COLORADO | Irina VanPatten | American life started with 10 years of work in cruise ships as a dancer and instructor and later as background actor in HBO films. It is not a surprise that Cristian Popa used all his language, fun attitude and sales skills into real estate industry that helped him realize that he was born for this business. He doesn’t only sell homes in Colorado, but entertains his audience about attractive places for foreigners, reports HORA in America Magazine.
Irina VanPatten: Where are you from and how long have you been in the U.S.?
Cristian Popa: I was born in Romania in Constanta. As for my background, I studied biology and chemistry in high school and my major was in the arts. I’m a former actor and former dancer. I was in the cast on the show “Dancing with Stars”, which in Romania was called „Dancez pentru tine”, as a dancer and as a teacher for the stars.
I have been in the U.S. since 2008. I used to work on cruise ships as a dancer and dance instructor. Then in 2016, I decided to stay in the U.S. Once I was finished with my last contract with the carnival cruise ship MSC Cruise Line, I quit dancing and I went to Miami. I lived there for about two years. During that time, I was an actress in several movies and I acted in commercials. I was an extra in movies like „Baywatch” with Zach Efron and all the other stars that were in that movie, and on HBO „Ballers” with Dwayne the Rock Johnson. Doing extras means being in the background, cheering, and being a part of the movie. I’ve also been the main leading actor in a Toyota Rav4 Hybrid commercial in South Florida and South America.
I.V: That sounds like a great time. Was it fun?
C.P: Yes, it was a lot of fun. Long hours. Good money. They even provided us with transportation. It was nice because it was by South Beach. I met a lot of good people there. Good memories, good friends.
After that, I started working in retail in 2016, because the money didn’t last long in Miami, especially in South Beach. I worked in Bloomingdale’s for one year and a half. Bloomingdale’s is a luxury retail store where they sell only designer clothes, shoes, perfumes, and belts. I worked on commission basis there. It was a really good job. The clients loved me because I had a big mouth and I could speak five languages.
I speak Romanian, Italian, English, some German and some Spanish. Miami is a touristy city. Most of my clients were tourists from South America, Central America, Europe and Canada. Therefore, most of them were not speaking English, which helped me and put me in a better place than other sellers.
I.V: Now you decided to change to real estate. Why?
C.P: In 2017, I moved to Colorado with my wife Monica, who’s an Italian American. She got a new job as a practitioner and we decided to move to Colorado. She was always telling me: “You should do something else, like try to sell houses because you are made for this. You’ll do very well.” And I would be like: „Come on. I’m an actor. I’m a dancer. I’m an artist. I can’t do this.” And she would tell me that all those artist’s skills of mine would take me somewhere one day.” I realized that she was right because that fits me so well. I can talk to so many people from different cultures, different backgrounds and I don’t have any problems with that.
It was not easy to get my license because all the tests were in English, which is not my first language. I learned English here. I didn’t have time to study too much at home because I was always on tours in Romania or Europe. Therefore, I didn’t have much time for school. But I’m proud I finished my real estate school and I took all my exams and tests.
Now, I have discovered something new in me. I didn’t know that I was born for this business and definitely didn’t know that I should have had my own business in sales and negotiations a long time ago. I didn’t even know that I could do it on such a large and deep level. My motto now is: „Let’s talk home.” So, if you are looking for an agent who’s different from others, I work hard, I work day and night to make my clients happy, and if they’re happy I’m happy too. I love my job and that’s the difference between me and other agents.
I.V: Who are your customers in Colorado?
C.P: My customers are mixed. I have local customers and referrals from other states. I have Romanian and Moldavian customers. There is a large community of Moldavians and Romanians in Colorado, a larger community than in Florida or other states. We have two churches here and go to the same church together. As for referrals from other states, they’re mostly agents who need help with their customers but they cannot come to Colorado and they call me. You have to work with them to accomplish something and then you get a referral commission. That’s a great way to get business.
I.V: Are you targeting Romanian communities or do you care who are your customers?
C.P: I just hosted the 22nd edition of the Romanian Festival in Colorado and I helped the Romanian American Freedom Alliance (RAFA) to make it all this possible. We had over 300 guests from the USA, R. Moldova, Romania and other nationalities who live here in Colorado. We had folk singers in traditional costumes and folk dancers for over six hours of pure fun. It was a major success and all the people were happy and entertained, and looking forward to the next year’s edition.
But I care about everyone. I treat them all the same. I don’t want to treat them differently. I just try to be a human and treat them with respect as equals. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or what your social status in society is. If you have $300,000 to buy a condo or you have $2,000,000 to buy a huge ranch, I’ll treat you equally, and I’ll give you the same quality of service. That’s probably the difference between me and other people. If you are looking to move to Colorado, I’m here to help you find the home of your dreams!
I.V: You have a blended family. How do you find yourself as an immigrant in an Italian American family?
C.P: I don’t have any relatives here. I’m the first from my family in the U.S., but my wife has a lot of relatives in her family. Italian families are big. I’m still trying to find my way, but I think they understand me and make me feel loved and a part of their family.
I.V: That sounds like a lot of fun. What do they eat at big family gatherings?
C.P: Oh my God! What don’t they eat? Mostly, Mediterranean food, lobster, muscles, fish. A lot of fish and a lot of the lasagna. They don’t eat pizza, though.
I.V: What’s your favorite dish?
C.P: My favorite dish is sarmale. My wife cooks them from pickled cabbage leaves. She learned how to make them from Youtube video. She also studied Romanian cuisine and now she can cook a lot of Romanian dishes. She’s also making the drink limoncello at home. Oh, yeah, she’s a funny Italian, making her own booze and all. But today, on a Sunday, she’s working in the emergency room, saving lives.