Some of my most questionable decisions happen either under the influence of alcohol or through access to high-speed internet. My decision to audition for The Real World: Season 27 was a dangerous combination of the two.
Maybe it was the pressure of graduation looming over me or the fact that I have been a secret fan of the show since I was nine, but auditioning felt like something I absolutely had to do. I can’t really tell you why, except that like everyone else I encountered at the casting call, I suffer from a bad back — caused by the Spencer Pratt-sized ego I carry on my shoulders. Because like most self-entitled, middle-class 20-somethings from a metropolitan city, I am convinced millions of Americans would tune in weekly to hear me talk into a camera.
But really, it was probably the fact that after I drunkenly typed up a quick bio and carefully chose three of my best angled photos and hit send, I didn’t really think I’d ever hear back.
A few weeks later I received an email invitation to attend the Open Casting Call and “audition in person!” as a VIP guest. Further proving the rate at which my ego easily inflates (and that I live in Miami), the acronym made me shrug off any initial hesitation. I mean, at the very worst I would meet some people, get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most notorious television shows of our generation and maybe, if I was lucky, have something to write about. One week later I found myself sitting in a room with 10 other “hopefuls” and a middle-aged casting director at a three-star restaurant in downtown Miami.
The casting director, Shelby*, had a few words: “We’re going to go around the table and you’re going to tell me a little bit about yourself. I don’t care about how much you like to party. We all do. Tell me something interesting.”
Before I could freak out about my answer and consider lying about overcoming a fictional illness growing up, Crystal introduced herself. Crystal told us that she had traveled all the way from Mexico City to audition. She wore her hair in a tight bun drowned in hair spray and told us about her career as a part-time stripper.
Jonathan was born a twin. “Aw,” I thought to myself as my own twin brothers came to mind. That thought was quickly interrupted when Jonathan went on to say: “F-ck that fat bastard. I hope he dies.” In the womb, Jonathan’s twin squished him into a position that caused severe damage to Jonathan’s spine and would cause him to undergo multiple surgeries growing up. Shelby asked if Jonathan had anger issues. Jonathan said no.
Ramon just turned 20 and hoped that landing a coveted spot on The Real World would allow him to propel his aspirations of becoming a distinguished gay porn star.
Sarah, Lesley, Michael, Chris, Milena, Juan and Karina all had either babymama drama, a criminal record, or both. By the time Shelby turned over to me, I was too distracted by my peers’ stories to have come up with anything remotely interesting for myself. So instead of amping my “wild” college stories abroad or faking cancer, I told everyone the truth — that in a few short months, I would be entering the real world and don’t have a clue where I’m going. But that I love to write and chances are that if my Colombian parents knew I was sitting here, they’d kill me.
After my two minutes were up, I was pretty sure I blew it with all my normal-person answers. But as everyone began to exit the room, Shelby asked me to stay behind and congratulated me on advancing to the next round. I would spend the next two hours filling out an in-depth 30-page application and taking headshots. My ego was successfully the size of Alaska.
I advanced two rounds after that. During the audition process, I imagined how my life might change given an opportunity to appear on national television. Surely, my Twitter follower count would rise to the thousands, I’d have a larger audience for my writing, old lovers would come out of the woodwork, and maybe I’d even get an invitation to the 2012 MTV Movie Awards.
Ultimately, none of that happened. Perhaps Shelby got bored of my “confessionals,” where I talked about that boy who screwed me over and that country I want to move to. Maybe the casting directors sat in a room in LA watching over my interview tapes and flipped a coin between me and a girl named Madison. Maybe the camera added 10 pounds.
Even though I won’t be sharing a hot tub with six strangers this spring, I’ve already dived head first into the real real world: a full-time job at a company I respect, an awesome relationship with a boy I love, and a blog I enjoy see grow without the help of TiVo.
I guess it’s not so bad on this side of reality.
*Her name wasn’t really Shelby. I just signed a lot of confidentiality forms with size 4 font and I’m a recent college graduate who can’t afford litigation fees. Please don’t sue me, MTV.