I Was On MTV's Made!

Back in 2004 I was living in St. Louis and worked in my free time as a stage manager for St. Louis Shakespeare. I was getting ready to stage manage their production of Richard III and was preparing to assist the director with the auditions when I got a phone call from the company's Artistic Director. She informed me that MTV would be at auditions with two young ladies who were planning to audition, as Richard III does require some young ladies to perform in it. I said eloquently, "Uhm what? MTV?" Turns out the ladies were a part of MTV's reality show, Made, which I hadn't actually heard of till that phone call. The story was, there were two sisters, Megan and Katelyn, who were a year apart in age and both wanted to be actresses. They were being coached by a local acting coach, were going through stage combat training with a local teacher, were going to be flown out to audition for a small part on a soap in LA, and so on.

My initial reaction was concern; I was concerned that MTV expected us to automatically cast the girls but was reassured that we were under no obligation, and that either way it made for a good story, and a good training experience for young wannabe actors. I was told to proceed with auditions as usual.

So the day of the auditions rolls around and they're going fine and then the volunteer working at the table says "ok, the MTV folks are here since the girls are up." The camera woman came in first, and she was was really quite kind. She assured us that she wasn't going to get in the way or spin it in a negative way, that we should just audition them like anyone else and then after the audition we'd be asked a few questions on camera or they'd record our (usually) internal conversation about their auditions. She wanted the whole experience to be as normal as possible and told us to treat it like we would an audition for any other young, mostly inexperienced, actors. They wanted to get a good TV story, but what struck me is that she seemed genuinely interested in providing a real life and supportive experience for budding young artists - it didn't read to me like she was hoping for some kind of spectacular crash and burn TV-worthy experience. I thought that was pretty cool because I was actually kind of concerned about it, never having seen an episode of the show, but was aware that most "reality" TV thrives on ridiculous humiliation.

Anyway, the first sister auditioned. She'd obviously been working with an acting coach, and did a pretty nice job. Auditioning for Shakespeare can be difficult if you're new to the Bard; I've seen grown adult actors with terrible auditions because they flat out don't understand the words coming out of their mouth. The acting coach clearly helped the girls select something age appropriate and went over each word to make sure they understood what they were saying and the emotions underlying each thought.

The second sister auditioned and she was also well prepped and pretty good. Neither had done much acting but they were clearly willing to work at it and that's always a really good sign. I'll tough rough around the edges and willing to learn over talented diva most days of the week.

After the auditions the camera lady asked us to discuss the auditions amongst ourselves on camera, and pretend like she wasn't there. It was incredibly awkward since it was clear there was a big ole camera pointed directly in our faces. I honestly don't know how people like the Kardashians live like that all the time; I was so aware that all reactions and comments would be recorded and that the girls would see it. I think both the director and I were very careful to frame anything that could be construed as negative in a neutral light as, generally, discussions like that can be very blunt and very private and we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

The bottom line though was that they were actually not bad. So we did end up casting them both. It ended out working out well - the girls were lovely to work with. I heard at the time that they'd received the most emails out of anyone featured on the show to date, so that was kind of fun. We had fun talking about what they were doing next and all the cool stuff that MTV was doing for them.

I didn't tell many people about the show, but when it aired I got a bunch of emails from friends all over the US asking "Hey, I was up late last night watching some thing on MTV... did I see you or was I just tired?" And I have to say, that damn episode ran often for a long while.

When this memory came up for this article, I got curious about the girls and wondered if they kept up with the acting. Turns out they didn't: they're now running a mini-shoe empire! Although, it looks like the girls did get to go to the Fantastic Four premiere in New York. Fun!

The experience ended up being much more positive than I expected. I've since watched an episode here and there and it's kind of a nice show, watching eager eyed high school kids try to live their dreams. It's a lot less cynical than most of MTV's other current programs and I enjoy it because of that.

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