Bravo viewers are being treated to an inside look at the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the real estate world in Million Dollar Listing New York Season 9 and not only is the series back for another round of million dollar deals, but the deals are more complicated than ever before. In an exclusive interview with TV Deets, Tyler Whitman breaks down what it has been like filming a reality show in the middle of a pandemic, his thoughts on new agent Kirsten Jordan, and opens up about his journey of sobriety.
It’s great to be able to connect on Million Dollar Listing New York Season 9. How are you, and how have you been during the pandemic?
TYLER WHITMAN: I’ve been very fortunate. My family all stayed healthy through this and nobody got hit hard which is particularly comforting because my mom is a nurse in the South. I’m well, my family’s well, and the city is now also doing really well so it’s great to see the city coming back.
Many people thought during this time that big cities are going to fall out of favour but things seem to be already shifting. Are you finding that people are thinking of coming back to New York City?
TYLER: Oh yeah. I knew it would eventually happen but it’s nice that it happened so quickly. A lot of people thought it would be three years—that was the number people kept putting out there—before New York starts to see any activity but that turned out not to be the case whatsoever and things are amazing now. It’s really great.
This is your second season on Million Dollar Listing New York. What are some of the biggest differences between your first season and now?
TYLER: The pace of everything. My first season it was ‘go, go, go’, non-stop. This season, because of safety protocols, there was just so much more that we had to go through to be able to set up, even just for showings. There was a lot more work involved. The network took it very seriously and wanted to make sure that the crew was safe and then that everyone who was included in the storytelling were also safe. There was a lot of extra leg work, and I have to give my hat’s off to the team at World of Wonder; they adapted very quickly and got everything lined up.
The other challenge was that, for someone like me who is new to being on TV—I care very much about what people think of me [Laughs]—’Am I doing a good job?’ My first season, people saw me just getting my start. For my second season, I had this big grand vision… ‘Look at me now, look what I can do.’ Unfortunately, the world had other plans. My first season, all I thought about was the business. This season, [the pandemic] removed me from the craziness of the business insanity and I think it brought the whole cast down to very much a human level.
What was the atmosphere like during filming?
TYLER: It was different, for sure. We were all in masks and face shields, of course. Everyone had their own level of comfort and worry with what was going on and I feel like I fell in the middle of that. It was very important to me to not really hang out with people, wear a mask, and only do the necessary things. Everyone involved is very passionate about their work and their job and careers but at the same time, health always comes first.
Did you have any difficulty bringing clients on the show due to the pandemic?
TYLER: Yes. The real challenge I ran into was getting approval from the buildings [to film], however. In New York, you have to get approval and usually they open up with open arms… This year, we got a lot of pushback. Buildings were hesitant to let us in and film.
The city is getting busier. What are your thoughts on the trend of doing things virtually versus a return to in-person selling.
TYLER: I think people are always going to need to touch and feel a property before they write any big cheque, whether that’s a hundred thousand dollar cheque, or a twenty million dollar cheque. People are going to want to come, check it out, and ask us a ton of questions and that’s never going to go away. When people ask if I’m afraid of being a real estate agent [after the pandemic], I’m like ‘No.’ [Laughs]
There is never going to be a technology that replaces that but the technology does make it much more efficient.
Not only have you had to change how you are doing business but you have made some pretty big changes in your personal life.
TYLER: I quit drinking April 15, 2020 and I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since. My journey with sobriety has been a journey. It had been in the back of my mind for years and I had always been quietly trying to quit drinking and could just not do it. The more I drank, the more the life of the party that I became. I could really hold my liquor and drunk Tyler was fun Tyler. I was never aggressive or starting fights at the bar, and that was certainly my vision of what an alcoholic was. When I tried quitting, that’s when I knew I really had a problem because it felt impossible.
Did Million Dollar Listing New York have an effect on your decision to quit drinking?
TYLER: I was at BravoCon and at the Watch What Happens Live event, it was crazy. It was one big party backstage and I was brand new to Bravo. [Laughs] Although this was before I quit drinking, I didn’t drink that night and I survived, but I felt a bit awkward. One of my clients said to me ‘You learn to really love going to these things where everyone is drinking but you’ and that was an a-ha moment for me.
In that moment, I thought ‘I’m never going to be able to go to BravoCon sober again.’ [Laughs] But now, I realize that I needed to do these things sober so that I’m one hundred percent present. The reality is that BravoCon was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I was like ‘there is an insane community here’ and I don’t want to be drunk and miss all of that. No season on Bravo is promised to you.
We have a new agent this year. What was your first impression of Kirsten Jordan and what were your thoughts when you found out she was joining the cast?
TYLER: I had just taken over one of her listings and we had a few interactions leading up to her joining. I was really excited to find out it was a woman joining the cast and someone that I would be able to play with a little bit. [Laughs] I was excited to show that dynamic on camera.
If I’m being honest, it felt like Kirsten was coming off a little strong in her interactions with you at the beginning.
TYLER: It felt that way to me too. [Laughs] We both felt like the new kids. I had only been on for a little bit and she was brand, brand new. There was this nervousness and a little bit of fear and when that happens, it can be easy to overcompensate and I think we were both overcompensating there. But we moved on pretty quickly and we’ve actually formed quite a beautiful friendship.
On an earlier episode this season, you reached out to Kirsten and apologized for your part in any conflict. Was there anything in particular that brought that on?
TYLER: It was my sobriety. It was so new at the time, and through the work that you do through sobriety, you look back at the behaviours that come along with addiction and there were some people that I was thinking about that I had overreacted to and she was one of them. That happened right in the middle of COVID and I recorded it myself. I was nervous when I called her but that was the phone call when I realized that we could actually be real friends.
In addition to Kristen joining, Fredrik Eklund is splitting his time between New York and Los Angeles. What is your relationship like with Fredrik and did you miss having him around at the beginning of the season?
TYLER: I don’t know why this happens, but we never really have done business together. I don’t have that much of a relationship with him, or Steve [Gold]. Fredrik has been sharing his sobriety journey [on the show] and he does reach out to me occasionally to check on me and how I’m doing. It has nothing to do with the show and more just him being a good person.
Ryan Serhant is having a big year, branching out with his own company. What is your relationship like with Ryan?
TYLER: I definitely admire and respect him as an agent. What he has built is incredible and I’m very impressed by his work. I reach out to him about work and he’s very generous with his information. Because of that, we’ve built a pretty good relationship. We’re in contact pretty routinely.
I read that you have some pretty cool aspirations outside of the real estate world.
TYLER: Having a talk show has been a lifelong dream of mine, even before I became a real estate agent. I always wanted to have a show in the vein of Chelsea Lately but somewhere we could cuss. [Laughs] As I’ve gotten older, the vision is that I would love to interview great people who have done really inspiring things.
It’s evolved from being funny and inappropriate to something that would really make people feel things and laugh.
Million Dollar Listing New York airs Thursdays at 8pm E.T. on Bravo. To learn more about Tyler Whitman and Season 9 of Million Dollar Listing New York, be sure to visit Bravotv.com and follow Tyler on social @TylerWhitman.