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Glass House player to Emmy-winning casting producer: Jeffrey Marx’s reality TV journey

Glass House player to Emmy-winning casting producer: Jeffrey Marx’s reality TV journey
Jeffrey Marx and his mother (Photo courtesy Jeffrey Marx)

Jeffrey Marx is an Emmy-nominated talent and casting producer for unscripted television based in Southern California. In this edition of The Confessional, he reflects on his journey from being a reality TV fan to cast member of The Glass House to forging a successful career behind the scenes. Jeffrey won an Emmy on Sept. 3, 2022.

MTV’s The Real World debuted my freshman year in high school. I thought, “What a cool way to make new friends!” and “Oh, there’s other gay people out there?”

My love for the genre was easily set in stone and I became a scholar of social dynamics and what makes people tick.

Getting bullied at lunchtime for being fat and effeminate honed my skills. If I could turn the tables with my words and make the audience laugh at the bullies, then the power was mine and they’d leave me alone. Be a spectacle and flip it in your favor.

Maybe it was my flair for drama or my youthful obsession with playground alliances, but reality TV seemed to be in my blood. 

From playing Glass House to working on Amazing Race

Jeffrey Marx (far left) with the talent management team of The Amazing Race
Jeffrey Marx (far left) with the talent management team of The Amazing Race (Photo courtesy Jeffrey Marx)

Flash forward to 2011 where I was living in New York City doing comedy. I was a heavily involved protestor during the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality and the influence of money in politics. A blog caught me on camera badmouthing the elite while passersby cheered. I sent that video in with my application for a new show that was casting.

I hadn’t applied for a reality show since I tried for Big Brother nine years in a row without a call. A producer from the new show called me just a few days later and I ended up on ABC’s Glass House in the summer of 2012.

After a whirlwind summer of defending marriage equality and making Mormon moms cry, I wanted to be part of the reality TV machine from the inside out.

Having made friends in production for three months, I turned those connections into a casting internship where I began to learn the ropes.

My superiors in the field complimented my eye for talent and my written pitches for why each candidate should be on any given TV show. I know this will sound very romanticized but I was helping to change society one living room at a time.

Despite some valid criticism of reality television, I felt the good power that casting the right stories on TV could bring.

I climbed through the ranks as an associate producer, often on teams at Bunim-Murray Productions where I worked on many shows, including a season of The Real World. What a full circle moment! I had applied so many years ago and here I was reviewing other’s applications. And I was paying my rent by doing so! 

Through the years, I got to work on some of my favorite shows either on production or casting: Project Runway, Iyanla Fix My Life, The Challenge, Nailed It, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race.

Helping Heidi Klum find a sugar-free snack from craft services or chatting with Tim Gunn backstage about his favorite restaurants was a little reality TV kid’s dream come true.

Casting We’re Here, dealing with homophobia

Casting producer Jeffrey Marx on the set of We're Here
Casting producer Jeffrey Marx on the set of We’re Here (Photo courtesy Jeffrey Marx)

My next milestone came in being hired to be the lead casting producer for HBO’s We’re Here.

Working with Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela, and Eureka O’Hara to find queer folks in small-town America was the perfect job and first time I felt a cohesive, loving TV family where every professional was at the top of their craft.

Before the pandemic, we traveled to cities to connect with the LGBTQ community and do pre-production work. We could tell what cities really needed the experience of bringing a one night only drag show to town.

Sometimes, in order to gauge the city, I’d let my booming gay voice float through public spaces and see what kind of reactions I would get. I’m a 6’4” 350-lb hunk of pure queerness, and if the townsfolk were bold enough to push back, I knew their LGBTQ community must feel forced to pipe down themselves.

What better way to remedy a system of silence than to bring the entire production to town. If they couldn’t handle me existing at your local coffee shop, just wait until world famous drag queens arrive!

During filming of our pilot episode in Gettysburg, the queer community would pop up in the form of a local barista or gas station attendant to bravely say Thank you for being here. This means so much for us! Genuine exchanges like these would bring me to happy tears knowing the visibility we brought to town mattered.

Sometimes, if a town had a particularly rigid vibe, I’d look for signs of hope and support, which I would find just walking through town being my big gay self.

I could handle the gruff comments while keeping an eye out for those beacons of positivity: a karaoke night in Ruston, a theme park in Branson, an agua fresca stand in Del Rio, or an LGBTQ community center surprisingly at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. 

Once everyone had to work from home forever, We’re Here became my life. Building two seasons of an important series that highlighted LGBTQ voices was the hardest, most fulfilling work I had ever done to date. 

Deep into quarantine, I worked on Generation Drag for Discovery+, where I interviewed parents who were letting their kids explore the art of drag.

A few games shows here, another few dating shows there, and then I seized the opportunity to work on Love on the Spectrum U.S.

Jeffrey Marx and his mother
Jeffrey Marx and his mother (Photo courtesy Jeffrey Marx)

Many lifetimes ago, before moving to NYC, I had worked as a paraeducator in special education. My mom worked from age 18 to retirement with people with disabilities, and it was a natural skill she had passed down to me. The secret to working as a job coach and teacher for people on the spectrum was to just talk to people honestly and listen with care. Don’t treat them any different than anyone else, and you would build a solid rapport in the classroom.

If We’re Here was the culmination of years of being an out gay man who was a reality TV encyclopedia, Love on the Spectrum U.S. was the culmination of all the training and advice my mom had instilled in me about a community that was very near and dear to our hearts. 

My interview process for Love on the Spectrum U.S. was all through Zoom—multiple producers working separately on different components.

Days would go by during quarantine where the only people I talked to were those I was interviewing for the show. We don’t get people automatically applying for a show like Love On The Spectrum, so outreaching, researching, building trust, and pitching the show to the autism community was of top importance to gain momentum.

It can be difficult to prove you’re a legit producer over the phone and internet, so having an open and honest social media presence and an authentic passion for the project in my voice really helped.

Connecting in an authentic way with other humans on Zoom can be exhausting during an endless pandemic, but the instinctual honesty of people on the spectrum was refreshing. Truth is a cornerstone quality in my life and the people I was interviewing sensed and appreciated that.

I leaned into my past abilities to build fast relationships in a language and style I had learned from my mom so many years ago. Every person I interviewed had charming insights and opened their hearts. Those hopeful conversations were a highlight during trying times.

I’ve been asked many times “What’s the best thing about working with people on the spectrum?” For me, it’s that they effortlessly demonstrate unconditional love. Their truthful and direct communication should be admired for its simplicity. I wish every neurotypical person could drop our social masks and egos to dig deep and connect our hearts. The world would be a better place.

The morning of the Emmy announcements, I set my alarm so I could be at my computer refreshing the screen.

I was very eager to see if We’re Here, a show I helped build from the ground up for over a year, would score noms. When I saw that our second season didn’t break through the top tier this time, I was momentarily bummed.

In the same breath, I saw that Love On The Spectrum was nominated—and when I realized I was submitted as part of the team, the rollercoaster of joyful disbelief looped in my heart.

Both production companies submitted me on their roster, and I was so glad one of them paid off.

It’s in the Academy voters hands now, and I can’t wait to attend the Creative Arts Emmys with my mom by my side.

Update, Sept. 5, 2022: The Love on the Spectrum casting team, including Jeffrey Marx, won the Emmy for reality show casting.

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About the author

  • Jeffrey Marx

    Jeffrey Marx has worked in the unscripted television genre for 10 years, and is currently Emmy-nominated for his casting work on Love On The Spectrum. He worked on The Amazing Race, Big Brother, Project Runway and America’s Got Talent before becoming a casting producer. Highlights include MTV's The Real World, Iyanla, Fix My Life, Generation Drag and We're Here on HBO, which won two GLAAD Awards for Outstanding Reality Program. Jeffrey passionately believes that sharing stories through unscripted television has the power to change society one living room at a time. Jeffrey posts all his casting notices on his instagram @jeffmarxthespot

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Happy discussing!

Debbie Kutyla

Monday 8th of August 2022

If anyone deserves an Emmy…it’s Jeffrey Marx. He’s put in the countless hours, sweat, and tears. He’s earned the right to be an Emmy nominee. I applaud him and wish nothing but the best for him. Cheers and love to you Jeffrey!!

J Keith Henry

Monday 8th of August 2022

This is so incredibly awesome!

George Nicolaidis

Monday 8th of August 2022

Beautifully written. All the accolades you a receiving are DESERVED!!