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TV Casting Process: An Expose

October 24, 2009

I know I’ve always been a bit intrigued about what it takes to get onto these reality TV shows nowadays. You hear stories about people taking personality tests, psychology tests and going through roleplaying seminars before they’re even considered for the actual talent part of the show. Recently I had a little unexpected run in with the industry and although it wasn’t so dramatic as that I thought you might like to know a bit about what it takes.

About a month ago I read on Fashionista that Style Network is coming out with a new reality show that will follow three interns at a high end fashion magazine. The casting deadline was at the end of the week and I thought, why the hell not? So I emailed them what they were looking for: personal contact info, a headshot, a resume, two writing samples, a short essay on why you would be a good fashion intern and a short essay on why you would be good on the show (my essay about interning was a lot longer!). I sent it in and figured that would be the last I’d hear of it.

A week later I came out of seeing Wall-E (go.see.it.now.) and saw that I had a voicemail from a number I didn’t recognize. Of course, it turned out to be a representative of the show wanting to explain the process to me and asking if I had any questions. I didn’t want to get too excited, I couldn’t even tell if that meant I was getting an interview, but figured they wouldn’t call everyone who applied and I might just be on my way.

That Monday I returned the call but didn’t get in touch with the girl again. A few days later she called me back for a phone interview, which caught me completely off guard. I had been about to order take-out and conducted the interview in an alleyway trying to get some privacy. It took about twenty minutes. She asked me general questions about myself and “why do you want to be on the show” about five different times in slightly different wording. Then she asked more specific questions about myself, like about this blog and my craft business. Despite my nerves the interview went really well and she said that the next step would be an on camera interview and the show would get in touch within a week if I made it to the next step.

While waiting I tried to remain optimistic based on how my phone interview went. I had no idea how many girls were in the running so I couldn’t even imagine where I stood. That Friday I got another voicemail asking me to come into the city for the on camera interview. I could barely believe it! In the meantime they sent me a twelve page long email that was mostly a questionnaire and then some consent forms. The survey was actually really fun to fill out. It asked about personal style, fashion icons, magazine related questions, personal goals, what you would be like on TV etc. All along I knew my stronger hand to play would be how great of an intern I would be and how passionate I am about the business. I never have been one of those people who have wanted to be on TV or thought I should be and it was the aspect I was definitely most worried about.

Which was why my nerves got a strong hold of me the day of the on-camera interview. I was told to dress to reflect my personal style and to bring my favorite fashion accessory and I chose to wear one of my favorite dresses, a sleeveless dark blue mini with a bow at the waistline and butterflies with polka-dots flying on the bottom half, accessorized with silver sandals and a white flower in my hair. It was definitely showing my style and I felt confident in it.

The interview was held in some random room in some random office on some random street in NYC. Two casting directors were holding the interviews and they frustratingly couldn’t answer any of my questions about the show. I handed them my questionnaire and consent forms and they took four photos: a plain close up, a smiling close up, a plain body shot and a “character shot” which was a pose you thought reflected your character. Then they put me in frame, hooked me up with a mic, set the light up and did a pan from the bottom up then a close in on my face (which made me feel a little like I was getting checked out by some skeevy guy at a bar). I had to state my general personal info for the camera then they asked me only a couple of questions. Most of them were questions that were already on the survey so I was prepared, except for when they asked me for my favorite designers but of course I can rattle those off any time any place.

Like I said, I was nervous, so I wasn’t so eloquent. They told me to be bubbly and friendly and act like I was just conversating with a friend but all I could hear was them saying just before that “this is your one moment to get the producers to really notice you so you’ll get on the show!” I managed to eventually spit out my answers and in only fifteen minutes the whole thing was over.

It has been a week since the interview and, considering the pace of how they’ve been getting things done, I’m going to guess that I haven’t made it onto the show, so that’s why I feel fine posting about it here. I must admit, a big part of me is relieved. I would’ve dealt with being on TV for the amazing opportunity it would give me, but I think I’ll stick with just applying for summer internships like everybody else.

(Edit: I later found out that the show became Running in Heels.)

Originally written July 22, 2008

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