Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The one about the Design Star casting...

Well, this past weekend I decided to go to Atlanta for a one day trip to try out for HGTV's Design Star. I thought that they would look at your portfolio and tape you answering some questions. It was nothing like I imagined.

I sat in a room all day long (like they do on American Idol) and had to change my flight twice only to meet with a teenager who does reality tv casting and who seemingly knows nothing about interior design. She never even made eye contact with me and asked me to tell her about my personality in the most bored tone of voice I have ever heard (not exactly inspiring cartwheels over here). I will admit that I was flummoxed by the situation and did not answer the question the way that I planned, but it was clear that they were only interested in people who would be exciting on reality television and I am only brash and funny and outrageous after getting to know you (or after a few cocktails - hey, maybe I should have gone in drunk?)

One woman who got a callback looked like the Octomom and was carrying around leaves that she had sprayed with glitter... But I also admit that I was number 140 to speak to the teenager so she had every right to be bored and to only give each person 90 seconds to spark her interest.

I met MFAMB and I think she did well (she got a callback), but she is a professional actress with personality plus, not an interior designer. So if she gets on the show I hope she is able to produce good design week after week and I will root for her and the wonderful girls I met in the waiting room - Allie, Lacey, and Hannah.

I am so glad that I went and know how the process is so I won't always be wondering if I could have done it. The time I spent preparing was great because it forced me to think about my angle, my point of view in design, and a nerve-racking interview situation is ALWAYS good practice in life. But at the end of the day, thinking about the ramifications of having to go away for seven weeks to film made me realize that I have a lot to do this year, including graduating in May and applying for dream jobs and maybe moving to Florida or California, so what the heck am I doing throwing that away for a chance to hang out with Octomom????

My advice if you ever want to be on a reality show? Don't go to the cattle call - send in a video tape so that you control what you say and how you show your personality. And don't be hurt if you don't get chosen - they are looking for a very specific "character" for the show, and not necessarily the best designer/chef/fashion designer/artist out there. Always take the risk and go for it if you think it would be fun - as Mark Twain said, "In twenty years you won't regret the things you did, you will regret the things you didn't do."


NYDesignGuy said...

Hi Elizabeth... So funny, I never comment on blogs despite having one myself. I also went to the Open Call but here in NY. This is actually my third attempt at the show. The first time I just sent in a tape, with no response. Last year at the Open Call things were run much differently. Much like your expectations, they ran through a series of interviewers, and progressed you through different people if they liked you, eventually to being on camera. This year was much different, and very impersonal. I think possibly to have the candidates break through that cold and uneasy factor... I don't know. I thankfully was asked back to the on camera callback yesterday, and thought I did quite well. I had to also answer a 4-page "quiz", I guess to weed out the non-designers, in addition to now having to create another "home video". Hopefully third time will be a charm... I do think going in person though did make a HUGE difference. If you have the means to go, and it's not a total inconvenience I'd try for the personal one-on-one contact. Both last year and this year I went very early though. I was #2 last year and #5 this year, so I didn't have to endure the hours of waiting for a 90 second meet and greet. Best of luck with everything!

Elizabeth Sullivan said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience - that makes me feel better and I may try it again - although there were people who got there hours early and were still many hours. I was trying to avoid making a video myself, which is why I went in person, but it's good to know that you can't avoid that, and must make one eventually anyway. It's so funny because I can't imagine Emily or Casey from last season going through all of that!