Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Being A Reality Show Contestant Really Works

How Do I Get on A Reality Show?

It's really difficult to land a spot on a reality show. But even though your chances aren't that great, they're probably better than winning the lottery. So give it a shot. You've got two main options: Sending in an application and video or attending a live audition, aka an open casting call.

The application/video process is the most common way people nab spots on a reality show. Here's how to make a favorable impression:

  • Pay attention to the video itself: Make sure you have proper lighting — no bright lights, windows or anything causing shadows. Nix any background noises and make sure the camera is held steady (by another person or a tripod). Film horizontally; that's how producers will be viewing your video.
  • Plan what you'll say: No, you don't want to be reading a script. But you don't want a lot of "ums" and "ers" in there, either.
  • Be yourself +: You'll appear the most natural being yourself. Yet reality shows are all about personalities. So find a part of your personality you can play up. Are you a nerdy student? Sexy librarian? Annoying know-it-all? Pick one, then stick with it the entire video.
  • Start your video strong and memorable: Directors need to be hooked immediately or they'll stop watching. But don't be silly or weird. Also, no costumes or props. Casting folks want to see you.
  • Stick to the time limit: Then, follow the submission directions. Many potential contestants blow their chances because they don't follow requirements.

If your targeted show holds live auditions, they'll likely be held in a handful of larger cities over a period of weeks or months. Open casting calls typically attract a lot of people, so if you go, be prepared to wait a long time. Here's how to make the most of your audition:

  • Dress in something memorable: But not nutty. Make sure it fits the personality you want to display. Don't wear all black, all white, apparel with logos or too much bling; none of those come across well on-camera.
  • Don't hide any nervousness: If you've got the jitters, admit it. You'll come off better.
  • Don't hide perceived flaws: Did time in jail? Have a slight limp? Hate spiders? Such "flaws" might be appealing to casting folks, who are always looking for the unique.
  • Don't lie: If you do, and the producers find out, you'll be axed. P.S. Background checks are done on most, if not all, reality show contestants.
  • Beware the waiting room: Some shows surreptitiously watch people in the waiting rooms to see if other personalities emerge. So keep your personality going strong in there.

Congrats! You've been selected to be on a reality show. Now, what?