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Meet the actor-turned-auctioneer who likes to keep his eye on the ball

People still recognise him as “that guy off the TV”. But Shane Cortese, who kicked off a successful career on the small screen playing villain Dominic in Shortland Street , is now the auction manager for Harcourts Cooper & Co on the North Shore, and after four years in real estate he is loving his latest role.

Going from acting to auctioneering was quite a change in direction. How did that happen?

I had just come out of doing

Nothing Trivial and The Almighty

Johnsons. They were both axed in the same week. You do have your little moment of misery when something like that happens, but you dust yourself off and get back up again. I was flying to Queenstown to open the Winter Festival with my band, 8-Track Band, and my guitar player Chris Jones, who was the national manager of a real estate company, said to me, “Have you thought about real estate?” I hadn’t — my career before entertainment was as a travel agent — but we continued to talk and I became interested.

What appealed?

I like property and dealing with people, and the legal side of it really fascinated me. I seemed to be the go-to person to play lawyers in a lot of programmes I did so there must be some connection there.

I did my papers and to be honest, I wasn’t particularly diligent when it came to listing and selling. But when it got to the sharp end, the negotiating, I fell in love with it. It felt like a natural thing for me to do.

Did you think you’d be able to sell real estate and keep acting whenever roles came up?

Right from the start I realised that with real estate, you have to be full-time… I am that guy who gives things 100 per cent and it didn’t take long for real estate to get into my blood.

Do you miss acting?

I don’t miss hanging around waiting on set for five hours. But it was my passion and a massive part of my life for a quarter of a century… So, yes, there are parts of it that I miss, but it has been four years and I am absolutely loving what I am doing now.

Did you worry that you wouldn’t be taken seriously because of your acting background?

It was one of my biggest fears that people would think I was just filling in time in between acting jobs… I haven’t done any acting. I did present the TV series Dream Home Dilemma but that was related to the industry I am in now. People do sometimes say, “Aren’t you that guy off the TV?” and I say, “Yeah, but I’m taller in real life.”

What led to the move to auctioneering?

After a couple of years of listing and selling, I was asked if I would go into the New Zealand auctioneering championships as a novice… It was a baptism of fire — I’d seen auctions of course but never done a real estate one myself. After I competed I decided I never wanted to do an auction again. But then I watched the senior guys competing and I thought, ‘Oh my God, they are amazing’. I was really drawn to it… A year later I was competing in the senior auction champs and I made the final.

I imagine there’s an element of performance when it comes to auctioneering. Did your previous career help?

There is a degree of being able to hold a room but it is a less of a performance, more of an engineered control of what’s happening… With an auction you are not following a script, everything comes from you.

You do also have to have charm, empathy and the ability to control your energy, which is something you get from acting.

What do you like about auctioneering?

Definitely the adrenaline hit, and the emotional connection with the sellers and the buyers. You’ve just changed their life.

I enjoy the challenge of having to think on my feet and having a lot going on my head.

Have you had much support for your career change?

The support has been incredible. Martin Cooper gave me the job as auction manager for Harcourts Cooper & Co and he has been amazing. He’s a good man, and a good friend. The support I have had from other auctioneers has also been phenomenal.

Do you get time for hobbies?

I love soccer. I’ve been with the same team for four years and we play in an over-45s league… It’s about a bunch of guys who are in the middle stages of life but still loving competition and being surrounded by their mates.

Do you feel fortunate to have found success in a very different field?

Not too many people get to have two cracks at different careers in their lives and do pretty well at both of them, so I do feel very lucky. I have loved them both, but auctioneering is so much more fulfilling for me at this stage of my life.