Maria Victoria Andrade sips a green smoothie as we stare across our laptop screens at each other. Her hair is neatly pulled back into a low ponytail and her skin is radiant. A former professional dancer who began ballet lessons when she was eight, Andrade now dances for fun in TikTok videos, like the one she recently posted in celebration of selling a home well over asking price. The caption reads: “Selling makes me dance!”
“They call me the TikTok realtor,” she jokes when I ask her if the skills from her former life as a dancer have been useful in her current life as a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman, the leading real estate brokerage in New York City. Besides the occasional TikTok moves, Andrade’s early dance training helps her today with the agility it takes to show properties in a city like New York. “My athletic background gives me the stamina I need to keep up with the rigors of my grueling schedule,” she says.
Andrade had dreams of pursuing a career in dance stateside when she immigrated to Los Angeles from the Philippines in her twenties. Though she had toured all over Asia doing theater and classical ballet, Andrade found that dance companies in the United States were much more rigid in their training. Knowing she had to put her professional dancing dreams on pause, Andrade started work as a medical receptionist in the office of her father’s primary care physician.
Always pivoting to new opportunities, Andrade, whose educational background is in hotel and restaurant management, brought her customer service strengths to the medical administration field. Like most goals she sets, Andrade excelled in her career. “I came all the way from being a receptionist for a single physician to managing large, multiple-location private medical practices,” Andrade tells GO.
While she was learning everything about the healthcare administration field, she didn’t abandon what she calls the first love of her life: dancing. Almost unexpectedly, she found a different way to live her dream in the United States: she became a nationally recognized Lesbian Go-Go dancer, traveling from coast to coast.
“My friends and I would go to clubs and watch women performing on stage, and I was like, ‘Ok, I can do that!’ It really was my love for dance that prompted me to go for it,” Andrade says, recounting how she first found herself on stage at the Executive Suite, a Gay and Lesbian club in Long Beach, California.
“I missed that life in the Philippines of doing shows,” Andrade says, and Go-Go dancing provided her with the energy of the stage and a loving and growing fan-base. “It wasn’t anything dirty or sexual,” she says. “My friends were always there to support me. It was so much fun,” she shares, thinking about her days dancing at clubs.
When she would travel to New York from Los Angeles to visit family and friends, she would pick up Go-Go dancing gigs promoted as a “special featured performance.” Andrade danced at Shescape parties, in venues like Tavern on the Green, the Rainbow Room, and other large venue event parties for queer women. “Back then it was this big circuit of parties. Every time I traveled to New York, [club promoters would say] ‘Well, since you are here, maybe you can show up at the club this weekend for a couple of quick sets on stage,’’ she says. She became known not only for her classically-trained dance moves, but for her fashion as well. “I would always think of the best outfits—a bit provocative but also sophisticated and stylish,” she recounts.
While she climbed in popularity in the club scene, Andrade’s career in the medical field climbed too, as she went from being a receptionist to running several doctors’ offices. “As an immigrant, I had the American Dream. I was very driven and responsible, and worked hard to climb up the corporate ladder,” she says. Eventually her work brought her to New York City permanently. “My last corporate job [in the medical field] was working for a very prestigious Fifth Avenue Dermatology practice,” she says.
Andrade spent her free time traveling the world, finding herself always a bit deflated, having to return to the confines of an office. “I thought to myself there must be something else I can do because I always dread the end of my vacations.” True to form—and now in her fifties—she set out to reinvent a new career: going back to school to learn all about the digital landscape and to acquire the skills she would need to launch a social media management agency. “When I opened up my own social marketing company, my idea was to have a business that I could run from anywhere in the world,” Andrade says. And with a client roster of aesthetic practitioners who needed a beautiful and aspirational social presence, she did just that.
While the launch of her social media business allowed Andrade to travel nonstop, it wasn’t lucrative enough on its own. Knowing she would need to earn more to sustain her lifestyle, she decided to add New York Real Estate Agent to her list of titles. She originally planned on making just a couple of deals per year to supplement her income and keep her passport stamped. But now, a year into the field of real estate, she’s found a new passion: helping people from all walks of life get into their dream homes. “I enjoy that every day [as a real estate agent] is different. I have the million-dollar buyers, the half-million-dollar buyers, the renters who want to save, and the ones who will throw ten grand a month on a pied-à-terre,” Andrade says of the variety of clients she works with.
Though Andrade’s dream evolved from professional dancing to real estate, Andrade’s career moves have all been intentional to further her American dream. She attributes her methodical pursuit of goals to her immigrant roots. “As an immigrant, my life perspective growing up in a third-world country equipped me with a sense of ‘I need to knock this ball out of the park’ mentality, because I know what I didn’t have growing up, and I am grateful I now have a chance to change that.”
It’s no wonder that she’s making a mark in the real estate world only a year into her new career. For other women who are considering a career shift, Andrade has this message: “Don’t second guess yourself. Plan it out. There are people who are just talkers. They’ll say ‘I want to do this, but’ or ‘I want to do that, but… .’ There is always that ‘but!’ For me, it was worth the risk to take the leap to learn an entirely new trade in my fifties, no ifs, ands, or buts. I set out on a new path and figured out a way.”
Andrade’s Go-Go dancing performances dwindled down with the decline of lesbian clubs, but her command of social media provides her an excellent outlet for her moves as a TikTok realtor. “Aside from TikToking? I dance when I celebrate, when I’m happy, when the sun is out, when I receive good news! And when there is no good reason to dance, I dance!”