8 Tips On Trying Out For A Reality Show

I hope readers have enjoyed my Reality Show Rundown Month, a series of interviews with reality show contestants to celebrate the release of my mystery novel Sink or Swim, a fun summer read with a reality show premise. In conclusion, I am wrapping up the series with tips on trying out for a reality show. If getting picked for a reality show is one of your goals, then don’t miss these valuable tips from former contestants Natalie Getz of Bachelor Pad, Hashim Trends Locario of I Love New York, Leslie Haywood of Shark Tank, David Olsen and Shawn Bakken of Beauty and the Geek, Betty Fraser of Top Chef, and Billy Garcia of Survivor: Cook Islands. Where can you get better advice than from people who have been through it and survived to tell the tale? Here are the tips, straight from the horse’s mouth, and if you’d like to read the full interviews, click on the hyperlinks.

1. Natalie Getz, Bachelor Pad winner: If you are not yourself, a producer will see right through that. When people go over the top trying to get on these shows, it more then likely annoys the producers more then anything. Just be yourself. If you are what they are looking for, they will pick you. If not? Well, don’t quit your day job. They are looking for several different personality types. When you audition, there are probably 100 of you with the same character and it’s only a matter of luck if they pick you.

2. Hashim Trends Locario, I Love New York: I would tell them to not hold back. If you hold back, you don’t make good TV and they will cut out a lot of your screen time. I would say be yourself, but bring out the part of yourself that is the most interesting.

3. Leslie Haywood, Shark Tank: Going into it with the right attitude is KEY! Make your decision based on “what if nothing goes the way I hoped”… would you still do it just for the experience? If the answer is YES, then do it! It truly is a once in a lifetime EXPERIENCE, but there are no guarantees. You could be the “William Hung” (whom we all laughed at and along with) or the “Omarosa” (whom we all loved to hate). If you go into it “expecting” a certain outcome, you run the risk of tremendous disappointment. Instead, go into with the attitude “No matter what happens, this is an amazing OPPORTUNITY and a once in a lifetime EXPERIENCE.” And no matter what, try and HAVE FUN!

4. David Olsen, Beauty and the Geek winner: 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).

5. Shawn Bakken, Beauty and the Geek: Aside from “Don’t do it”? Someone asked me about that while the show was on the air (he ended up getting cast for Season 2) and I told him, “Just be yourself.” The problem is that being yourself in front of the cameras isn’t always what ends up on people’s TV screens. If you want to be on a reality show, don’t be surprised if the producers decide to flush your reputation down the toilet.

6. Betty Fraser, Top Chef: First thing I’d suggest is to learn about Pandora’s Box. Because once you reach people in their living rooms, that box is opened and there’s no going back. Reality shows are entertainment so big personalities have become a prerequisite. But what a lot of people don’t think about is the criticism you are opening yourself up for. I think people watch reality TV as much for who they like as who they don’t like. And people aren’t shy about sharing their feelings on chat boards. When the comments are nice, you feel great. But when they lay in to you, especially when they have no idea of the kind of person you really are, it can really hurt. If you don’t have a thick skin, then being on a reality show might not be the best decision.

7. Billy Garcia, Survivor: Cook Islands: Watch Wile E Coyote. That will be how you will look in the edit if you make it on a show and don’t win it. So if you have a problem with being the butt of the joke, then this isn’t for you. Otherwise, good luck.

8. Michelle Costa, Big Brother 10: The best advice I can give is to be yourself never try to be who you think they want. BE YOURSELF.

This concludes Reality Show Rundown Month. To read other interviews and articles in this series, click here.

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  1. Barbara Ensign says

    I honestly don’t know how much more reality tv we can stand. Toddlers and Tiara’s is such a scarey show… how do you put all that pressure on a TODDLER. Soon we will be following someone through marriage, conception, pregnancy and birth… poor kid!
    great series, loved all the “interviews”.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Barbara! When I was a newspaper reporter, my editor had me do something like an 8-part series following a couple around through pregnancy and the birth of their first child. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but by the end, it was just too much. They were getting tired of me, and I just had a notebook, not a TV camera.

    I haven’t seen Toddlers and Tiaras but I can tell that I would be upset by it!

    Thanks for reading the series – it was fun to put together!

Stacy Juba