10 Secrets of Filming Reality TV Shows

Actors Are Sometimes Used
Jerome Jackson and Bernice Brunson of "South Beach Tow" participate in a celebrity basketball game. In real life Bernice was an actor and phys-ed teacher and not an employee of the tow company. Thaddaeus McAdams/WireImage/Getty Images

Say it ain't so! Regular people are so colorful, why in the world would a reality show use actors? Reasons undoubtedly vary, but it's not unusual for actors to portray "regular" people on some shows. Viewers initially thought "South Beach Tow," a Jennifer Lopez production that debuted in 2011, was a true reality show about the Tremont Tow Truck company's more interesting encounters. It's actually a scripted show, with actors re-enacting real events. And some insiders stress that the actors "dramatically" re-enact incidents that are "only loosely based" on real-life events [sources: Peckerar, John].

It's no secret to fans that many of the contestants on both "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" are professional actors or models, often dubbed "mactors." Lynne Spillman, the shows' head of casting, has openly admitted this in various interviews, saying that while the shows receive tens of thousands of applications, the vast majority of applicants aren't deemed a good fit for the show. In addition to using mactors, at least in its early years, "Survivor" recreated some competition scenes with body doubles to get better shots [sources: ABC News, Dehnart].