Casting Call

On June 27, 2010, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Oprah made a huge mistake — at least her people did. I, the great and not-so-mighty Honeysmoke, was rejected for a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN.

It is Oprah’s loss. She will never know how wonderful my Real Parenting talk show would have been or how much I would have connected with viewers as its host. And worst of all, she will not meet Simone and Nadia.

I, like countless others who flocked from every corner of the country, awoke before dawn and dressed for a job interview. I stood in line and chatted with the competition. I was confused most of the time, trying to figure out why the line was moving, how many people had showed up, and when I’d get the coveted bracelet. No bracelet, no audition. Oh, how I wanted that bracelet.

I had gone to the audition at 5 a.m. and prepared to stand in line for hours. I carried bananas, grapes, bottled water, a lawn chair and an umbrella. As the line inched closer to the white tent, I realized I wouldn’t need any of it.

At 6 a.m., the line made a huge leap forward. The interviews started at 7 a.m. Finally, a nice guy wearing an orange T-shirt strapped a white bracelet on my wrist. I was number 747. My big moment would occur between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. with the 49 other people in my group, or so I thought.

Many hopefuls learned their audition time and retreated to other places. I had no place to go and took a seat in my lawn chair. About 15 minutes later, a man wearing an orange T-shirt asked whether I and others had completed our applications. Oh, yes we had. “Get in line,” he said. But we are in the 700 group. “I don’t care. Get in line.”

It was showtime. I folded up my chair and stood in line. I glossed my lips, changed from my frumpy everyday shoes into my strappy sandals and pulled on my purple jacket.  Yes, purple. I happen to like that color and it looks good on me, thank you very much.

The folks in the orange T-shirts counted groups of 16 and herded us into a tent. We all took a seat and waited for the instructions.

All applications must be signed, the casting coordinator began. If you uploaded a video, write that in the top corner of your application. Don’t bother telling me how energetic you are. That’s a given. Don’t bother giving me your credentials. If I want to hear about them, I will call you back. Don’t talk to me about the segments on your show. I just want to hear about your idea for a show. When it’s your turn, stand up and give me your application. You each have 30 seconds to tell me your name and talk about your show. Applaud each person after she speaks. Got it? Good.

Ut-oh. I had given a lot of thought to the segments on my show. It sure would have been nice to know the casting coordinator didn’t want to hear about those, like, three weeks ago. I tried to regroup, as the audition began. The first person talked about a holistic healing show and the casting coordinator wrote something on her application. Contestant Three’s show was about senior moments. She said she had forgotten to sign her application, which held up the process. Then she started talking about her credentials, and the casting coordinator cut her short. Better follow the rules. I watched the casting coordinator, and she didn’t write anything on Contestant Three’s application.

Everyone else followed the rules. There was a newsy show, an uplifting show, a fashion show. There was a teen show and a few shows that I couldn’t figure out what they were really about. Then there was the dad who wanted to do a show about single fathers and a mother wanted to do a show about single mothers.

I was one of the last in my group to talk. I handed the lady my application and launched into my pitch.

“I am here to represent real parents!” What? Who said that? That wasn’t how I rehearsed my spiel. I quickly back tracked, gave my name, city, state, and rattled off what I had planned to say.

I tripped on some of my words. Am I telling about the show or a segment of the show? I recovered and quickly ended my pitch. The casting coordinator looked uninterested. It didn’t appear she had written anything on my application. Darn.

The casting coordinator told us she would call us back as late as 11 p.m. if she wanted to hear more. My phone didn’t ring. The next morning I was on Oprah.com when Simone walked into the room.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking at Oprah’s site,” I told her.

Simone sat still for a moment and then brought me back to reality.

“Who’s Oprah?”

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  • @mamacandtheboys. thank you. you are too kind.

    @melissa. i agree with you.

    it was fun trying out, but i don’t have much interest in being a celebrity or subjecting my children to that.

    i also can’t help but wonder whether a tv show helped end a marriage. i just want to provide for Simone and Nadia and saw the show as a possible avenue to that goal. i had what i thought was a good idea and ran with it.

    after the audition, i thought about it more and realized i don’t really want that kind of publicity for me or my family. a host is never off, and i happen to love down time.

  • Melissa

    Although I applaud you for your gutsiness in attempting this, there is a part of me that thinks you might have come out ahead by not being chosen. Please bear with me for my reasoning behind this. 🙂

    When my son was about four or five, my (then) husband’s friend who was in the television industry wrangled an audition for my son at a casting call for kids. I really wasn’t crazy about doing it, but everyone told me how cute and smart my son was and my husband and his friend pushed me to do it. It was for a toy commercial.

    When my son and I got there, the waiting room was filled with stage mothers from Hell and tiny little kids who clutched their “portfolios” that held copies of their headshots and info. about the latest commercials, etc., they had been in recently. We didn’t have any of that and I definitely felt out of my league there. When we were called in, everyone was very nice but when it came time for my son to play with the toy (a kid-size roller coaster thing) he politely declined to do it—and that was that. (I never did see the toy advertised anywhere, so maybe no one wanted to play with it–too scary maybe!)

    Anyway, on the way home I found myself annoyed with my son for not doing what was expected of him. And then I felt guilty and angry with myself for feeling that way when he had no control over those expectations. Having seen other kids who started out in “the business” and wound up on drugs or worse (Lindsey Lohan and numerous others) I have come to count myself fortunate that we didn’t get involved in something that might have taken us down a path that could have ended up badly.

    Given that most “reality” shows now have very little reality to them and are stage managed to a great degree, I would be wary of getting kids involved in them. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy, but as much as I enjoyed watching the Gosselin kids grow, I fear for them as teen-agers and beyond. Exposing kids to all that attention (paparazzi and no privacy) seems to me to be kind of unfair since they don’t really have a say in it.

    Sorry this is so long, and you can delete it if you like after reading it. I think you are a great parent to Simone and Nadia. I just thought you might like a slightly different take on the topic from someone who’s gone through parenthood and come out the other side relatively intact. 🙂

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  • You are too COOL, to ahead of the curve for OWN Honeysmoke! But, so cool that you went, and what a brilliant recap for the rest of us!

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