“Real World, MTV’s longest-running reality program, will be holding a casting call at Good Time Charley’s on South University Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 23. Since 1992, “Real World” showcases and exposes the reality of how people between the ages of 21 and 25 interact with each other under intense, intimate circumstances. Each season, seven to eight people live together under one roof for three months, undergoing challenges, excursions and everyday experiences that assess the integrity and personality of each person. The cast members begin as complete strangers, often with extreme differences in beliefs, lifestyles, upbringings and personalities, creating an intense and intriguing environment. 

The show follows these people as they develop relationships with each other and evolve as people. Issues of sex, drugs, racism, partying, love, pain and truth are brought forth, leaving cast members challenged, confronted and vulnerable. Oftentimes, the cast members find themselves in situations that test everything they know to be true about themselves and about the world around them. 

Kailah Casillas, a cast member of the upcoming 31st season “Real World: Go Big or Go Home,” grew up watching the show. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Casillas said that being on the show was different from what she expected.

“It’s a lot harder,” Casillas said. “I had the time of my life. But you don’t realize how hard it is psychologically, with all the cameras … being away from home, being in a new environment and having to be very tolerant of other people and their behaviors and lifestyles. These people are culturally totally different from me.”

Microphones and video cameras follow each cast member around 24/7. 

“The only time we were allowed to take our microphone off was to shower and to sleep,” Casillas said. “We were filmed 24 hours a day and seven days a week.”

Reality TV shows are often scrutinized for not being an accurate portrayal of real life, and questions arise regarding how authentic the “reality” part truly is. In “Real World,” however, the show seems to stay true to its name by refraining from interfering with each cast member’s life. The cast members are neither told what to do, nor given any kind of instruction on how to act.

“God, I wish it were staged,” Casillas said, when asked if any part of the show was orchestrated. “If it were staged, I would be able to blame all of my crazy antics on someone else. But, unfortunately, those are actually the things that I do.”

“We take pride in the fact that we don’t coach the cast members,” “Real World” casting director Themi Chahales said in a separate interview with the Daily. “We really let them bring their personalities to us.”

When casting, Chahales looks for characters: people with strong personalities who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, people from diverse backgrounds, people who are open and honest about their daily experiences, people with over-the-top personalities and people who are dynamic.

“People like to think we’re looking for a certain type of person, but really, the characters come to us,” Chahales said. “There’s an endless amount of characters with an endless amount of stories. It’s not like some of those other reality shows that are really specific (with who they cast). There’s not a specific criteria for this show, and because of that, I think it allows the casting of people to be endless. There’s always 20-somethings that are figuring out who they are.”

The show serves as a major learning experience for everyone involved. When diverse groups of people are confined together for three months, attitudes change and mindsets open up. By the end of the season, cast members become different people.

“I left a changed person because I saw what other people were going through,” Casillas said. “I saw that I need to be more open-minded. My beliefs were so questioned because everyone was so different from me. People have it much harder than I ever could have imagined. I left there completely mind-fucked. This experience made me think about everything I had ever been taught, and everything I ever believed in. I never had to think differently before this. When I got there, and lived with a kid who was pansexual, a girl who was from a really, really rough part of St. Louis and a girl who was adopted, I left there being like: ‘Wow, who am I?’ It really made me question all of my beliefs.”

To the people who are considering going to the casting call, Casillas said, “Do it. This is something you will never ever be able to experience anywhere else.” 

As for advice to people who want to be cast, both Chahales and Casillas emphasized the importance of being yourself. 

“You never know what these casting directors are looking for,” Casillas said. “Being open and honest and being yourself is really the key to being on ‘Real World.’ ”

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