We Tried Out For The Real World and All We Got Was Three Callbacks.
My editor sent me an email a couple weeks ago containing a press release announcing that MTV's infamous “The Real World” would be holding an open casting call in Dallas.
Per the email, my mission, should I choose to accept it, was to join the ranks of Dallas' wannabe G-listers and show up to the cattle call. My emotions ranged from outwardly mortified to secretly ecstatic.
I have, after all, always been the friend deemed “most likely to appear on TV one day.” So, OK, I decided I had to at least try to audition and see what would happen.
In the days leading up to the audition, I was all over the place. I planned a number of different tactics: I made up a crazy persona, tried on a million different outfits and practiced possible interview questions by both posing them and responding in turn.
As the date loomed nearer, I decided to give up my auditioning ploys and just — gasp! — be myself. Worst case scenario, they'd hate me. Best case scenario, I'd hate myself.
Anyway, the press release stated that the auditions were open at the Red Rock Bar and Grill in picturesque Addison from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I planned on arriving at around 9:30 in the morning, just to avoid any potential lines But, of course, as it was a Saturday morning, I didn't stumble out of bed until hours past my goal time.
I finally pulled into the parking lot at around 2 o'clock. I was worried I'd be too late to even audition, but the absence of a line out the door had me optimistic — until I entered the bar and saw the crowd inside. It was packed with a collection of individuals ranging from dolled-up Rockabilly chicks to roided-up Affliction-wearing uber-bros. I picked up an application form from a scenester-looking guy at the front, and sat outside to mull on the 15 questions, which ranged from basic (where do you work?) to exhibitionist (what is your biggest secret?). Continuing along with my plan to be boring old me, I answered all truthfully and thoroughly.
Once the application was filled out, it was time to read the terrifying 10-point audition contract. I won't go into too much detail here, but let's just say that I pretty much signed my life away to MTV just to audition for this show.
After the forms were finished came the fun part, the people-watching. What a group they were.
I was expecting a room full of Dallas stereotypes — y'know, big hair, big pearls, “Lou-ee Vee-tohn” bags and cowboy boots. Instead, it seemed that only suburbanites and cocktail waitresses had been informed of the call.
Ever wonder what the girl in the too-tight-dress and too-black eye makeup in the club looks like during the daylight? Still pretty nasty, turns out.
I saw no less than three bump-its over the course of the day, though the presence that commanded most of the day was a strapping, 6'5″ Ken doll lookalike with a deep accent and the apparent IQ of an armadillo. One of those “hot and knows it” types, he walked from table to table, gushing about himself, fist-pumping to non-existent music and exchanging numbers with every female who looked to be an STD carrier. It was glorious.
After an hour and a half wait, it was my turn to be interviewed.
Nine other “hopefuls” and I approached a rectangular table headed by a pleasant-looking, middle-aged woman. She introduced herself and asked us to sit down while she went over “the process.” We were to state our name, age, place of residence and “something about you that others might not know upon first meeting you.”
I was completely taken aback when my name was called first. I'm not good at these kinds of things.
I introduced myself, wrongly placed my age at 21 and dropped my SMU pedigree for good measure. As for the “fun fact,” while my past life as a classically-trained opera singer (note: this is actually true) garnered some oohs and ahhs, my uncomfortable, minute-long introduction was not even a fourth as juicy as the nine others sitting around the table.
Two of my fellow auditioners were near-belligerently drunk, and coincidentally both of their fun facts related to them being “all real, what you see is what you get” — a description that then followed with an unnecessarily long, slurring explanation, which the poor producer had to cut short while I stared at her in horror. One guy was an aspiring rapper, and he even free-styled for the table before announcing that he also thought he was psychic. Fun fact, indeed.
Some other gems included one of the aforementioned bump-it offenders, who had been kicked out of UT, and a normal-looking girl who announced that she had moved to Dallas from LA to get away from her former gang.
As each story got progressively weirder, my hopes for advancing to the next round exponentially diminished. These crazy fuckers seemed reality show gold.
In contrast, I thought I just sounded boring.
When everyone had finished their introductions, the producer thanked us and announced that she would call anyone who had made it to the next round later that evening.
After I stood to go, I made sure to stopped by her chair and thank her for her time — mostly because I couldn't imagine the shit she had to put up with that whole day — and was completely shocked when she asked me to stay back a moment. She handed me another application and told me I had advanced to the next round of auditions.
I always knew I was TV worthy, you guys!
Anyway, I was directed to the back of the room, where a handful of the most normal-looking people I had seen all day were hunched over tables, scribbling away at what I assumed were more forms. I assumed right and was soon handed another application, complete with a questionnaire quite like the first I filled out — except, where the other was 15 questions, this new one was fifteen pages. And here I thought the first questionnaire was somewhat exhibitionist. It was nothing compared to the tome I was currently being urged to write on myself.
Questions ranged from the subject of childhood abuse to my greatest fears to my thoughts on current social and political events. It took me an hour and a half to fill out, and I acquired a minor case of carpal tunnel in the process.
I was told to keep my phone on that evening in case I was to receive a call tell me that I'd advanced to the next round. An hour after I left Red Rock Bar, I got a call from the same producer I had spoken with earlier in the day. She informed me that I had an 11 a.m. interview the following morning, and that I was to wear anything besides prints, blacks, whites, or royal blues.
At this point, I sent a mass text to practically everyone I knew.
“MTV fucking loves me,” I gloated.
My brother was less enthused.
“If you do it, I'm never talking to you again,” he responded to my text. “Seriously.”
So much for an ego boost.
The next morning, I dolled up and headed back up to Addison — this time to the Embassy Suites. I was shown to a hotel room where the furniture had been pushed aside to make room for a green screen, a solitary chair, a huge spotlight, and a video camera setup. I was glad to see the same producer from my earlier interviews leading this interview, too. Gotta commend MTV for some consistency.
After some preliminary chit-chat, nose-powdering, microphone-testing, and the charming revelation that I “look great on camera” (flattery will get you everywhere), they turned on the camera and began interviewing me.
I thought the written questionnaires were bad. They were easy as pie in retrospect; writing your life story is nothing compared to confessing it on camera — even if, I was promised, the video would only be seen by higher-ups in the production chain of command.
I had to describe my upbringing, my sometimes tumultuous familial relations, and any plans I had for the future, among a bevy of other topics. The producer lady read into my body language, asking me why I was wringing my hands when talking about my relationship with my mom, and posing questions that were such a perfect mix of invasive and genuinely inquisitive. Before long, I wondered why this woman didn't work for the FBI. I would have told her anything. You're good, MTV.
An hour and a half later, I was shaking hands, thanking these people for their time, and hurrying out the door as the next would-be cast member arrived for her interview.
Long story short: I passed this test, too, I guess. Now, I've been tasked with recording a five- to ten-minute home video showcasing myself in my own, personal “real world.” After I send it to MTV, they will review it and, based on that and my recorded interview, they will decide whether or not to move me to the next round, which is apparently a Skype interview.
So, instead of spending my week studying like I should be, I'll now be spending it trying to think of a witty script for an audition video I never thought I would make, for a show I never would have tried out for had it not been for a writing assignment.
I worry that it will be the most boring video in the world. But at least I now know I look good on camera, I guess?
I'll let you know how it goes.