My friend’s like, “The hot guy’s calling you!” I look up and I realize it’s him, and we talk a little, but he never asks for my number.
Mike: Only because she had her girlfriend with her, and I didn’t want to get shot down [again] in front of her.
Egypt: Months later — we’re almost a year from our initial meeting at this point — I’m flipping a house in Newark, New Jersey. I call my mentor because I need a contractor to help me with the roof. She calls someone for me, and then Mike and his team pull up. I come outside and I’m annoyed. I'm like, “What are you doing here? I need a contractor, and they sent me a DJ.” He’s like, “No, I'm a contractor, too.”
HGTV: Mike, did you know it was Egypt who needed help?
Egypt: Oh no.
Mike: That’s what’s so amazing about it. Each time none of it was set up.
Egypt: That was almost 18 years ago.
Mike: We went on our first date not long after our third meeting. We saw Saw in Times Square.
Egypt: [Laughing] He thought I would jump into his arms scared, and he jumped into mine.
Mike: A month later we're sitting outside of Madison Square Garden, and I turn and look at her and say, “If I ask you to marry me, will you? Not now. I'm asking that when the time comes that I finally ask, will you say yes?”
Egypt: I said, “Yeah.” And then he asked me maybe twice over the years, but it wasn't the right time. And then six years later he asked me for real over ketchup. “Pass the ketchup, will you marry me?'' And I'm like, “Did you just propose to me over ketchup?! No!'' Eventually I said yes, obviously.
Egypt: He always tells that story from day one. He says, “I saw you, and I knew you were my wife.” The thing I thought was a line, he's been saying for the last 18 years.