Talk about doing it all. As a full-time team leader at one of Chicago’s top real estate firms, the author of the popular blog Eat, Travel, Rock and host of the web TV series of the same name, and a contributing host at both NBC5 Chicago and VH1, Kelly Rizzo has the “Jill of all Trades” thing down. (And she just so happens to kick ass at all of her jobs).
Here, we talk to Kelly juggling her real estate career with her side gig, interviewing celebrities, her cameo in a major music video, and lots more. Get ready to be inspired by her hustle.
YOUR BLOG NAME IS PRETTY SELF-EXPLANATORY, BUT TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT HOW AND WHY YOU STARTED IT?
I’ve been a Realtor for over 15 years. Several years ago when the market crashed and then went through a divorce, I wanted to reinvent myself. I’m obsessed with food, travel, and music, so I wanted to share my passions in a creative way and on a larger scale. That, mixed with a love for being on camera, led to my blog and eventually my web series, Eat Travel Rock TV. It features my interviews of in-depth profiles of famous chefs, musical performers, and other industry heavyweights on location with no two episodes alike.
YOU ALSO RECENTLY STARTED A WEB TV SERIES, EAT TRAVEL ROCK TV. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO IN THAT DIRECTION?
For my goals of finding an audience, I felt the blog could only take me so far. My real love is being in front of the camera. Plus, my manager Chantel and I knew that we had a unique concept and could execute this series at a very high level in terms of production and booking. So we went for it and are thrilled we did because it’s been very well received. It’s now streamed on EatTravelRock.com, AOL, Amazon, Huffington Post, the Food Channel, iFood.tv and more.
YOU’VE GOTTEN TO INTERVIEW A LOT OF IMPRESSIVE MUSICIANS FOR YOUR BLOG & SHOW. WHO’S BEEN A FAVORITE?Wow, there have been so many unique personalities, it’s hard to choose. I loved interviewing Dee Snider because he’s the ultimate rock star who doesn’t hold back. I loved Josh Kelley because he was hilarious and sweet and talked forever…it’s as if he didn’t want the interview to end! Finally, I’d have to say my favorite musician “interview” was Eddie Vedder. He’s my idol, and we had more of a multi-hour chat (vs. interview) about music and life. It’s not on camera as it was more of a private moment, but that’s the most important and influential musical conversation I’ve ever had, and will ever have.
YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO PARLAY YOUR BLOG INTO OPPORTUNITIES TO BE A CONTRIBUTOR TO VH1 AND AN ENTERTAINMENT EXPERT FOR NBC5 CHICAGO. HOW DID THOSE OPPORTUNITIES COME ABOUT?
I think I have a unique combo of “on camera” ability and expertise, so those together make me a good pick to do really fun food and music related TV segments. My manager, who used to be a producer for Oprah, connected me with VH1’s team. They felt my vibe and persona was a perfect fit for VH1 Big Morning Buzz Live with Nick Lachey. I did about 15 segments with them and EVERY single one was a blast. NBC reached out to me as they felt my background and know-how of the city would be a perfect fit for a weekly column talking about my favorite food and music picks all around Chicago! And yes, I eat everything you see on my Instagram feed!
YOU’RE A NATURAL ON TV, BUT BY DAY, YOU WORK IN REAL ESTATE. WHERE DID YOU HONE YOUR ON-CAMERA SKILLS?
My mom was a model, spokesmodel, narrator, and broadcaster for years. Ever since I was little, she would always help me hone my public speaking and on-camera skills. So it’s pretty much been a part of me for decades! But practice is key, and I still feel that each appearance or episode is better than the last. I’m ALWAYS learning and trying to improve. It’s challenging but so worth it!
SPEAKING OF “ON CAMERA,” THIS YEAR, YOU MADE AN APPEARANCE IN A FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE VIDEO! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
My FGL video was in 2013, and the duo Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard are good friends of mine. I was actually driving cross-country from Nashville to LA when I got the call from their manager to be in the video. I was in New Mexico at that point and my passport was in Chicago. They needed me in Cancun 2 days later so I immediately flew to Chicago, grabbed my stuff, and headed down to Cancun for 4 days to shoot “Get Your Shine On.” They didn’t have to twist my arm!
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE PART OF A MUSIC VIDEO?
It’s definitely not as glamorous as it looks as it’s a TON of work. We had to be up at 5 am for 12 hours of shooting each day. But my favorite part was just hanging with the boys in Mexico. We had so much fun, and the crew was incredible. The video has been viewed over 20 million times – crazy!
AS WE MENTIONED EARLIER, IN ADDITION TO YOUR BLOG, YOU ALSO HELP RUN A SUCCESSFUL REAL ESTATE AGENCY. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE TWO?
Fortunately, I have my mom as co-team leader of my real estate team that we run at Dream Town Realty She keeps everything running smoothly. Gotta love moms! But other than that, it’s just what you said…a balancing act. I make sure to keep on top of responsibilities on both fronts. I’m always multitasking between scripts and listings, but it’s so rewarding.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT EACH JOB?
I love Real Estate because I love Chicago. I really get to use my deep and extensive knowledge of this city that I love so much on a day to day basis. I’ve lived in Chicago for 36 years, and real estate is so wonderful because I get to be involved with the evolution of the city from year to year. I love my Eat Travel Rock career because it truly lets me be me. I get to show the world who I really am and what I love through my fun and edgy side of my personality.
WE’VE BEEN HEARING A LOT ABOUT WOMEN WITH “SIDE GIGS”–LIKE BLOGS, ETSY SHOPS, AND SMALL BUSINESSES–LATELY. WHY DO YOU THINK THEY’RE SO POPULAR?
I think the age we live in of technology, the internet, and mainly social media has been such a game changer. People can now have full careers and gigs that exist solely in cyber space. People have really learned to take advantage of that. It’s an incredible time to be an entrepreneur, and I think new, less corporate careers and opportunities are going to be springing up left and right.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
From my dad who got this from Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind can believe and conceive, it can achieve.” And from my mom: “stand up straight” and “knock ‘em dead!”