I should’ve known that this was going to be my worst audition ever when the show’s title was simply, Untitled Reality Project. I should’ve walked out right there. The empty waiting room was another clue. Only another young man waited for his audition, reading a magazine from the table beside him.
The premise of the show was pretty much a group of stereotypical people from various minorities who live together in a large house where racial humor and “delightfully offensive insults” occur. The character they had asked me to audition for was a white, gay, racist, paraplegic young man. It was supposed to be a comedic reality show, but the only thing comedic about it was their lack of planning in pre-production and tasteless concept.
Yes, you might be wondering that if this was a reality TV program, then why would they cast someone like me to play a fictional character? Here’s the honest truth that you should know before you decide to audition for a reality TV show: reality TV is not real.
Months prior to filming, characters are carefully scripted, the locations are chosen meticulously (or built from the ground-up) and producers (along with their writers) storyboard fights, personal tragedies and romantic affairs. Very little reality TV is actually real, so you must be comfortable with memorizing lines and improving fights with people you’re not actually mad at.
The production dates of this particular reality TV program were undetermined and the script lacked character depth or substance in plot. The audition process itself began with snacking on stale cookies and some cheap imitation orange juice for an hour and a half before being called into a room where a very befuddled producer and a half-asleep writer sat in chairs behind a desk.
“So how do you feel about Bernice?” the confused producer asked me on camera. “Who’s Bernice?” I responded. Eventually, we all came to the realize that the producers had never emailed anyone the character cards or descriptions to anyone auditioning for this reality TV program. So instead they instructed me to improvise a fight with Bernice, yelling all kinds of racial slurs and offensive insults to a poor stand-in. When it was all over, I didn’t know who felt worse, the stand-in or me.
Needless to say, I never heard back from the producers, because I later found on the grapevine of Hollywood gossip that production was canceled not long after the auditions were over. The lesson for actors here is to always follow your intuition during auditions, pick and choose your scripts very carefully and remember that in Hollywood, even reality TV isn’t real.