Olympic Training, Ballet, Real Estate — Now, ‘Kendra Sells Hollywood’

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At 15, after a profession as a embellished nationwide rhythmic gymnast coaching for the Olympics, McKenzie Ryan determined it was time for a profession change, although she was nonetheless in highschool.

“Once I was 15, I principally retired as a gymnast. I had a very, actually nice profession … however I beloved performing. I beloved competing. I beloved profitable. However what I beloved essentially the most was the limitless potential [in real estate]. I could possibly be as wonderful as I needed to be, and all of it was as much as me,” Ryan informed Inman.

“And so I actually checked out it as a really knowledgeable resolution … and anytime I’ve ever stated I needed to do one thing, and informed my dad and mom about it, it’s resulted in unbelievable success. And so I stated, ‘I wish to study actual property,’ they usually stated, ‘OK, go for it.’”

Going workplace to workplace, writing private letters, sending out her resume, providing summer season assist, Ryan stated she labored two internships each summer season at several types of brokerages.

“I needed to construct this MBA for myself the place I labored in residential, I labored in business, I labored in leasing, I labored in workplace growth. So by the point I turned 18 and obtained my license, I had this unbelievable depth of information of all these several types of actual property, so I can at all times serve my shoppers,” Ryan stated.

“I do know it’s arduous for lots of people to conceptualize a 15-year-old doing that. However it’s important to take into consideration the athletes that we see on TV within the Olympics who’re so pushed and so targeted, and that’s how I used to be.”

On Friday, Max viewers will get to see a lot of Ryan’s arduous work come to fruition on Kendra Sells Hollywood‘s Season 2. (Max, previously HBO Max, debuted on Might 23, 2023, bringing collectively HBO and Discovery+ content material, together with reveals from HGTV, TLC, ID, Magnolia Community and extra, from Harry Potter and Succession to 100 Day Dream Residence and Christina On The Coast.)

When you’re unfamiliar with the present, Season 1 Chronicles the profession of Kendra Wilkinson as she launches her profession with Ernie Carswell & Associates, a Douglas Elliman crew that launched within the ’90s and boasts 24 brokers on its web site.

Wilkinson is greatest identified from her Playboy days as Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend on the E! actuality present Ladies Subsequent Door, circa 2005. However she’s accomplished loads of TV and a few movie, together with VH1’s Marriage Boot Camp: Actuality Stars, the place she and former husband, Hank, tried to reconcile marital points after his affair, alongside Jersey Shore‘s Mike “The State of affairs” Sorrentino, his spouse Lauren, and different actuality TV stars of the day.

After a tough divorce, Wilkinson obtained her actual property license in 2020 as a approach to offer for her two kids, son, Hank, and daughter, Alijah. As viewers see within the first season, Wilkinson has to show herself to shoppers and colleagues and study to suss out individuals’s precise motives whereas attempting to get new shoppers. Judging by the Season 2 trailer, this time round Wilkinson’s Playboy previous makes a giant comeback.

Group members Spencer Daley, Michael Feld and Pia Wolfe all play considerably advisory roles to Wilkinson as she comes up in opposition to problem after problem in a sequence of latest agent firsts beneath the management of Ernie Carswell. 

Becoming a member of the solid this season, McKenzie Ryan, a self-described “badass powerhouse actual property dealer from New York” and “powerful woman,” will convey her New York grit and road smarts out to LA. She’s additionally bringing a wealth of information that she’s amassed by way of years of interning and dealing at numerous brokerages over the previous 16 years.

“I had this very private second myself, the place I’m driving to the again hills of Beverly Hills to go do that dealer’s open home, and I’m this 30-year-old girl. And I labored day-after-day of my life since I used to be 5. And right here I’m, like, arriving.” – McKenzie Ryan

Over these years, Ryan’s been named a high New York Energy Dealer by Forbes; appeared repeatedly on CNN and in The New York Instances, The Wall Road Journal, Enterprise Insider and different publications; and garnered 65,000+ followers on Instagram. 

In 2021, with a marketing strategy titled, “Elevation and growth at Elliman 2022,” Ryan moved to Douglas Elliman after a five-year stint at Compass. She offered almost $28 million of actual property in 2022, in line with a spokesperson. Presently, Ryan runs a crew of seven in New York Metropolis and is engaged on getting licensed and constructing a crew in California. 

Inman sat down with Ryan on Monday to get the Actual Tea on all the pieces from her Olympic coaching days to her ardour for the NYC skyline to what’s happening on Season 2 of Kendra Sells Hollywood. What follows is the interview, which has been edited for size and readability.

Inman: What’s taking place in your world?

This week, I shall be itemizing my largest home in New York for $18 million. And I’ll even be making my debut on tv on Max, which may be very thrilling … I’d by no means conceptualized it as a actuality for me to be on TV on this trend with HBO, and I believe the universe simply at all times works itself out. So right here I come.

McKenzie smiling earlier than the open home, as seen on Kendra Sells Hollywood, Season 2. | Courtesy of Max

So that you’ve by no means accomplished TV?

Nicely, I spent a number of time on TV as a child. I used to be a toddler prodigy, athlete and star and in addition very lovable. [Laughing] Very candy wanting and angelic, so I spent a ton of time in entrance of the digicam.

Additionally, two books have been written about me from that interval from Random Home. So I used to be consistently on reside TV and in addition performing in entrance of hundreds of individuals and in addition competing, continuous. So in that trend, sure.

I blossomed my social media self in 2018, which actually wasn’t a lot out of my love for social media, however my longing to have an actual voice in actual property, not simply as a dealer, however as a younger girl of coloration.

I’m 31 now, however after I began in actual property, now we have to go approach again to … I began after I was 15. And so, to be an adolescent after which to even be a younger feminine after which additionally a younger feminine of coloration, I needed to differentiate myself, be taken significantly and construct a critical profession … that was significant not simply to me however helped construct and trailblaze a path for others as effectively.

And in order that’s a really long-winded approach of claiming, no, I haven’t been on different main streaming platforms earlier than, however I’ve spent a very good quantity of my time not simply in public, however actually sort of within the highlight.

Actual property in highschool — at 15. How does that occur?

It originates in my longing to win gold medals and go to the Olympics. So whenever you’re on that sort of path as an adolescent, it doesn’t simply go away. It’s not such as you sooner or later are like, Alright, I’m content material. So I’ve all these medals. I’ve books. I used to be on TV on a regular basis ….

The truth is, it really grows to a degree the place you actually wish to discover your lifelong path and fulfill your future. It’s not a lot about profitable medals anymore or being named No. 1. It’s about having an impactful function on this world and serving to change individuals’s lives for the higher by way of actual property.

“Once I was 15, I principally retired as a gymnast, and I had a very, actually nice profession … however I beloved performing. I beloved competing. I beloved profitable. However what I beloved essentially the most was the limitless potential. I could possibly be as wonderful as I needed to be, and all of it was as much as me.” — McKenzie Ryan

And so, round that point I’d taken a New York Metropolis historical past class at school, and I actually fell in love with New York’s structure, its historical past, its unbelievable panorama … In New York, it’s such a tricky, aggressive metropolis, which excites me.

Now, with capturing, you’re going backwards and forwards between LA and New York Metropolis. How do you determine your time?

I take advantage of my 24 hours in a day actually properly. And I’m very diligent about my time. I spend nearly all of my time in New York, however I spend a number of my bodily time right here.

I spend a number of time when it comes to networking, when it comes to strategic constructing and enterprise growth on the West Coast, and constructing out partnerships and networking in a really considerate and totally different method that doesn’t essentially require me to bodily be there however permits me to conduct enterprise there. So I’ve brokers who’re in California anytime we have to do showings or get homes prepared and issues like that.

You’re beneath the Douglas Elliman umbrella, and so is Kendra Wilkinson. How do you slot in on the present?

Nicely, I haven’t seen it but. It’s so humorous, I’m excited to see it with the remainder of the world … what develops all through the present essentially the most is these unbelievable storylines of how we’ve all gotten into actual property and have all come from these utterly totally different locations.

[There’s] my athletic background and Kendra’s background as a former Playmate, and the way we’re all present on this one area collectively and attempting to work alongside one another to greatest serve our shoppers and promote numerous wonderful actual property.

By way of how I match into the present … [I’ll be] this type of New York presence, however I believe additionally bringing unbelievable variety and background to the present and — not simply LA and Beverly Hills — however to the true property trade, interval.

I’m certainly one of possibly three luxurious brokers of coloration who sells in Manhattan, and who’s ranked high 3 p.c nationwide … I believe my function actually transcends simply the true property world. I believe what I’m right here doing is displaying folks that anybody could make it irrespective of the place you’re from.

And I believe Kendra additionally, apparently sufficient, along with her background reveals individuals you can make it, even with all kinds of storylines.

I’ve adopted her profession for the reason that Ladies Subsequent Door days. How’s she doing?

She’s a tough employee and a lot of this enterprise is displaying up, caring and doing what we do for the proper causes. And I believe it’s important to have a number of integrity, and I believe it’s important to have a very unbelievable quantity of dedication and power.

When you’ve got these issues and psychological toughness and fortitude, it makes this fairly often down, difficult, rigorous enterprise much more steady and balanced. And the longer you’re in it, the extra steady you might be.

Completely. So the season comes out Friday. What can viewers anticipate?

It’s going to be a very attention-grabbing solid of personalities and backgrounds and tales and attending to see the true facet of actual property, to be sincere, which isn’t at all times simply multimillion-dollar houses and offers and commissions. You’re actually seeing the true facet of what it takes to be an actual property agent.

And never simply getting a primary itemizing or promoting your first place — like, what it emotionally and mentally takes to maintain standing up and getting again up after you’ve been knocked down or informed “no” or handed over or rejected or had issues that you just labored on ceaselessly fall by way of.

It nearly breaks it down, the day-to-day emotional and psychological journey of being an actual property dealer. And it’s being delivered by way of these unbelievable characters who’re from all kinds of backgrounds and have all kinds of tales and are interacting with one another on this very actual area.

You’re going to see my actual facet; you’re going to see issues that I’ve labored by way of — and I’m nonetheless challenged by. I’m not simply this good modern, can-do-anything, gold-medal-wearing actual property dealer. I’m an actual one that’s been by way of all kinds of setbacks, and I believe it’s a very stunning have a look at the true facet of what’s required to be an excellent actual property dealer — and in addition a superb individual.

Within the scene in Season 1 the place Kendra goes on her first actual property assembly … she pulls as much as a stunning house, takes out her tooth straighteners (presumably) and modifications her tennis sneakers to heels. She’s simply so relatable; it’s very compelling as a viewer.

Yeah, I take into consideration that second … and I had this very private second myself, the place I’m driving to the again hills of Beverly Hills to go to this dealer’s open home, and I’m this 30-year-old girl. And I labored day-after-day of my life since I used to be 5.

And right here I’m like arriving — and never simply bodily arriving there, however nearly this type of out-of-body and really emotional sense of like, Wow, I must cease and take it in as a result of I’ve made it to the Mount Olympus that I’ve at all times had in my head. And it’s actual!

It’s a really actual factor to make your goals come true. After which to have it’s on digicam and validate all the pieces that goes together with that — it was a very fascinating expertise for me as a result of it’s taking place all in real-time.

“I’m not similar to this good modern, can-do-anything, gold-medal-wearing actual property dealer. I’m an actual one that’s been by way of all kinds of setbacks, and I believe it’s a very stunning have a look at the true facet of what’s required to be an excellent actual property dealer — and in addition a superb individual.” — McKenzie Ryan

Do you’ve got a pit, that means a low level, of your profession?

It’s not a lot any particular second, however it’s the instances in my life after I don’t rise up for myself after I ought to that hassle me essentially the most. I believe it’s as a result of a number of my life has been formed as being an outsider.

I’m the youngest of three children. So, I’m biracial, my dad’s African American, my mother is white and Jewish and my siblings are white. And so in my very own world, [people questioned whether I fit in with my own family]. Was I adopted? Was I their pal? Who is that this random individual?

All the faculties I went to, I didn’t slot in. And I believe a number of my life had been formed by simply attempting to get together with individuals and wanting to slot in and having to take criticism from individuals who might not have identified what my race was or might not have identified my background, whether or not it was, you understand, being hated as a result of I’m African American, or then on the opposite facet, individuals not realizing I’m African American, or individuals not realizing I’m white.

And so only a fixed barrage of taking stuff and letting it go since you can’t get too caught up.

A lot of my expertise has been holding a smile on and attempting to get by, and it’s good in lots of senses. However there are different moments the place you actually do want to face up for your self and be powerful and my largest errors in my profession have been after I haven’t accomplished that in instances after I actually wanted to, and it’s lived with me and haunted me.

I believe there are occasions on this present after I ought to take a stronger stand, and there are occasions in my profession after I ought to have taken a stronger stand, however both for the sake of not being combative or not beginning a combat, I didn’t. And that stuff bothers me lots. So, these are my largest errors. My lowest moments.

It’s powerful whenever you simply wish to slot in and also you wish to get by as a result of … I take lots that I in all probability shouldn’t. However then once more, I don’t get caught up in a number of issues, both.

“It’s so vital, particularly nowadays, that we simply take into account what every individual could also be going by way of in their very own lives and simply have humanity for all the pieces that we see, expertise and encounter on the market … All of us wish to really feel a way of belonging and care and love on this world.” — McKenzie Ryan

What was your high second, your ‘peak’ of the season?

It’s really an interview that I get emotional speaking about. What it’s been prefer to be an outsider in my life and an outsider on the planet … that has created a lot power and but a lot ache on the identical time that I’ve utilized in so many various methods to sharpen my edges or to have the ability to empathize and relate with individuals … That was a really liberating second for me to simply be actual about what it’s prefer to not be accepted and to probably not be needed, and the way that’s been a serious driver in my profession and my success.

Talking of being an insider, didn’t Fredrik Eklund do the identical factor? (He was an NYC agent after which turned bi-coastal in LA, and he wasn’t obtained very effectively by the opposite brokers, particularly on MDLLA.) How is that going for you?

I don’t take into consideration too actually because, to give attention to different individuals means giving freely my very own psychological capability, bandwidth, time, care — all this stuff that I really want for myself and my shoppers and for the work that I do.

It’s powerful whenever you’re blatantly seen not as a human being, however as knowledgeable you simply must restrict your emotional publicity to a number of it as a result of, candidly talking, persons are caught up in their very own melodramas, their very own obsessions and their very own craziness. So I simply attempt to focus and keep in my very own lane. And I’m not massive into the cleaning soap operas that folks create.

McKenzie sitting on the sofa in the lounge, as seen on Kendra Sells Hollywood, Season 2. | Courtesy of Max

You’ve completed a lot, however the factor about actual property of us is that after they meet one objective, they’re on to the subsequent one. So what’s the subsequent objective?

My subsequent objective is to proceed trailblazing in actual property and to really begin to pursue my nice love, which is historical past and structure. That’s the kind of actual property I promote. So I like promoting historic houses, and I like writing about them.

[My next goal is] breaking into the publishing world and beginning to publish a number of the books and manuscripts that I’ve written and revealed as New York Metropolis historical past books to assist individuals really feel New York’s unbelievable historic background and all of the wonderful buildings that construct our skyline and that drive us and create this excellent panorama. Actually exploring my very own passions and bringing these into actual life — by way of TV by way of books and literature, by way of podcasts, by way of trend. So [I’m excited about] lastly having the platform that I’ve been constructing for thus lengthy to really show all of my unbelievable abilities.

Additionally, you’re engaged on a e book in regards to the Astors and Vanderbilts. Inform me extra.

Historical past and structure are actually what introduced me into actual property after which it was powered by my athletic background. However the Astors and Vanderbilts are such central figures in constructing New York’s panorama, however extra importantly, constructing a skyline.

And so I wrote this, really, it’s my school thesis, about how the Astor and Vanderbilt actual property empires are liable for right now’s skyline. And [I’m] breaking that up into a few books that actually element New York Metropolis’s actual property historical past, particularly.

So how did we get began? We have been paving streets down on Stone Road and placing landfill within the river to provide ourselves extra actual property area. At that time, John Jacob Astor involves New York and is that this unbelievable businessman within the beaver world and begins shopping for up actual property as quick as he can, finally creating these bodily manifestations of society and constructing opera homes and accommodations and mansions.

We didn’t have any social media; there have been no Forbes 100 lists on the time. The way in which you actually communicated your wealth and standing was by way of your actual property, and who your children married — and having a house that you just have been capable of entertain in was so central to all of that.

I’m actually excited to have the ability to convey a extra informal, related, relatable voice to this historical past in order that when persons are strolling round New York, you possibly can have a look at a road, or you possibly can have a look at a constructing, or you possibly can have a look at an present mansion and be capable of actually contact it and really feel it in a approach that’s … tangible and significant. I simply love historical past. I’m a nerd.


Brokers on actuality TV get dragged typically (even by different brokers, who’re additionally on actuality TV) for not being skilled or being actors who’re in it to get well-known. Maybe Ryan would be the breath of contemporary air we’ve all been ready for. We’ll be watching. Keep tuned for extra Actual Tea on Inman.

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