Selecting Reality TV Contestants

The following is information based on interviews from several different casting directors and from several different sources. It outlines pertinent information about being selected to be on a reality TV show.

Who Gets Selected?

So who are these lucky people that get selected to be on reality TV shows? A great deal behind who gets selected depends on the type of reality TV show that is looking for a cast. If the show requires a large group of people to live closely in the same environment, such as in shows like The Real World, Big Brother and Survivor, a large portion of who is chosen depends on who has already been selected for the show. In shows like these, and in many reality TV shows, the person who gets selected has a lot to do with the demographic of the cast that they already have. Many reality TV shows require large groups of people and in order to appear interesting to the audience and to appeal to the largest demographic, casting directors often look for many different types of people.

By choosing a diverse demographic of cast members, it appeals to a wide demographic of viewers and makes for entertaining television. When cast members have drastically different points of view, education and family or ethnical backgrounds, fights, friendships and drama make for high ratings and is one way to guarantee that this is so, by casting a group of people for a reality show that are different in these ways. In doing so, the cast is bound to butt heads. So for shows like The Real World, a portion of who gets selected has to do with luck. If they’ve already cast someone who looks and has similar opinions as you, they may be looking for a different type of person. This also means that just because a person is overlooked doesn’t mean it’s because they aren’t interesting. It might mean that their particular personality, look, or point of view for the show isn’t right for the group dynamic. Diverse is fun, and casting directors seem to stick with this cardinal rule when deciding who gets selected to be on reality television.

If you are auditioning for a talent based competition you will mostly likely be chosen based on the merits of your talents. Using the example of American Idol, singers from all over the world come to audition to try and take part in the classic American dream of becoming a famous singer. In booking a gig such as this, the format is simple. Have the talent? Then its time to audition! There are no strings attached in talent-based castings. If you have the talent you will likely move forward. Your chance of being selected to a reality TV show such as this increases based on the merits of your particular talent. In which case casting directors are most often judges, evaluating performances based on how well a person does, not based on their opinions, demographic or any other factor.

The reality of who gets selected for a reality TV show lends itself to a lot of variables. For the most part being sociable, interesting, having strong points of view and being yourself are the best tools to get you selected for a reality television program.

Damon Furberg, a casting director for MTV’s Real World was interviewed by Reality Wanted Online and gave this response in being asked if there were any special gimmicks involved or advice he might have for applicants who are applying and auditioning to be selected for a reality television program.

There really aren’t any gimmicks that you can use. Just be yourself and hope that you are interesting. If you don’t have the goods to back it up then you won’t make it. We just look for the complete package that is going to work well with the rest of the cast.

Just because we don’t pick you doesn’t mean that you aren’t interesting it just might not be a good fit with other people we are looking at. Remember we are picking 7 out of 15,000 so don’t take it personally if you don’t get picked.

There are a lot of things but make sure you spend a couple minutes talking about yourself. Keep it simple but let us know who you are. Don’t go overboard and over produce it, real talent is hard to overlook. Also something to steer away from is rehearsing it too much. Go in knowing 3-4 things about you that make you interesting. At the end of the day we are looking for the right personality for the show, not someone that just has gimmicks. This show has been around for a lot of years so we are not looking for another Puck or a character that has been on in the past. We want to know about you, not how you compare to other characters from past seasons.

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