Before I launch into the play-by-play of my Design Star casting call experience, I have to thank all of the people who left such sweet comments and sent emails and Facebook messages regarding Monday’s “Part 1” post. Some of y’all made me cry, dangit! I really appreciate all of the support and good wishes.
Now for the juicy stuff. The auditions!
The festivities were held at the Westin Park Central in Dallas last Sunday and were scheduled from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Those of you who tuned in to one of my earliest posts, in which I described my experience at the last Top Design casting call, can imagine that I was quite comfortable not being first in line. I decided I would take my time. Make sure all those new makeup tricks were done properly. Pay special attention to my flaming red and DIY-highlighted locks. You know…craft a thing of beauty that the casting producers wouldn’t be able to refuse.
And y’all? I looked DAMN GOOD. Wish I’d thought to take a picture.
I had just the right pants, just the right top, my supercurves just looked…curvy. Karen had lent me the perfect necklace–a concoction of gunmetal rings and balls that said distinctly, “I’m fun and I know a thing or two about design.” Best of all, I was wearing my new cowboy boots.
That’s right. I bought my first-ever pair of cowboy boots for this shindig. Why? Divine fate, I suppose. When I first chatted with the wardrobe stylist I consulted, I told her up front, “I want to project ‘Austin,’ but I’m not wearing cowboy boots or anything like that. It’s just not me.” But Lee thought some kind of short boot would be the perfect thing. She sent me a link for reference and I took to Cavender’s with my iPhone in hand. “I’m not interested in cowboy boots,” I kept saying. “I need something a little more mainstream.” After all, I wouldn’t be caught dead in cowboy boots. That whole western thing is for country music listeners, right? And I don’t think being a Willie fan is going to qualify me as such. Anyway, those cute little short boots? $250. Regular cowboy boots? $99. So I tried on the cowboy boots for sh*ts and giggles…and OH MY GAWD THESE THINGS ARE DAMNED COMFORTABLE. I wore them out of the store and I have yet to wear any other shoes since. I feel like such a badass now, and my new BOOTITUDE will give me just that much more confidence during the audition. I am in like Flynn!
I arrived at the Westin around 10:30….number 36 on a sign-up sheet that ultimately held 54 names. I tell the girl at the check-in desk that I can barely write, due to Acute Popsicle Hand Syndrome. She smiles, but she does not engage. She’s probably seen 35 other attempts at sucking up and she’s not having it!
My fellow applicants are gathered in comfy chairs and tufted sofas in the hotel lobby, which is a relief because I expected to be sitting in a hallway like we did for Top Design. I take a seat and look around at the eight other people in my immediate vacinity.
“Everyone’s smiling–are we practicing our smiling?” I ask. A couple of women titter and go back to radio silence. The feeling I get from this group is not unlike sitting in the waiting area at an unemployment office. Everyone around me is on edge. Most of them are wearing some sort of boot, but THEY DON’T HAVE BOOTITUDE.
I take the matter in hand and try to draw everyone out. Is no one else curious about their competition? Is everyone content to sit here like bumps on a log? Not me, honeys. Will you join me as I make crack assessments of the cast of characters in my immediate area, who shall all remain nameless so I don’t piss off the HGTV peeps?
BITCH #1: This woman is a bottle blonde living in Houston but she’s from Scottsdale, Arizona and her whole look screams “bitch.” She is the type to screen potential dates according to income and car model, and she smugly admits she has only seen Design Star “one or two times, but not like a whole season or anything.” She does not look like someone who actually works for a living. I don’t see her getting a spot on the show…she’s bitchy enough to fill that standard Omarosa niche, but she doesn’t project design substance.
STUDENT #1: This guy-next-door hails from St. Louis, Missouri, but after a job loss and tough time with unemployment, he accepted a job offer in Dallas, regrettably leaving his wife in St. Louis to hold down the fort. I feel sorry for him when he spills this, thinking of my brother who just got married in October but is living in Washington state while his bride is in Denver until the Navy transfers him back to Colorado. Any sympathy I have for STUDENT #1 flies out the window though, the minute he mentions he also has not seen much of the show. He is one of three students at the Art Institute of Dallas. Nothing about him says “memorable,” aside from the T-square he pathetically brags about, which is signed by Vern Yip.
STUDENT #2: Our first candidate with potential, STUDENT #2 from the Art Institute hasn’t watched the show much either, but has all of the physical attributes I assume the casting crew would die for. She’s young and pretty, has long blonde hair with waves in all the right places, she’s built like a Barbie doll, seems sweet and bubbly, and is newly engaged to “Jeremy,” a CPA. I don’t necessarily know if she has the design chops, but she’s definitely got “the look.”
STUDENT #3: Although pretty, STUDENT #3 from the Art Institute is completely forgettable. I don’t remember anything about her to report other than she had long blonde hair. Kind of “dime a dozen,” and had a bit of the wallflower taint on her. Also? Hasn’t watched the damn show. A bad pattern is developing…
BITCH #2: Ding-ding-ding! We’ve found our Omarosa. BITCH #2 is a brunette kitchen designer and is also from Houston. Do they grow the bitches there? Anyhoo, she had a practice in Austin for twenty years that she closed “when the economy tanked.” I say a quiet thank you to the design biz gods that Room Fu has been steady and sure since all of the pocketbook rockiness started. She’s obviously hoping for MILF status in her monochromatic getup–chocolate brown mini-dress, tights, and knee-high boots–and I give her mental props for pulling it off. She catches up on Facebook via iPad with her chocolate brown cheaters on and regales us with a tale of getting felt up that morning by the TSA. The security woman at the airport slid her hand all the way up the inside of both legs…right up to her cooch, y’all! BITCH #2 hasn’t watched the show beyond an episode or two. Evidently, she can only be bothered to be on TV, not to actually watch TV, but she’s seen enough to hate it. “It’s just so bad–it’s a terrible show,” she says. Which explains why she wants to be on it. I can totally see them casting her, and best of luck to everyone involved if they do. She won’t make anything easy.
6-TIMER: A six-time Design Star applicant, this Dallas beauty is a long-time reader of this here blog! I loved her instantly, and not just because she’s been following my blog so long. She’s pretty, wearing a smokin’ hot outfit, cute bod, cute personality, and has enjoyed a successful career in the hospitality design industry. Dudes would want her and girls would want to be her friend. I found myself wondering, why haven’t they picked her before? Like me, she got a callback during the Season 3 casting cycle and was asked to submit a second video. Neither one of us made it beyond that, but we’ve both improved loads since then–pick us, pick us! 6-TIMER is the only other applicant besides me who has watched the show regularly.
NON-DESCRIPT BLONDE: Wallflower, blonde, young. From Dallas. Hasn’t watched the show much. Completely uninteresting.
BITTER JON CRYER: This Jon Cryer lookalike and his partner did nothing but bitch and moan anytime they deigned to open their mouths. They’re living in Denton, Texas (my college stomping grounds) and HATE IT. Apparently, there is nothing good to say about living in Denton, Texas. It is not even remotely as good as living in Florida, people. Everything about it sucks. They are only there to be close to BITTER JON CRYER’s family. They rue the day they ever decided to leave the Ultimate Paradise that is Florida. And thank gawd the partner is a nurse and can support BITTER JON CRYER because dude can’t get a design job to save his ass. Back in Florida it was so much easier. Texas sucks. Waaa, f*cking waaaa. I don’t think you’re getting this job either, dude.
I fill out my mile-long questionnaire with fingers that are still not fully-functional, eavesdropping on the conversations around me while struggling to describe my show concept in 50 words or less. BITCH #2 goes on and on about how unprofessional the check-in girl is. “Is she some kind of intern or something? She was on a personal call when I checked in and didn’t even acknowledge me!” Diva much? I wonder to myself why she expects excellent customer service from a jaded 22-year old on a Sunday morning whose only role is to sit behind a skirted table and call out people’s names when it’s their turn to proceed upstairs. Chances are good that your average Snookie-level of experience and intelligence would do for this job…expectations should be matched accordingly.
STUDENT #1 mentions he hasn’t watched the show enough to know much about it. “You should read up on my blog,” I tell him. “I’ve written recaps the past three years and have interviewed the judges and the castoffs each week for the past two.” His expression tells me I have just outed myself as Know-It-All Bitch. He wonders aloud if any of the winners ever make it for reals. Everyone decides David Bromstad has definitely made it. STUDENT #1 thinks the girl who won the second season had a decent run, but he can’t remember her name. “Kim Myles,” I answer, and cinch my KIAB title. “Antonio’s done okay,” someone interjects. “I hated that last girl who won,” BITCH #2 says. Yeah, you would, I think. I’m such a huge fan of Season 5 winner Emily Henderson and personally think if you don’t like her style, it tells me all I need to know about yours.
“Whatever happened to that girl who won Season 3?” asks STUDENT #1, in a tone that suggests she is somehow flawed. “She’s had bigger fish to fry,” I tell him. “She got pregnant soon after she won and her baby was born with a rare (venous and lymphatic) malformation that requires round-the-clock care.” I want him to feel bad. I’ve never spoken to Jennifer Bertrand, but loved her on the show and feel defensive about her. I’ve since learned that she has been doing routine segments on a local network, which have been picked up by regional NBC affiliates. Go Jen!
Then the subject turned toward the judges. “Vern seemed nice until he got on this show and turned into an asshole,” someone says. They know an awful lot about the show for people who claim to have never regularly watched it. “Candice too…she’s so cute and funny on her own show but get her on Design Star and…man!” BITCH #2 has clueless ideas about Genevieve. “Wasn’t she a contestant on Design Star? Isn’t that how she got her start?” she asks. Umm, no. What are you, stoo-pid? You might want to do a little research on the Internets with that iPad of yours, I think.
NON-DESCRIPT BLONDE asks if anyone’s heard of that “new video chat thing,” and it turns out she’s talking about Skype. New? Do you live under a rock? BITCH #2 informs the group that her twelve-year old daughter does her homework with friends on Skype. “I’ll walk into my kitchen and hear her friend Bailey’s voice and she’ll say, ‘Hi Mrs. ____’ and I’ll say, ‘Is Bailey here?’ and then I’ll see her onscreen!” I imagine BITCH #2 with one of those fancy fridges with the computer monitor built into the door.
One by one, everyone’s name is called and they go up the Escalator of Dreams. Finally, I hear the unprofessional checker-inner mumble, “Robin Callan!” and when she tells me to wait by the escalator, I do. I look back at the remaining hopefuls and the unprofessional checker-inner tells me, “No, go up the escalator and wait up there.” Dang–I’m already doing it wrong!
I go upstairs and I don’t see anything remotely obvious about where to go, what to do. There’s what appears to be a family waiting in a lounge area to the right–not my people. There’s a long, skirted table opposite the entrance to a ballroom and a row of four chairs against a wall behind the escalators. There are creative types lingering there, so I head that direction. Two of the seated folks aren’t trying out themselves, but are hanging out with a friend who is. Some twenty-something dude with a prominent belt buckle and a down jacket is standing before us, peppering us with his own commentary and questions. When it becomes clear that he is not a fellow applicant and doesn’t know anyone in our gathering, I start to wonder if his needs are…well, special. Done with her audition, a blonde girl rejoins the two who are just hanging out. She is dressed like a catering waitress…plain black shirt, plain black pants…she could be NON-DESCRIPT BLONDE #2.
As I continue to wait, I try to strike up a convo with the girl to my left. She nervously glances at me as she answers, “from here,” when I ask where she’s from. Too nervous to speak? Good luck with that TV career. Then a hotel employee wheels a luggage cart past us, carrying a side table whose top has been mosaic’d with glass pebbles. Ewww, I muse. Are we going to have to do some hideous craft demo for this?
My reverie is broken with, “Hello, hell-o! Next, please!” The casting (person? agent? what do you call her?) has had to leave her chair to come find out why I’m not coming when called. Good gawd, I’m STILL doing it wrong!
OMG, OMG, OMG!! It’s finally here–my turn! My turn to bedazzle them with my incredible charms! Time to amaze them, using all of the things that I’ve done and learned over the past few months in preparation for this exciting moment! It’s all going to come together because I am SO your next Design Star! I am pumped! I am psyched! I’m full of TV-genic energy!
Y’all? Two women asked me three questions and that was it.
There was no taking of pictures, there was no video test. Three questions are not even enough to qualify as an interview, you know? Since they are doing additional casting calls in various cities through January 10th, I won’t disclose the specific questions they asked. I mentioned that I liked “clean lines,” and said, “But that’s probably typical. Everyone always says they like clean lines and want to bring the outdoors in.” The interviewers looked at each other and said, “Actually, no one has mentioned ‘clean lines’ all day.” I am the only designer in all of Texas who likes clean lines?? Boo-yah!
I told them about my blog and how I’ve interviewed the castoffs for two seasons and that perked them up…they both wrote that down in their notes, so I felt good about that. Then after I answered their third question, one of them said, “Okay, that’s it! We’ll call you in a couple of days if we’re interested.”
Wha? That’s it? NO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O! Waaaaait! I felt a little panicky, like Peter Billingsly’s character in A Christmas Story when he screeches to a halt on the slide after visiting Santa so he can tell Kris Kringle what he really wants for Christmas. No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! And a spot on Season 6 of Design Star!
How can you possibly know the extent of my fabulousness yet? I mentally plead with the lead interviewer. But that was that.
And now it’s Thursday and I still haven’t heard anything.
Is that the end of it for me? Not by a long-shot. I’m going balls to the wall with this one and won’t stop pursuing a berth until I’ve exhausted all other avenues. My next task is to assemble a five-minute video that showcases my talent and personality. If it’s not prohibited in the fine print of the application contract, I will post it here on the blog when it’s ready for prime time. I’ll submit it the old-fashioned way and see if it flies with another screener.
Wish me luck!
Soooo proud of you, Robin! So many never have the guts to even show up for something like this! You do it with gusto! I’ll be anxiously awaiting more news! They’re crazy, if they don’t pick you!
WOW! What a GREAT recap/commentary and what a buzz kill INDEED! Just reading it I totally got that feeling of Ralphie at the bottom of the slide. Like having an undefeated season, going to the super bowl, putting on your uni and having the game called for rain. Wah wah. The only bit of good I can say about that is this: They didn’t have to ask any more questions because they knew they wanted you. The “clean lines’ bit and your blog are tell take signs. My last full time job I went to interview for and the guy flipped through my book in about 3 mins, asked a question or two and kinda hurried me out the office as someone else was waiting to interview. What a joke I thought. Then a week or so later I get called back. Again, pretty quick through the book but a few more questions. No offer though. Then a couple days later a call saying “the job is yours if you want it.” The thing was he knew the second he saw my book that he wanted to hire me but had to fulfill the other interview appointments. They saw you and said, “yup, she’s in” but they have to take care of those other auditions. I feel confident you’re on the short list and you’ll get a call back. It just sucks having to wait. Keep us posted Rock Sta…um…Design Star!
Bam!!! So proud of you and all your doing! There is so much ahead of you with your talents and passion. I am looking forward to the coming year for you!
I feel like you are waiting on a baby and I’m just holding my breath for the next post update…gads DS…enough already, just cast this girl because she ROCKS IT!!!
Y’all are all so awesome–truly! And Jill? You almost made me pee my pants!
Best of luck! Judging from your fabulous work, you’re a shoo-in.
When are you going to post a photo of your ‘tude” boots?
3 questions?! WOW! And you didn’t even get to show anything? Hard to believe they can select the right people with only 3 people. You would be not only a fun, engaging, and interesting person to watch on the show, you would bring genuine hillarity to something that should be just plain fun (design!)!!
I too want to see the Bootitude boots!!
Soooo thoroughly enjoyed this inside scoop!
I have fought my own battles with stage fright and have auditioned for DS every year since season 1.
I love your insight, and you have indeed earned the DS KIAB title! Please keep it up, it’s character building I’m cheering you on!
I love your blog, thank you for putting it out there. More please!,