Former Actress Brings Lesbian Representation to Real Estate

Kristi Ambrosetti is a senior global real estate advisor and associate broker at Sotheby's International Realty.
Kristi Ambrosetti is a senior global real estate advisor and associate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty.
Rebecca Asher

Kristi Ambrosetti spent the first decade of her career traveling the world and making a name for herself as a professional actress on Broadway. That, however, all changed when she was on a break in 2011 and one of her friends suggested that she consider a career in real estate — a major departure from the bright lights of Broadway.

“I thought, ‘oh, funny,’ because throughout my whole life, people said I should be in sales,” Ambrosetti told Gay City News in a phone interview.

Maybe it was funny at first, but Ambrosetti took the suggestion seriously. She initially thought she would “dabble” in real estate, but instead she wound up spending two years as an assistant and used that time to absorb as much information as possible. She availed herself to senior brokers and picked up their smaller deals. In her off time, she read market reports and stayed abreast of the state of the real estate market.

In the end, she worked her way up to her current role as a senior global real estate advisor and associate broker for Sotheby’s International Realty. She said she is now one of the top-performing brokers in the firm.

Ambrosetti’s career change has coincided with the growth of her own family. She is married to Amy Ziff — who is part of a band named BETTY, which executed the theme song for “The L Word” — and the couple has a two-year-old daughter. Famed feminist icon Gloria Steinem officiated Ambrosetti and Ziff’s wedding.

Even as she has laid down roots and established herself in real estate, Ambrosetti never shied away from the importance of her identity as a lesbian woman. Dating back to her acting days, Ambrosetti remembers being one of a few out women in an industry rife with gay men, and she realized that parts of America were not quite as LGBTQ-friendly as others. She set out to play her own role in changing the public’s perception of queer individuals — especially women.

“I took it upon myself to share my story, to bring awareness,” she explained. “In my 20s, I would share I had a girlfriend and people would look at me very surprised.”

That issue resurfaced for Ambrosetti during her early years of working in real estate. She was once standing by a copy machine in her workplace when someone noticed a ring on her finger.

“Oh, what a beautiful ring — your husband must really love you,” the person said.

Ambrosetti responded by explaining that she had a wife, not a husband — and she felt driven to create a world where queer relationships are accepted and understood as a normal part of life. To that end, Ambrosetti has no issue with sharing details about her life when potential homebuyers interview her, though she also knows when to “read the room” and avoid sharing too much with certain people, including select international clients.

For queer folks looking to purchase a home, Ambrosetti encourages them to interview a few different brokers. Those who are in relationships, she said, should disclose the nature of their relationship and gauge the response before proceeding further.

“I would be very surprised to see someone outwardly share that they’re not supportive,” Ambrosetti said. “But on the other side of that, there are plenty of wonderful gay people in real estate.” LGBTQ brokers, she said, are typically equipped to help folks navigate tricky situations in which sexual orientation or gender identity could be a factor.

Ambrosetti also works to change the landscape for queer people in her own industry as a member of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. She looks to give back to the LGBTQ community in any way she can — including mentoring young queer people. She also spoke on a panel last year as part of a fundraising effort for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

“I take every opportunity I can to support LGBTQ issues,” Ambrosetti explained. “I believe in empowering young people and hope to see a world where young LGBTQ people can’t remember what it was like to navigate a world that we do now.”

She added, “I hope my daughter someday can sit on our front porch of our country house and say, ‘Mommy, tell me what it was like when you and mommy couldn’t get married.’”