Donna Rosenstein Casting, Los Angeles; 'Castle,'
'Happy Town,' 'October Road'
Reality shows have created a new wave of celebrities, but in my opinion these people are not actors. They have not studied their craft or pounded the pavement networking or gone on countless auditions with hopes of booking just one. While being on a reality show can without question give you your five minutes of fame, it will be fleeting. TV networks and movie studios may make you offers to appear in their projects while you're in demand, but as soon as the public finds its next obsession, you will be forgotten.
If you are looking to build a career in acting, a reality show will not get you there. Reality stars must continually prove that they can be more than just themselves and really inhabit a role. Actors already know they can do that.
Jodi Collins Casting and Productions, New York;
'Robotomy,' 'Z Rock,' 'The Virginity Hit'
I don't think it helps. In rare cases it may, in that someone could launch a product this way, if a product were aligned with their name and therefore they become the spokesperson. But beyond that, unless you're such a specific personality that really fits into the mainstream of legit work that's going on, we don't know that you'd be taken all that seriously. Unless you came from a show like "Dancing With the Stars" or "American Idol." Obviously we've seen that happen, because those shows are based on talent.
If you're an athlete and on something like "Survivor" and have gotten some visibility and you're really handsome, that might allow a casting person like myself to spot you and say, "I wonder if that person's got acting talent? He's certainly skilled in one area of his life. He's not a dim bulb. Let's check him out."
Reality stars, for the most part, are people who are famous for being famous. It's more personality-driven. It's less about the quality of work that somebody's bringing and more about a personality. If that personality happens to fit into a show—let's say a cameo role as himself—then it might make sense, because he's identified as "that guy" from "that show." But if you're doing a reality show with the ulterior motive of being an actor, I don't know that the percentage is quite so high that it's worth it. I think that in some cases it can even be hurtful.
Barry/Green-Keyes Casting, Los Angeles; 'The Resident,' 'My Sister's Keeper,'
Heidi Androl appeared on "The Apprentice" and has made a nice career for herself on Fox Sports West. But for every Heidi, there are all those who were actors on the many incarnations of "Survivor" who never got a shot (or did and were never cast). And in a twist of fate, Jessica Kiper, who appeared as Milo Ventimiglia's trashy girlfriend on "Gilmore Girls" for four episodes, actually wound up on the show. How has it worked out for her career since? According to IMDb, she has never booked another acting job despite millions and millions of people watching and having incredible exposure.
There was also a show a few seasons ago, "The Starlet," that appeared on the WB. Michelynne McGuire was the winner, with Mercedes Connor as the runner-up. How did they do? Michelynne appeared in one episode of "One Tree Hill" (her prize for winning on the show), then quickly disappeared. Mercedes was just recently cast in my friend Paul Johansson's movie "Atlas Shrugged."
Personally speaking, I think it works against you. If you're going to be an actor, be an actor. Take classes. Build your craft. Yes, Hollywood loves personalities, but unless I have a gun to my head, I would be hard-pressed to hire anyone who's appeared on "Laguna Beach" or "The Hills." I see them every week on my wife's trashy magazines, and every week I ask myself, "Who are these people?" I much prefer people who have talent.
Deborah Barylski Casting, Los Angeles;
'The Middle,' 'The War at Home,' 'Arrested Development'
There is no doubt that being on a reality show offers a kind of visibility that can be very, very helpful to an acting career. However, make sure you're ready. And by "ready," I mean you need to be trained and have enough experience to fully take advantage of the doors that could open for you. Otherwise, you will be hired only because of your notoriety, and as soon as you "cool off," you will no longer be of interest to producers.
You also have to realize that there are some who will never take you seriously because of your being on a reality show. That's the risk you take.