How to Become a Reality-TV Star: 20 Tips From '20/20'

PHOTO: Survivor Redemption Island Episode 4

Want to trade real life for reality-TV stardom? Well, here are 20 tips from casting pros Scott Salyers, Sarah Monson and Sara O'Neil for how to avoid a wipeout and be a survivor in the shark tank that is reality-TV casting:

1. Be yourself. "So many times people come in thinking, 'Oh, I bet they want me to do this.' Don't put on an act," casting director Scott Salyers said. "Just be your genuine self. That's what's going to get you further in the process.

"A lot of times … they'll start being loud and belligerent and you can tell that's not how they really are. Don't think that we need everyone to cause fireworks."

Casting director Sarah Monson added, "Everyone should come feeling good about who they are and leave feeling good about who they are. So if they are not right for this project, we'll keep their info for another project. It always works out that way."

2. Bring on the personality. "The most important thing for me is personality. You have to be interesting to watch. If you're not interesting to watch, people are going to turn the channels," Monson said.

Watch the "20/20" special, "Reality Rule$: When TV Gets Real," online here.

3. Don't be afraid of what others think. "What makes a good reality show participant is someone [who is] not concerned with how they're going to look on camera or what everyone thinks about them," Salyers said. "They literally can't help but offend you, or make you laugh."

4. It helps to have an unexpected occupation or skill. "I love casting someone [like a] tattooed guy with piercings that you don't realize is actually a phenomenal father of five who teaches kindergarten," Salyers said. "To me, that's great that you break expectations of what you're looking for."

Monson, too, was surprised by a blonde reality-TV show hopeful at a recent casting call: "I thought, 'Oh my, she might just be kind of your typical L.A. blonde,' but she spoke Japanese, she was really interesting. … We love that."

5. Be a triple threat. "You want someone who's either going to cause conflict, or they're going to be comical, or they're going to be sexy. One of those three things you really want in someone, and if you get someone who has all three; fantastic," Salyers said.

6. Make sure you're a suitable contestant for the show. This might seem obvious but don't apply for shows for which you are ineligible. "If we are looking for single people, don't be married. It's a waste of our time; it's a waste of your time," casting director Sara O'Neil said. "Just be right for what you are submitting."

7. Casting doesn't always necessarily happen at casting calls. Be prepared, you never know who's watching. Casting directors are constantly looking for potential contestants, so you might be discovered when you least expect it. Monson says she keeps an eye out for people all the time, in grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

8. Don't censor yourself; be open about your personal life. "That's what you want; the people [who] don't have a filter and they don't care. They're going to share their opinion," Salyers said. "They don't mind sharing their secrets."

9. Arrogance is a turn-off. Monson says what makes a contestant a definite 'no' for her is "if they think they are awesome," or if "they are cocky for no reason. You can't make them better no matter how hard you try."

10. For better or worse, be memorable. "I want you to remember that person whether you go, 'Wow, I loved that person,' or, 'I couldn't stand her,'" Salyers said. "That's the best reaction I can get from anyone that watches any of my shows."

Follow 20/20 on Twitter

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...