Kendra Wilkinson rose to celebrity with her role on The Girls Next Door, the E! reality series which documented her life in the Playboy Mansion. She continued to build on that fame with her own spin-off TV shows, with the fifth season of her second show, Kendra on Top, premiering on WE tv earlier this spring. Wilkinson has had a winding route to fame, but has managed to always find a place in reality TV. What will the rest of 2016 have in store for her?
Kendra Wilkinson and Hugh Hefner
Kendra Wilkinson was born on June 12, 1985 in San Diego, California, raised in the middle class suburb of Clairemont. Her mother was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles when she was younger, and her father was a biochemical entrepreneur. Through high school, Wilkinson played softball. After she graduated in 2003, she began working as glamour model, which is a model who focuses on sexual, but not outright erotic, modeling. She also worked briefly as a secretary for a dentist.
Hugh Hefner saw one of her photos pinned to a fax machine at the Playboy Mansion, and requested she be hired as a painted girl for his 78th birthday party in 2004. (A painted girl is someone who is naked except for body paint.) Soon after, Hefner asked Wilkinson to be one of his girlfriends, and she happily agreed. At the time, Wilkinson was living in a small apartment with a roommate she didn’t care for, so she was glad at the opportunity to move into the mansion with her two dogs. In later interviews, Wilkinson explained that she wasn’t sure what the moving into the Playboy Mansion or being Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend would entail, and that her main concern was finding a stable living situation.
About a year after she moved into the Mansion, she was featured on The Girls Next Door, also known as The Girls of the Playboy Mansion. The series focused on her, and Hefner’s other two girlfriends at the time, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. It ran from August 2005 until 2010, though Wilkinson and the other two girls had moved on by the final season. Madison left because she was not able to marry or have a family with Hefner. Marquardt left to film a series for The Travel Channel.
Kendra Wilkinson, while staying at the Mansion, met her future husband and NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett. After leaving The Girls Next Door, she got her own spin-off reality show also on E!, called Kendra. The first season primarily focused on her wedding planning and her experiences living outside the Playboy Mansion for the first time since she’d moved in five years earlier. The show was created by Kevin Burns, who had been an executive producer of The Girls Next Door and became a friend of Wilkinson’s.
During the course of The Girls Next Door, Kendra Wilkinson had several appearances on other network, which helped contribute to her name recognition. She had cameos in Las Vegas and HBO’s Entourage. She also appeared in several music videos, including Akon’s “Smack That” and Nickelback’s “Rockstar,” which also featured Madison and Marquardt. Wilkinson briefly tried her own hand at rap for MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar.
Kendra premiered as the highest rated series debut E! had since The Anna Nicole Show almost a decade earlier, and ended up being more highly rated than The Girls Next Door. The show continued to rate highly for the network through its four season, eventually ending when E! became frustrated they didn’t have as much creative control as they’d prefer. When Wilkinson sold photos of her wedding to Us Weekly for $120,000, for example, the network was upset at her for redirecting attention about her from their network.
During the show, Kendra Wilkinson gave birth to her first child with her husband Hank Baskett, a boy she named Henry Baskett IV. Shortly after she gave birth, she and her newborn son moved to Indianapolis, where her husband was playing for the Colts football team. The move, combined with the stresses of being a first-time mother, caused Wilkinson to develop post-partum depression, which she spoke about in interviews, but most candidly in her 2010 memoir, Sliding Into Home.
In March 2010, an episode of E! True Hollywood Story focused on Kendra Wilkinson’s life premiered, where she spoke openly about life at the Playboy Mansion and her life as a celebrity. Two months later, in May, a video of Wilkinson having sex surfaced and was bought by a porn distribution company. Wilkinson threatened to sue if they distributed the tape, which led to the online tabloid RadarOnline reporting that Wilkinson herself had attempted to sell her own sex tapes back in 2008. They even reported that Wilkinson was paid over $600,000 for a sex tape she made with her high school boyfriend when she was 18.
While E!, as a network, isn’t shy from pursuing celebrities with some amount of controversy like Kendra’s, they were again frustrated that they weren’t the ones profiting off of the controversy, ultimately leading to the show being cancelled after four seasons, with the last episode airing on November 20, 2011.
Kendra on Top
After production for Kendra ended in early 2011, Wilkinson was a contestant on the twelfth season of Dancing with the Stars, lasting seven weeks before she was eliminated. That November, she created a blog for communicating with fans. Shortly after, she got a show on WE tv, called Kendra on Top, which premiered on June 5, 2012.
The show, which has run for four season to date, has notably focused more on her husband than Kendra had. Hank Baskett, who had been an NFL player for the term of their relationship, was retired from sports and so was trying his hand at various businesses. Early seasons followed Wilkinson as she was a contestant on Celebrity Splash and, later, Celebrity Wife Swap, where she traded places with Kate Gosselin.
The show also showed her process of recovery after she was in an automobile accident on April 20, 2013, which caused her to have a minor stroke. She fully recovered from her injuries, and on Halloween 2013, announced she was pregnant with her second child. Kendra Wilkinson gave birth to the baby girl on May 16, 2014, naming her Alijah Mary Baskett.
Later that year, she was a contestant on the British reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, where she had to live in a jungle with very few modern amenities. Perhaps surprisingly, Kendra lasted most of the season, finishing in sixth place.
What is Kendra Wilkinson Doing Now in 2018?
Kendra On Top was picked up for a fifth season, which began airing on April 1, 2016. So far this season, Wilkinson has had to deal with her grandmother passing away, which caused tensions between her and her mother. Her mother, through the show, has expressed concerns about how Wilkinson has represented their relationship.
In happier news, Wilkinson has been filming a music video, and celebrating her 7th wedding anniversary. She also made amends with Bridget Marquardt, who she lived with at the Playboy Mansion. After moving out, Wilkinson pointedly distanced herself from Marquardt and Madison, Hefner’s other girlfriend at the time. These days, Wilkinson understands that she was trying more to distance herself from Hefner’s lifestyle than the girls she knew through the Mansion.
To stay up to date on Kendra Wilkinson, you can watch Kendra on Top on WE tv Fridays at 9pm EST.