When I tell people what I do for a living, the typical response is a 70/30 mix of disgust and awe. No, I’m not politician or a gynecologist -- I’m a reality TV Casting Director, and I’ve been thrusting ordinary folks into the spotlight for years.
Starting at "Blind Date," often dubbed “boot camp for Casting Directors,” I hit the bars seven nights a week, scoping out sexy singles fame-hungry enough to make fools of themselves on the show. It was the best job in the world. I literally got paid to pick up men. And, more often than I’d like to admit, found myself skimming hot guys off the top and keeping them for myself.
I was then hired by "Survivor," where I got to travel all over the country in search of the next bug eating, buff-wearing millionaire. I’ve worked on wedding shows, dog shows, game shows, "The Bachelor" (which is an odd combo of the three, no?); and even Playboy’s first ever reality show, where I helmed the ship at naked casting calls and searched for wannabe porn stars at sex toy shops and adult film conventions.
I’ve even starred on a couple reality shows, the most notable as a “fashion victim” on Style Network’s hit program "How Do I Look?"
So, yeah -- I’m fun to talk to at parties. Some of the time people want to know if reality shows are really real -- to which I tell them: Sort of. For every unscripted punch in the face, there are still scribes on staff sketching out scenes and crafting storylines out of thin air. They map out episodes with a central theme or conflict and hope the talent bites.
The goal is to put kooky characters in outrageous scenarios and, as Andy Cohen says, Watch What Happens. Are you gently nudged to talk about things you might not ever have thought of? Yes. Do Producers cast people knowing that they will hate each other and pit them against each other for drama? Yes. Do they throw an audible and change things up last minute if you or a cast member is boring the shit out of people? You bet!
At the end of the day, we have a job to do: make a TV show; hopefully a good one. And there are certain beats that need to be covered to get people to tune in and advertisers to pay.
But most of the time, people I talk to want to know how they can get on a reality show themselves. So many people, in fact, that I went and wrote a book all about it, dishing my best inside secrets, tips and tricks to beat the casting process at its own game. There is most definitely a formula (I call it the Snooki Formula, actually) to becoming a reality TV star.
Like it or not, reality TV is not going anywhere. I figured, why not give people that really want to be on these shows the tools they need to have a much better chance of getting cast? So, as my version of “making the world a better place,” in case you ever want to go for it, here are a few tried and true tips garnered from my experiences as a reality TV Casting Director
Along with having an absolutely captivating personality, humanizing story, and memorable nickname, to get on a show -- you also need to:
· Be mentally sound -- often times you’re handed an 800-answer psychiatric evaluation to make sure you won’t go ballistic on set and start gettin’ too real.
· Pass a background check -- you wouldn’t want to share a toilet with a serial killer, would you?
· Ace an STD test -- I’ve had the pleasure of breaking this kind of bad news to reality show hopefuls. If your plan is to get cast on a show that requires close living quarters, you might want to make sure that you didn’t bring anything home from that trip to Cabo
· Sign away your life -- not that you have much of a say, but I always advise people to have a lawyer go over their paperwork, because you might unknowingly sign away your life story rights… and get nothing in return. Yeeks!
Don’t let my somewhat snarky take on this sordid world give you the wrong impression -- I love what I do.
Even when I’m up all night watching my 10,000th audition video, it’s never boring. While I sometimes wish I was put on this planet to do something my grandma could explain to her friends, if my gift is to help make people reality TV dreams come true, then I’ll take it.