Those who cast unscripted series often have thousands of audition tapes to pore through. Since the medium requires a diversity of perspective and personality, but not always special skills, what often catches the eye and helps one rise to the top of the pile is being an “open book,” says Goloka Bolte, co-founder of the Casting Firm, who casts “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This willingness to share one’s true self can help make stars — or at least social-media sensations. Therefore, honesty and authenticity were two key traits for which all of this year’s Emmy-nominees in the reality program casting looked.
When looking for new “heroes” on whom to center episodes of the self-improvement series, casting director Danielle Gervais says they “never want to tell the same story twice.” It helps that new seasons bring the Fab Five to fresh locations, and Gervais’ team of Beyhan Oguz and Pamela Vallarelli also includes location casting directors Ally Capriotti Grant and Hana Sakata. They undergo an extensive research process to look for compelling stories, not just those with the possibility for dramatic physical transformations. “We talk to individuals over Skype, and you’re peeling back the layers and seeing this kid has been through so much,” Gervais says. Some may still have walls up during the interview stage, so there is a bit of instinct involved in who will open even further once embraced (usually literally) by the Fab Five…