BY Advocate.com Editors
July 31 2009 11:00 PM ET
Reality shows were once considered the “kiss of death” for anyone who hoped for an acting career. Now, they are considered one more way to grow a celebrity's “brand”, alongside film, television, music and merchandising. Jennifer Lopez, Denise Richards and other legitimate actresses are currently in production for their own reality series. People usually ask me, “How real are reality shows?” I can sense that their taste for scandal leaves them very much wanting to hear that it's all fake and contrived. But at this point, sixteen years after the debut of The Real World, I think we're all very aware that most reality shows are intended purely as entertainment, and don't pretend to be documentaries. From my own experience, I can say that the situations are obviously managed, but our reactions are real. I don't usually live in a plantation-style mansion with eight smitten guys and ride around Hollywood in a horse-drawn pumpkin coach, however much I'd like to. But my responses to those manufactured situations were my own. Of course, before the audience ever sees the show the source material goes through a carefully planned editing process. Some parts of the experience are emphasized, and some done away with so that you never see them. In the case of my show, the only way you'll ever fully know just how hilarious host Alec Mapa was is to watch the behind-the-scenes clips on the show's Logoonline web page—most of that material had to be edited out of the final show. They can't really add in things that didn't happen, but as with any piece of modern entertainment, they do try to shape what they have into a coherent story with the most interesting parts in the forefront. This means that in the final product, you will be seeing the producer's version of the events, just like hearing a particular person's recap of what happened at a party. Everyone who was there will have their own version of what happened, and all of them might be true, but in the end you will only see one in the case of a reality show.
So today, hiking alongside the gorgeous shirtless male models, jabbering writers and between-jobs actors that frequent Runyon Canyon's trails, I feel more truly a part of modern Hollywood than I ever have before. I've paid six years of dues in a town that often grinds newcomers down within the first year. I've had small parts in some major projects, and major parts in some small projects. And I have joined that ever growing, oh-so-Hollywood category of people with their own reality show on their resume.