A job is a job is a job, unless the job is a non-job in the long run.
What the heck do I mean by that? Let me explain.
In your early years as a reality television pro, you may be in a position where you have to take what comes. Obviously, you’d rather be on a prestigious network show rather than some deep-cable series about gross-out foods called WHAT DID I JUST EAT, but bills are bills and as long as the checks clear and the money is green, you’re better off working than not.
Once you’re really up and running, though, the shows you take can influence how valuable you seem to prospective employers on first blush.
When you’re plotting out a career, my advice is:
- Don’t just work on one kind of show forever. Switch it up. Docusoap, Reality-competition, DIY, whatever. It increases your chances of getting hired down the line because no one will look at your resume and say “Yeah, but she only does DIY shows.”
- Gather some broadcast network credits. There’s still a prestige associated with doing a show for ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC that makes your resume seem weightier. Just after my exit from BASKETBALL WIVES, I took a short run on HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT to pep up my resume. The show was for NBC and with Jane Lynch hosting and Sean Hayes producing, I felt pretty sure that even though the position wasn’t going to be terribly story rich, it would at least net me a more current broadcast network credit than DANCING WITH THE STARS, which I’d been away from for going on 15 seasons. Plus, I was able to add a game show to my resume and demonstrate my versatility on paper. For the record, I have actually been in the room with an exec as he looked over a great story person I’d wanted to bring on and listened to him dismiss the gal by saying “Meh, not enough hits.” Even if a network show bombs, it’s a bigger show in the eyes of some employers because it probably got more promotion and has more name recognition.
- Take a promising show over the big paycheck sometimes. We all want a nicer car, but if you pass up a network offer to take a basic cable show over a $200/wk difference in pay, I’d think that foolish — UNLESS, of course, the basic cable show seems to show real promise and offer a chance to do great work. I passed on a third season of DANCING WITH THE STARS to take FLIPPING OUT for Authentic/Bravo because the idea sounded cool. The work I did on that show is something I’m genuinely proud of, and as hard as it was to leave a top network show behind, it was the right move for me at the time.