‘Kendra Sells Hollywood’s’ Newest Castmember McKenzie Ryan Takes on L.A.
The New York-based agent, who joins the Max real-estate reality series for season two, talks about expanding her business to Los Angeles and being one of few people of color in the highest ranks of luxury home sales: "I've had to not let anything get in my way."
Kendra Sells Hollywood, the real-estate reality series, returns for season two Friday on Max, and there's a new castmember joining the ranks of the show.
Ranked in the top 3 percent of agents nationwide, Douglas Elliman's McKenzie Ryan is the latest addition to the series, which follows former The Girls Next Door star Kendra Wilkinson as she builds a career in real estate.
Ryan has been based for years in New York -- where she's currently listing a Neo-Georgian-style townhouse on East 64th Street for $18 million -- but is now going bicoastal. On the show, she is seen making her own foray into the equally hyper-competitive world of luxury Los Angeles real estate.
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"I play an incredible role on the show as this powerhouse New York broker," Ryan tells The Hollywood Reporter. "This show really came about because I've been so successful in New York and I'm now expanding into other markets, Beverly Hills being one of them. I go out [to L.A.] and show what I'm made of and bring my New York energy and my talent to Beverly Hills. You see my interaction with all these L.A. agents who have never met me before and are kind of bracing for this new level of competition that I bring to Beverly Hills and to our Elliman office. We love a little competition around here."
Ryan, who leads a team of five agents at Douglas Elliman, knows what it's like to compete under pressure and with an audience. Named by THR as one of New York City's rising stars in real estate in 2022, she's a former ballerina and competitive rhythmic gymnast.
"Prior to selling real estate, which I started when I was 15, I trained for the Olympics as a rhythmic gymnast and competed all over the country and internationally," says Ryan. "So competition and performance is in my DNA and it's one of the aspects that really set me up for an incredibly successful real estate career. There's nothing I love more than performing and winning as much as possible."
However, as Ryan relates to THR, she found success after a childhood in New York where she had experiences that made her feel like an outsider. "A lot of people don't know about my background and my past and what it's taken me to get here. So in the show, I get to talk about that. I'm the youngest of three kids. My mom is Jewish and white and my dad is African-American and Scottish, and my siblings are both white with blond hair and blue eyes and green eyes. I really grew up feeling like an outsider in my world and in the landscape of New York City. In school, people always thought I was adopted and I never fit in anywhere."
Ryan says she's been able to channel that "pain of being excluded and being made fun of and turn it into an incredible strength. It has propelled me forward. I still feel like an outsider within the context of me going out to L.A. to expand my business," she adds.
Agents of color can face numerous challenges in the real-estate world, as explored in a recent New York Times article which detailed incidents of discriminatory behavior in an industry where only 6 percent of real estate agents are Black and in which white counterparts earn incomes that are almost three times higher.
"We did a panel called Agents of Color with Douglas Elliman during Black History Month," says Ryan, "and I spoke very openly and eloquently and, you know, broke down in tears on stage just talking about what it's been like to make it to this level where I'm maybe one of three agents of color that sells luxury real estate in Manhattan and what it's been like to be rejected or passed over because people think I'm perhaps inferior or don't come from that same world of the type of buyers they are hoping to attract. And I spoke candidly about how I've had to fight my way through all of it and not let anything get in my way and keep my positivity and keep my faith in myself and in my future strong."
Ryan is currently ranked in the top 1 percent of real estate agents of color in the United States with a social media presence that includes 65,000 followers on Instagram. Up next: Ryan, who got engaged last December, is working on a book that springs from her interest in historic preservation and the history of real estate in New York. Says Ryan, "I'm going to be publishing history books about the Vanderbilts' and the Astors' real estate empires in the coming year."