Adjusting To Life After Being On Reality TV

reality tvNavigating through life after being on reality tv

Starring on reality television is not for everyone. It is important to remember that part of the reason why is the transition to the public life and how participants are legally allowed to handle it.

Allison Barnard, a wellness coach for reality TV cast members based in Los Angeles, broke down the perils of stardom via such a program on New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth segment. The guest spot followed a profile in Broadly. NHPR tweeted a link to the segment.

The reality TV ‘social experiment’

Barnard explained that she grew up when reality TV programs were just catching on with audiences, and then witnessed the very public struggles of the participants several years down the road. While not every cast member deals with these issues, it is important for participants to understand just what they are getting into.

Part of the issue is the agreements people sign prior to starring in these shows. Barnard called reality TV a “social experiment” while noting that it is nearly impossible to behave normally in the situations these sorts of programs call for. These circumstances shape characters that may not exist in real life, though viewers will be led to believe they do. There is little that cast members can do to fight this perception due to the contracts they sign.

A careful approach to contracts is necessary

These agreements typically give producers free reign to edit film in an effort to create more dramatic situations, and cast members are legally barred from explaining their side of the story. In other countries, Barnard explained, some reality shows actually begin with disclaimers informing the audience that some of the situations depicted are dramatized or scripted. She noted that often this is enough to separate the false personas of participants from their real selves.

However, in the US, these disclaimers aren’t typically used, making it more difficult for the audience, and oftentimes the stars themselves, to separate the TV character from the real person. Contract provisions prohibiting disclosures about what goes on during filming and giving producers permission to create dramatized situations only enforces the emergence of the false persona.

What to do if you’re considering appearing on reality tv

Reality TV participants, or people who will soon be cast members, should go over their contracts with experts to learn more about non-disclosure clauses and similar provisions. In addition, they should prepare for what may come both during and after filming.

If you’re signing a reality TV agreement soon, but would like to learn more about provisions within the agreement, as well as what you can do to make the transition to public life easier, speak with an entertainment attorney.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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