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What It's Like to Be on Reality TV

Real Housewife Kimberly Bryant recounts her climb to reality fame.

Initially it sounded like something I was not even remotely interested in. If you had bet me $100,000 one year ago today that I would be on TV, you'd have money in the bank. I believe my first words were, "I would never embarrass my children like that!" After saying "no" several times, I talked it over with my family. The producers had shown me the initial nine-minute example that Bravo bought. It was hilarious. We decided to try it — actually Bianca begged. We had not had cable in the house for over 11 years, so I figured it would take the mystique out of TV. (It accomplished that, plus we brought TV into the house quite recently and kinda like it.) We had hosted a foreign exchange student the year before so it seemed like another learning project for our family. Once I signed on it was a little confusing. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure why the cameras were there, my life seems fairly regular. Just like your life seems regular to you, but probably not to the rest of the country. I kept thinking I was being "punk'd" by some friends. I knew I was fully committed when a friend's husband strolled over to me and said, "Why would you do that? You know they are just using you to make you look like an ass." I couldn't imagine weighing in, unsolicited, on his decision to quit his job and start his own company, therefore causing an infinite amount of stress on himself, his wife and his kids. (I accurately thought it was a decision that would lead to prescriptions for antidepressants for some of them.) I realize he is not a bad man just a pompous ass. Hmmm, better to look like one for a few weeks than actually be one.

So what did I learn? An immense amount about how a television show is made, how it is promoted, how struggles for creative control among everyone are fascinating. I learned how to put on false eyelashes. I learned that I look just fine without them. Lighting is everything when it comes to appearance. Because it is a visual medium regardless of how much time one spends primping, in the end how one physically appears is greatly influenced by the color correction in the editing room. There are scenes when "they" need you to look harsh and other scenes where "they" want you to look good. They can't change the essence of you, i.e. the way you move, the shape of your nose. I learned that to be on reality TV, you have to jump in, have a great time and don't worry about the outcome. Like the rest of life: ENJOY THE PROCESS.

After dozens of television, newspaper, magazine and radio interviews I learned that I really enjoy public relations. It is surreal to sit in a national news studio, a microphone system hooked to your blouse and ear waiting your turn to be interviewed. I looked up at the monitor and it was showing people protesting in France, the anchorman interviewing the author of a new book about Jesus and then me dancing with some 25-year-old guy in Palm Springs. I started laughing and said, "You're not really going to ask me about breast implants after debating the validity of Jesus Christ are you?" They did. (A side note, if anyone is seeking employment, the staff at T.V. Guide studios in Hollywood are a kick in the pants and would be great fun to work with.)

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