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Front Page - Friday, March 24, 2023

Chattanooga is ready for its closeup

Realtor showcases city as host of ‘The American Dream’

Realtor Kim Doremus records her debut segment for “American Dream TV” at Coolidge Park. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

As a Realtor, Kim Doremus is always ready to help her clients achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

And as one of the new hosts of the television series “The American Dream” in Chattanooga, she’s ready for her close-up.

Dressed in a black top with poofy sheer leopard print sleeves and matching black pants, she’s standing by the Blue Rhino Sculpture in Coolidge Park waiting for the cameraman to cue her to begin.

In addition to first-time jitters, Doremus is contending with a chilly March breeze and lines that would be a mouthful for even a seasoned broadcast pro. But she says she’s thrilled about introducing her hometown to viewers of the nationally distributed lifestyle and real estate show.

“This is exciting,” Doremus says as she brushes a strand of hair off her face. “I love telling people about Chattanooga but never thought I’d be doing it on TV.”

“The American Dream” is filmed in cities across the U.S. using local real estate agents as hosts and made available via syndication. It also appears on social media, where the production’s website claims it attracts millions of views monthly.

Doremus says the Emmy Award-winning production team behind the show believes Realtors make exceptional ambassadors for their cities.

“We spend our days telling people about what makes Chattanooga great,” she says. “If you want to know anything about this city, ask a real estate agent.”

Doremus might know Chattanooga like the back of her hand, but as she begins to film, she forgets her lines. She improves with each additional take, though, and before long she’s nailed her introduction.

The cameraman, real estate photographer and videographer Ryan Dugger of Creative Revolver, compliments Doremus’ performance.

“Kim is a natural,” he says after the last take. “People who have never been on camera tend to sound monotone and bored – without meaning to – but she was enthusiastic and fun to watch.”

Each 30-minute episode of the Scenic City-centric version of “The American Dream” will consist of five segments, each of which will feature a different Realtor showcasing their choice of content.

In the premiere, Gina Sakich of Signature Brokers will introduce viewers to the Chattanooga Riverwalk and Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar and feature a conversation with K.P. Interiors owner and designer Kathie Penland.

Sei-Ondra Williams of Keller Williams Realty will showcase a segment filmed at the Black-owned Peach Cobbler Factory and highlight one of her listings.

Doremus will also dip into the pool of local interior designers with a segment featuring Tony Thompson of Tony Thompson Design. She filmed the piece at a $1.6 million North Shore home immediately before heading to Coolidge Park to “do the intro and the outro,” she says, displaying her newfound knowledge of broadcast lingo.

As Doremus begins to film the last shot, a vehicle circles the statue, requiring her and Dugger to do another take. This happens twice more before the driver of an SUV initially appears as if he’s going to wait for them to finish.

However, as Doremus is filming, the driver swerves into view and blares the vehicle’s horn for several seconds before speeding off, ruining an otherwise flawless take.

Instead of reacting angrily or expressing frustration, Doremus brushes the hair off her face again and smiles as she prepares to try again.

“We’ll get it this time,” she says, displaying poise that must set anxious buyers at ease during a home search.

Doremus worked in investment management for 20 years before becoming a Realtor. She spent most of that time with Barnett & Company, where she traded stocks and bonds on behalf of high net-worth clients.

In 2015, Doremus switched to a different company that eliminated her position less than two years later.

After searching for similar work outside Chattanooga but finding nothing that would suit her, Doremus decided to pair her passions for home décor and family time into a career in real estate.

“When my kids were growing up, I always insisted on being together for the evening meal,” Doremus recalls. “Even today, my daughter and son-in-law will come over several nights a week for dinner and share what happened during the day. If you don’t spend time together, you can lose touch with even the people who live with you.”

Doremus says she transitioned from “the world of stocks and bonds to the world of houses and homes” without skipping a beat. Her brokerage, Keller Williams Greater Chattanooga on Lee Highway, named her its Rising Star in 2018 and the following year made her a part of its Agent Leadership Council – a board of directors made up of the top 20% of agents at the office.

Through this role, Doremus teaches real estate classes and assists new agents.

As Doremus reflects on the past several years, she says becoming a Realtor is the best choice she’s made personally and professionally.

“When I lost my job [in investment management], I thought my life was over. But I was arriving at work when it was dark and leaving when it was dark, and now I can take a day off to spend time with my grandson, or pick up my granddaughter after school, and be with the people who are important to me.”

Doremus says she also loves finding homes for her clients.

“When we close, it’s a day of celebration. I’ve even jumped up and down in excitement with my buyers. I never knew working could be fun.”

How Doremus became a host of “The American Dream” is partly a mystery to her, as someone anonymously nominated her. When a producer contacted her and asked if she’d be willing to meet to discuss becoming a host, she thought it was a scam, she laughs.

Doremus was still skeptical as she and 11 other Chattanooga area agents gathered together for an information session with a member of the production team at The Read House. Footage from the show convinced her it was an opportunity she didn’t want to miss.

“The video was beautiful,” she gushes. “It didn’t look homemade at all.”

Doremus says she hopes to produce content that helps people envision themselves achieving the American Dream of homeownership.

“You have to see yourself living the dream before you can achieve it,” she says. “For the last few weeks, I’ve been picturing myself walking through Coolidge Park with the Walnut Street Bridge in the background and talking about the North Shore lifestyle – and here I am.”

The premiere episode of the Chattanooga version of “The American Dream” will debut in April. To learn when it’s available to stream, follow Doremus on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kim.doremus.9.