8 Steps To Be On a Reality Show

July 16, 2013

People ask me all the time how I made it on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Even just yesterday as I was chatting with my friend Micah over coffee, the topic came up. Since it's such a popular question, I've put the process into 8 simple steps for you. When you become rich and famous I'll expect a thank you note. On paper. Embossed. Step 1: Research, research, research. What show do you want to be on? What are your skills and personality traits? Are you looking for the man of your dreams and gearing to get on The Bachelor or do you have a product or business you’re in need of funding for and aiming for Shark Tank? Decide on the show that you can envision yourself succeeding on. Step 2: More research. Once you’ve picked a show, watch AS MANY episodes as you can. Hulu, YouTube, and Google are places you’ll want to start seeking out videos. Once you’ve watched every episode, sit down and watch them again. Step 3: Research people’s experiences with that particular show. Dreaming of competing on The Amazing Race? Google “experience on Amazing Race” or “competed on Amazing Race” and read past contestant’s stories. Step 4: Now it’s time to seek out the audition process. What network is the show on? Most networks have their own casting pages. You can also sign up for emails from casting agencies or like their facebook pages such as Jennifer Sullivan Casting for first-hand casting notices. Network Casting PagesNBCABCCBS, BravoOwn, Food NetworkCooking ChannelFox, MTVTLC Casting Agencies: Doron Ofir Casting, HNE Reality, Twins Talent, West Casting, The Conlin Company Step 5: Follow the audition process. For Cupcake Wars, I had to fill out a 10 page application answering detailed personality questions. Take your time here and answer completely and concisely. Try to keep your answers short and to the point—the casting people have a lot of applications to read and you want to make sure yours gets read. They don't care what you had for breakfast this morning. Step 6: Follow up. Be kindly persistent. Find out what the next step is. After my application was accepted I was called and directed to make an audition tape which then needed to be uploaded to YouTube. I was given a very tight deadline. Stick to the deadline.

Here's an excerpt from the first email I received about audition instructions:

Hey Heather,

If you could film something this weekend and send me a link via YouTube sometime early next week, that would rule!
First things first - I've attached our official application, which I'd love for you to fill out and e-mail back to me, along with a few photos of yourself.
I've also attached video instruction guidelines to this e-mail, just like we spoke about. We want to hear from you, we definitely want to see your store and hear about how you JUST opened, get a feel for the vibe, but this video is about personality, personality, personality! : ) Be sure to talk about why you want to be on the show - whether it's that you're competitive and feel like you could kick ass at challenges or how you just opened your shop and really want to get the exposure for your shop, etc. 

Step 7: Follow the instructions you are given. If you need to hire people to help film, do so. The first time I auditioned for Cupcake Wars I had a friend shoot my video and we just winged the whole video. I did not get chosen for Cupcake Wars that year. The second time I auditioned, I hired someone to film and direct my video. How badly do you want this? Do what you have to do to stand out. You might get another shot as I did but you might not. So make. This. Count.

Step 8: Now it’s waiting time. This is the hard part. Keep following up with your casting person and cross your fingers. If you don’t make it this time, find out when the next round of casting is and stay in touch. Good luck! For Comments: What reality show would you love to be on?

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