This is going to be a very straight forward presentation of what you can expect as you take the first step in your journey to a NEW YOU!
The casting call for Atlanta (and I believe all the other cities as well) started at 10am. I knew from my extensive reasearch leading up to the big day that you CAN and WILL want to line up early, but I also knew that they didn't advise lining up any earlier than 3 hours prior to call time. I knew, based on the location of the call, that I wouldn't feel comfortable lining up TOO much earlier than that anyway. (I mean, have you seen the streets of ATL after dark??) We arrived to line up at roughly 7am sharp by the time we parked. This put me in line as number 187.
The 3 hours leading up to the 10 am casting call were pretty straight forward. I was actually not feeling my 100% self, so I stayed pretty reserved in line. We did have a loud bunch behind us, that while funny, got to be pretty obnoxious relatively fast. I think it's great that so many people made new friends (AND I RECOMMEND THAT!) but bringing a whistle that you fire off at every opportunity does tend to wear on the folks around you. It was a good laugh though. TONS of people pulled to the redlight by where we were seated and asked what the event was. I polietly answered. I feel bad for the folks who stopped the whistle crew, for they got many an answer and none were true. I got a good laugh out of one lady who stopped me. She asked if we were waiting in a marathon line. I told her what it was, then realized that she just asked if 300 (morbidly, some of us) obese people were waiting in line for a marathon run. I appreciated her inabiltiy to judge due to weight, but couldn't help think that if we were, it was probably to the nearest all you can eat buffet.
Once 10am hit, it took a few minutes for the circulation to come (probably because of our position in line) but these super adorable (and skinny, of course!) young ladies brought around applications for us to fill out. It was difficult without anything to press on, but I managed through it. It was just a short version of the long application you fill out when you turn in your home tape. It asked why you felt you were fat, if there was anything interesting you had to share, etc. Typical story hunting stuff. Remember that this is television. You want to be honest, but you don't want to discount things that have happened because you never know what they are looking for and what'll peek the interest of a casting director.
So from there we filled out our applications, and waited a little bit more. The line moved slow, but it was at a steady pace. You'll see why soon enough. As we moved in line, nerves and anxieities started to kick in for a lot of people. I was actually calm. I handed everything over to the Big Guy awhile back. If he wanted this, it would happen; if not, I'd take a nice lesson of some sort out of it.
Once we moved closer to the front, you could see that they were letting groups of 10 inside. This is something I anticipated because of my research. (NOTE: This will be different every place you audition at due to buildings and what is available. This is based on MY EXPERIENCE.) Once inside, we were placed in our group in a small room. There, a representative of some sort from BL informed us to choose ONE current photo to attach to the back of our sheet. If you were like me, and overachieved with a full sheet of photos, you can attach it-- but it's not preferred. I had a single photo of myself and my son as backup, so I went with that.
We moved from that room to another general area, and it is here that we stayed in our group but were put with 4-6 other groups. They had a small section by the casting director's rooms that housed 3 groups at a time that were briefed before they went in. We waited here for 10-15 minutes before moving down to the briefing lines.
The briefing line was full of emotions. You could feel the tensions, stresses, excitment and all the other emotions bouncing through our lines. A guy there spoke to us about what to expect. You get 30 seconds to talk. They will give you the topic. Be yourself. Don't be scared. Impress them. No pressure right? Thankfully, whistle girl was in that line, so she dominated conversation. I thanked my stars that I wasn't in her group. The guy who told us what to expect was both funny and motivational. He reminded us that we already won by making the decision that enough was enough. He encouraged us to do it on our own if we don't make it. He reminded us that this is merely one outlet, of many, that could assist us on our way.
Then came the moment we'd built up for. The moment we had put so much money traveling into. The adorable casting gal came up and grabbed us, and took us into a small conference room. She informed us that we needed to have ONLY our application on the table with us. We put our safety net of purses, bags and blankets by the wall and took a seat at a U-shaped table that featured exactly 10 chairs. She introduced herself and again told us what to expect. She had a timer that she'd use to track time, and asked that we be respectful of everyone speaking and not take up all the air time. Whew, here we go. She wanted Name, Age, Occupation and how much we want to lose. Okay! I know those answers! It came to my turn and I gave what they needed. "My name is Ashley, I'm 29. I'm a graphic designer and I need to lose 180lbs" It was at that moment that I realized I needed to lose more than this poor girl's entire body. Funny enough, I wasn't alone and I was comforted in the numbers that the others said.
After we were done telling our basic information, she asked one question: "Why do you need this". Oh well shoot, I need this for many reasons-- how in the heck am I to put that in 30 seconds or less? I'd prepared for this question, as I'd heard it was what they asked, but even at that moment I had no idea what to say. I was one of the first ones in line to speak, so I had nothing to go on. My response was as follows:
"I'm a single mom to a child with special needs. I've spent my whole life fighting battles that others waged at me without my control, and at this point in my life it is time to put that aside. It's me time. It's time to fight my biggest war yet, the war of myself. I need to be around for my son so I have no choice but to do it. That is why I'm here"
It was straight and to the point. I didn't break into to tears like the others there, and I didn't tell my story. I had a calm come over me. I said what I needed to say.
After we all said our pieces (and attempted to not cry after the last angel spoke about how she hasn't been able to get pregnant due to her PCOS, and her husband just overcame cancer and all they want is a family..) she asked us who has been an involved in athletics or dance. Sweet! I raised my hand. I was a dancer. SCORE.
She then went on to tell us that the ranch will be "effin hard guys" and that we need to be prepared for that. She asked who that scared. No hands. Oh yeah, we're ballin. We just stood in line for 5 hours for this, we refuse to let on that we may not be able to survive the first run.
She thanked us, told us that callbacks would be done by midnight and told us how to leave. We walked in the general direction we were pointed into and saw a table with free reusable shopping bags. Aww yeah, they know how to win me over. Free crap. If I didn't make it, I at least have another bag to fill with food. Yessah.
On the way out, we were met at the door by some previous BL contestants. We had a few minutes of conversation about how the ranch was the easy part, it's coming home that's hard.
....and that was that. I didn't recieve a call back from Atlanta (though I really hope that at least 3 people from my room do-- last lady I mentioned included. They had the brighest, but most defeated souls. They deserve it.)I did submit a home tape, so who knows what will come of that. Maybe I'll get a call back. Maybe I won't. Regardless of what happens, I need to find my center and I need to lose this, TV or no TV.
If you're reading this because you're considering trying out. DO IT. Please don't be scared. Don't be nervous. It's a step in the right direction. The worst thing that would happen is you make a small investement to learning A LOT more about yourself than you think you will. (Seriously, that home tape really forced me out of my comfort zone.) It's a step that you're taking that many people are too weak to take. You owe it to yourself to see what comes of it, because if you don't, you'll never know.
What I'd recommend bringing to an open casting call:
A CHAIR! -- I brought a blanket because I can't fit my chairs, but I recommend one more than anything else.
Plenty of water, healthy and FILLING snacks. I
A clipboard and a good pen.
Contact cards or something that you can exchange information with. I opted out of being social, but DONT DO THAT!
At least a day's worth of research. You've already taken that step by reading this.
A camera. I didn't have one to bring, but I so wish I could have gotten the antics that the whistle group did throughout the day.
Your story. Know your strengths, what got you here and what you would bring to the grand scheme of things.
I wish you all the best of luck. If you go for it, or have in the past, let me know how it went!