Should Actors Ever Do Reality TV?

Should Actors Ever Do Reality TV by Dallas Travers

Let’s face it, reality television is bound to frustrate any actor. With so much valuable programming time being taken over by catfights, cook-a-thons, and dance-offs, there are fewer and fewer jobs available for traditionally-trained actors.

Plus, all too often, reality stars become celebrities who end up with their own TV series.

So, this begs the question: As an actor, should you ever take a “role” in reality TV?

I hear my clients asking this question often, so let’s take a look at a few points to consider if you’ve ever wondered whether or not to do reality television.

Does It Align?
You’re an actor with specific goals and intentions for your career, but you are also a well-rounded human being. When you imagine yourself participating in this reality television project, is it in alignment with your career goals and your personal standards?

It’s quite possible that competing on a show like The Biggest Loser could be an incredible experience that enhances your life and happens to be a nice bolster for your career, as well.

Check in with yourself and take your temperature. Would you be pleased if your mom saw you on the show? Would you be proud to share your experience and maybe even footage with your target list?

Ask yourself all these questions and get a feel for what seems right for you.

Be Honest
Often reality shows don’t even want to hire actors. They are looking for “regular people” to appear on their program, so they may want to hire you but ask you to pretend like you’re not an actor.

My advice is to be as open and honest about your acting pursuits as possible. Don’t hide the fact that you’re an artist, and get really clear with the producers that you’re an actor and you want to take your acting career to the next level.

If you’re not allowed to reveal that you’re an actor, I would say that you should probably say no to this opportunity.

Know The Difference
Usually actors are afraid that the industry will dismiss their acting chops if they’ve been in a reality show. They’re afraid of the “reality star turned actor” cliché, probably due to the recent string of reality stars who get a taste of being on camera and decide to pursue the craft.

That route doesn’t have a great track record.

So let’s be clear: a trained actor who chooses to participate honestly in a reality show for fun and exposure is not the same as someone who auditions with the sole intention of becoming famous.

When you’ve been trained as an actor and have experience as an actor, I’m all for being open to the opportunities that present themselves.

Have Fun
Reality TV can be a cool way to get some attention, be courageous and share your goals on a big stage. Remember to have fun with it and be willing to see where this journey leads you.

Have you ever done reality television, or thought about whether you would? What is one reason you would or wouldn’t do reality TV?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

24 Responses to “Should Actors Ever Do Reality TV?”

  1. Dan Corley says:

    The main reason that I would not appear on a reality show is that it is just that……REALITY. Over the years my characters have developed their own mystique and I wish to retain that. Not have my life laid bare on the small screen.

  2. Jamilla says:

    You have good reasons as to whether or not you should or should not do reality TV. I think the only reason I would even consider doing reality TV is if it aligned with my future goals and did not hinder my growth as an actress other than that I would not do reality TV either.

    Thanks so much for your input on this :)

  3. Susan says:

    Hi there. Fun reading. My minds pretty made up on reality TV unless something really special and unique came up. I personally dislike reality TV. A lot!! I have enough reality happening every day :)
    Thanks Dallas for your emails.

  4. Susyn Duris says:

    Interestingly, I had a really good offer to do reality TV early in my acting career. I turned it down due to privacy concerns. Depending on the situation, it could be a possible path if Reality TV interests you.

  5. William says:

    Thanks for this article, Dallas! I agree that actors should be choosy when considering reality TV. I appeared on Wipeout three times and it led to working on a Canadian show, so sometimes these gigs can pay off. But the show should definitely align with the image you want to create. I’m an action and comedy guy, so Wipeout was a good fit.

    • Dallas Travers says:

      That’s awesome, William. It’s good to get feedback from an actor that has actually done reality TV.

  6. Joseph says:

    Well I’ve been doing theatre for 15 years now, I went to graduate school, and if you asked me 2 years ago if I’d ever do a “reality” show, I’d have laughed, laughed again, paused to take a breath, and then laughed some more. I was recently approached by a trusted friend to participate in a “docu-series” with a close group of friends, documenting our group (my ACTUAL friends) on a random night out in the city. The reason I said yes (after some serious thought) was this: the show is for all intents and purposes, on OUR terms. And it pays. If the show were pitched to me as, “you and a random group of strangers spend a night on the town and compete for the attention of one girl and a quarter million dollars, I would pass, because there’s something dishonest there inherently, and yes, there’s a kind of desperation inherent in competing for money on television that brings out the worst in people. But if you can gauge it early on as a chance to be honest in front of people, and you can trust that you won’t make yourself look stupid, then I say take the leap. In the end, unless you’re shooting for fame however it comes, it won’t be career defining. It’ll be another great story to tell your family.

    • Dallas Travers says:

      It all really depends on what feels right for every actor personally, right? Thanks for your insight.

  7. Ironically I has an offer come up yesterday for a reality TV Show where I can absolutely talk about my life as an actress. In fact the show is about actors. It sounds great so far and I have a meeting to find out more this week. You never know!

  8. Angie says:

    My friend worked with an actress who had done reality
    And had to sign a contract not to appear in any other projects
    For a year. She signed it because the money was so
    Good but not working for a year set her back. & she was sorry !
    They don’t want the public to know you are an actor
    Because they want the public to think you areREAL
    HMmmmm!

    • Dallas Travers says:

      Yes, that’s a situation no actor wants to be in. You need to question yourself when money is the sole motivating factor when doing a project.

  9. Joe says:

    Well……

    As someone who appeared in an EARLY episode of BLIND DATE back in 1999, I’m glad I did it long before REALITY TV became a Reality. It was fun…but that was just it. But then again, Actors used to say the same thing about Acting in SOAPS….which I never understood that controversy being that it is ACTING.

    HOWEVER, Reality TV & Porn is a line I can’t cross. Just my take.

  10. Erica Lamkin says:

    Dallas, did you write this post before or after we sent you that invite to see our episode of House Hunter’s Renovation this Saturday at 10pm on HGTV? ;)

    As you may have guessed, my husband and I, both actors, decided together to be on HGTV. We were lucky because our producer/director was a friend of ours. She walked us through the process and we knew we wouldn’t be forced to say or do anything that would make us feel uncomfortable. Overall, it was a really fun and educational process and we got a beautiful new kitchen! I would definitely do it again.

    But, we’ll see how I feel after it airs on Saturday. :)

  11. I agree with what you say Dallas. I have done some reality TV, but it was on my own terms and with good results from both. I got more auditions from having done one and the other was more about me wanting to face a situation I had found really scarey as a kid, so it was for me. It really does need to be on your terms, as I, in general, can’t stand reality TV, as having done it, it’s anything, but REAL. It is TV at the end, but being someone who works in the industry was a huge advantage to dealing with the way they try to work the plot lines. It is something I would tread lightly around and discuss openly with your Team, so that all are on side with the desired goal of doing it.

  12. Monique says:

    I’m a actor! Having just finished a very intense reality show, I can tell you this particular show was an impacting experience. Although I didn’t agree with everything, I kept my wits about me along with keeping an open mind, and had a fun, rewarding experience in alignment with my soul.

    • Dallas Travers says:

      I’m glad that it aligned with you, Monique. That’s the most important thing. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Melissa says:

    One thing to consider very seriously is that reality TV is particularly vulnerable to manipulation, both during shooting and especially in editing. An editor friend of mine told me that in his experience with reality TV, the footage he received was very different from the end product/reality he helped create. Your behavior could be perfectly lovely from start to finish, but your screen time could be edited to make you look weak or untrustworthy or worse. Can an actor know BEFORE broadcast how he/she will be made to appear in front of this potentially vast audience? And, how do I protect my brand from deceptive editing after the fact? (I don’t know the answers–it’s just something to consider before signing any contract)

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