Trojan trailblazer breaks ground for women in real estate
TITLE IX: USC alumna Tracy Tutor of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles fame embodies the spirit of the landmark anti-discrimination legislation. Women, she says, can be successful, competitive, smart — and funny.
In her workplace success and support for the empowerment of women and the LGBTQ community, Tracy Tutor personifies what Title IX represents: the refusal to accept inequity based on gender and sexual identity.
An alumna of the USC School of Dramatic Arts and member of the school’s Board of Councilors, Tutor is a powerhouse real estate agent at Douglas Elliman Beverly Hills and was named one of “Hollywood’s Top 30 Real Estate Agents in 2022” by The Hollywood Reporter. She is an author, motivational speaker and the first and only female real estate broker to be featured on the Bravo reality show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.
“Supporting any kind of discrimination,” Tutor said, “is against everything I believe in.” What Title IX stands for “is part of my brand naturally, and I don’t do anything that I don’t believe supports who I am intrinsically. I turn down opportunities for that reason, as it relates to civil rights and discrimination in school and in business. That’s what I speak about consistently. That’s what my motivational talks are about. I think it’s incredibly important — and I think we could be doing more. I think it’s about showing up.
‘Old-school way of thinking’ still exists, Tracy Tutor says
“What still exists today,” Tutor said, “is the old-school way of thinking that if we want to be successful, if we want equal wages, we have to somehow do it within the [traditional] confines of how this world works. And that’s a short-sighted way of thinking.”
When Tutor entered the business world, she said, “there was so much about having to find my ‘masculine’ self so I could walk into a room full of men and be as powerful as they were, forgetting that I was just as powerful in my feminine energy.” Women, Tutor emphasized, can be successful, competitive, smart — and funny. “Everyone should feel free to be who they are,” she said.
Tutor conveys that message in her book, Fear Is Just a Four-Letter Word: How to Develop the Unstoppable Confidence to Own Any Room, written particularly for a younger generation of women entrepreneurs — “women coming out of USC, for example, whether they be in acting, in business or in finance” — and for her own two teenage daughters.
Among Tutor’s “go-to” role models are Oprah Winfrey (“that may be kind of an obvious choice, but being a Black woman in media in the ’70s was a lot more difficult then — she’s such an example of breaking boundaries”) and Ellen DeGeneres (“I think she is incredible, losing her job because of her sexuality, then returning to Hollywood and just crushing every old idea and thought that a lesbian woman in a man’s suit on daytime is not acceptable”). Her assurance as a woman in business, however, was influenced by Tutor’s earliest role model: her father, USC alum Ronald Tutor, owner of the Sylmar-based Tutor Perini Corp., one of North America’s largest general contracting firms.
“Being a first-generation Armenian American, he got out there and fought for everything he had to build the American dream. As a child, watching him work his tail off was a big part of the beginning of my confidence. The men and women I look up to break the rules,” Tutor added. “They march to their own beat, and to me that’s more inspiring than anything.”
Tracy Tutor’s path from Hollywood — and back
Tutor’s career path switch from acting to real estate came after she graduated with a theater arts degree and briefly worked as an actor in Hollywood, before recognizing that the chances of success and financial independence in that world were a long shot.
“I wanted to control my own life, make decisions for myself and not lean on my family for financial support,” she said.
I wanted to control my own life, make decisions for myself and not lean on my family for financial support.
After 16 years of working in companies where she saw male colleagues given priority, Tutor was recruited by Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, a company with two women “in the forefront”: Susan de França, president and chief executive officer, and Dottie Herman, now Douglas Elliman vice chair emerita. Tutor considers both women mentors. “Eight or nine years later, I’m still with Douglas Elliman and I feel supported,” she said. Herman, Tutor recalled, “sat me down and said, ‘You belong in front of the camera, you could represent women in real estate on so many different levels.’ And, lo and behold, a year and a half later, I was offered the show on Bravo. That was a full-circle moment, being in front of the camera again after leaving Hollywood at 21 years old.”
What does Tutor feel about the future of Title IX and the gender equity it is meant to protect?
“The definition needs to be expanded,” she said. “It’s not just about men and women, it’s also about making sure that the LGBTQ community has the same rights and [are free from] a hostile environment.” Sadly, Tutor said, “I think there are many women who would call themselves supporters of equity for women, but then stop there. You can’t have it your way and not have it be for everyone else who suffers the same kind of discrimination.”
More stories about: Alumni, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Real Estate, Television, Title IX