Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Many of us have dreamed of becoming a game show contestant. Not only do you get your fleeting 15 minutes of fame, but you also have the opportunity to win cash and prizes! And heck, most of these shows look like they're just plain fun to be a part of.
Alex Purnell has been living the dream for a while now, having appeared on eight game shows so far. So how does she do it? What tricks does she have up her sleeve to be able to get on so many shows, while many others struggle to appear on just one?
After meeting Alex via her Twitter stream, I asked about her experiences, what drives her, and yes, all about the casting process and how she thinks she's managed to be so successful thus far. Here's what she had to say.
Q: Hi Alex! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us! Which game shows have you appeared on, and how did you do on them?
Alex Purnell: My first game show was Rodeo Drive on the Lifetime Network. I won over $12,000 in cash and prizes. Then came Hollywood Squares with Whoopie Goldberg and Tom Bergeron. There, I won over $10,000 in cash and prizes.
On GSN's Hollywood Showdown with Todd Newton, I left with a parting gift of $100. On ZDTV's The Big Idea with Mark Walberg, I made it to the Semi-Finals and won $300 worth in prizes. I was on Pyramid with Donny Osmond and won $10,000. I was a mob member on 1 vs. 100 and won over $1,800.
On Temptation: The New Sale of the Century, I made out with $2,500 in cash and prizes and my most recent game show Trivial Pursuit: America Plays with host Christopher Knight, I left with a Trivial Pursuit board game as a parting gift.
Q: Why so many game shows? Are you a fan of the genre in general, or is it just easy money?
Alex: I love games period. Bar games, board games, those silly baby shower games. Game shows are just an extension of that and, yes, money makes any game more interesting, doesn't it?
Q: Does the term "serial game show contestant" bother you? (I would take that as a compliment personally, but I know others see it as a negative somehow.) Why do you think there are negative connotations to that label?
Alex: I've never heard that term before. It sounds almost criminal. I suppose the thought of a "serial game show contestant" is a person that has this insatiable need to be on every game show and aren't giving 'regular folks' a chance to get on. (OK, the first part might be slightly accurate.) The truth is casting is not looking for former game show contestants, they are looking for so called 'regular folk' that can play the game well and hold your interest, and the legal department makes sure there is enough time in between air dates so no one can become a professional contestant.
Q: What sorts of application processes have you gone through? (casting events, video applications, online applications, etc.)
Alex: All of them! I've never done well on a video application, and I hate "casting calls" so I avoid those as well. I am fortunate to only be an hour's drive from L.A. where most interviews take place. I do best on those kinds of auditions.
Q: Why do you think you've been chosen so many times to appear on a show?
Alex: Mmm, good question. I surely don't have a big personality, an exotic occupation, or any unusual hobbies. It must be my enthusiasm in the mock play of the game during auditions. I am so into it, I forget that I may look silly, which casting loves.
Q: What tips can you offer others who aspire to compete on a game show?
Alex: Don't wait for your favorite game show to post a casting call, just start auditioning now! For every game show that I have appeared on, I have auditioned at least 3 times that amount. The great advantage of auditioning for lots of different shows is that if you are full of enthusiasm but wrong for the show, the casting producer will put you in their database and you will start getting calls and emails for other shows.
Q: When meeting with casting staff, how much time are you generally given in order to make an impression?
Alex: If it's a popular show or it's a casting call you have less then 30 seconds. If it's a new show that has not aired yet, they are really going to take much more time with casting the right people. And when I say much more time, I mean 2-3 minutes.