Courtesy of MTV
Ohio State students once again have the chance to be one of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their life taped.
Audtions for the 27th season of MTV’s “The Real World” are scheduled to take place at Charlie Bear’s Land of Dance in the South Campus Gateway Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Real World” casting director Damon Furberg said the best thing for people to know going into an audition is to be yourself.
“There’s no bigger turn-off to us than somebody walking in and saying, ‘I’m gonna make your ratings big because I’m gonna be like so-and-so’ because that’s not really what we wanna hear,” he said.
Furberg said casting directors are looking for certain aspects in potential roommates.
One is that they must draw attention to themselves just by walking into a room. Another is that they should be at a turning point in their lives.
“This show is sort of about growing up and and we wanna see people do that,” Furberg said. “We want to see people grow and change so we’re looking for people who aren’t too set in their ways.”
Naomi Defensor, who was cast in the 25th season of the show, which was set in Las Vegas, told The Lantern that the best way to appeal to casting directors is to be relatable.
“I feel like when people go to casting, (people are) like, ‘I need to be over the top because that’s what reality TV is about,'” Defensor said. “That’s not what ‘The Real World’ is about. ‘The Real World’ is about real people who have been in real life scenarios that people can relate to.”
The entire casting process takes three months, Furberg said.
It starts with auditions. Prospective cast members can either audition via in-person casting calls or by submitting applications online.
At the casting calls, people are interviewed in groups of 10 or 20 by a casting director. Then they fill out an application which asks them intimate questions, such as how many sexual partners they’ve had.
After that, the next phase is to narrow down candidates and get them on-camera for an interview. After further rounds, the final seven (or eight) cast members are chosen.
Defensor said she went to a casting call in Buffalo, N.Y., because her friends told her she was crazy and also because she said she had nothing to lose.
She said the reason she got cast for the show might have been because of her curly hair … among other things.
“My hair’s an asset, my personality being so fun and wild, and the fact that I was from New York City brought the extra hardcoreness,” she said. “And my swag, you know. My swag.”
Like a lot of other reality shows, some “Real World” stars have shown no shortage of drama. One of the show’s most notable conflicts arose in season two when Pedro Zamora constantly tangled with David “Puck” Rainey.
Despite that, Furberg said casting directors don’t actively seek out conflict.
“When you cast seven people who have really strong personalities, the conflict happens on its own,” he said.
Their strategy must be working.
The show is currently in its 26th season, which is set in San Diego and is currently airing on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
The show’s 25th season garnered higher ratings than its predecessors, and ultimately led MTV to renew the show through a 27th season.
Defensor said she was worried about ratings during her season of the show.
“I was nervous, too,” Defensor said. “I was like, ‘I hope that our season does well’ because ratings were not doing that good and I’m just happy to be a part of a bigger experience and to have more seasons where people are given the opportunity to do what I did.”
Furberg said “Real World,” unlike other reality shows, has lasted for decades not only because the show started the genre, but because the producers don’t focus on gimmicks, like competitions.
“‘Real World’ is like a marathon runner and a lot of these shows are sprinters,” he said.
That’s not to say “Real World” doesn’t exhibit some of the same qualities as other shows.
Some seasons feature more rampant sex and alcohol consumption than others. The show’s 12th season, the first set in Las Vegas, is noted for the amount of sex the roommates had.
Still, Furberg said casting directors don’t cast with sex in mind and that it just happens. He said he’d rather see cast members like Danny and Melinda from the show’s 16th season in Austin, who developed a relationship through the show.
“We dream of stuff like that happening because you really get to see two characters develop together and how they react to each other,” he said.
When the show wraps, some cast members go on to be relatively well known.
Zamora, for example, was an AIDS activist before he succumbed to the disease shortly after leaving the “Real World” house.
Defensor said her life has changed since being on the show, as well.
She said she’s been noticed by random passers-by in the streets, has done club gigs around the country, modeled in photo shoots and attended fashion and charity events.
“It was just like a roller coaster ride,” she said. “Definitely fun.”
A location and start date for the 27th season of the show hasn’t been set. And though Furberg said the show won’t be doing anything radically different, he said one aspect of the show keeps the show fresh.
“What’s different about it is the people that we cast,” he said. “We have to always be looking for something we haven’t seen before because it is such a consistent formula otherwise.”