You might think the world of reality TV is a ladies' game. But you'd be wrong. Housewives be damned; many reality shows reflect the unfortunate reality of the glass ceiling for professional women. Take the Million Dollar Listing franchise, for example. Bravo's Los Angeles original and New York spin-offs both follow a collection of realtors as they close luxury real estate deals in their respective cities. And they're all men.
But leave it to Miami to break the mold. When Million Dollar Listing Miami debuts this Wednesday, it'll introduce the first female realtor to the franchise: Sam DeBianchi, president and founder of DeBianchi Real Estate and adjunct professor at FIU. In addition to her high-end property dealings, DeBianchi earned major street cred for managing nightclubs -- so much so that she created an entirely new course at FIU called Nightclub Management.
So how's DeBianchi keeping up with the boys? With persistence, determination, and a nerdy obsession with eBay, she says.
New Times: At 28 you have your own company, DeBianchi Real Estate. It's a ballsy move for someone who's only been in the real estate game for a few years. What other ballsy moves can we expect from you this season?
Samantha DeBianchi: I think there's a few different things. I've had my company for three years and I've established myself on my own, without the help of a larger company like the boys [on Million Dollar Listing Miami] or actually any of the boys in all of the franchises. I kind of dance and do business to the beat of a different drum.
Nightclubs, real estate -- you seem to get into a lot of industries that are male dominated. How do you survive playing with the boys?
I can really point my success to the fact that I am extremely persistent. I am the most persistent person you will ever meet. When somebody actually says no to me, I don't look at that as I failed, I look at that as I need to go back, figure out how I communicated my message and recommunicate it differently... Ever since I was little, my parents gave me goals. I mean, I grew up nicely, but I always had goals. I was always competitive. I played tennis until I was four so I always had that competitive nature... Everyone's like, why are you the way you are? Even my parents ask me this and I'm like, I don't know.
When I watched the first episode, Chad mentions that he sees you as his little sister. Do you ever feel as if Chad and Chris don't take you seriously enough?
I think it's a mix of both. I've known Chad for a while. He's a very good friend of mine, Chris is as well. We're all good friends but at the same time we're competitors, especially all being on the show together. And so while I appreciate their advice -- they've been in it longer and I'm always open to more advice -- I'm still going to make the decisions on what I feel is the right thing to do, because that's how I've always done things. If I was afraid that I wasn't going to be big enough, I would join a different company. I mean, hands down I could probably get other listings and more sales in if I worked for Douglas Elliman, but I created my entire brand based on how I see real estate. How I feel it should be done.
How should real estate be done?
It should be done with a hospitality spin, which is actually caring about the person. My whole tagline is "it's about people-work not paperwork."... Real estate needs to be more focused on getting the job done than the glitz and the glamour of it, and that's definitely something you'll see on the show, 100 percent.
I see in the preview you're kind of pushing your boyfriend to pop the question. Should we expect anything this season?
You'll have to wait and see for that one, but he's still my sexy, sexy man.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Something nerdy again. I really like eBay. I think it's the fact that I just like winning, and so I'll go on eBay and I'll just bid on random things even if I don't need them. Just the point that somebody's outbid me? I guess it's a negotiating thing.
What's the most useless thing you've bought on eBay?
I wanted to get a bobble head of myself, so that's happening. And it was on eBay, they just kind of showed how you could send in the picture and they could make a bobble head of you.
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