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Want to be on Survivor or Amazing Race? Go to Santa Monica

Want to be on Survivor or Amazing Race? Go to Santa Monica

On Hallmark’s Home & Family, four of the “blind date” contestants for The Amazing Race 26 talked about how they were cast, and two of them who were eventually paired together had an interesting story: they were both recruited in Santa Monica, California.

Their stories sounded quite familiar to me, and I started remembering things like:

And I also recalled that these two recruits-turned-winners are from Santa Monica:

  • Survivor Panama winner Aras Baskauskas
  • Survivor Fiji winner Earl Cole

I’m sure there are many more. And yes, there’s no surprise that if you hang out anywhere Lynne Spillman or her casting directors go, and you’re a hot young thing, you’ll probably end up on a CBS reality show.

But here’s the really interesting part: One of The Amazing Race contestants is a producer on Home & Family. As she says in the clip below, Laura Pierson did the following:

  1. Applied to Amazing Race with her roommate five years ago.
  2. Went through the casting process, and got far enough that it was between them and another team.
  3. Didn’t get cast; the other team was chosen instead.
  4. “Accosted” Phil Keoghan when he appeared on Home & Family last year to find out how she could get cast.
  5. Still didn’t get cast.
  6. Went to a restaurant where “one of the casting directors scouted me out in Santa Monica.” That was casting director Lynne Spillman, who Laura recognized. Lynne did not recognize her despite having almost cast her a few years ago.

So yes, Laura seems to have made it all the way to casting finals, yet she actually ended up on the show because she was in Santa Monica. 

BUT IT GETS BETTER. Laura’s blind date teammate, Tyler Adams, said on Home & Family that he:

  1. Applied for The Amazing Race “with my childhood best friend and we never heard back from our video.”
  2. Moved to Santa Monica last year.
  3. Was cast immediately. Five days after he moved, he went to a bar and “the same casting director” approached him and asked if he wanted to be on Survivor. (!!!) He said he wanted to be on The Amazing Race, and of course, he was ultimately cast.

So, the lesson is clear: Stop making videos and harassing Jeff Probst or Phil Keoghan on Twitter and just move to Santa Monica.

Just to be clear: I understand that sometimes people aren’t right for a certain season’s mix of characters but might be right later. There are many, many contestants who have been almost cast one season and then cast on a future season. But what’s remarkable in Laura and Tyler’s stories is that they were both familiar to casting producers, but being in Santa Monica is what made the difference.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.


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