MTV’s ‘The Real World’ comes to Ames

The Real World will be conducting casting auditions for season 32 of The Real World starting at 9 a.m. on March 29th at the Memorial Union Sun Room. 

Andi Schieszler

Iowa State University just got a little bit more real.

MTV hosted open auditions in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union for the next season of “The Real World.” 

Potential candidates traveled from Iowa’s neighboring states to join ISU students in a chance to become a roommate on “The Real World.” 

“The Real World” is an MTV reality show where seven strangers in their early 20s are put in a house together for a few months, but there is no script or dialogue that is forced onto the cast members. Now that the show is casting for its 32nd season, it has become one of the longest running reality TV shows.

In this documentary-style show, “The Real World” shows young adults who come from various backgrounds interacting while they are filmed and recorded at all times.

Kansas resident and nursing student Sadie Roesner traveled to Ames for the chance to be on “The Real World.” A fan of the show, Roesner found out that she would be able to participate in the casting call, so she filled out the application online. Shortly after applying, she was asked by the casting directors to travel to Ames for the first round of auditions. 

“I’m super average [and] I represent a lot of people,” Roesner said.

Coming from a small town, Roesner said she hopes that this season of “The Real World” will demonstrate a demographic of candidates that more people can relate to.

“I’m super down to earth [and] get along with everyone,” Roesner said. “I’m ready for new experiences and want to change up my everyday routine.”

Erin Gilligan, senior in apparel, merchandising and design at Iowa State, decided to apply to be on the show after finding out about the auditions from her friends. 

“Literally, five people messaged me about the auditions and said, ‘You’re hilarious. Your life needs to be recorded,'” Gilligan said. 

While she does not consider herself a die-hard fan of the show, Gilligan thinks it would be a fun experience and could expand her performance background. 

Like Roesner, Gilligan hopes to find more “real” roommates who people can relate to.

“It’s only entertaining because it’s fake drama,” Gilligan said.

She said that while shows such as “Keeping up with the Kardashians” can be entertaining they are not something most people can relate to. 

“I experience things [other] people do but in a unique way,” Gilligan said. “I’m really weird and weird things happen to weird people.”

Any person who will be over 21-years-old by June 2016 is still able to apply to be a roommate online. Online applicants have the same chances of being chosen as those who are able to go to the casting call. 

“We’re looking for people who are open and honest about who they are and what they’ve been through; charismatic people, diverse people,” said Themi Chahales, one of “The Real World” casting directors.

Chahales said an ideal candidate for “The Real World” is someone who has a strong personality, unique life story and is from any part of the country.

“This season in particular, the season is going to be filmed in the summer, so we thought it would be cool to visit colleges,” Chahales said. “This way we can meet students around the country, [and] we thought [Iowa State] would be a good school to potentially visit.”

Chahales said filming over the summer allows the show to reach out to a different demographic of people who normally would not be able to audition because of prior commitments such as school. Candidates chosen for “The Real World” have to be able to take off work, summer school or any other commitment that might prevent them from living in a house from around July to August.

“The casting process for me was a little different than everyone else,” said Kailah Casillas, a roommate in season 31 of “The Real World.” “I have a unique situation because I never actually went to a casting call. My entire process was virtual.” 

For Casillas, it seemed unheard of to be accepted after only applying online. She said that even though the application process was long and tedious it was worth it to have the experience of being on “The Real World.”

“Every step was really long,” Casillas said. “From the written application to all of the Skype interviews, it kind of takes a lot of time out of your life for a month or two in order to be there every time they need a Skype interview.”

In addition to interviewing her, the casting directors also interviewed her parents, friends and ex-boyfriends as part of the application process.

“At the end of the day if you’re able to make the time, and you do it, then it’s so worth it,” Casillas said. “I would never take back that process ever.”

“The Real World” casting directors are hosting auditions in different cities to make sure the selected cast members all come from different backgrounds and are truly diverse. While the final cast members may not come from Ames, Iowa, potential members are found at each city, Chahales said.

“There’s kind of an ongoing relationship with us if they’re moving forward in the casting process,” Chahales said. “[W]e ask sometimes for home-footage or for follow-up interviews with family and friends, but if they’re chosen as a finalist, they’d know. I think it’s set for the last week of April, where we fly our finalists to Los Angeles for a final interview. Then the cast is chosen based on that,” Chahales said.

Casillas’ season of “The Real World” took place in Las Vegas and had a twist called “Go Big or Go Home,” where each roommate had to face their fears and complete challenges or be sent home. At this point, the location and possibility of a twist are unknown, Chahales said.

Chahales said anyone selected as a cast member should expect to always be filmed, always wear a microphone and to make sure to tell production where they plan to go to make sure a camera crew will be able to follow them.

“At first, the personal life being [filmed] was weird,” Casillas said. “I was weirded out at first because you are aware of the camera at the beginning. But by the end [it’s] your life because you’re there for three months, so you just kind of forget about it.”

The hardest part for Casillas was knowing her voice was being recorded. She was comfortable walking around in her underwear in front of the cameras during the three months but was always conscious of the microphones.

One of the challenges with having her voice constantly recorded was not being able to lean over and whisper any secret or have any sort of private conversation. Another challenge for Casillas was having to follow the rules of production.

“I have problems with authority,” Casillas said. “I’m not a very good rule follower, and unfortunately when you’re there you have to follow their rules.”

During production there was a 2 a.m. curfew and cast members had to make sure to check in with the production team. Because it is a reality show, production has to keep tabs on every person. Casillas said suddenly following rules was hard for her because she was used to living alone.

Even with some of the difficulties adjusting, Casillas said she enjoyed the experience. She had the chance to talk about controversial topics and made some new lifelong friends. 

“We really hit upon controversial topics that are happening with our generation and really just living in a house with six other people and learning about their backgrounds and where they came from … being immersed in all different types of cultures opened my eyes a lot, and it genuinely changed me as a person,” Casillas said. “That’s what I think is my favorite part about being on the show.”

While “The Real World” includes partying on the show, Chahales hopes people can also see parts of the show that are more substantial.

“The Real World” tries to focus on controversial topics that affect our generation and serve as a source of entertainment. 

Some of the topics on season 31 included race, religion and sexual orientation. Chahales said casting did a wonderful job finding so many diverse people, so there were different opinions on each topic.

Even though each person was different, Casillas met people who she now considers friends.

“We’re not all the closest of friends because, I mean, let’s be honest — if anyone is thrown together with six random people it’s not a ‘for sure’ thing that you guys are going to get along like a happy family,” Casillas said. “We have cliques for sure. I have two really good friends that I got from the show. Then there are other cliques where they are good friends and I’m not so close. But I definitely made it out with two lifelong awesome friends.”

Casillas said she encourages people to audition because the experience is life-changing. Learning to live with a camera, being immersed in the audition process and having to learn to live in a new place with six strangers is something not many people get to experience. Any person could learn something by living with people of so many different backgrounds and cultures, Casillas said.

“This season is full of all types of topics that are important to our times and important to our generation and I hope everyone watches with an open mind and is able to see that there are topics to be talked about. I was happy to be a part of [it] and you know the show has been on for 31 seasons now, so it was really cool to be a part of something so huge,” Casillas said

Casillas also offered advice to those who will go through the casting process.

“I would say be yourself, be open and honest as much as possible, and you just have to think about it like you have nothing to lose. Just do it, go big,” Casillas said.

Chahales also encourages anyone and everyone who has ever wanted to be on TV to audition for “The Real World.”

“This is a show that’s been on for almost 30 years, so this could be the opportunity of a lifetime,” Chahales said. “If you’re in the area, head on over that day and maybe you’ll find yourself on TV.”

Casillas’ season of “The Real World: Go Big or Go Home” premiered at 9 p.m. March 17 on MTV.

For more information about “The Real World,” visit its Facebook page or “The Real World” MTV page