Six Degrees of Reality

I just found out from a college friend that a guy in my graduating college class is a finalist on the new NBC reality TV series, Next Action Star. What’s super interesting is that this guy aspires to be an actor, did theater in college, trained in theater elsewhere. So he wants to be an actor, and now he’s on a reality TV show. One wonders what says about being an actor in the age of reality TV. Is being on a reality TV show the best way to get into the business? It’s certainly proven to be a springboard to fame for some participants. And how about the nature of reality TV itself? I mean, there’s always a certain veneer of fakeness (‘unreality’) about reality TV shows, but how many of the other participants are trained as actors? And is he acting on the show, or being himself? Or is he playing himself? Hmmm. Anyway, now you, dear reader, know a participant on a reality TV show through six degrees of separation – or, as I like to call it, six degrees of reality. 🙂

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4 responses to “Six Degrees of Reality

  1. It definately makes one question what is a reality tv show. Since I imagine most participants have seen reality televion, and since the camera is there, aren’t they all actors

  2. Sarah

    Yah, they are, aren’t they. I wonder if, say, the first crop of Real World cast members were more purely themselves, because the genre wasn’t yet culturally significant. Speaking of the Real World, I saw a bit of season whatever they’re on when I was at the gym today, and it’s worthy of nothing more than eye rolling and snorting. Horrible flat people and awful stereotypes. I seem to remember the original casts breaking certain boundaries – the gay roommate with AIDS, for example – but maybe that’s just nostalgia speaking.
    Do you really think being in front of a camera makes you an actor? Maybe being in front of a camera while taking part in a production. A student in our workshop was interviewing people today, myself included, about the 3 things that come to mind when we think of Americans. (lazy, fat and stupid…) I don’t think that I gave an answer that was terribly different than what I would have given off-camera, although the camera does contribute to a certain awareness of self… “does my hair look ok?”

  3. gus

    Seems to me actors working on “reality” shows has been a thing for quite some time… if I recall correctly, the titular (hee hee hee) role in “Joe Millionaire” was played by a man who billed himself as a “construction worker/actor.” The thing to consider here is that reality TV actors are still not unionized (well, last I checked — http://gus.protest.net/tshorts/archives/000638.shtml ) and are not paid as much as big stars (dunno about jobber actors) — my guess is the math goes thusly: when reality shows hire actors as characters, they get a guaranteed screenworthy performance for less than they would if they weren’t doing reality TV? Would have to do some research to confirm this.

  4. Sarah

    From the horse’s mouth, Jed speaks: “‘There’s very little reality in reality shows,’ he said.”

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