15 minutes of fame – Is it worth it? [VIDEO ON BOTTOM OF PAGE]
One of my acting coaches and founder of The New York Reality TV School, Robert Galinsky, called me on the phone to ask me if I would like shoot a pilot about his school. “First, we are shooting a pilot, then if it gets picked up, it would be a series. It is
going to be shot by VICE” Galinsky informed me, “VICE is doing a new section of their brand and channel, which is to produce shows that aren’t just documentaries. I think you would be great for it!” I listened attentively, but I felt suspicious about it for some reason. “Do I still want to do these kind of interviews?” I ask myself while he is waiting for my answer. “Serious actors don’t do reality TV!” Suddenly I felt a semi-rush of adrenaline. “Who said I am THE typical actor?” – “Ok! I’ll do it! Send me the details via email” – I enthusiastically told him.
It had been a long time that I hadn’t interviewed or shot for the NYRTVS. A couple years ago, Galinsky considered me one of his main students for these kind of interviews and for that I was able to get a feel of what it’s like to be interviewed for radio, magazines, and newspapers. I ended up doing some worldwide press for well known magazines, and newspapers such as The Washington Post, A Sunday Life, from Australia, The Weinerin Report, from Austria, MSN, Time Out Magazine from America and more. I even shot “The School For Reality TV” documentary where Dutch director, Wim Schepens, and crew followed me around Manhattan for a whole day to see what my life was like as an actor and an aspiring “reality TV star”. I got interviewed the often because reporters believed
I had a good and TRUE story to tell: “I am an actress and graphic designer. While being a design student, I was taught to do what I hate to get creative juices flowing. As an actor today, I feel a bit stuck and nervous while going into my auditions, and I’m bored and rebellious toward all of the traditional acting classes offered that will aid me in getting rid of the nerves. After many hours of research for a creative solution to my dilemma, I saw an ad pop up on the side of my Facebook page for Galinsky’s New York Reality TV School. My first thought was “this is ridiculous!” – I hate reality TV and kept thinking – “this is the beginning to an end for actors that are real actors”. Aha! Right there I decided to try out the school because I despised the genre so much. My second thought was a bit more positive than the first: “Maybe it could help me NOT BE so nervous at auditions?” Believe it or not, the classes worked for this purpose and much more.
VICE shooting day arrives! It’s a Saturday morning about 10:30am and I am feeling a bit negative about the whole thing. Maybe it’s because the location is all the way EAST in alphabet city, and I live all the way WEST in Chelsea area. I dress for the occasion: a cute floral flared dress from Zara that makes me look young and “fun” (to get me in the mood). I paired up my dress with cute tan ankle booties with some fringe on its side and finally I arrive to the given address; but, there is nothing but a grimy, lonely looking, cornered commercial space with bad graffiti painted all over it’s black shutters. I think to myself as I turn around and pull out my phone “I’m not in the mood for this, but maybe coffee will help while I call Robert”. All of the sudden, I hear a loud creaky sound of shutters being opened, followed by a man-made whistle sound – It’s Robert whistling at me and leading me into “set”: “You’re here! Make yourself comfortable, for we are still waiting for some other students”. As I enter the space, I realize it’s an abandoned deli decorated with an old fashioned 90’s looking art work of a once upon a time breakfast or lunch menu wrapped along the top wall. I gathered the venue must have recently closed because it was crowded with POP and display furniture, like fruit stands wrapped with green turf. The rest of the place was surrounded by empty and dusty white shelves around the top walls and interestingly enough, the lightly varnished plywood floors hammered together side by side, made my steps sound hollow as I walked across the room. Overall, I loved the set for the purposes of this particular shoot despite me feeling a bit empty about my reason for being there. The rest of the room was filled with crew dressed in black, cameras and sound equipment, and with very few students that I normally wouldn’t be in the same room with if outside of this moment.
My classmates def had SOMETHING interesting about them at first glance. Maybe it’s because some looked homeless? Like any human being, I couldn’t help to think and judge what I was seeing: “Is this what the NYRTVS has become? Homeless looking people thinking they are fit for reality TV? Is that what entertainment has come down to!? I guess a lot of crazy ‘looking’ people are the ones that REALLY make into reality TV in the end.” I believe I had a evidence for these thoughts. For example, a pair of young friendly Caucasian male students looked like they wore the same clothes that hadn’t been washed in days! They both wore old, dirty, green, army, camouflaged pants with grey t-shirts filled with all sorts of holes on them. They both had really messy knotted hair, topped with crazy hats that were filled up with different type of pins, rubber cables, safety pins, and random objects. I eventually let go of all the judgements to become one with the experience: “this is an interesting good mix and it might make for some good content”. I moved on to meeting the other student whom were also unique in their own way:
1. A sweet, middle aged, tall and strong, legally blind, black musician/singer with a really obvious wig on her head. When she spoke to me, she would look elsewhere due to her blind condition. She wasn’t shy to sing song loudly on the spot while on set, and later she was dared by the crew and Galinsky to sing in the middle of the supermarket across the street while getting it all on tape as part of an exercise.
2. A tall, skinny, young 20’s something, Caribbean, well dressed and overly excited “trying too hard” kinda guy. He was really happy to be a part of this pilot, which according to him, it was really going to happen. I forgot his name, but he was getting ready to audition for The Real World after our VICE shoot.
3. A charming looking, tall, all-american, fit, blue eyed, brunette male in his older 20’s whom was a former model and a most probable smoker since his obvious tar stained teeth showed as he flirtatiously smiled
me. He shared with the group that he was raised by his grandparents since he was a baby, for his dad is in jail for life and his mother is long gone and who knows where.>>>
As part of a NYRTVS student, we had to tell the rest of the group a secret about ourselves or else you are not reality TV worthy. The point of the exercise is to become totally vulnerable in front of the cameras and classmates because it’s considered the ultimate entertainment for viewers. I don’t remember what my public confession was, but I was able to learn the background of each of my classmates with this particular class exercise which proved my instincts to be correct! Some of the students confessed that they were indeed homeless and that they were currently living in shelters. I instinctually knew the camouflaged pair of males were living in such conditions, but despite this fact, the homeless wearing the crazy hat, Jon Headlee,
surprised me on what an intellectual, well spoken, considerate, polite, resourceful, and well connected (social media wise) person he was out of the bunch. I actually ended up hanging out with him after our VICE shoot was wrapped to read each other’s tarot cards, and have many interesting conversations about space, aliens, and different dimensions that exist in the universe. Presently, we keep in touch via social media, but before the class was officially over, Galinsky preached to us the 10 Commandments of Reality TV, followed by a private confessional room that every student had to partake in. The goal was to talk 15 minutes non-stop into the video camera to confess and convince producers & viewers WHY we were dying to be in reality TV and why we were the best fit for this series.
I said a lot in that confessional, for I felt rushed and felt the need to babble my REAL thoughts about WHY reality TV should or would involve me. I don’t believe I will get a call back! But I realized how nice it was revisiting the school after 4+ years and it felt very productive since it was actually being shot by THE well-known VICE. It made me realize how much I actually did learn at the NYRTVS in the following ways:
1. I no longer feel nervous at auditions because I KNOW that being “me” while introducing myself to casting directors is the best way to get the job. Galinsky teaches and reassures his students that each story is unique to the rest of world and that viewers want to see that on TV.
2. I have a well prepared 30 second elevator pitch to introduce myself for any audition or casting which I am able to deliver it well due to all the practice we got during class.
4. I learned to question WHAT REALLY makes people, places, and things interesting and thenI apply it to myself while giving interviews for TV and/or radio. This is what truly makes an interview entertaining.
Despite the novelty of the NYRTVS being worn out for me, I can admit I have come a long way. As for Galinsky and his school, the world of Reality TV knows he made history and there is plenty of proof floating around out there. But I think that after he interviewed with so many radio stations, TV, newspaper, news room, magazine etc., I believe it has calmed down for him a bit. Now he coaches children for TED Talks and occasionally coaches me for major TV network auditions. As for VICE and the pilot, it’s been five months, but I still haven’t heard any word from them. (http://www.newyorkrealitytvschool.com – for press info)
Article on VICE HERE
A documentary about the first day of class at the New York Reality TV School.
By John Wilson