Beauty and the Geek Winner David Olsen

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with former reality show contestants, an idea inspired by my new reality show-themed mystery novel Sink or Swim, Where Reality TV Turns to Murder. For more information on Sink or Swim, and the interview schedule which features contestants from Survivor, Top Chef, Beauty and the Geek, Shark Tank, Bachelor Pad Big Brother and I Love New York, please visit this link.

For today’s interview, I’d like to welcome David Olsen, who won the fourth season of Beauty and the Geek with his partner Jasmine. What is it like to make it till the end of a reality show and be declared a winner? Read David’s exciting story below!

David Olsen holds fellow contestant Katie Roberson during the Prom Challenge.

1. If you could boil down your experience on Beauty and the Geek to one paragraph, what was your overall feeling about being on this show?
Well, that’s pretty difficult task. The whole process, start to finish, took nearly a year of my life (a fantastic year) and that’s not easy to summarize. I loved the whole experience (even the parts I hated if that’s not too paradoxical) and it was a roller coaster ride of emotion. I’ve often compared it to a semester in college on speed, but I could also say it was a heightened moment of life. Everything felt more intense from joy to sadness. For me, as someone who studies narrative structure, I also was very self-aware that I was in a story. Now I’ve often felt that as I’m a role-player, but this was unusual since it was also real. It’s a difficult sensation to describe, but it was a weird post-modern feeling as I sometimes analyzed my life as a protagonist in a story arc.

2. What was it like to have cameras rolling all the time? How hard was it to get used to being in the public eye?
It’s like ordinary life. People in the 21st century are on camera all the time, especially in urban environments; they just might not realize it. The big difference was that the cameras were a little more obvious. That said, my attitude did change over time. Near the beginning, I was a little more circumspect about what I said, deeply aware how my words could serve as the source of deep embarrassment and was sometimes relieved when the cameras left me alone. Over the course of the show, I felt more pressure to be entertaining and say witty things so I could be seen more. To be clear, this was self-induced pressure and not external from the producers. But if a camera crew was filming a conversation and suddenly walked away, I would be insulted that I wasn’t “interesting” enough for them to pay attention to me.

3. What was the best part about being on the show?
Well, winning a lot of money definitely ranks up there. Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that I made many new friends. We may not have known each other long, but when you’re in that pressure cooker of a situation, the friendships formed are true.

4. What were your favorite challenges on the show? Least favorite?
This is an interesting question because it depends. My favorite challenge to watch was my least favorite to do and vice-versa. At the time I absolutely hated making a superhero costume for my partner, but watching my trials and tribulations as a viewer long after the fact was actually humorous. Conversely, massaging all the girls was kind of fun at the time, but boring to watch. Though my favorite moment was winning the wine-making challenge, since no one expected us to win that and we pummeled the competition. I was actually happier in that moment than when I won the show itself. Still, from an actual growth perspective, I have the deepest appreciation for the rap challenge. When we first were given it, I had no idea how I’d write and perform an autobiographical rap in less than 24 hours, and while my performance wasn’t as good as it could have been (since I forgot most of my lyrics), it challenged me in a way that made me grow as a human being and I was pleased with what I ultimately came up with.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for a reality show?
If I had the silver bullet to get on a reality show, I’d use it myself as I had too much fun and have been trying to get back into that world, so I don’t know any top secret information that will get someone a callback. That said, there are some tricks. As much of a cliche that it is, be yourself. Casting directors are very good at spotting phony people and they’re looking for authenticity above all. Another is try to be unique. If everyone is playing the Jersey Shore angle by appearing like a dirtbag, wear a suit (but only if you feel comfortable in one, as per my first piece of advice). Finally, there’s the old show biz adage of show, don’t tell. Don’t say you’re edgy, be edgy (I leave it as an exercise to the reader of how exactly one becomes edgy).

6. What effect did winning have on you — did you have any special use for the prize money? What was it like going about your normal life after so many people saw you win on TV? Were you surprised to win?
This is going to sound really boring, but I just invested the prize money. It seemed like the wisest course of action. Going back to my normal life was frankly a little too easy. I was hoping it might springboard into something more, but it never really did. Sure, I occasionally got recognized on the street, which is always fun and a boost to the ego, but aside from having a fun story to tell people you just met at cocktail parties, it wasn’t all that impactful. Although I didn’t really tell anyone at the time (for fear of jinxing it and looking arrogant), I could read the tea leaves of the various internet message boards that it was highly likely I’d end up winning, so while pleasant to receive confirmation of that, it wasn’t terribly surprising when I did actually win.

7. What have you been up to lately?
Man, I wish I could tell you something truly awesome. I bought a condo in Cambridge, Massachusetts about a year ago, which has been great. Being on the show awakened in me an interest to work more with media so I’ve done background movie work as an extra, though it’s not quite the same as being the focus of the camera. I did some work on a video game recently so if you have a PlayStation 3, you should buy Slam Bolt Scrappers because it’s a really fun game and I’m not just saying that. I’ve actually done some preliminary work on a new reality show idea, but unfortunately, that’s stalled out for the moment. So, I’m actually sort of looking around for my next project; if anyone has any great ideas, they should let me know!

8. Where can fans find you online?
I think I’m on all the social networking sites, but hardly use any of them. Most fans seem to gravitate to my Facebook page where I’m the
most active (which isn’t saying much), though I also have a blog hidden in plain sight on Livejournal which I post to irregularly. It’s public, though not obvious and I just write about whatever I happen to be thinking about that day.

My next interview is with Leslie Haywood of Shark Tank on June 13. Bookmark the full interview schedule, with clickable links to the interviews as they become available, here.

Send My Free Storybook Valley Welcome Kit

Get a sneak peek into Stacy's romantic comedy series set at a theme park. Includes sample chapters, princess tips, interviews, and more. You will also be subscribed to the Staycation newsletter, filled with book news, surprise bonus content, and perks for readers.

Powered by ConvertKit
Stacy Juba's Characters At A Crossroads Blog

Stacy Juba