Casting for charisma

Hundreds vie for chance to be on 'Real World'

Reality TV show hopefuls clog a downtown sidewalk while standing in line for hours Tuesday, waiting for a chance to audition with casting directors of MTV's "The Real World."

GREG UNDEEN/Special to The Sun
Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 12:56 a.m.

The competition was stiff, but Kristina Gerrior had a secret weapon she was sure would help her stand out from the long lines of college-age hopefuls dreaming of cable stardom.

"It's definitely my personality," the outspoken 18-year-old Santa Fe Community College student said.

The promise of hot parties, free trips and 15 minutes of fame brought hundreds of people to Fat Tuesdays and Lillian's bars on Tuesday for casting calls for MTV's "The Real World" and "Road Rules."

The popular MTV reality television shows force hip teenagers and twenty-somethings to live together in a posh mansion for several months, or take a cross-country RV trip while completing a series of strenuous or nerve-wracking "missions."

About 700 people were expected to be interviewed by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Sixteen will be called back for 45-minute, one-on-one interviews today.

Hopefuls began the casting call by filling out a questionnaire, photo attached, that asked for details about their job, their background, whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend and where the relationship stands.

Several hours later, they made it to the 10-minute group interviews. There, they sat in a circle of about 10 people and responded to questions from an MTV casting director: Is it ever OK to lie, cheat or steal to get ahead? How do you define cheating - is it emotional or physical betrayal? What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Casting director Alissa Haight said she wasn't looking for right or wrong answers.

"It's not what they say," she said. "It's just charisma, that certain spark that makes you want to know more about somebody."

She said thousands of people apply to be on the shows each year through casting calls or home videos. Seven people are chosen for the "Real World" cast; six are chosen for "Road Rules."

The Gainesville casting call is the only one being held in Florida, and one of 12 being held across the country for the next season of shows.

Rick Cain, owner of Fat Tuesday's, said he spoke with people who traveled from across the state to the casting call, including mothers from Miami and Jacksonville who drove their daughters to the interviews.

"I got here at 8 this morning, and there were probably 200 people in line," he said, adding that the Orlando resident at the front of the line had been waiting since 4 a.m.

Twelve hours later, the line still stretched from Fat Tuesday's, around the corner onto SW 2nd Avenue and halfway around the block.

Hopefuls said it was worth the wait for a chance to be on the shows.

"They portray the people to be so cool. It's like an affirmation that you're a cool person (to be on `The Real World')," said UF student Elizabeth Tzinberg, 18.

"It's well-known. It's basically what started the whole reality TV thing," Daniel Pack, 19, said of "The Real World." "It's pop culture. It's the MTV generation."

Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or

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