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The Punch: Top Tips To Becoming A Reality TV Star

Below is an article that I wrote for The Punch today outlining some tips to consider if you want to become a reality TV star. It would appear a lot of the readers there are not fans of reality TV….

Here is the article:

Christmas is over, the hangover from New Years has receded and instead of having a New Years resolution of giving up smoking or losing weight, you have decided you want to be a reality TV star.

If you're a surfer dude, don't dress like an accountant. Picture: Kristi MillerIf you’re a surfer dude, don’t dress like an accountant. Picture: Kristi Miller

Whether it is to be famous, or just to have an interesting unique experience, here are some tips that will get you closer to hearing “lights, cameras, action”! Being sexy, humorous or able to cause conflict may help you get on the show, however, all shows need a diversity of people to make it interesting and to keep it real.

1. Decide which show you are best suited for.
If you can’t sing or dance forget the talent shows like The Voice, The X Factor or Australia’s Got Talent. If you can cook Masterchef Australia, andMy Kitchen Rules are possibilities.

However there are shows where anyone can apply like The Amazing Race Australia, Wife Swap Australia, the new Big Brother, and you don’t even need to know how to cook to get on Come Dine With Me. Please note I don’t advocate putting on large amounts of weight to get a spot on The Biggest Loser.

2. Look out for casting calls.
Check out the official websites for the big shows, like Masterchef, Australia’s Got Talent, The Biggest Loser, and The Amazing Race. You may also see the call for applicants of these high rating shows in the mainstream media. In fact when Big Brother opens up for applications this will be front page news. I’m not joking.

Also keep an eye out on the Lifestyle Channel website, production house websites like Shine and Southern Star. Regularly check TV blogs likeReality Ravings, and TV Tonight for information, and look at casting agency Cast of Thousands Facebook page as they cast a lot of reality shows.

3. You’ve found the show. Now to get noticed: The Application.
All shows have different casting methods, but even to get to the first stage of cooking for Masterchef Australia you need to jump the written application hurdle first.

Some tips to make your application standout:
Be honest: Nothing will peeve a network more if they are going through the casting process and then towards the end they find out that you don’t have that Masters in Astrology.
Be authentic: Reality TV is about real people and they want to read who the real you is, so don’t make up a whole different persona, people that are ordinary/normal do make it on these shows.
Backup what you are saying with examples: If you say you are funny make sure your application is humourous. If you say you are outrageous, outline why you are.
Have a good back story: Sometimes it is just not about your talent. A difficult childhood, an interesting upbringing or obstacles you have overcome will help you connect with the audience and feed the publicity machine. Remember So You Think You Can Dance Season 2 where all the dancers at the auditions had some story to go along with their 30 second dance.
Don’t sound like you only want to be on the show to be famous: Talent shows are the exception to this, however if casting agents get a whiff that you are going on Big Brother to promote your new business or book idea, chances are your application will be in the shredder.
Get your message across succinctly: With thousands of applications submitted, if yours is longwinded chances are they will get bored and bin it. Make sure it is short, sharp and punchy.

If a video application is required avoid a long musical introduction or scenic shots, they don’t care about your cinematography skills, they want to see you and what you are like. This also means don’t be shy to shoot it where you live or work. Unless you are a nudist, stay clothed.

4. Your application grabbed them. Now they want to see you
You razzled them with your application and now they want to meet you, which means you are one step closer to getting your face on camera. Here’s what you should do:
Wear something that shows who you are: if you are surfer dude it is no use turning up dressed in a preppy shirt and slacks. Do make sure you are presentable. Looking like a slob in most cases won’t be attractive.
Be authentic and don’t censor yourself: Be open and honest about your personal life, your values and views. Also be open about your flaws – believe it or not, having a phobia of taxi drivers might get you that gig onThe Amazing Race.
* Try and be memorable: This does not mean you need to be loud and outrageous but make sure your answers have something that hooks the casting agent and producer in. If you are telling a sad story, tears in the eyes is always a positive thing. A good example of this is Masterchef Australia season 1,2 and 3.

After this process if they like you they may investigate you further, and Google is their friend, particularly if you have an unusual name. So have a look over all your social media accounts to ensure there is not something there that might turn them off, or conversely it may make you even make you more attractive as a contestant.

Generally any racist, sexist or homophobic comments may not be seen as a positive thing. However as usual there are exceptions to this rule. Big Brother may consider casting a racist guy with some culturally diverse contestants to be provocative.

If you get on a reality show, embrace the challenges, both physical and emotional, you will experience. And who knows you just might get more then your allotted five minutes of fame.

Emma Ashton is a reality TV consultant and blogger who helps people make their reality TV dream come true.


4 comments

1 SEDI { 01.06.12 at 6:55 pm }

Great advice – Ive watched quite a few Big Brother auditions (which are often always awkward!) and I tend to find that you have to be between ‘really ordinary’ and ‘totally out there’ to make it into the next round. Although its always disappointing to see that often they cast for people who would ‘look good on television’, however thats more of a US and UK thing.

2 Chris { 01.07.12 at 5:18 am }

Okay, so some inside info…

During my audition for Top Design – I was told by the producers that if I wanted to be one of the cast, then I needed to be memorable. They said I had to stand out. They didn’t care if I lied… as long as I stood out.

I had a cool story that incorporated me, The Queen, Bono and Nelson Mandela. It was enough to make me different to ANYONE else in the room… and I was certainly remembered. So you definitely need to find something that makes you unique (don’t talk about births, kids or marriages unless you’re specifically asked about them – they hear these kind of stories ALL the time).

Smile a lot (cameras love teeth apparently).

And last but not least, only speak when you’ve got something to say. If you ramble on… because you’re nervous *gong* you’re out. If sit there and say nothing… because you’re nervous *gong* you’re out.

Be interesting. Be memorable. Don’t hog the spotlight. And don’t be wallflower.

3 Pangus { 01.08.12 at 2:30 am }

Emma heard your radio interview in Brisbane on Saturday. Great job.

4 Reality Raver { 01.08.12 at 9:16 pm }

Chris – Thanks for the extra insights.

Pangus – Thanks for listening

SEDI – Hopefully they won’t be picking all on looks for new BB.