Presumably since it's reality television, you would not be on there for your acting skills, but you would certainly increase your publicity (obviously varies depending on what channel the show airs on and when). Then again, you might be unfairly portrayed as the bad guy/girl. Is it worth it?
Would you do it?
Since the proliferation of reality television in America, pioneered by shows like Cops (1989) and The Real World (1992), word has gotten out that the term “reality” only loosely applies. As described in a 2006 article in Time, the use of "Frankenbiting" (editing unconnected sound bites together to make someone “say” something they never said), replaying footage out of sequence to create a false context, and even planning out whole story lines for shows ahead of time, have all become common and almost expected in reality programming (read other horror stories of reality programming).
Armed with that knowledge, if you were to sign up for a reality television show, there’s a good chance that (ex post facto) you could find out you were misquoted, misrepresented, and more or less set up to serve the interests of the show and garner ratings.
There’s also the backlash from the professional acting world to consider. As an actor friend of mine to whom I posed this question so delicately put it, “How would anyone take you seriously as an actor after doing a reality show?”
It used to be that you could get good money for appearing on a reality show (anywhere from $50-100,000), but since they’ve become ubiquitous, they now only shell out a few grand per participant. It’s not nothing, but it’s close.
Clearly there are several chips stacked against the decision to go on a reality show.
Why on earth would any self-respecting actor do such a thing?
Wells is an actor, heterosexual, who was looking to raise his profile and found the opportunity to do so pretending to be gay on a reality show. While he was uncomfortable when he discovered that the bachelor was actually having difficulty with his decisions and taking the show seriously, he says in the end it was “a deep Method acting experience.”
Deittrick and Schmitt went on Temptation Island 2 as a last test to determine if their relationship was strong enough for marriage. Luckily for them, the answer was “yes.”
Habrowski went on Flavor of Love 3 solely to boost her radio career. She cried when the show was over because she would no longer be pampered in a luxurious California mansion.
Unquestionably, being on a reality show will increase your popularity, and in an age where everyone making a movie wants a “name” actor, it’s a way to make that name for yourself (i.e., be semi-famous enough that a producer might throw money at a movie if you’re cast in it). But there’s still the problem of Frankenbiting and being typecast as something you’re not.
It’s a difficult choice for an unknown actor.
Would you do it?
(photos courtesy of Tara Welch and Getty Images)
-- Gabriel Voss