Trouble seemed to have a way of finding Katy McBrayer.
She transferred high schools, from Riverview High School’s international baccalaureate program, to Booker High School’s arts program. After high school, she lived in Austin for a while before returning to Florida to finish her bachelor’s degree with big plans to go to law school after that.
Those plans were derailed by the recession, and McBrayer found herself restless from working unfulfilling jobs, like putting on a fake smile every night while working at Liv Night Club in Miami or posing in the Dash boutique as a hired actress on the reality television program, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Shortly after that, she moved to Germany with her boyfriend, a professional soccer player. The relationship didn’t last, and McBrayer found her way back to sleepy Sarasota, the town she couldn’t wait to get away from as a teen.
“People think that being an actress or being able to spend a lot of money at the club is some kind of really great lifestyle,” McBrayer said. “But really it’s not. It’s like the golden handcuffs thing. There’s so much more out there.”
McBrayer, 28, is now a real estate agent with Remax Alliance Group in Sarasota. We sat down with her this week to learn more.
Unravel: What was it like growing up in Sarasota?
McBrayer: I moved here from Texas when I was 12. My grandparents lived here, so we knew the area pretty well. I got into some trouble while I was in high school at Riverview and eventually had to go to Booker, which I actually really enjoyed. I loved the arts programs.
I finally turned my life around after going to a mini bootcamp for troubled teens. I did so well in the program that I actually went back and was speaker to other classes. I remember being there and really resonating with what the speakers were saying. That was really my turning point. I’ve always wanted to help kids since.
From there I did much better in school. I received the Florida Bright Futures scholarship and was the featured student of the year at Booker the semester I graduated. I have a degree in political science and psychology from the University of Central Florida.
Tell us more about your life in Miami. It sounds very exciting.
After I graduted from UCF I moved to Miami. I wanted to be a lawyer and had an internship there, but I was seeing so many law students struggling to find jobs because of the recession and they had tremendous debts.
I was hired once as an actress to pretend I worked as an employee at the Dash store in Miami. I didn’t actually work there. It was so strange because the episodes wouldn’t air until like 6 months after they taped them. Honestly, I’m glad its over. We need more biographies and documentaries on TV. Something that’s actually productive and inspiring.
I also worked at Liv Night Club, which was the No. 1 night club at the time. It was insane. I worked really late into the night so my schedule was always so tough. It was a fun job and I was making a lot of money, but after a while it got old. People were so fake there. It was a tough environment to be around after a while.
And then you moved to Germany…
Yes, I met a guy while in Miami who was a professional soccer player. I moved to Germany with him for about a year. It was such an eye opening experience. It’s so interesting how people live so differently in other parts of the world. The people were so kind and good there, it was really refreshing after spending so much time in Miami. So when the relationship didn’t work out and I was going back home, I knew Miami was no longer the place for me.
So you moved back to Sarasota? Why?
I debated going back to Austin for a while, which is where I went right after high school. Austin is such a lively town with so many hungry and driven young people. It’s harder to stand out there when there are so many talented people all around you. It’s not like that in Sarasota, which is why I decided to come back here. It’s important for me to make a name for myself. It’s been really inspiring to see how many young people are doing just that here in town now. It wasn’t like that when I was in high school. I mean, look at Chelsea Elliot with La Dona Donuts and even Perq (where we did the interview.) Sarasota has grown so much. I think young people want to be here.
It’s funny because when you travel and you tell people you’re from Florida, they oogle and get so excited about it. We really do live in a great, beautiful place. I think it’s important for young people to get out there and see new places so they can really appreciate this place.
So what do you think is the future for Sarasota?
I think eventually I-75 is going to be the middle of this city. There’s much growth going on. But I also think that means eventually Sarasota will be younger. Young families are moving here and the colleges are growing. Everyone knows a little something about Sarasota, whether its the arts community, the schools or the beaches, it’s crazy.
So what made you want to be a realtor?
It was important to me to have a job where I was in control. I’m in control of my own salary and my own hours. I think that’s something a lot of people our age are interested in. It’s not about the 9-5 and staying at a company for years and years. We’re moving away from longterm jobs and don’t see any job as a permanent place.
I tried the 9-5 thing and just didn’t like being in an office all day. As a realtor I get to see the city. I drive clients around to see houses and show them parts of Sarasota. It makes me excited all over again to say that I live here.
Right now I’m just trying to build a name for myself here. It’s been really rewarding so far.
BE SOCIAL: Like Katy’s professional Facebook page.