Behind the scenes of reality with an Emerson Alum

by Beacon Staff • September 30, 2009

In a phone interview with '02 Emerson Alumna Megan Sleeper, the senior casting director for MTV's The Real World, The Beacon learned what it takes to be in The Real World, or at least the production of it. The BA Film graduate answered questions about her time at Emerson, what it took to go from this school to where she is now, and what goes on behind the scenes during the casting, filming and production of MTV's The Real World.,In a phone interview with '02 Emerson Alumna Megan Sleeper, the senior casting director for MTV's The Real World, The Beacon learned what it takes to be in The Real World, or at least the production of it. The BA Film graduate answered questions about her time at Emerson, what it took to go from this school to where she is now, and what goes on behind the scenes during the casting, filming and production of MTV's The Real World.

Berkeley Beacon: Did you do any internships while you were at Emerson?

Megan Sleeper: I actually interned at Bunim-Murray Productions.

We produce The Real World and a bunch of other shows. I am the perfect example of how you can get a job through the internship program at Emerson

. When you get to L.A. they call you the "Emerson Mafia." There's a ton of Emerson alums from all different years working at my company.

BB: What was the most rewarding

thing that you got out of your Emerson experience?

MS: Honestly, I would definitely

say I felt very prepared going into the industry, Also, just the ability to come out here and network. Instantly if you're out in LA and you're in the industry, and you say, "I graduated from Emerson," people know of Emerson.

Everywhere I go I run into Emerson alums. Honestly, the internship program was amazing because it landed me my job. And I love what I do.

BB: Is there any advice you would offer Emerson students?

MS: I think that doing an internship

is great. You really have to search around and find the right internship for you. Networking is great. It's great to use your Emerson

contacts. Especially when you graduate-you don't necessarily have any connections. So it really helps to use the Emerson Alumni Network, and also the internships. Sure, you have to work for a few months for free, but it's definitely worth it . it can lead you to a great job.

BB: Did you always want to work in television? What did you want to do growing up?

MS: An actress, a ballet dancer.I'm sure at some point I was going be president. But I always kind of knew I loved the arts. Honestly, I didn't know that I wanted to do film until I took the campus tour. When we toured the film department I had my "ah!" moment, and realized that was what I wanted to do.

BB: What criteria do you use when casting people on The Real World? What are the most important

characteristics in deciding who makes it onto The Real World?

MS: Honestly, I think everyone kind of has the misconception that we want "this type of person, and this type of person." Actually,

we don't. What we do look for is people who are interesting and act as themselves. Obviously, charisma is important. Someone who has opinions. Someone who is not afraid to be themselves and share what their thoughts are. We want a very diverse cast. Every season we're really looking to find people who we haven't had before. Ultimately, we're looking for seven or eight people who wouldn't necessarily be friends living in a house on their own accord. It's a social experiment in many ways. It's putting people together from different socioeconomic

and cultural backgrounds and seeing how they interact with one another. It's really interesting

to see how they've grown and developed after the experience.

BB: Do you look for different personality types depending on the location of the show?

MS: Definitely. That's why when we choose the cities that we go to, we don't go to all southern cities or something. In fact, every season we decide to go to a new city. In choosing our cities, we obviously go to cities that have college campuses, because they always have great outcomes for casting calls.

BB: Is The Real World edited to tell a story?

MS: Real World is, from my experience, as real as it comes. It really is documentary style. They're not given direction, they're not told what to do. They're honestly

put in a house, and hopefully you'll want to watch them for a season. They just condense it so that you see the most interesting parts.

BB: What are the guidelines in terms of filming The Real World? What are the boundaries?

MS: Anything goes. We film them 24/7 and they know that before moving in. Their best moments and their worst moments will be caught on camera. It's real life.

BB: How are The Real World locations chosen?

MS: The producers choose the location, they go out and do some location scouting. For example, we just finished filming in Washington,

D.C. because we're in a time of such political turmoil.

BB: How are the jobs that are assigned to the Real World cast members chosen?

MS: The producers usually choose them. What's cool about the jobs is that it's usually something

that people usually get enthused about.

BB: What is your favorite part about working on The Real World?

MS: I love doing the interviews. What I do is I travel around and we do the casting calls, and then we'll do call backs and it's a long interview process. But I get to hear people's life stories, which is really fascinating to me. And in traveling all over . I get to hear people's backgrounds and what they've gone through in their lives. It's also interesting how from around the country people have different beliefs.