Reality TV & Modeling


I happened to be watching one of the Dateline programs, which wasn't (for once) about "To Catch a Predator" and the topic was about a reality television show that was actually a scam, unbeknownest to the contestants. Well, this particular show was a modeling reality show so that got my attention. I watched in amazement and disgust as the "host" of the show, which never got a TV deal and never aired, used the naivete of the contestants to take advantage of them, sexually molest/harrass them and basically falsely lead them to believe they were going to be the next "it" model. Needless to say, I just HAD to write a post about the topic.

When it comes to reality television and modeling, there are tons of shows that millions of male and female aspiring models hope to make it onto. If you're planning on pursuing this avenue in an attempt to get your foot in the door, please, please, PLEASE take note of the following suggestions to keep yourself safe:

1. Go For The Big Guns. The modeling reality television show you submit to should be well known and headed by a professional with a name that is instantly recognizable. For example, everyone knows who Tyra Banks is (America's Next Top Model). Everyone knows who Tyson Beckford is (Make Me a Supermodel). The bogus host of the scam show that was featured on Dateline claimed to be a supermodel, yet he was obviously not of runway/fashion modeling height, had a mediocore if not amateurish "portfolio" on his Myspace page and did not possess any model-like qualities. Aside from his Myspace profile, no one had ever heard of this guy. If you come across a newer show with a host that claims to be a model, do research. If they are not supermodel status they should at least have sufficient "proof" that they have an established career--that means tearsheets, resume, list of credits, agency ties, etc.

2. No Sex Should Be Involved. Legitimate modeling reality shows do not require models to strip down naked or submit to "cosmetic inspections" that require being off camera and one-on-one with anybody...the host included. The bogus supermodel/host on Dateline claimed that the female AND male contestants had to come to his studio, strip to underwear, lie down on a bed and basically get felt up and kissed on by this creep in order to make sure that their complexion, skin and body were up to par for modeling gigs. I wanted to throw up when I watched those segments. As you'll see on shows like "Make Me a Supermodel," they do weigh ins and similar tests required but they are always on-camera, in a group setting and with clothes on.

3. Be Wary of New Shows. The reality television boom continues to remain strong, with people pitching new ideas everyday. Many are trying to ride the coattails of America's Next Top Model and know that there are plenty of eager, unsuspecting newbies just dying for an opportunity. It is always important to do as much research as you can about a new show. Make sure it has officially been given a television contract and find out what network it is supposed to be aired on. If you're still not sure, call the network yourself and ask if they have heard of the show that you are interested in being on. If they have no clue what you're talking about, don't even entertain the thought of appearing on it. To be big in modeling a part of it is who you know so in this case, stick to the trusted and reputable shows that have been on for many seasons. It isn't easy to get on them but at least you won't run the chance of becoming a victim.

4. Familiarize Yourself. Not many people have the slightest inkling of what the reality television world entails, much less the modeling industry. If you have no idea how shows are run, what castings are like for reality TV shows or what being on such a show involves, then hit the Internet and find out. Heck, email me and I'll tell you (I do have a college degree in Radio & TV)! Knowing basic things such as common places where television castings are held, what type of paperwork you'll have to fill out, etc. will allow you to recognize when a reality TV opportunity is not legit. For example, shows like ANTM tend to hold their castings during the daytime in public venues, including--but not limited to--hotels and casting studios. When it comes to casting opportunities in general, I personally avoid those that hold their castings at a nightclub. These types of venues are not appropriate and I don't feel that mixing that type of atmosphere, which involves alcohol, with business is a positive sign. It may work for some clients/projects/people but I would advise against it.

5. Make Sure They Follow The Rules. As far as I am aware of, all modeling reality shows require contestants to be of legal age. In the United States that is 18 years of age or older. There are other reality shows that use underage kids but those typically air on kid-oriented networks like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon and--as far as I know--do not deal with modeling (Toddlers & Tiaras does not count! lol). When it comes to age, networks do not want to deal with the liabilities and legalities that come with working with minors. So if you're 16, 17 or younger and you come across a reality show that is asking for modeling contestants that are underage, that is a huge red flag. Unless the network is well known like NBC, MTV or CBS chances are this is a scam that involves shady people. You'd be surprised by the lengths some people will go to just so they can prey on innocent people. Because these situations usually involve sexual acts that are illegal it makes it that much more important to avoid jumping at any opportunity that doesn't seem right.

As amazing as the end results look when you watch the episodes on television, reality TV is a very intimidating and rough way to break into the industry. But it is quickly becoming an added alternative to getting one's foot in the door so if you choose this method please exercise caution, be wary of anyone you deal with, read the fine print, do your research and if you sense any bad vibes, get out.

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