A challenge to Bravo: Make “Million Dollar Listing” more diverse

"If they truly feel strongly about diversity, they should put their money where their mouth is," TRD publisher Amir Korangy says at event
By The Real Deal | June 21, 2019 02:00PM

From left: Amir Korangy, Jennifer Berman, Louisette Geiss, Don Peebles, Alexandra Tieu, and Kofi Nartey at The Real Deal's residential real estate showcase on Friday (Credit: Jeff Newton)

From left: Amir Korangy, Jennifer Berman, Louisette Geiss, Don Peebles, Alexandra Tieu, and Kofi Nartey at The Real Deal’s residential real estate showcase on Friday (Credit: Jeff Newton)

Amir Korangy wasted no time addressing the elephant in the agent-packed room at The Real Deal‘s residential real estate showcase on Friday: If Los Angeles’ top agents truly want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity in the real-estate industry, he said, they should start by pushing for change on their wildly popular TV show, Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing.”

“They should put their money where their mouth is,” Korangy, TRD publisher, said during his remarks for the panel on diversity at the London West Hollywood. “And either give up their place on the program for another woman or a person of color or demand that the producers of that show put more diversity on screen.”

His remarks followed criticism TRD received for initially putting together a panelist lineup that had nine males and only one female, not including the female moderator. After Tracy Tutor, an influential real estate agent and cast member on “Million Dollar Listing,” criticized TRD for not putting together a lineup representative of the industry, she called on her colleagues to show solidarity by bowing out of the event. Her co-stars on the show, Josh Altman and Josh Flagg, did so.

In a June 12 Instagram post, Korangy acknowledged the misstep, and pledged to address it. The speaker lineup was changed to be more representative of those selling some of the country’s most expensive homes. An additional panel, “The Diversity Dilemma,” was added to the programming. Don Peebles, head of the development firm Peebles Corporation, moderated that discussion, which featured Kofi Nartey, Jennifer Berman, Alexandra Tieu and Louisette Geiss.

Nartey, who leads the sports and entertainment division at Compass, said he strives to hire diverse individuals for his team.

“Different perspectives bring different experiences,” he said. “We have to engage not only with the minorities and women but we have to do it from the perspective of wanting different voices at the table.”

The concept of mentorship and the impact it can have on minorities entering the industry took center stage during the discussion. Tieu, a real estate consultant, implored those power brokers in the room who are running brokerages or teams to take on apprentices in a way that is inclusive to every person at the firm.

“If you find yourself doing mentorship at the golf course, ask yourself if that is accessible to every person on your team,” Tieu said. “If the answer is no, you probably should rethink how you’re mentoring people.”

Peebles, founder of the Peebles Corp., moderated the panel. “Opening up the doors of opportunity and putting people in positions to be successful” is critical, he said. Beyond mentoring, companies should start “seeing diversity as a value to a business.”

Korangy noted TRD‘s reporting on issues such as the gender gap at the top of the industry and the culture of sexual harassment that still persists today. He committed to continue to invest in reporting that would shed a light on bad behavior. And he issued a challenge to Altman, Flagg, and the bosses at Bravo: Don’t be selective about where and when you choose to fight for diversity.

Bravo’s hit franchise is now on its 11th season in Los Angeles. Its cast has four white males — Altman, Flagg, James Harris and David Parnes — and only one female, Tutor. The only other female in Bravo’s lineup is Samantha DeBianchi, who stars in the Miami spinoff.

Out of a total of 17 agents to have been cast in the franchise, only two are female. None is black.

“Right now, that show is all good-looking white men and two white women,” Korangy said. “I know we’re in Hollywood and people don’t like to mess with their celebrities, but I really believe this is a greater cause.”