Potential reality show cast members spend thousands of dollars to audition

Reality show casting directors are increasingly saying that they’re desperate for new applicants, and at the same time, some people are increasingly desperate to get on reality shows.

A 41-year-old fashion designer told the New York Times that he spent $7,500 to get cast for two Project Runway seasons, but he was rejected both times. Sergio Alain Barrios spent “$2,500 in 2004, and about $5,000 in 2005,” and “devoted all of 2005 to aiming for the show. That meant logging 1,560 (unpaid) hours honing his craft. In addition to buying the materials and paying other expenses, he acquired a large printer ($700, as well as $140 for cartridges and $100 for paper) to better show off his drawings before the judges,” the paper reports. He also wasted a bunch of money, spending, for example, $200 on food and drinks for friends the night before he auditioned.

Top Chef‘s first winner, Harold Dieterle, spent $2,300 when he auditioned, which the paper says was “mostly for three professional-quality knives and new kitchen clogs.”

Another man, Tom Sullivan, auditioned for Survivor five times, and besides spending time making audition tapes, has spent “$8,000 over the past five years. And he has never made it onto the show.” Still, he “says his efforts have been worth every penny,” according to the Times.

The Very Expensive Reality of Chasing Reality TV [New York Times]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.