Is there ‘real’ in reality TV ?

As someone who had spent many years of my life trying to hit the big time in the acting world, I never thought I’d be happy to do a Reality TV series. To me, reality shows were like career suicide. Although in all honesty, I hadn’t exactly had a serious acting career to stress about .. Unless you call running around in an orange furry dress singing ‘I love you, you love me’ to an 8 foot purple dinosaur (Barney), a serious career move !

I’d never really had a bucket list but one day when I was trying to work out more of a ‘100 & 1 weird things to do’ list. A crappy Reality TV show was the only natural progression. Now let me set the record straight. I was in NO WAY seriously thinking I’d soon be married to the world’s most perfect man and nor was I looking to ‘revive’ my amazing Oscar worthy acting career. I just wanted to be utterly ridiculous .. Because, well, that’s the theme of my life ! And I really wanted it to be bad, tacky, awful, embarrassing TV, not just your run of the mill mind numbing television.

I had spent many years of my life trying to carve out a career as a professional actor which had been my dream for many years. I was so obsessed that when I was younger I remember thinking, if I couldn’t be an actor, then I wasn’t going to work for the rest of my life. Little did I realise that as an actor, you actually don’t work for the rest of your life.

After wasting years desperate for my phone to ring and hear my agents voice on the other end of the phone, not taking full time jobs (or any other jobs really) in case I got a casting or audition, eating beaked beans and 2 minute noodles every single day, I thought it was perhaps best that I tried something else so I’d be able to eat over the course of my life, I decided to become an agent. I stupidly believed I’d at least be around creative types and we could discuss Stanislavsky and Pinter all day. Boy was I wrong ! I  had an absolute blast most days doing the job and it was certainly an interesting study on human nature.

Each day I had to interview up to 30 prospective talent to go on our books, that would then be submitted for work in film and television. My first agency was mostly for extras and bit parts which was a great introduction to the other side of the Entertainment industry. These were very much people looking at breaking in to the industry, beginners with stars in their eyes and no money in their pockets, willing to do ANYTHING for a shot at standing in the background on a beach shot in Home & Away. Surely this would get them noticed for a lead role in a feature film ? Or so they thought. One of the common things I heard extras say was ‘I’ll just doing silly things in the background so I get noticed’. The only problem with that is, an extra’s job is to blend into the background and NOT stand out !

These were the very people I was now going to be auditioning against. I was about to become one of THOSE people that I used to raise eyebrows at every day, one of those very people that used to drive me crazy with the notion that acting is the easiest job in the world (If you’ve never tried it, please give it a go ! You’ll soon find out just how difficult it is)

During that time as an agent, I was horrified on a daily basis when ‘talent’ would come in professing to be professional actors. Usually the first thing I would ask is ‘so what have you done ?’ Inevitably the answer would be ‘nothing, I just know I’m really talented’ Hmmmmm well I think I happen to be a seriously talented Irish jig dancer and that aint gonna happen ! The other thing I would mention is perhaps getting some training. The training that actually gives you some sort of inkling of what to do. This was usually met with utter disgust ‘but why do I need training ?, I already know I’m great’. Granted, there are some incredibly talented actor’s out there who have never had training and are naturally gifted or a genius. Some have even won Oscar’s. But let’s face it, they are very few and far between.

Some people would take the advice and head off ready the audition for an acting school, but many (and I mean many) would proceed in ignoring my advice and proceeding in showing me their Actors shots. This was always a moment of dread, knowing what I was about to see. My eyes are burning just thinking about it.

There were usually three options to expect…

1 ) Those vile glamour shots that try to make everyone look like a 1950’s housewife and the lady wants to give her husband the thrill of his life when he opens her portfolio, only to see her sprawled out over a weird looking, floral lounge in a pink, frilly night dress or underwear, with a tonne of make-up where they now look absolutely NOTHING like themselves. I’ve even seen some charming men’s glamour shots where they’ve stuck a toupe on the poor guy’s head and the colour doesn’t match the rest of his hair.

Now I promise I’m not trying to be mean here but these people are coming to see an AGENT, not a second or third rate home porn studio looking to hire ‘real’ looking people for an 80’s style porno.

2 ) The family shots – The shot with dog, the shot with sister, the shot with entire family where you can just make out the person you’re interviewing, the kids shot, the standing in front of my house shot.

3 ) The money shot – Full frontal, hairy (usually) Vagina shot ! Yes, it’s true. I could never quite believe it but this happened to me on numerous occasions. The photos were usually packaged quite well in a professional, black leather portfolio case. The first shots were usually the G-String. By this point I usually knew what was coming but these ladies were so proud of their shots ‘look at the next one, the next ones even better’ I became quite good at picking out who had potential to be voted ‘best new talent in a supporting role’.

And ummmmm that’s pretty much it ! A few years later I became a Kids agent. Much safer.

Now imagine years of looking at hairy vaginas and people without a modicum of talent calling me on a daily basis, demanding I send them to castings and auditions and make them the next big thing, the thought of vying for a spot on Reality TV against many of those ‘types’ would not exactly be something I’d run towards.

But here I was, standing in front of the show’s Producers telling them how much I wanted to meet the man of my dreams on Reality TV, that I was ready for marriage, babies and ‘settling down’. If any of my ex partners had watched the show, I’m pretty sure they would have been vomiting out the porridge they ate for breakfast when they heard me utter those words. I’m not exactly known for being the ‘settled’ type.

I was the oldest one there (no surprises considering I was 40) The room was full of stunning, perky and adorable women either wanting their chance at fame or love or possibly even both.

We were asked to talk about what we were looking for in a man. My usual response to anyone who asked me this was ….Intelligent, funny, confident, caring, conservationist, loves nature, wants to travel the world, adventurous, stable, warm, interesting, not boring or pretentious, no drugs, no football fanatics, someone who could ride horse, wants a French Bulldog … Ect ect

You get the picture. I was asking quite alot (Which may explain why I was still single at 40) I do remember one of the Producers saying ‘we will see what we can do’ Now that doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.

Luck should have it and a few days later I was told I’d be one of ten women vying for one man’s affection. Welcome to Please Marry My Boy. If you’ve never seen the show, the premise is they choose three (very) lucky men who need a wife (now) and have asked for the help of their mothers to choose that woman. I told you I wanted the world’s tackiest show !!!!

amber-media-shot

Please Marry My Boy Media shot

The first time we would meet our future husbands (insert sarcasm here) was going to be on a date … In front of the cameras … with the son … and MOTHER !!!!!!!!! Now there’s something to look forward to.

As we waited in anticipation to meet our future husband (haha) we were spoilt rotten in a beautiful, big mansion in the very exclusive Eastern suburbs of Sydney. I have to admit, we did all feel like super stars on the day. I met with the other girls who were mostly wonderful. Some, as you can imagine were the vacuous, fake boobs, ‘I don’t need to work on my personality because I’m hot’ types. But seriously, there were mostly smart, beautiful and interesting ladies who were just up for a bit of fun more than anything.

The first thing I felt was OLD. But hey, I could break a record for being the oldest woman on a Reality dating show in Australia (I’ll check that out) The second thing I noticed was just how many issues all of these wonderful women had encountered finding decent men in Sydney (also another chapter) I secretly had my fingers and toes crossed that at least of few of them would find happiness, even if it was the fame type of happiness.

The next thing I noticed was a vagina (Sorry if you’re eating) Yup, you guessed it, my worst moments had come back to haunt me again. One of the girls was very fond of talking about how pretty she was and ‘look at how beautiful my vagina is’ … I did almost walk out there and then but I had to remind myself that this was going to be a social experiment and what was I expecting ? , The Royal Shakespeare Company. So, I gritted my teeth and pretended I was interested in this ladies assets that I was going to see much more of throughout the process.

As expected with any television shoots, there was LOT’S of waiting around. This wasn’t such a bad thing considering we were stuck in the HUGE mansion. Most of the other ladies were primping and preening but to be honest, I was more worried about my snake (yes, I have a pet snake) having to wait for so long. To my surprise, most of the ladies were really interested in meeting him and some even wanted to give him a snuggle ! Who wouldn’t want to snuggle a snake ? Don’t answer that !

As we waited our turn to go in, we filmed various scenes of everyone going a bit crazy and chatting with the bar guy (who ended up being our man’s dad spying on us and eventually giving sneaky info on our weird dance moves) It really was loads of fun and a good sign of things to come.

Each of the ladies had their first date and everyone came out saying ‘he’s a nice person’ and we ALL know what that means.

I was the last lady to go in.

As I waltzed in through the doors, I was very conscious of my reaction so as not to appear rude in any way if I wasn’t attracted to him (I wasn’t, but he seemed lovely) They were a traditional Italian family and I could tell  our man and his mothr were very, very close. I’ve always loved large, loud and a ‘little bit crazy’ family life and this was going to be on massive, Italian mob.

They were both squeezed so tightly onto a couch and it looked incfedibly uncomfortable.

Carlo and Maria.jpg

I sat myself down in front of them both to accept my grilling .. Why are you still single ? Do you want children ? How many ? Do you like Italian food ? How much money do you earn ? Is that a snake in your bag ??  Wait .. What ? Ohhhhhhh, inside this bag ? Yes, it’s a snake (Something I’d forgotten to mention) As with all reality TV shows, it’s always good viewing if you’re a little bit weird/odd (something I had no trouble with) So, I whipped my snake out on the first date with a mother and son !

What I didn’t realise was the poor little old lady was TERRIFIED of snakes ! ‘Please don’t get it out, if you get it out, I’ll be running’ ! Now she’s ruined my staring moment and I can’t whip my snake out .. Geez, now I’ll have to rely on my personality.

When I finished my date the girls all asked how it went. My response was ‘he’s a nice person’.

This was a VERY traditional, Italian family and I am the LEAST traditional person I know. And they wanted him to have babies. And MANY of them. Babies ?? HELLLLPPPPPPPP ! Gulp. For this reason, I knew I wouldn’t be chosen (again, stupid mother ruined my staring snake moment and that was all I was going to get) There were some lovely young (Fertile) women in the group who would have made a great match with him but i certainly didn’t think it was me.

It took another few good hours for the men and mothers to decide which of the ladies were most suitable for their sons. It was a tense few hours with all of the ladies trying to guess who would be moving in to the house in a few weeks time.

Usually in a room full of women vying for a man’s attention, they’d be the typical bitchy looks to one another, possibly some hair pulling or 5 or so women in the corner crying that there were so many other beautiful women to compete with. Perhaps that’s what happens on The Bachelor ? But for the most part, our ladies were incredibly civilized and sweet. I’m not sure if it was because we all saw our man as ‘a nice person’ or just because we were too exhausted to care ? But it was a great atmosphere and we had a brilliant crew who were also full of laughs and advice.

As the cameras came in close for the big reveal of which three women would be chosen to move into the MOTHERS HOUSE … I was having a great time working out which of these girls would be pregnant within 2 months of the show finishing.

Two of the girls were chosen and there were no surprises. Beautiful and very sweet ! Kristy also happened to become a very dear lifelong friend.  As they interviewed us to ask who they thought would be the last lady to go in to the house (Apron wearing Jail), Vagina girl piped up and said ‘It has to be me, I know I’m the last one’. In typical reality TV style, she gave a good fight. You can almost predict that when someone says ‘it’s me’, that it isn’t. And it wasn’t !!!!

The announcement finally came .. The third girl will understand my son as she’s a similar age … I start looking around .. she’s 25, she’s 30’s .. Ummm OH CRAP, it’s me !!!

I’m not really sure who was more surprised, me or everyone else standing in that room. Most of all Vagina girl. She was NOT a happy camper. Sometimes having cute ‘bits’ doesn’t help you one iota.

Please Marry my Boy Episode 1

Next thing we were whisked away to get a briefing about what happens next. It was all top secret squirrel business and we were not allowed to tell anyone what mischief we were about to get up to. We were advised to disable our Facebook / Twitter accounts and not say a word, not even to our closest friends and family .During this meeting we also spoke about dealing with media and crazy ass public who may want to kill you (kidding.. I don’t think anyone did ?? Please speak up now) I lied to everyone and told them I was going to be busy working.

And so it began. I moved into a house with a man I’d set eyes on once, while his mother glared at me with ‘if you don’t have babies soon, you will be the saddest person alive eyes’ . I’m not one to really suffer from nerves but it was so strange moving into someone else’s home. Truth be told, I was crapping myself just a little.

I was very pleased to be moving in with the two other girls he’d chosen. One was a lovely country girl, full of life and a beautiful heart (He would have been crazy not to pick her) and the other, a city girl who was independent and the one he connected with almost straight away.

kristy.jpgTanya.png

Now I did think about not going into the house as I didn’t feel we were compatible and nor was I attracted to him. But most of the other girls hadn’t said that he was their dream guy so I thought it would be nice to get to know him and see if my feelings changed.

As we moved into the house, it became clear very quickly that we were going to be in very close proximity to one another (create some drama). We had two bunk beds and one small wardrobe for three grown women. One of them (I won’t mention which one) took over EVERYTHING pretty quickly so I had one drawer to put everything in and a small area in the closet, which quite frankly, I would have liked to have crawled in at this point. But I really didn’t mind. I’m not exactly a high maintenance kind of girl (I’m pretty humble after having chimp poo thrown in my mouth)

The first few days were really fun but i already knew there was going to be zero love connection between him and I (derrrrrrr) But I decided to have as much fun as possible, get to know the other girls and experience everything this show had to offer.

On the first family dinner I was already beginning to understand that I was the ‘third’ girl, particularly when he dropped an entire plate of food in my lap (thank god they didn’t air that bit) You kinda know how this is all going to pan out. And it did.

Throughout the show, we were given ‘activities’ to woo the man and make him our’s so we could start making babies ASAP (in 3 weeks) One of mine was to make up a dance routine Woooo Hoooo just my luck 🙂 I created the best damn dance I’ve ever seen (for 9 year olds) Sadly for the mother, I HAD to win this round, therefore making me the lucky lady to go on a date with said ‘perfect man’ . I wasn’t impressed when our date turned out to be a theme park ! I am terrified of rides and I haven’t been on one since I made a ride operator stop the pirate ship I was on when I was about 14. I got away with the Merry Go Round first. It was a delightful ride and especially when he tried to do a smooth move and cross horses, only to crush his nuts as he landed on the next horse (I must not laugh, I must not laugh) Next up came the Roller Coaster. I absolutely HAD to go on it .. It was national TV after all. No backing out now. The next two minutes were some of the worst of my life (ok, so not quite the worst) I proceeded in throwing out the F$%*& bomb the entire ride. This was going to be great viewing.

amber-and-carlo

The date ended with us having a sad conversation about us being old and single and not having any children (gasp) It was actually a fun night and the only time I really got to know anything about him. It looked like we were forming a friendship and that was wonderful.

It wasn’t exactly taxing or strenuous filming the show but it did get a bit boring during the times when there were no set activities. It could also get very tense living with an Italian family (many of them) and three grown women in the same room. All part of the Producer’s plan to create an environment where people could bitch and complain and hopefully have bitch fights in the spa filled with mud !

I found myself crying at times, angry at times and VERY embarrassed at myself. One of those moments was when I was on the toilet and I was doing a number 2 (sorry again) It was a welcome relief as I’d been building it up for a few days from the stress of being in a new environment. I suddenly heard the sound guy talking in my earpiece and realized he could hear EVERYTHING….. Every single thing …. I was mortified but then I realized this is something they must listen to every day. Still, it’s more embarrassing when it’s your own.

After a few weeks of being stuffed like a chicken ‘you must eat’ every 2 hours, I was beginning to dream out the world outside. It was clear that I was only going to make friendships in the house (which was awesome) but I really did feel like I didn’t belong. I started to chat with the Producers to let them know I wanted out and ASAP ! They talked me into staying a little longer but only for a few days.

Each few days we held a Ceremony to rate the girls in order of favourite to ‘you suck and you will never be my daughter in law’ You can guess which pile I landed in EVERY . SINGLE . TIME . On this particular day, I was over being so degraded .. I know, I know – That’s what it’s all about right ???

We all knew the producers had something planned and I was secretly excited and hoped it was an ‘elimination’. My happiness was quickly dissolved when we were met with ‘Intruder Vagina girl’ I loved the word intruder … She was a welcome relief by this point because I knew she was my out !

Leaving the show

I pretended I was surprised by the arrival of another lady and went upstairs to talk to our wonderful producers. Together we hatched a plan for me to get out. Sounds sooooooo dramatic !

Mother and son were told to sit in the kitchen (where else would a woman want to be right ?) I entered carrying my photo that had been placed in last position every ceremony. I have it to the lovely mamma and told her I was giving it back and replacing it with Vagina girls photo (ok, so I didn’t say that)

There were tears … Probably relief ! And I made a swift exit but a sad goodbye to the new friends in my life.

Episode 3 Season 2 Please Marry my Boy * Warning – I swear a lot in this !

A few weeks later I was asked to do a few media interviews about my shock exit. I decided to spice things up a little and tell them exactly what I thought .. The guy was dull, boring and acted like a 12-year-old. oops !  I should apologise now because there was a little poetic license going on here and even though he was noy my type at all, he was a nice enough guy most of the time. Little did I know he was watching the live appearance at home and was giving our PR lady a mouthful. He’s never spoken to me since (there’s a surprise) and I believe he now has two gorgeous kids with a young woman who was a fan of the show and knew that he was the man for her ! Lucky him. He really does deserve happiness and joy and LOT’S of babies for mamma !

please-marry-my-boy

The best part of media interviews above !

The show was not a big success and we didn’t even get a poster on the back of the bus ! I’ll never be famous but it was never my aim to become a reality tv star. My motive was always to experience something totally unique and unusual.But it was a wonderful experience I shall never forget.

One of the downsides of doing a show like this are the mean comments written about you. I was pretty lucky and mostly got the ‘she’s old’ card or the why did she even go into the house when all she wants to do is travel the world ? Hmmmm fair call ! I even got the ‘you’re too old to have babies’ PHEW !!!! Lucky me 😉

If you’ve ever thought about it, do it ! You probably wont find Mr right but you will find awesome friends and a new-found love of making as much noise as possible when you pee, to annoy the sound guy.

Get out there everyone. Survivor ? The Amazing Race ? Master Chef ?

You’ve got this !

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing – Helen Keller

 

 

 

15 Comments on “Is there ‘real’ in reality TV ?

  1. What a fun and interesting read! The whole idea of auditioning for an obscure reality show just for the experience seems like a very adventurous thing to do, although I guess that fits pretty well with your style 😉

  2. Too funny 😀

    I did a little acting here in the states though I wasn’t trained. We a total illusion gets created for audiences!

      • My little happenstance adventure of some nonunion things and background work for soaps taught me that one needs far more dedication to the craft/art than I have to take so many pricey classes, often work for little, juggle entire life, etc. — and still making a living off of it is akin to winning the lottery.

        To my mind the true successes were actors who did it for the thrill– for whom $$ and recognition were simply added benefits.

        I am a writer at heart. While I envy those who’re at making cash out of doing several arts at the same time, I must appreciate my strengths as well as weaknesses.

        There are sooooo many talented artists…

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