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The Real World to host open casting at Ferguson Center

The Real World will be holding an open casting call next Wednesday in the Ferguson Center. Photo courtesy of Bunim Murray Productions

Luci Willis

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Finally, one of the seven climbed up and balanced precariously for a moment on the edge of the basket far above the desert floor. She took a deep breath and then leapt out into thin air.

On national television, Sabrina Kennedy fell, screaming and tumbling straight downward until her harness caught and she swung out in a wide arc between the two balloons. She grinned and yelled triumphantly into her helmet camera as she soared through the air on her first day as a cast member on “The Real World: Go Big or Go Home,” the 31st season of one of MTV’s most watched reality shows.

“I did things on the show I would never be able to do in real life,” Kennedy said. “And going into it, that’s the thing, I didn’t know the twists or that it would be so life-changing.”

MTV’s “The Real World” will host an open casting call in Ferguson Center rooms 3107 and 3108 next Wednesday April 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The casting call is open to anyone over 21 years of age who is interested in participating in the 32nd season of the show. The show has been on the air since 1992.

Kennedy auditioned for the 31st season over a year ago at an open casting call in her home state of Massachusetts. She said she was walking around after one of her college classes when she and a friend saw the sign. On an impulse, she decided to go inside and try out.

“It was kind of fate. [The casting call] was kind of nerve-wracking because you don’t know how to act,” Kennedy said. “I’m all about being myself, who I am as an individual, and it’s definitely one of those things that you have to live in 
the moment.”

Anyone unable to attend the call can apply online through the show’s application and questionnaire, but usually the open call is the first step in the process, according to Martin Brooks, senior casting director for “The Real World.” On that day, applicants will meet casting directors and participate in a group process, which Brooks said is a crucial part of the casting procedures.

“You’ll come in, and there’s tables of ten,” Brooks said. “Everyone introduces themselves, so there’s this group dynamic. So everyone gets a chance to talk. There’s a great benefit to sitting down in front of 
the directors.”

Contrary to what he said seems to be the popular belief, Brooks and the casting directors are not looking exclusively for individuals who party or live 
outrageous lives.

“The only plan we really have is diversity,” Brooks said. “Our country is pretty diverse, and I’m always looking for people with the diverse personalities who best represent who they are from that area. I also look for people with layers, who don’t just party.”

Brooks explained that the directors put a lot of time and effort into finding seven strangers who are not only individually compelling but also form a cohesive, intriguing group.

“It’s really about [how] the group fits together,” Brooks said. “I would say far more deliberation and far more intelligent thought goes into casting than you would ever imagine. They have to be a group that’s going to have fun 
and galvanize.”

Brooks and his team of casting directors strived to find individuals like Kennedy who stand out from the crowd while representing a vital part of 
the country.

Kennedy believed she was chosen because of her search for her birth mother and because of her tendency to be very blunt and honest.

“I know the stigma is ‘Oh, they cast crazy people,’ but you have to be a very strong, outgoing individual, and you have to not care what people think of you,” Kennedy said. “I recommend doing it if you’re that kind of person. I am extremely vulgar and very honest, and I have a very unique story line, you know, adopted at 12, live with my 
biological sister.”

Kennedy took a semester off of school to be on the show, which is currently airing. She said it can be strange to watch and hear from people who see her on the show, and she cautioned anyone interested in the casting call.

“It’s weird to see yourself on television,” Kennedy said. “I’ll watch and think, ‘Wow, I don’t even remember saying that.’ We kind of emotionally blacked out. You kind of forget about what you felt and what you said. I am not the girl that I was in the first few episodes, and no one is ever going to know what we went through, our individual experiences.”

Brooks acknowledged the need for emotional endurance and said he looks specifically for that when he 
conducts interviews.

“A lot of people come and think I’m looking for partiers, but they don’t have a real concept that it’s going to be hard experience. It’s easy to be exactly who you are in your friend group, but it’s harder than people think when you’re taken out of that,” Brooks said. “So I look for that, what kind of endurance do 
you have.”

More generally, the casting directors look for someone with an unknown quality often sought after in show business.

“When I sit down and there’s a person and they just have something – like movie stars have it – that’s what I get most excited about,” Brooks said. “When who they are can just translate very well into ‘The Real World.’ It’s about finding someone who I think has a presence.”

After the casting call on April 6, the directors will contact individuals for follow-up interviews. Then after weeks of deliberation, they will choose the next seven strangers to begin their own experience in the 32nd season of 
“The Real World.”

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The Real World to host open casting at Ferguson Center