Annette Sharp holds a BAAS in Behavioral Science from Texas A&M. She is a counselor and motivator with an empathetic heart.
How a Stint on a Cancelled Reality Show Became a Life-Changing Journey.
"You're completely exhausted and emotionally drained. This is what all the excitement was about? Then you realize the enormity of your experience and it HITS you. You've just allowed a production and film crew to tape and reveal you, while you spill your guts to thousands, maybe millions of people! What have you done?At the same time, a feeling of complete jubilation and victory! It's done!"
So How Did You Get to This Place, Anyway?
You hear about all kinds of Reality shows nowadays: who got booted, who stayed in the game, who quit. Since I'm held in bondage by the dreaded 'confidentiality agreement', all I can discuss are my feelings about it. So here's how it feels to become a Reality Show Reject.
Once you're called, nothing is ever the same. It's like that totally unexpected call from the guy you thought didn't know you existed. BOOM! Out of the blue, you're suddenly thrown into a conversation you never dreamed would take place.
"Hi, this is Sally in casting! We looooovvve you!"
Gush, gush, schmooze, schmooze......
Then you realize the casting agent is not with Survivor. Rats! What a disappointment!
"Tell us all about yourself.....we want a 3 minute video tape mailed immediately!" says the agent, speaking in that "oh so unforgettable" California accent. (I bet they made fun of my accent).
After you're contacted, it becomes a game of 'hurry-up-sit-back-and-wait'. At the same time, you're wondering, "Are they going to pick me? Oh, man, I messed up my video....I wasn't forceful or funny enough". Then you go through a period of anxiety that's equal to waiting for that guy to call you again. You know... the guy you thought didn't know you existed. At this stage, you've already experienced surprise, disappointment, excitement, and utter anxiety. Just wait for what comes next.
The Day Arrives When You Are Told You Made It!
"Congratulations, you've made the semi-finals!"
You scramble to get everything mailed by the totally ridiculous deadline. More videos, contracts, and background checks. Good grief, like they don't already have enough information! The casting department constantly reminds you: "Remember, MUM's the word! Don't tell anyone!" (Oh, agony!)
Then, a week later, another call:
"You've made the finals! You're coming to Los Angeles!"
Now the real apprehension begins. You've got to figure out how to convince your employer you need a couple of vacation days, immediately, without telling them why. So, you have your first expense-paid trip to Los Angeles and you can't tell a soul about it, with the exception of those family members who signed the appalling 'family member confidentiality agreement'.
Then, whoosh! You're off to Los Angeles to the official hotel hide-out for reality show contestants, wondering if it's really happening or if it's another manifestation of your overly-active imagination, combined with a little obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now you're feeling really important and valued! Taped interviews, physical exams, psychological profile testing.....pretty significant stuff; and you don't even have to foot the bill! The boost of euphoric adrenalin you get from the attention is enough to sustain a Prozac-induced state for a month. Once you realize it's really happening, you notice you've lost five pounds and haven't even taped your episode yet! Geez!
After you return home, you're still on a 'high' from your flurried trip. The phone rings and you answer it.
"You're in! You're on the show!"
Finally! Who cares that it's not Survivor? You're on! You were never picked for anything in school, now you're chosen for a Reality Show! This is too cool.
A Contestant On A Reality Show!
So, let's talk about what my feelings were at this point. Uneasiness, worry, elation, misgiving, fear of the unknown, and what else? Frustration. Yeah, that's right. (Here comes that wretched 'confidentiality agreement' to haunt me). Not being able to discuss my impending excursion was pure torture! But, oh baby, I made it on the show!
After another flurried trip to Los Angeles, the day arrives to tape the episode. At this point, you're feeling giddy and silly; laughing hysterically one minute, serious and focused the next. You hear the words, "Contestant on the set!", and your heart pounds. You try to remember it's reality TV. It's the only day in your life to be a star, so you figure you better get INTO the role. Time for the drama queen personality to take over...oops! The producers remind you, "This is Reality, stop acting." So, you go through your endeavor and step into a zone you've never been before: a participant in a reality show! Once it's over, it's over.
Reality Show After-Effects
Post traumatic stress kicks in immediately. You teeter between having feelings of overflowing confidence, to spells of breaking down and weeping. Is this the price you pay for becoming a reality show contestant? As the weeks and months fly by, your life completely changes. Nothing is the same as before. Nothing. You eagerly wait for the show to air. Life begins to settle back to normal, but you still have this thing hanging over your head, this altering, life-changing experience that totally transformed you. Yet, you can't share it with anyone; you're bound by the ghastly 'confidentiality agreement'! It isn't fair! Finally, the post-trauma symptoms alleviate and you wait in anticipation for an air date.
After several months of patiently waiting, I stumbled upon an article that said the show had been shelved by the network. Just like that, they canned it, after spending all that time, effort, and money. I was disappointed, angry, and insulted at the same time. Had I become so narcissistic that I thought the production company and network owed me something? Surely not, I was expendable to them, finished, used up. But what about my experience? It belongs to me and nobody has the right to take it away. Unfortunately, they do.... Hollywood isn't known for it's fair business ethic, so why should I expect more from them? Chained forever by entertainment legalities (and the bloody 'confidentiality agreement'), I became nothing more to them than where I ended up: collecting dust on the cutting room floor somewhere in Hollywood, a forgotten contestant with an amazing story to tell, forever changed.
Reality Show Reject
I've earned my title of Reality Show Reject. Maybe I should be a little kinder to myself and change it to 'Reality Star Wannabe', but that would sound a bit self-centered, don't you think? Whatever way you look at it, the experience was worth it all. No kidding. How many people can say, "I was a star for one day in my life!" I don't know about the other contestants, and I certainly can't speak for them, but I'm totally changed from the experience. It pushed me to the brink of my limits and I'll never forget it. How has it changed me? This is the honest truth: It made me realize that my goal and purpose in life is to motivate, encourage, and enthuse others to overcome obstacles. My feelings now? Disappointed, but satisfied; I got the victory, anyway. It's as simple as that. It's a great place to be, both spiritually and emotionally. That's exactly how I feel about becoming a Reality Show Reject.
Photos surface from Robert Englund's cancelled "Real Nightmares"
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No "Rights" for Reality Contestants?
- TV Contestants: Tired, Tipsy and Pushed to Brink
In this article, an outside source discusses the "right"s of reality contestants, or lack thereof, concerning confidentiality agreements and gueling work days while taping.
What's Your Opinion On Reality TV?
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on September 12, 2014:
The show was about facing your greatest nightmare, reenacting that nightmare, and pushing through to complete your 'challenge'. If you completed the challenge, you got the big prize; if not, you .............did not.
linder on September 11, 2014:
Hi, is there anything more you can divulge, like what was the nature of the show, such as cooking, dating, business ... ?
Abrilified on February 22, 2012:
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on February 01, 2012:
jenna: If you paid out 175.00 to "audition" for a reality show, then it was not legitimate. Absolutely not. I didn't pay for a thing, everything was provided: food, transportation, 2 trips to L.A.. If they want money, it's a scam.
jenna19775 on February 01, 2012:
Did you ever have to pay a processing fee to be on the show. I auditioned for a show and was told that I needed to pay 175.00 to process my picture for investors.....sounds fishy......
Jennifer Vasconcelos from Cyberspace and My Own World on May 20, 2011:
Sounds like a great experience, even if the outcome was not as you expected. You never know what can happen, very inspiring none-the-less.
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on February 02, 2011:
Thank you Lady Blah Blah!!
Lady Blah Blah from South Carolina on February 01, 2011:
Great hub! I'm a newbie and was looking for some inspiration when I found it. I like your writing style!
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on November 20, 2010:
tipoague: Thanks for reading! A lot of folks have said they think it may resurface someday, but to tell you the truth, the host of the show said it was "gone forever". And the head producer said it was in it's closet...of course, CBS OWNS it legally, so not just anyone can air it. Bummer, huh? Glad you enjoyed the read.
Tammy on November 20, 2010:
Why do I get the impression that one of these days it will be taken off the shelf, dusted off, and seen on TV? I couldn't help but picture this as a show that was taped with an interest that was before its time. Maybe when the networks feel that the world has caught on to this fad, they will air it.
Either way, I enjoyed reading your experience. I love your sense of humor!
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on September 14, 2010:
2besure: You're right about reality shows: it can bring out the worst or the best. I'm glad I did it....thanks.
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on September 14, 2010:
Reality shows, I believe can change your life not only for the better, but for the worse. I am glad you gained positive live experience through your reality show rejection experience.
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on September 05, 2010:
susanlang: Glad you enjoyed the story!
susanlang on September 05, 2010:
Wow--terrific story, held me all the way through! I'm not sure why I didn't see this before, but I loved it!
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on January 29, 2010:
Wow fastfreta, I'm glad you enjoyed this. It was certainly a breathtaking experience for me! so you worked in casting before? I'd love to do it, they are so upbeat! As for my show coming back; we taped in 2004, late in the year. It was completed, fully by Jan 15, 2005, the same day they found out it was canned by the network (CBS). The host says it's "gone forever". OHHHH girl, if it ever did air now! It would open up a whole new can of worms for me. I was bold and blatant about expressing my Faith. I'd have anti-Christians from all over pouncing on me! Oh well, I did it cause it was what needed to be done....thanks for the comment.
Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on January 28, 2010:
I read this hub with bated breath, I hung on every word. Very good. I once worked on a Reality Show choosing contestants from around the country. After choosing the contestants I didn't hear about the show again for two years, when it finally aired on cable. The contestants my group chose were featured on the first and second series. I don't really like Reality Shows, so I didn't even watch a complete segment of either of the series. I said all of that to say that your show just might come back around again, (whether you want it to or not).
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on January 08, 2010:
Thanks ralwus, I can always count on you to add a positive!
ralwus on January 08, 2010:
Sounds like you had fun anyway.
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on November 19, 2009:
lorlie: It's exactly how it feels. It is a totally validating experience to be chosen from thousands of contestants and to be in the top four! When they flew me to LA for the finals, I was one of 3 others they were interviewing. However, they had already made up their mind they wanted us....Jon Kroll, producer, told us we were their top 4 contestants, meaning they'd already decided on us. It's funny, he told me on the day of challenge, "Yeah, CBS likes you...when they saw your audition tape they said 'Get us more Annette Sharp's!" That statement made my day and also made up for all the times I was never chosen for anything and looked over in the past. I'd do it again in a minute!
Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on November 18, 2009:
I completely agree with maggs224. You took me through the experience with such truth-I loved this. So even when my family assures me that I'd clean up on Jeopardy or Wheel, I'll not even make the trip! :o)
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on November 11, 2009:
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed. It was the most validating experience of my life & I wish I could try again!
maggs224 from Sunny Spain on November 11, 2009:
Wow what a fantastic hub, I was entralled from start to finish, I love your writing style and your sense of humour and I look forward to reading mor of your hubs.
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on September 29, 2009:
Thanks! I like you already! As far as the show goes, it never aired. The network involved didn't like it, apparantly after they had spent a bundle on it. They had lots of hit shows. The 'confidentialty agreements' are designed to give all rights to anything pertaining to the particular contestant's participation to the producer/network only. In other words, the contestant gets nothing in return except an appearance fee. Period. And whatever publicity comes from their 'celebrity' status is controlled by an agent. Though if speaking fees are involved, then a contestant/speaker would be paid. So we contestants had no rights, we signed the contract.
Go to this interview
The host of the show discussed in detail everything. At this point, 5 years later, I really don't care who knows about it. A contestant who seems to bypass all this is Michael Skupin from Survivor Australian Outback http://www.mikeskupin.com/
mikethesalesman on September 29, 2009:
very interesting reading! You seem quite spunky! And you don't look like a grandma at all! Keep up the good work. Iwas just wondering if the show never aired, why are you still bound by the confidentiality agreement? Thanks, Mike
Annette Thomas (author) from United States on September 27, 2009:
Thank you so much for your encouragement. I haven't had many comments on my reality show experience but it changed my life in ways one will never know. You're a blessing.
create a page from Maryland, USA on September 27, 2009:
This is one of the best hubs I have ever read. It was well written and the information you have provided has so much to offer everyone. I am sure this is a must read for those who aspire to be on reality television.
We have similar goals in life too. I have therefore become your fan. Keep writing great hubs.
St.James from Lurking Around Florida on March 23, 2008:
Thank you for the encouragement. By all means keep in touch. There is a site called SoberCircle.com I am on quite a bit. I wish you well and All the Best. I love your blogs.