If you’re currently saying to yourself, “Uh, what?!”
Sit tight and let me explain.
So exactly this time last year, I was spending a sunny afternoon outside helping my mom with some Spring cleaning in the garage when out of no where, my phone started ringing and a number listed to Los Angeles, California lit up across my screen. Weird. But not totally out of the ordinary, as I frequently receive bogus phone calls all the time. (never from California, though) In my normal fashion, I thought nothing of it and let the call tire itself out and continued my busy work in the garage, until I heard another sound from my phone…this time, indicating that I had received a voicemail. Okay, that’s still a little odd.
Shortly after, I took a drink break and decided to listen to the message and get a laugh out of whatever automated person was trying to sell me an all exclusive to the Bahamas. But to my surprise, there was no such message…
“Hi Amanda, this is Malisa calling from ABC’s The Bachelor. Giving you a call because we received a submission from you and we are casting for our next season. My number is ___________________. Again, _________________. Thank you.”
Immediately, my hands began shaking and I didn’t know if I should laugh, scratch my head or whether or not I had been scammed. If so, what a scam this was!
“We received a submission from you” played over and over in my head for several minutes. A submission? When did I…oh my gosh, wait. Wait, they took that seriously?! Shut up, no way! They actually called me back…
First and foremost, let me say that although I have followed a couple of seasons of the show here and there in the past, I’d never considered myself an avid Bachelor watcher. I could watch a couple of episodes or completely miss a whole season and be content. I’m not one of those girls glued to the TV each week pinning her bets on which blonde would confess her love first or who the scripted villain of the group was. I certainly didn’t believe that the show offered any indication of real love…I mean, 90% of the couples break up within the first two months of the season ending! The plot is so repetitive and calculated that I could practically predict a season without even watching it. Yet despite all this, it makes for pretty entertaining television.
So now you’re probably wondering how the heck I ended up in such a predicament knowing how I feel about the show..
Well, it had always been a running joke among my friends that I’d be perfect for the Bachelor. First requirement..being single. (check) Second, I have a kind of crazy, humorous personality that my friends assured me would go great with the show.(alright guys, check. I guess.) Essentially, they told me I have nothing to lose. If you know me, you know I live by the expression Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained. But still..I just wasn’t sure…actually I was pretty positive that the whole thing wasn’t for me. From being filmed, to competing for a man’s attention and being so exposed, yeah no thank you. I’ll pass.
Until one night, ABC’s signature closed captioning message rang a little bit clearer and seemed a little bit more alluring to me. Something to the extent of “If you think you or someone you know would be good fit for the next season of ABC’s The Bachelor, head over to blah blah blah and make your submission.”
Guys, I truly can’t tell you what made my finger glide across my cell phone screen at that exact moment, maybe boredom..maybe wanting to check something off this big old bucket list of mine. Have you ever done something just because and then afterwards, you’re like, wait…what did I just do? After typing my name, hometown and attaching a photo of myself…I was ‘submitted’. Whatever that meant. To be honest, I thought absolutely nothing of it because I was positive I’d never hear back. It was kind of just something I could say I did and laugh about over dinner one night with my friends.
It wasn’t until Malisa’s voicemail on that sunny afternoon that I realized this was a little more serious than I had intended and someone actually saw my information and decided to call me back as a result. Oh gosh. Now what?
After going back and forth, I decided to return her call and see what this whole thing was about.
What ensued felt like a whirlwind. Like a project you had been assigned in school months prior that you waited until the last minute to complete, not knowing if you’d hand it in on time.
Malisa wanted 15-20 photos of me; a mixture of close-ups and full body shots. What? All I have is the iPhone. She wanted them to look natural, not like the photos you strategically waste an hour taking before uploading to your Instagram. How am I going to make these look remotely professional? I can take a selfie, would she like selfies? No. She definitely doesn’t want any selfies. How was I going to pull this off?! But it didn’t just stop there. The best (and most comical) part of the application process in my opinion, was the video I was required to make. Malisa attached the instructions and I gently perused through…casting wanted 5-10 minutes of me essentially filming dribs and drabs of my life, while choosing from a list of ridiculous questions that I had to answer, ranging from what my dream date would be to any strange talents I possess. The main goal of the video was for them to see me in my element without it looking posed or forced. She wanted all of this by the following week. There was NO WAY I could take this seriously or pull it off that fast..it’s like the promo to a bad dating website! A bad home video! I just didn’t have the means or the time..or quite honestly, the guts. I still wasn’t sure if this was for me.
Maybe I’d just forget the whole idea. Tell her forget it. It’s stupid.
Maybe this was where my journey would end. (have a laugh if you understand that Bachelor play on words 😉 )
I deliberated some more. I thought of the pros and cons. I looked for every excuse not to follow through. But I realized when I have my toes dipped in something, I have to dive right in, no turning back. I asked my friends what they thought and naturally, they told me I should go for it. Ugh, friends..what else are they there for?
So I spent that next week trying and failing. Brainstorming ideas. Filming myself in horrible lighting, talking way too much. It just wasn’t working. I decided it was time to enlist the help of others if I was going to get anywhere at all. A photographer friend to take my photos and none other than my best friend to be my humble movie director. (the poor girl, I swear!) I truly wish you could have been behind the scenes watching us gallivant across Long Island in an effort to get the perfect ‘Bachelor-esque footage’. The beach, the pier, my house, my job…the camera even followed me to my kickboxing class! I was giving them the inside glimpses of me, as mundane as that may seem. Many laughs, cuts, do-overs, hair fixes and “I’m not doing this” happened throughout that week. But once all was said and done, I wound up with a solid 15 photos and the cheesiest, most vulnerable home video I’d ever had the pleasure of sharing with a complete stranger. But hey, I could check it off my list at least, right?
I figured if anything, Malisa was just some regional talent recruiter that was assigned to the tri-state area in the hopes of finding risk-taking participants like myself. All I’d have to do is listen to what she had to say, follow some instructions and my application would disappear into the abyss of other Bachelor fan girls. She’d probably get a laugh and I’d never hear from her again.
iMovie was my best friend that week. I became a video editor without even realizing. After all of the dragging, dropping and meshing, I was done.
With one click, my drop box account was shared with Malisa and another casting producer and now, I would just wait. Embarrassed, yes. But nonetheless, I’ll still wait.
What I was not expecting was Malisa to email me back a few days later to let me know that she liked my video so much, she decided to shoot it over to the casting director!
Come again?! My video. A video where my strange talent included reciting the U.S. presidents in chronological order. (don’t ask) Spilling my idea of a fantasy date, my obsession with my cat and the details of my my life into the camera of my iPhone. Someone even BIGGER than Malisa was going to see this?! What did I get myself into?? I can’t. Noooo.
At this point, it felt like I had unlocked the next level of a video game. I didn’t expect it to happen so now I wondered whether I should keep playing or take my winnings and run.
A couple more days passed before Malisa reached out again. This time, with a 25 page packet in tow. This thing covered absolutely everything you’d want to know about a person. Sensitive questions regarding relationships, family, your mental, emotional and physical state…your biggest fears, dreams and ideal ‘significant other’. Okay, so they want to make sure I’m not crazy, got it. But WHY do they need to know that I hate spiders and heights? Are they going to make me jump out of an airplane into a pit of spiders if I wound up making it on national television. The sad truth is, probably. You see, folks..this is what they were trying to achieve with these questions. Analytically picking your brain so deeply to know exactly what would set you off..this makes for great reality TV, am I right?! After completing this, I continued signing my life away and forked my personal rights over to a production company that basically told me they can alter my ‘character’ or personality however they see fit, should I get chosen. Guys, don’t ask why I continued. It almost became addicting..I had to keep going if I made it this far.
When Malisa asked for my passport and health insurance card in addition, things became slightly more real I guess you could say.
“Are you okay with traveling?,” she’d ask.
Um, yes?! We all know that’s half the reason people do this thing. (I didn’t tell her that, don’t worry)
With a cramped hand and bundle of nerves, I finally submitted the last of my Bachelor paperwork and waited to see if Malisa dared to ask me anything else.
“Thanks Amanda. I wanted to make sure that you kept Wednesday, July 12th available during the day as we will be in NYC and want to meet with you. The meeting will be held at The Roosevelt Hotel.”
Looking back on it now, I laugh at the course of events and what I felt from this moment forward.
Malisa explained to me that should I get past this round, I’d be flown out to LA for a weekend for a second screening. Even further past that, the filming process took around 3 months in California and I’d need to be away from home for that time or however long I lasted as a cast member. My access to the outside world would be extremely limited and monitored. No phones, no TV…nothing.
I had never expected to even get called back, so hearing all of this and having a set meeting with the show’s producer and casting team made for the craziest 2 months to follow.
At this time, I had to break to my family and friends, more specifically my parents, the nature of my newest endeavor. Having me as their child, my parents know I can be very impetuous and I do things that are, well, out of the ordinary sometimes. I’m constantly chasing some outlandish adventure or idea.
The reaction wasn’t the best, understandably.
My mom wondered why on Earth I’d want to entangle myself in something like this. She raised the point that I had made earlier; that the show was far from reality. That fame wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The potential dangers of being pinned in front of an audience, basically setting yourself up to be ridiculed and berated by internet trolls.
My dad didn’t want his daughter being the sloppy one that constantly cried on camera and acted a fool on national television.
As I assured them, I most likely wouldn’t even get to that point but still…
There is no truer or tougher critic than that of a parent and trust me when I say, I reevaluated the whole idea after this. I became very anxious and scared at the thought of any of those things potentially happening.
I kept at it, though.
My coworkers and friends on the other hand, thought this was the best idea ever.
My submission video swirled around my office to whoever was interested enough to see it..guys when I tell you, I seriously have the best coworkers ever! Not only did they support this whole thing and want to know every detail of the process, but they let me film bits and pieces at the office and went along with my craziness, as they always do.
Now that everyone knew, it felt like we were all waiting to see what would happen.
From early May to mid-July, I ate, slept and breathed all things The Bachelor. The first question anyone would ask in conversation is how The Bachelor was going. I would see promos for the show on TV and shake. I became nervous at the site of a rose. Yes, I know. Weird. I spent countless days reading about casting interviews for the show online, while trying to think of the perfect outfit to wear on that day. I googled the show’s casting director, Lacey Pemberton, whom I would be meeting with. Known for her career as a former model and actress and her involvement in previous TV series/movies such as Card Sharks and Paper Towns, I was nervous to say the least.
As a matter of fact, The Bachelor franchise was in the news at that time for a couple of instances; an alleged harassment issue between cast members on its spin-off show Bachelor in Paradise and a tragic incident that had occurred when former Bachelor, Chris Soules, accidentally killed someone in a car crash.
For anyone with anxiety or superstitious beliefs, you can imagine why I took these two signs as bad omens. This surely meant I couldn’t proceed! I had never seen the show in the news for reasons like this before, so why all of a sudden? It’s just because someone knows I’m in the running here. They’re trying to tell me I should quit now.
You guessed it. I still persisted.
July 12th, 2017
The hottest day of the summer. But really.
I’m talking back dripping, hair-frizzing, stagnant summer heat and humidity. In NYC nonetheless.
Work was kind enough to wish me on my merry way as I took a personal day to meet with the producers. When I woke up that morning, I strangely wasn’t nervous at all. I was more excited to see what I was walking into. To see the behind the scenes of how a casting process for a TV show works. And I was someone that was part of the process. How cool?
I trekked my way from car to train to Penn Station to the streets of Manhattan in the thick summer heat, en route to The Roosevelt Hotel.
I went with an adorable striped open-back culotte romper (thank you Ruby&Jenna’s) and a pair of chunky platform Steve Madden sandals.
I have to say, this was one of my favorite outfits last summer.
By the time I reached The Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, I was sweating and my romper was practically sticking to me. I asked the bellhop outside if I’d be able to go in and hang out in the cool air before my meeting. He was super friendly and waved me right in.
The hotel was gorgeous and grand. And surprisingly, very lively for 12 in the afternoon. People were eating, drinking and chatting. Relaxing in the air conditioned atrium.
The first thing I noticed when I looked around was that there was nothing out of the ordinary. There were no other interviewees or what I perceived to be casting producers around. I sat down in a winged chair and texted my two assigned producers that I had arrived, a little early might I add. They answered back right away and told me to sit tight, as they were running a bit behind. Once they were ready, they would instruct me to take the elevator to the 9th floor where yet another producer would be waiting for me.
Okay, now the nerves kicked in a little.
I decided to freshen up in the hotel’s restroom before my fate awaited me. While there, I noticed another girl, dressed similarly to me applying lipstick in the mirror. I didn’t want to ask but at the same time, I was kind of curious. Is she here for the same reason I am?
I left the restroom, not thinking anything of it and went to sit back down. Moments later, the same girl came over to me and asked if I was here for a Bachelor interview…and if I had a mint. Phew! The sigh of relief when someone is just as nervous as you are about something and you guys can vent about it. We got to talking and I found out a little bit about her story, how unexpected and random it was just like mine. She was the appointment right before mine. We laughed as we now started noticing girls walk through the elevator doors at random..some of the outfits were outrageous! You can tell these girls were LIVING for this.
Uh oh. She got the text that it was her time to head upstairs, which meant I’d soon follow suit. I wished her good luck and told her to let me know how it goes if I happened to see her afterward. I never did.
The minutes dragged.
Finally, I received the fateful text that it was my turn to head upstairs to floor 9. I hadn’t been nervous all day but at this moment, everything washed over me. Even still, I remained calm, cool and collected. Ready to see what was awaiting me.
When I stepped off of the elevator, I was greeted by another casting producer who was holding a sign with my name. She asked me to smile and stand against the wall as she snapped a photo of me. A microphone was then attached to my romper and I was on my way, following her down an extended corridor to the interview room. This is stuff I’d only seen on TV.
It wasn’t until her hand reached for the door knob that I immediately contemplated running back towards the elevators. Every word was going to leave my head and my brain would become mush. I couldn’t do it! But I had no choice..
I found myself in an empty hotel room. I mean zero furnishings aside from a small couch, table and a few chairs. It was weird.
I finally met Malisa! There were a couple of other producers there also and lastly, Lacey Pemberton sitting calmly in the corner with a warm smile and a clip board.
I was placed in a chair in front of a camera and some serious lighting. Let the interrogation begin.
I wouldn’t say that the questions necessarily threw me for a loop. Many of them had been previously answered in my mound of paperwork. Introducing who I was, what I did for fun, my job..and how I became so tan. (thanks Italian skin) Lacey even complimented my outfit and seemed very enthralled by my answers to her questions, or so it seemed. Just like that, 10 minutes were up. I was given some Bachelor paraphernalia, thanked for my willingness to meet with them and told I would hear back most likely in two weeks.
I had just successfully interviewed for a spot on reality TV. Check!
I honestly felt good about my meeting regardless of what happened. I was glad I went through with it and could finally take a deep breath for the first time in two months.
Moral of the story…
I was leaving for a cruise with my friends a couple of weeks after the interview and had hoped for an answer before then, if not when I returned. But nothing came.
To be honest, I was glad. The summer wound down and they finally revealed who the Bachelor would be…Arie Luyendyk Jr. I’m sorry, who?! I didn’t even know who he was and more importantly, he didn’t seem like my type AT ALL. I was so glad I hadn’t received a call back. (No offense, Arie) I felt in that moment that maybe I had been spared but either way, what a cool story to tell. I went through with something that made me completely anxious and unsure. I realized that it’s not something I would go for again, but I would have never known that if I never went for it.
If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to be on any sort of reality TV show or anything of the sort, I can’t tell you what to do..but think wisely throughout the process. If you’re like me and you enjoy taking risks and having fun, I say go for it! Life is all about the experiences and chances we take, whether they pan out or not. Make your life a compilation of stories, failed attempts and successes rather than one of ‘I wish I had done that.’
I know some of you are probably dying to see my submission video but I’m not so sure I’m ready to share it…it’s pretty embarrassing to say the least! If I get enough comments/feedback, maybe just maybe I’ll post the link to my Youtube and put it there.. Eeeeeek!! 🙂
As always, thanks for reading and let me know what you think!
Go out and live your life peeps!