Minerva, an educator of more than 30 years, and Willie McMiller Sr., a former Southwestern Bell executive, set an example early on for their children about the importance of securing generational wealth from real estate investing and giving back to the community.
Their sons Willie Jr., an actor, and standup comedian based in Los Angeles, and Jon, a full-time realtor and contractor based in St. Louis have been following their family’s tradition since 2013.
In total, they’ve renovated about 12 properties—many of them in north St. Louis county where they grew up.
Willie, who is a former cast member of BET’s “College Hill: Virgin Islands,” became involved in the housing market after one day Jon asked him what he was doing with all the money he was making in entertainment.
“I told him I had the money stacked up in the bank, and he was like, ‘you need to bring that money back home to St. Louis, let’s start investing in our community,” Willie said. “Some of the properties we buy in neighborhoods haven’t been touched in years. People often thank us and appreciate us for what we’re doing. It’s about beautifying St. Louis.”
Willie also said most of the homes they work on are tax lien sales, which occur when people don’t pay taxes on a property and it goes to auction.
“Jon and I were doing three-to-five-year tax liens,” Willie said. “After they’ve been on the bidding block for three years and no one’s bid on them, we go in and purchase. Sometimes we put in too much because we design as if we’re gonna be living there versus sometimes the actual investment opportunity.”
Jon said they typically work on three-bedroom homes because they want to attract families with children. However, he said they have done other variations.
“We’ve done everything from condos to ranch-style homes to two-story brick homes,” Jon said. “I think one of the important things we look at when we go into a home is can it have an open floor plan? Are there ways to maximize areas for the family to come together?”
Jon added that they approach much of the design process from the lens of their childhood, remembering what appealed to them then and how it still impacts them today.
“We love homes with basements,” Jon said. “My parents fixed up our basement to have hockey tables, pool tables, TVs where we can get together and hang out as brothers. We like backyard spaces, homes where families can get together and have barbecues. We grew up with a trampoline and a basketball court in our backyard.”
This month, Willie and Jon appeared on the pilot episode for a new show on HGTV called “My Flipping Family,” where they rehab a home in Black Jack; the area their family lived in before moving to Florissant.
The transformation team for the ranch-style home also included their other brothers, who serve as the demolition crew, their mom who is the voice of reason, and their dad who shares a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.
Their pilot is one of three to be approved for HGVT’s 2021-’22 season. The ratings from the premiere episode determine if it will be picked up or not.
Being the savvy social media whiz that he is, Willie said the opportunity came about from posting footage of him and Jon on-site. He posted the content to Instagram and YouTube, attracting attention from multiple production companies, including HGTV.
“They asked if we wanted to be reality stars, told us HGTV was looking for diverse content and they thought we would be perfect,” Willie said. “Discovery and HGTV took a chance on us and we were blessed enough to shoot a sizzle [which is a five-minute example episode] back in 2020. In 2021 they went ahead and gave us the thumbs up to shoot the actual pilot. The episode premiered on Feb. 16th.”
Transitioning from BET to HGTV has been an interesting experience for Willie. One of the biggest differences Willie said he wanted this time around was positive representation.
“BET College Hill was the Black version of Real World, there was a lot of fighting, a lot of drama,” Willie said. “Now to do a show with a positive spin on our community and see what we’re doing is exciting. It’s something my mom talked to me and Jon about before we even started shooting. She told us we weren’t going to be fighting or arguing. She wanted us to figure everything out because family comes first.”
Jon said he and Willie have other business ventures in store. They now have a commercial building based in University City. They also plan to release a children’s book in the coming months.
For more information and updates about the show, their Instagram page, My Flipping Family HGTV.
Instagram, Willie Macc.
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