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Ten Things You Need To Know Before Going On A Reality TV Show

This is an article I wrote for News Limited new website  The Punch

I note  Australia’s Next Top Model Lola Van Vorst should have taken note of point three and four.

1. It Will Not Change Your Life
Going on a reality TV show may not be the life changing experience you thought it was going to be. The number of people auditioning for MasterChef Australia who thought getting into the top 50 was going to change their lives was mindboggling. Chances are you will be back in your day job flipping burgers before the credits have even rolled.

Even winning a show is no guarantee of success. Eboni Stocks, the winner of season 2 of Australia’s Next Top Model was last sighted working in a café, and Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan was spotted busking at Rozelle Markets.

Tip: Keep your expectations real. If you are wanting a career change maybe a TAFE course may be a better option

2. It May Be The Only 15 Minutes Of Fame You Get – Use It wisely.
On the other hand, a reality TV program can be an opportunity for you to showcase your talent or business. Plenty of reality TV contestants have gone on to radio and TV fame like Australian Idol’s Axel Whitehead and Big Brother’s Peter Timbs. Also, Bella Serventi and Evan Hansimikali’s successful restaurant Pink Salt eventuated because of their participation in My Restaurant Rules.

Tip: Make sure you use all your networking and media opportunities to the fullest, however any prima donna behaviour will ensure another reality TV wannabee takes your spot.

3. Any Secrets You Have Will Come Out
In the age of blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter every facet of your life will be dissected and exposed. Therefore, any of your embarrassing incidents or secrets will emerge. Unfortunately, most of these seem to revolve around a contestants’ sexuality. Anthony Callea, when he was on Australian Idol, had rumours circulating about his sexuality. This year’s American Idol contestant Adam Lambert had risqué photos of him with other men appearing once his Idol experience began.

Tip: If you haven’t told your parents you are gay or were once charged for drug dealing it’s a good idea to tell them before the show screens.

4. Any Nude Photos Or Sex Tapes Will Be Circulated On The Internet
If you have ever posed for nude shots or performed in a sex tape, chances are it will be leaked. Popular So You Think You Can Dance Australia contestant Penny Higgs was embroiled in a “˜nude’ pic scandal this season when photos that were only meant for release in Denmark and the Czech Republic were published in Zoo magazine. news.com.au

Tip: If you have dabbled in a bit of nude photography with your partner, when splitting make sure you grab the laptop and the digital camera. However, please note Paris Hilton’s reality TV career launched ONLY after her notorious sex tape became an internet download.

5. You May Be Ridiculed Or Worse Vilified Australia Wide.
Fan forums, both official and unofficial and blogs are an important part of reality TV. Chances are you are not going to be loved by all. Criticism will range from minor, like the clothes you are wearing, to a full-blown character assassination.

Annielka Troche, the Gen Y only-child, from the SBS reality TV series The Nest was vilified on the show’s official forum. She says she still gets people yelling at her in the street.

Tip: Prepare yourself for some negativity and quash the urge to Google your own name as you may not like what you read.

6. The Producers Will See You As A Character, Not A Person
Reality TV is not just about talent, you will also be typecast as a certain character. Helen Manuell from Project Runway Australia in an interview with TV Week (TV Week) said, “I knew when I started doing the show that I’d be [portrayed] as the arrogant bitch, but it’s a TV show and I was cast as a character. [The producers] knew my skin would be thick enough to cope with whatever dirt was thrown at me.”.

Tip: Ask family and friends how they think you will be portrayed and either modify or go with it. Remember the outrageous, funny, bitchy or neurotic will get much more air time and, let’s face it, that’s why you want to go on the show.

7. You May Need Some Acting Skills
Unfortunately, not all reality TV is real, hosts fluff their lines, judges may swear and the contestants don’t give the appropriate reactions. Sometimes, several takes are required to get the right shot.

On Farmer Wants A Wife, when the farmer knocks on the door of the girl he has chosen and she acts surprised, you don’t really believe she didn’t notice the cameraman setting up on her front verandah?

Tip: You won’t need to go to NIDA, but do practice some standard expressions like surprise, shock, and laughing on cue. Also, if you want a bit more air time a good crying technique is a handy skill to perfect.

8. You May Not Have To Be That Talented To Make It On The Show
Reality TV casting agents and producers want a wide variety of contestants in their programs. Therefore, if you are the only one filling a niche they are looking for you may get on the show. On this year’s So You Think You Can Dance Australia, Damien beat plenty of better dancers to get a place in the top 20, because he was the best male ballroom dancer who auditioned. Also, having a standout background story can also get you noticed. Recovering from cancer, a quirky hobby or even how you only started dancing/singing/cooking a couple of years ago could get you on the show.

Tip: Whatever your skill try and make it stand out from the pack. For example being the only folk singer on Australian Idol may get you through to the top 36.
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9. If You Are Relying On Votes To Stay On The Show Try To Commandeer A Voting Bloc
Ok, your on the show, now you need to start your campaign to win it. People who can galvanise a country town, or region will go further in the competition than their talent may merit. Kate DeAraugo won Australia Idol assisted by her support in her home town Bendigo. Also the former Chief Minister for the Northern Territory, Clare Martin, issued press releases urging Territorians to vote for Jessica Mauboy when she was on Australian Idol.

Or find another niche. For example, Navy recruit Carl Risley had the Australian Defence Forces voting for him.

Tip: Work out what you have which will appeal to voters. If you are a nurse, teacher or police officer try and gain their support through the union or trade magazines. Also, if you are from a small town let the local papers know as they can help with publicity.
10. Think Carefully Before Hooking Up On The Show
Having a sexual interaction on a reality TV show is embarrassing and may make you vulnerable to criticism. Who can forget the infamous Big Brother dancing doona incident between Christina the ballerina and Peter Timbs? Also, it was rumoured the romance between Shanina Shaik and Tom Penfold ruined her chances of winning Make Me A Supermodel because Tom had a girlfriend on the outside.

Tip: Your mantra must be “The camera is always on me”, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with your parents seeing.

7 comments

1 Anonymous { 06.08.09 at 12:46 pm }

Yeah, the amount of votes Charlie received just from being from Dubbo drove me insane. He was practically made Honorary Mayor of Dubbo.

2 Amanda (bugmum) { 06.08.09 at 9:46 pm }

Great article! Well done…

3 Reality Raver { 06.09.09 at 12:17 am }

Anon – it is interesting how towns vote parochially but cities don’t.

Bugmum – Thanks

4 sourkraut { 07.22.09 at 11:27 pm }

Reality raver
Re MC
points 1 and 2 WRONG
All the rest… you should become a fortune teller. Spooky how close you got to reality

5 Reality Raver { 07.23.09 at 9:51 am }

Sourkraut – just out of curiousity why do you think points 1 and 2 are wrong.

6 sourkraut { 07.23.09 at 10:15 pm }

R R ( sorry i’m lazy)
Unless i have misunderstood the thrust of points 1 and 2 its a “gimme
Julie was a nobody from nowhere doing some sort of IT work, she wins Mc and is instantly a “celebrity”. She changes profession, opens a cafe, spends $100K, writes for womens weekly or day or wotever and etc etc etc and is set up for life,
Surely you’d agree thats changed her life just a tad.
Likewise poh, an utter nobody with a few arty sketches. Soaks in the publicity, acts her arse off (to coin a phrase) gets an offer for cook book, probably sells millions more paintings gets trip O/S, learns to cook (AT last) opens a dumplings shop hahaha probably gets an acting slot on 10s crappy “hate your parents” show (sorrry… neighbours) … life changed
Chris .. extra publicity for his beer hall restaurant thingy gets vilified by 505 of the population and possibly liked by the other (no idea wot the %s are but you get the idea) etc etc etc all life changing. Probably the same for many of the others, eg trevor the navy guy from perth, said he opened a restaurant between 2 bait shops and people come in to see him. Would not he be just another fishnchip shop if not for MC/ changed his life I’d say?

Re number 2 the above re Poh partially answers that, however I’m sure she is savvy enough to use it wisely, so i may have misread your quote on that one

7 Masterchef Australia – Reality Raver Talks About The Justin Moran Debacle | reality ravings { 04.23.10 at 3:11 pm }

[...] Fremantle Media did know about the criminal history, and I don’t think this should discount someone from being on a reality TV show, but be aware it will come out from either internal or external sources. If you are thinking of applying for a reality TV program read my previous blog post Ten Things You Need To Know Before Going On A Reality TV Program. [...]