Will and Erin Kirby conquered reality TV before starting their real lives together
Story by Brian Marks | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner
The style of reality television we’ve become accustomed to tends to focus on and celebrate the ultra-wealthy and the already famous, whose lives bear little relation to our own.
That wasn’t always the case. In the early years of the current century, reality TV showed how regular folks from all walks of life could handle extraordinary situations. It’s from that era of reality TV that Will and Erin Kirby emerged.
I speak to the couple during a late-morning visit to their cozy yet tastefully minimalist Playa Vista townhouse. They sit across from me on a stately sofa with their little Yorkshire terrier named Wriggley between them.
Fans of the long-running CBS reality show “Big Brother” might recognize Will from his star-making turn as the winner of season two in 2001.
His ambitions weren’t always set on this emerging form of entertainment, though. Will previously trained as a dermatologist.
“Like anything in life, you gravitate toward things you’re inherently good at,” he says. “I felt like I had an eye for aesthetics. I’ve always been sort of artistic, so I really like the symmetry of human beauty.”
Will took a break after finishing medical school, which helped facilitate his television career.
“For a physician, it’s an extremely non-traditional career pathway,” he explains. “It would be for anyone, but you don’t hear about physicians going on reality shows and winning, then going back to their careers.”
That non-traditional career path was also what brought Will and Erin (née Brodie) together in the first place.
Erin, who was raised in the Bay Area, is the daughter of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie. After dropping by an audition on a whim, she got a call asking her to be in Bel Air in a few days to start filming.
Erin competed on the first season of the dating show “For Love or Money” in 2003, in which she won $1 million. She appeared as the protagonist on the second season of the show, going double for nothing and winning an additional $2 million.
She attributes part of her success to different practices in the early days of reality TV. According to her, the shows didn’t require the kind of cattiness that programs like “The Bachelor” now thrive on. Erin was also less prone to drama and histrionics than other contestants.
“Because I was older than most of the girls on the show, I probably had more experience,” she says. “And I think I’ve always been comfortable around a lot of different, vivacious personalities. When things do get heated, I tend to be the one who stays more even keel — which doesn’t make for great TV, by the way.”
Following their successful reality TV stints, Will and Erin both appeared as guests on a 2005 episode of a series hosted by Kathy Griffin. The two quickly hit things off. They became engaged in 2011 and eventually married in 2017. Their son Cash was born in 2010, and a daughter, Scarlett, followed in 2012.
In the intervening years, Will returned to his passion, dermatology, though he still makes occasional appearances on medical shows like “The Doctors” and has even returned to host the jury roundtable segment on “Big Brother” for the last six years. He’s now chief medical officer of LaserAway, an aesthetic dermatology group, and considered one of the top aesthetic dermatologists in the country.
Will’s connection to Playa Vista began in 2004, prior to meeting Erin. At the time, much of the area was nothing but dirt, though he hoped to get an early foothold in the community. In 2012, he and Erin moved their family into their current home.
“One of the reasons I’m located in Southern California, and Playa Vista in particular, is because it’s really essential to the aesthetic world,” says Will. “L.A. is like the biggest aesthetic city in the world.”
That commitment to aesthetics is apparent as we tour their home. Its white walls give off a cool, clean feel, but an abundance of large windows let in plenty of warm, natural light that prevents the space from ever seeming too cold.
It’s also invigorated by little splashes of color, including pink pillows that Erin has placed on the chairs and sofa ahead of Valentine’s Day. Their space is relatively free of detritus, but Will and Erin seem to have a particular affection for some of the wooden furniture. We chat across a massive, dark wood coffee table, and later Erin shows off a striking display table in the foyer that’s made from a single tree trunk (Will is particularly fond of it).
Will’s dedication to beauty and improvement also extends to upcoming renovations. He and Erin plan to redo the roof as a gathering spot replete with a fire pit. They’re sure to have the most aesthetically pleasing view in the neighborhood.