Lights, Camera, Reality

Reality TV aspirants try to build a "unique" persona with "emotional immunity."

ByABC News
July 23, 2008, 8:46 PM

July 28, 2008— -- In a large studio space in midtown Manhattan, men and women of all ages actually line up to be individually insulted. In front of a raucous crowd, they are booed and told they are terrible, awful people.

It's one of the key exercises at the New York Reality TV School, and the point is to build emotional endurance to criticism and rejection. The students engage in a variety of wacky drills like this because they all desperately long for a few precious seconds on reality TV.

When -- and if -- they get that chance on "American Idol," "The Bachelorette" or "Flavor of Love," they want to be prepared.

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"Reality television is that dirty addiction that we all get stuck to," explained 24-year-old Reality TV student Christina Powis. "It's booming. I would love to get into it."

"I love reality TV and I think my personality would be great for a reality show," said fellow classmate Ebony Coles.

Of course, for many students, the ultimate dream is that reality TV will catapult them to a higher level of fame. For a lucky few, that has been the case.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a 2001 alumnus of "Survivor: The Australian Outback," has become a star on the talk show "The View."

Overnight sensation Jennifer Hudson crooned her way from a losing contestant on "American Idol" to an Oscar-award-winning actress in "Dream Girls."

If you've ever thought you could be the next reality show superstar if only you had some coaching, then the New York Reality TV School was designed specifically for you.

The classes are a forum for extroverts, hams and dreamers to release their media fears and inhibitions.

"I'm a dermatologist, and I came here to learn how to present myself on camera and get more involved in media," said Jessica Krant.

Student Scott Glover, "a firefighter and an improviser," said he "came to check it out."

"It's all about promotion for me, getting it out there," said Hashim Smith a.k.a. "Trendz," a veteran of VH1's reality show "I Love New York." "This is really good for me."

While the students stretch and dance to music, they are filmed by camera crews hired by the school. The idea is to help them become confident and comfortable should they one day land that make-it-or-break-it role.

The school is the brainchild of 43-year-old acting coach Robert Galinsky. His one-night seminars cost $139 a pop and the curriculum is all about "being real." He says he's not teaching his students to be actors. Rather, he's teaching them how not to act.