Going to college plays a key role in helping students become who they want to be. Yet a select few get put on the fast track to their dreams in a reality television show while America watches their successes and failures.
Nate Johnson, the casting director for MTV’s “MADE” held auditions with USF students in the Communication and Information Sciences (CIS) building this week. Going from campus to campus, Johnson is looking for students to be on season 12 of the MTV show that offers young people the opportunity to be made into anything from a cheerleader to a comedian.
He said there are about 20 episodes per season, and therefore about 20 students will be chosen from the auditions.
On the casting questionnaire, students filled out contact information including their personal Facebook page and answered seven questions about what they would like to be made into and why.
Johnson said the craziest thing he’s heard was a white girl in high school who wanted to be made into a Japanese foreign exchange student.
He said the students at USF have more educationally based goals, mainly opportunities to jump-start their careers.
Melizza Williams, a junior majoring in marketing, said she stumbled upon signs for the open casting call when she went to the CIS Building to study Monday. She said she immediately signed up to audition.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to get my story and aspirations being a fashion stylist out there,” Williams said. “I would love to start a fashion nonprofit where I would donate clothes to low-income families, and they don’t have to pay anything.”
Williams said if she were to make it on the show, she would like to shadow a fashion stylist to learn the ins and outs of the industry, as well as the business aspect of retail.
“This has been in my heart for the past two years,” she said. “So now that I may have the opportunity, I’m just going to show them I’m passionate about it, and if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m still going to strive to get my nonprofit.”
Johnson listened to students’ dreams, no matter how farfetched. Jake Hemingway, a junior majoring in civil engineering, said he wanted to become a medical marijuana entrepreneur, despite it being illegal in Florida.
“(I’m) chasing an industry that has not been established in Florida yet.” Hemingway said, “I want to be made into an herbal entrepreneur.”
Hemingway said he has researched herbal entrepreneurship for six months and is confident he can achieve his goal.
“(Johnson) did not downsize, criticize or anything negative,” Hemmingway said. “He seemed interested in the ideas.”
Vanity Shields, a junior majoring in psychology, has an athletic dream. She said she auditioned to be made into a figure skater.
“I want to break down the stereotypes and the social norms that black people don’t skate,” she said. “It’s stereotypical of a black person, if they’re athletic, to be a dancer or a football or basketball player.”
Having to commute to and from the closest ice rink in Brandon and fitting practice into her current schedule has prevented Shields from pursuing this aspiration, she said.
Moving from athletics to entertainment, Lauren Michelle Dow and Susan Antepara have similar dreams for being made.
“I’ve always wanted to make a music video, with professional recording,” said Dow, a senior majoring in public relations. “I would be the main performer, singing or playing the guitar.”
Dow said she’s no stranger to these auditions. She has signed up for different reality shows in the past, such as “America’s Got Talent” and “American Idol.” She said she received emails from her communication professors informing her of the “MADE” auditions.
Antepara, a junior majoring in mass communications heard about the casting through a friend and fellow USF student who is currently interning for “MADE” in New York.
Her friend posted a link on Facebook, and Antepara followed it to the casting call at CIS 3115.
“I want to be a producer or a band manager,” she said. “I kind of need it, as like a push. I have some fears of myself so I just need that one push to go.”
That “push” is what Johnson said he finds most rewarding about “MADE.”
“It’s fun – you get to make dreams happen,” he said. “I think the greatest thing that happens is a kid becomes confident. That’s the most important thing because once you are confident in yourself, you can do anything you want to.”