Broker by day, dancer by night

'The Lion King' performer 'just can't wait' to close her first sale
By Vanessa Weiman | September 01, 2010 07:00AM

Camille Brown

Actors who wait tables are ubiquitous in New York, but Broadway dancers who double as real estate agents? Not so much.

But that could be changing. Camille Brown, an ensemble dancer in “The Lion King,” started working in real estate in April and is a part-time sales associate with Weichert-Mazzeo.

A member of the original cast of the Tony Award-winning blockbuster show (it’s now in its 13th year), Brown is on stage every night at 5 p.m. But in the hours before she hits the stage, she’s out hitting the sidewalks with potential buyers, trying to close her first sale. And in her breaks between dance numbers, she’s checking her e-mail.

It’s a busy double life. “I had a client who I showed three condos to on Sunday, and [then] I had to be at the show at least an hour before to put on my makeup and get settled,” said Brown, who dances as a firefly, a plant and a lioness in the show, and is also an understudy for the role of Sarabi (Simba’s mom).

Brown got her first taste of real estate after buying an apartment in 1997. She eventually renovated and sold that property, then bought another unit in the same building. She found herself obsessively following real estate blogs and researching properties. In June 2009, through a program called Career Transition for Dancers, Brown received a grant to go to real estate school, and started classes a few months later.

“I was thinking about it forever,” said Brown, who got her real estate license in February. “But I finally decided that it was time to just jump in.”

Contrary to starving-artist stereotypes, Brown said she’s not being forced to take up a second career because of the economy. “At this point I don’t have to make a living from it,” she said of her real estate career.

She knows other performers with second careers, including a singer/actor in the show who has just started a line of jams and jellies, and a dancer who is also a jewelry maker.

“It’s more a creativity thing than a financial thing,” Brown noted.

So far, most of Brown’s clients are fellow cast and crew members. She hasn’t revealed her night job to her other clients yet. She says that’s not because she’s trying to hide her stage identity; it’s more because she doesn’t want to showcase the fact she’s a newbie agent.

But she doesn’t anticipate her dual-career status will pose problems for future clients. “It might even be a selling point, since people come to New York because they love the theater.”

If anything, she believes her rigorous dance training will keep her disciplined in real estate, too. And, a bonus for clients: She plans to give away “The Lion King” tickets to clients that she closes sales for.