Kyle Barisich is no stranger to the limelight — but now, his commanding presence is gracing a new stage.
After decades as a performing artist, acting on Broadway and elsewhere, Barisich began a new career as a real estate agent with The CeeJack Team at Compass in July. The actor-turned-agent has lived in Sag Harbor for nearly 10 years and made a name for himself in the theater world as the first actor of Latino heritage to play the role of Raoul during the 25th anniversary Broadway run of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
With many theatrical productions having been on hold for months as a result of the pandemic, Barisich decided to shift his talents to his burgeoning interest in real estate. Fortunately, the timing was just right for him to bring his social media and marketing skills to The CeeJack Team, co-led by Jack Pearson, whom Barisich had been close friends with for years.
In a phone conversation with Inman, Barisich said, as an actor, he was used to having to navigate lulls in employment. But when the pandemic rolled into New York City, the situation was a little different.
“That’s a constant state of being an actor,” Barisich told Inman. “You’re always looking for the next job. So, we’re used to being journeymen and having periods of unemployment, periods of excessive employment, periods where you’re too busy, so we’re used to that ebb and flow … But when you’re looking down the barrel of a full year, maybe two full years without normal employment or regular theater or theater that pays decently so you can earn your insurance weeks and maintain your health insurance, that’s a whole different ball of wax.”
So, during shutdowns, Barisich turned to his typical strategizing mode. “It was a time to just look at my options and think on my feet like I normally would,” he said.
About a year ago, Barisich had actually gotten his real estate license after a friend who had also made the transition from performing arts to real estate encouraged Barisich to do the same.
“And then maybe someday, maybe someday in the far-off future, you could sell real estate in the Hamptons where you live part-time,” Barisich’s friend told him.
“Well, that ‘someday in the Hamptons’ happened a little sooner than I expected!” Barisich said.
So, while Barisich was sheltering-in-place in his home in Sag Harbor, he figured it was the perfect time to let his Hamptons real estate friends know he was available.
“And my very good friend Jack Pearson, who is a long-time established agent out in the Hamptons and very successful said, ‘Oh my gosh, we are so busy — we need you badly,’” Barisich said. “And really, within like a week I was up and running, just because it was so clear what this team in particular needed. They were so busy as so many of these second-home and suburban markets became, in various places around the U.S., very busy with real estate business during the pandemic.”
With experience not only keeping a social media presence as an actor, but also maintaining social channels for ticket exchange and resale company StubHub one year during Broadway’s annual BroadwayCon event, “I kind of spoke a little bit of the language [of social media],” Barisich said.
Therefore, while The CeeJack Team was busy with clients eager to snatch up property in the Hamptons, Barisich quickly found his place on the team helping cover social media and marketing efforts.
“[I was] feeling so lucky that not only was I finding a way to pay my bills and keep that going, but that I could reconnect to something that I had been passionate about that was waiting for a time in my life to blossom, and here it was in a really surprising way,” Barisich explained.
Barisich added that one of the reasons that he was interested by real estate initially was the social aspect of developing relationships with clients and taking them on the journey of finding their home. But, with few in-person interactions these days, he said it’s a part of the job that he feels he’s missing out on a bit.
“There’s just a little bit less of that since so much of this is virtual now,” Barisich said. “And you miss that — you miss the social aspect.”
While real estate is now a big part of his life, Barisich is still staying as involved in the theater world as possible. He continues to teach acting on the side (there’s been more demand, particularly as summer camps were closed this year) and leads a weekly Zoom sing-a-long program put on by the Hamptons’ Bay Street Theater called ‘Sip and Sing.’
“I’ve always been like, not a Renaissance man, but I’ve had a lot of varied interests over my life, so I like to do lots of different things,” Barisich explained. “So it works out for me.”
With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, Barisich hopes that his future will see him continuing to balance real estate in the Hamptons with performing in New York and Long Island. But he anticipates the return of live performances will be a slow and complicated one.
“Even with a vaccine on the way, I don’t think Broadway’s looking at a full return this year because it depends on tourist traffic,” Barisich said. “It doesn’t just depend on the safety in the building or the health of the people backstage, it depends on tourist business. Will people feel like making a trip to New York and crowding into a theater? There are all sorts of variables that I don’t think a vaccine finishes the answer to that question, so I’m doubly thankful because I think it will be a turbulent return of the arts. So, I’m kind of looking at real estate this year as my main go of it and I’m excited about that.”
Even though the future still has its uncertainties, Barisich is convinced his actor’s optimism will see him through.
“No one’s more optimistic than an actor,” Barisich said. “Actors will — after 100 rejections — actors will go in again and think, ‘this could be the one [when] I hear the yes.’ We’re always optimistic. So, I don’t see this an an end to something, or something that is unfortunate, this is just how things are. I’m making the best of it, and having a great time, and doing work that I love doing that is appreciated. That feels good.”