FOXTEL aside, which seems to have more Reality TV than actual actors doing their thing, Free To Air has once again become clogged with painters, decorators, singers, dancers, gumtree leaf players, saxophonists, celebrities trying to reclaim their former glory, brides, grooms and Kerri-Anne all competing to get a slice of the public’s affection and their sweet, sweet cash.
I feel as though I am a little bit smart on this topic as my name is Em Rusciano and I am the product of a Reality TV show.
When people find that out about me they are either impressed or disgusted.
I was on Australian Idol in 2004 and came 9th.
Reality TV was an excellent career choice for me. Straight after being rejected by the nation I got a job in commercial radio. I went onto host breakfast radio for the then Austereo network for nearly 5 years, from there I got a my current jobs on The Project and The Circle. I still sing, host corporate events and take part in comedy and cabaret festivals. Reality TV changed my life.
It’s been a bloody steep learning curve, before Idol I had ZERO experience performing. I also had next to zero self awareness. The last eight years have been a mixture of work, luck, tears, moving, counselling and reflection. I am still a nobody and have a long way to go before I can get a legitimate invite to the Logies, but I get paid to do what I love so I can’t complain.
I am in the minority of former RTVCs (That’s shop talk for Reality TV Contestant) who have gone on to semi-successful careers.
It’s a wasteland out there folks, you see once the public/judges decide they no longer want you, you’re very quickly forgotten. The public are fickle and spoiled for choice, they will move on to the next thing if you’re no longer on their TV every night.
One day you are being watched by millions of people, have your own security guard, live in a mansion, are being interviewed by magazines and radio stations and the next you are back in your regular life which for me involved hacking away at dried Weetbix with a metal ruler on my child’s highchair. Aforementioned child no longer recognised me, just to really sweeten the situation.
You are expected to pick up the pieces as though nothing has happened. It’s a severe reality and not something the production companies prepare contestants for.
Some are crushed by this, some fight it for a while and some try to pretend like it never happened.
For the record, I did all three.
With Big Brother starting up again soon and The Voice receiving so much hype I worry again for the next crop of rejects. I know that sounds harsh but that’s essentially what we are, I wear it as a badge of honour. I think the mistake a lot of people make going into these type of situations is that they think if they get chosen as a finalist that’s their one-way ticket to becoming a *gargantuan star. (*I thesaurised the shit out of “huge” there.)
Some contestants leave the competition feeling as though the world owes them something, when the offers don’t roll in as expected it can be breathtakingly crushing.
My advice to those of you thinking about Reality TV as your next move is to see it as a platform not a magical career maker.
Go in expecting nothing.
Expect to give everything.
Don’t attach your self worth to the outcome.
For the love of everything that is good and holy NEVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER go near the Internet forums. My GAWD I cannot stress this enough. I made that mistake. My left eye still twitches as a result.
The crap news is even if you do win or somehow manage to trick people into giving you a career in the industry (as I did) you are still judged and looked down upon by those who got there by legitimate means. You know, WAAPA, NIDA, being extraordinarily pretty …
Have a crack anyway, what have you got to lose?! (Sanity, privacy, career, sense of self worth, reason for living, credibility.)
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Em Rusciano appears on Network Ten’s ’The Project’, she also regularly hosts The Circle. You should follow her on Twitter here (she is Mamamia’s official The Voice tweeter) and read her blog here. No really, you should.
What reality tv shows are you watching and who are you loving? Who do you miss?