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Making it Real: How to Get a Reality TV Role Every day around the world, ordinary people compromise their privacy and personal relationships to gain international exposure on reality television. Shows like The Apprentice, Survivor, America’s Next Top Model, The Amazing Race and The Bachelor, with the majority of the contestants under thirty years of age, are especially appealing to college students who are willing to risk humiliation, hunger, or both for a chance at fame and fortune. If you count yourself among the determined, demented, reluctantly single, or genetically blessed, then maybe you should begin to look for your big chance. As an increasing number of reality shows pop up, opportunities are everywhere; that is, if you know where to look. “We're often asked how contestants on brand-new shows find out about them, and there's really no one way,” said Andy Dehnart, who has guided many hopefuls to the spotlight though his blog, Realityblurred.com. To find the right role, you need to become a sort of showbiz sleuth. First understand that reality television is similar to reality in that it’s always changing. New shows are conceived every season, and old favorites run the risk of cancellation. Sometimes, long periods pass between final episodes and new versions. You must also realize that becoming a reality personality is not as easy as it seems. In fact, most people who audition for the shows are turned away. But, if you don’t make it on your first attempt, you should keep trying. Your chances increase if you know what you have to offer, whether it’s a specific talent, ability, ambition or life event. Many reality shows revolve around such unique traits. You should also know what you don’t want to do on a show. Maintaining your boundaries and values will help you stay in perspective. “If I was to go on one reality show, it would be The Biggest Loser,” said Anthony Albanese, a community college student who recently joined the Navy. “It teaches you about health and nutrition and is not a soap opera, but a show about faith and courage. I don’t have as much urge to be part of the break-ups and meltdowns and suffering.” Dehnart thinks you should also know your motivations. In his column, he urges his audience to consider the overall benefit of being on a show, saying, “Participation in a series definitely does not come with a guarantee of fame and fortune. Even if a show plays out a big prize and pays out smaller cash prizes to the losers, it’s doubtful you’ll become rich. And after you embarrass yourself on national TV, you may well lose your job, too.” In spite of the risks, reality show producers usually have plenty of people to choose from. The slush pile of applications and audition tapes is the first obstacle to overcome in your search. You will have to determine how to make yourself stand out. The folks at Instantcast.com, a web site that helps people find roles, think that snagging a producer or casting director’s attention is a matter of professionalism and personality. “Make sure you have a good photo, not a blurry snapshot or something in your nightgown,” they said. “A shot from the waist up with you looking directly at the camera is a good choice.” They also emphasize the need to speak clearly on the audition tape or during phone interviews, to fill out the applications properly, and to reply promptly to any communication from the show. Above everything else, understand that you are being judged on your personality. You should show off your most prominent qualities and react to things naturally. Don’t try to lie about something you have or have not done or to be someone you aren’t; the casting directors are experts at detecting dishonesty. To find out when and where casting calls will be held, you’ll need to bookmark a few key locations on the Internet and visit them regularly. Web sites like Dehnart’s Realityblurred.com and RealityTVWorld.com update their news daily. You can also search the classifieds at casting call sites like Intercast.com or Backstage.com, just like professional actors do all the time. Craigslist.org is another favorite adspace among casting directors and show producers. You can find applications for the network shows on their web sites, but don’t stop there. Many times, the titles of new shows are kept undercover in order to play out a factor integral to the show’s mission. For example, the producers of Average Joe didn’t tell their contestants the real title of the show until they were already isolated. The casting calls that seem vague or mysterious might be both legitimate and lucrative with less competition. If you audition and get a callback, then you’ve entered the rabbit hole of reality television. Most likely, you’ll be prodded, poked, questioned and quarantined until the final word comes: You made it real. So, if you’ve got … Drive and endurance? Your show might be The Amazing Race, Survivor, or The Apprentice. A flair for interpersonal drama? Try Big Brother or The Real World. A talent? Go after America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, Last Comic Standing, or Nashville Star. A hot or not-so-hot body? Your might pursue America’s Next Top Model, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover, or Plastic Surgery: Before and After. Specialized training or creativity? Show off at The Contender, American Inventor, or Project Runway. No date for the weekend? Go for Beauty and the Geek or The Bachelor/ Bachelorette. A bedroom? Try Design on a Dime or What’s With That Crazy College Room. By Anne-Marie Yerks Copyright Campus Recruit, LLC