Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 11, 2023

It’s all about attending to clients’ needs

McCarty works dual careers as Realtor, publicist

Nancy McCarty is an active Hollywood publicist and a Realtor in the greater Chattanooga area. She likens her representation of well-known celebrities to assisting homebuyers and sellers who need a knowledgeable agent on their side. - Photograph provided

As a publicist to Hollywood stars, Nancy McCarty has learned the value of a referral. To illustrate, she twists her right hand into an imaginary phone and recreates a conversation she had with a client in 2005.

“Hi, Nancy, can you help Jeff? He has a guest role on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’”

“I’d be happy to assist your boyfriend,” McCarty says into her pinkie.

The caller was referring McCarty to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played Denny Duquette, the ill-fated love interest of Katherine Heigl’s Izzie Stevens on the ABC television medical drama. At the time, the role of the villainous Negan in “The Walking Dead” – the part that cemented Morgan’s fame – was more than a decade off and he was still a little-known actor with a string of brief stints behind him.

As Morgan’s publicist, McCarty served as the liaison between the actor and the media. She was still representing him when “Grey’s” showrunners killed off Duquette in a tearjerking farewell.

“While we were doing interviews on the street the day after that episode aired, people were stopping and staring at him as if they were looking at a ghost,” McCarty, who was present during the filming of the episode (and snagged the hospital bracelet his character wore during his death scene), laughs. “I remember them saying, ‘Thank God you’re alive!’”

McCarty’s experiences in PR have also taught her the importance of doing excellent work. After laboring in Los Angeles as an assistant and then a junior publicist for nine years, McCarty signed her first client – Adam Goldberg, who was appearing in the 1996-1997 television series, “Relativity.”

McCarty says her rigorous efforts for Goldberg opened a spigot that flowed for years and added well-established celebrities like Giovanni Ribisi (“Sneaky Pete”), Jason Lee (“My Name is Earl”) and Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) to her stable of clients.

“One client became four clients, and since then my business has relied on word-of-mouth. Since I’m not a good cold caller, I have to excel.”

In another testament to McCarty’s talents, many of her clients have relied on her services for years and through transitions in their careers. Among them are Debra Jo Rupp, who’s perhaps best known as the excitable Kitty Forman on the FOX sitcom, “That ‘70s Show,” and the Netflix series, “That ‘90s Show.”

While McCarty could drop enough celebrity names to keep a cleaning service sweeping well into the night, she says she mentions these and other actors (she also circled Drew Barrymore during her transition from wild youth to respected actor) merely as examples of how her work as a publicist prepared her for a separate business venture she began six years ago – real estate.

McCarty took her first step on this journey when her son, a Baylor School graduate, announced he was going to skip college and become a licensed Realtor instead. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll do that, too,’” McCarty recalls.

After McCarty earned her license, she called Gina Sakich, owner of Better Homes & Gardens Signature Brokers in Chattanooga, and asked if she could join the firm. She picks up her imaginary phone again as she mimics Sakich saying, “Welcome aboard.”

Since then, McCarty has gradually built a flourishing residential real estate business through her application of a strong work ethic and the experience her years as a publicist have afforded her.

“I work too much,” McCarty admits with a laugh. “But you have to be available around the clock in real estate. You’re on a timeline; there are deadlines and you can’t miss any beats, or your clients will pay the price.”

McCarty currently represents clients in the greater Chattanooga area. She says she especially enjoys working with new construction, as it’s a privilege for her to help usher in a new chapter in a client’s life.

“New construction allows for a world of possibilities,” she says, her smile widening. “You can feel it in every room. To help a buyer move into a house they can make their own is exciting.”

McCarty can often be found cozied up to a new G.T. Issa home Sunday afternoons in her role as an open house agent for Sakich. Many of the dwellings are move-in ready, while some of them are still under construction.

McCarty says the latter are some of her favorite open houses to host. “Many agents prefer to do an open house after the builders are finished, but I’ve been known to show newly framed homes in my tennis shoes. I love the smell of new construction, and have even been found sitting on the edge of the bathtub as I work.”

Whether McCarty is selling a $100,000 house or a $1 million house, she says her goal is to treat each transaction as seriously as she treats her ongoing work as a publicist, she says.

“When an actor is moving their TV series, their livelihood is on the line, so I take what I do for them seriously. I approach my work with buyers and sellers with the same intensity. They’re making what could be the biggest investment of their life and deserve my care and respect.”

As with PR, McCarty says she’s enjoying the fruits of her labor in the form of a steady stream of referrals. She calls this the biggest compliment she’s received as a Realtor.

“I’m grateful to my buyers and sellers ... for their trust in me and for helping me to become a multimillion-dollar producer,” McCarty gushes in a March 2023 post on Facebook. (See “Nancy McCarty Realtor at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.”) “I could not have done this without you.”

McCarty says she also couldn’t have reached any of the milestones in her life without her family, which owned Signal Mountain Cleaners for 55 years and nurtured the work ethic McCarty says defines her and enables her to prosper in two fields.

While growing up in Hidden Brook and attending Girls Preparatory School, McCarty cut her teeth babysitting and working at the cleaners. She also developed an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as an appetite for independent thinking, she adds.

The appearance of a stepfather who had attended the University of Southern California sparked an interest in sports, and McCarty became a fan of L.A.’s teams. Trips to Atlanta to watch the Dodgers and Rams play only turned up the heat on her passions, and she set her sights on USC.

McCarty made it there by her junior year and settled in as a sports communications major. After completing internships with the Clippers and the Lakers, she found work as an audience usher at the television studio where “The People’s Court,” “The Joan Rivers Show” and other series were filmed.

McCarty remained in L.A. after graduation and secured a job as a receptionist at an entertainment PR firm in 1988. This began her slow and perseverant climb that culminated in her debut as a junior publicist in 1997.

While L.A. was rewarding for her business, it would have been a disagreeable place to raise her son and daughter, McCarty says, sounding charitable. So, in 2007, she packed her bags and her children and returned to the Chattanooga area.

“I loved living in L.A. but my entertainment career was pulling me in several directions. My children were 12 and three at the time, and I didn’t see any advantage to raising them there. It’s too big, too fast and there’s no sense of community.”

Living and working 2,100 miles from Hollywood in the days before the words “virtual” and “Zoom” were even a whisper on a stiff breeze challenged McCarty. She rose to the occasion, however, and in 2010, she launched her own firm, CORE Public Relations Group.

Today, McCarty works as both a publicist and a Realtor, although the actor’s strike is allowing her to build momentum in real estate.

“I love Chattanooga,” she says. “I moved back because I believed this would be the best place to raise my kids, but to also be able to welcome new families from California, Colorado, Washington State and elsewhere and share my community with them is a treat.”