Reality TV: Does It Pay to Apply?

Reality television has exploded in recent years with top stars bringing in large sums for their exploits. Kate Gosselin of "Kate Plus 8" reportedly makes $250,000 per episode. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino of the Jersey Shore will make $5 million in 2010. And Kim Kardashian makes about that much annually.

You may not have eight kids or live in New Jersey, but what if you'd like to update your kitchen? While most of us are probably happier watching TV than appearing on it, there are financial benefits to reality television that could make applying for a show worthwhile.

Do It Yourself

After purchasing a pre-war apartment, New York City-based artist Ariana Boussard-Reifel got an idea."The apartment was in disastrous condition with holes in the walls and floor, exposed electrical wires and general chaos," said Boussard-Reifel. "It had to be gutted and I knew that to renovate it to my level of taste was going to be out of my budget."

Rather than rack up debt to complete the renovation, she decided to try her luck on reality TV. She ended up on a show called "10 Grand in Your Hand" on the DIY network. "I had been watching the DIY channel to pick up skills and thought: Why can't I be on this?" said Boussard-Reifel. Thanks to the show, she saved nearly $16,000 on a renovation worth $30,000. Sponsors donated high-end products, including $2,000 in Kohler sinks and faucets, and $6,000 in exotic and sustainable hardwood flooring.

Being on the show had other benefits too — like a set deadline for her project. Doing the work herself meant she maintained control over aesthetic decisions, which was important to her. "The apartment is now quite beautiful, all new and I have a great story to tell guests," she said.

Tell Your Story

There's no harm in applying for a reality show that might help you reach a goal quicker than an old-fashioned savings plan. Whether you want to remodel your kitchen, travel the world, or buy a new wardrobe, there is a reality show for your dream. The key is convincing a casting director that you're the best choice for the show.

"Think about who you are and what you have to offer. You may not think the fact that you are from a small farm town or can speak five languages because you moved a lot as a kid with Army parents is interesting, but to the millions that are watching, these qualities are exactly what make you so endearing," Risa Tanania, a top reality casting director in New York City, says.

Casting directors have an uncanny ability to read people, often forming an opinion within two minutes. When submitting a video or going to an audition, catch their attention quickly. "This isn't to say you should juggle while you speak. Frankly, that gets a little annoying. But consider your energy at your highest point and then multiply that by 10," recommends Tanania. "Get excited. If you aren't excited about the prospect of being on the show, why would we be [excited] about watching you?"

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Brittany B

Wow. What a great idea. I love watching reality shows because it is a study in human behavior. It never occurred to me that beyond the possibility of becoming famous, there could be actual rewards (new kitchen). Thanks for the article.