“AF” stands for “Anonymous Fellow.” For obvious reasons, we won’t use his real name. I have been in touch with AF for several years now: trying to give him tips, pointing him at Dan’s book, everything I could think of: AF is DAMN funny and would be great. No he hasn’t yet made it, but he’s come close - very close indeed. This year his wife is expecting their first, so of course he won’t be auditioning: he took this chance to share his very valuable tips on the Big Brother casting process with everyone else who wants to be on the show.

 AF has been through the casting process numerous times, and gotten several call-backs. Once he almost made it much further...  AF has auditioned for Big Brother, Survivor, and The Apprentice: his heart didn’t lie with BB, as he admits below. His appreciation has grown over the years, though.  He’s a tall thirty-something in pretty good shape: “I'm not Jessie, but I'm not Ronnie either,” in his own words.

 We asked him many, many questions: he was kind enough to respond in the hopes that someone else would use this information to actually make the show.

Overall Auditions

How many years have you auditioned for BB? 

I've auditioned every year starting with BB10.  5 seasons.  3 open calls, 3 videos (last year was both).  1 callback from each for semis: I’ve been a semi-finalist twice.

Have you auditioned for any other reality shows?

I've auditioned for Survivor (a long time ago: I was a semi-finalist for Survivor for 13 and 17 and stopped auditioning after 18) and The Apprentice.

Last year’s Audition

How did you prepare for your interview? 

Last year I used a different path.  One of the things that Dan said in his book was to use all resources that you have available.  One of my friends is actually friends (actually had dated) one of the people who does casting for a lot of shows (many casting people who work for BB, Survivor, TAR, etc.)  He was going to be at an open call in my city and I had him make introductions via email and text so they knew I was coming.  I had hoped that I could skip the cattle call, but it wasn't to be.  I still got a call back, but was assured that my friend had nothing to do with it.  That being said, I approached the open call completely differently than I had all of the previous ones which I'll discuss below.  I did no prep other than knowing how I was going to approach it.  I got a good night’s sleep and planned to get there plenty early to set my plan in motion.

Live Audition

The morning of your interview what did you do to get ready?

Nothing special. 

Anything to get psyched up for the camera?

I have a "Rocking Jams" playlist on my iPod that I used to use to get up for tests in college.  I did the same thing. 

Bring anything for luck? 

As silly as it sounds I wore a lucky shirt.  In my history of going through the process I was told that you should not wear shirts with logos or words on them.   I believe I was told that Lynne S. hates them.  So I wore my "lucky" shirt under my other shirt.

When you arrived, was there a line?

I got there about three hours early and I was about 10th in line.  By the time the process actually started there were probably 150 people there.

Did you see anyone who got cast? 


Did you talk to others who were auditioning? If so, what about? 

Yes.  Here's where I took a different path.  Everybody was talking about who they were, what they did, what their strategy was, what players they admired.  I was in the conversations, but more as a lurker than someone actually participating.  I would ask questions, but would rarely answer anything directly.

Did you see anyone weird-looking? Describe! 

Not really.  There were a couple women dressed more for being at a club (or waiting to go on stage with a pole) than waiting in line, but nothing weird this time.  A few years ago a guy had a stuffed baby alligator with him and was wearing a safari hat, but last year was pretty tame.

Describe the room you entered for the audition: where was the camera? 

There were two rooms, both in a bar type setting.  A room where you filled out a short "who am I" note card.  The only camera was when they took pictures of people individually holding up their audition numbers.

Where they had you stand, what was behind you? 

The second room was where the dance floor would be.  The two casting people sat in chairs and the five of us (they brought you back in groups of 3 to 7) stood in front of them, side by side.  Once again no camera.  One of the two people talked and took some notes.  The other could have been a mime as they said nothing.  I was in the 4th group brought back.

Where were other people, and did you get any names? (These are well-known, these names. No secrets here - I just wonder which one you met.)

There were probably 4-5 casting people total.  Only one of them talked at all other than to herd people from one area to the other and take the pictures.  By the way my "contact" that my friend had hooked me up with?  Despite assurances from my friend, he had no idea who I was or what I was talking about.

Before your audition what did they say? 

Before they opened everything up (when we were in line) casting was shooting some video trying to get people pumped up.  Right as they took my group back they told us we had three minutes (as a group) so try to make an impression.

After audition what did they say? 

After my three minutes on the dance floor were over they asked two of us to stay behind.  They told both of us that we probably would be getting a call back some time in the next couple of days.

How did you feel before, during and after?

Before I was just trying to be a sponge.  I was trying to gather information.  I was excited, but knew that this was step one of a hundred so no use in getting wound up.  After I felt great as I knew I had accomplished what I wanted, but at the same time I felt bad because my success was at the expense of others.  Why?  I'll explain. 

When we went into the 3 minute drill I let the other four have about thirty seconds and then I took over the event.  I laid out piece by piece, person by person, bit by bit, who each person was, what their background was, how they planned on playing the game, etc.  Basically I torpedoed the others that were there and I explained why:  this game started for me the minute I got in line.  These people were just cannon fodder in my war to get on the show.  Three of the other four were shocked, mouths agape, not knowing what to say.  The fourth actually fought back a little, but the other three were at a loss for what to say or how to react to what just happened.  The one that did fight back a little actually got a callback.  Basically I wrecked the chances of three people to further myself.  Cattle calls are not the place to be a shrinking violet.

Did you get further in the process? (A call-back) If so, what did it say? 

Had a callback later that day, and went back for a longer (recorded) interview.  The interview was about 45 minutes long.  Here's where I have some more advice.  With the follow up interview make sure you do the following:

Be comfortable - Wear clothing that represents you, but is also comfortable.  You sit in a chair for the better part of an hour if you do well and you should be comfortable

Fight your instincts - In life when someone is talking to you or interviewing you your first base instinct is to put your best foot forward, to try to make them like you.  This is not what you want to do.  You want to be yourself.  If you swear, swear.  If you are religious, praise God.  If you're racist or a homophobe show this (but seek help, there is no reason for this.)  If one of your hobbies is to watch Brady Bunch reruns in the nude, share thatThat info wouldn't help in a job interview, but very well might help you here.

Be consistent - If you say something stick with it.  A lot of times they will reference things you previously said or (for semis) filled out in your app and they are looking for you to stick to your guns.  The casting person may take an opposite view.  Don't just agree with them, stick to your guns.

Know what makes you you - Everyone has something that is unique to them and makes them a special snowflake.  Can you wrap your legs behind your head, can you kick yourself in the head (Ian), do you know all the Beatles songs by heart?  What is it about you that makes you special?

Be able to articulate your game-plan-so you need to have one.  Have something new in addition to old strategies.  Let it be known that you can change mid-stream if needed (because it will be.)

Know some BB history - Everyone says they are the next Will, Boogie, Janelle, Dan.  Have a point of reference or a player to emulate that isn't used by EVERY FRICKING APPLICANT!

Be excited - This should be obvious, but if you're not totally pumped to be there, you won't get picked

Have a good tag - Have a closing statement of why they should pick you.  This should be unique, funny, interesting and memorable.

Leave it all on the table - Don't walk out wishing you had said this or that.  Nail it.  Own the moment.

Have fun with it - For most that get here this is the end of the line.  Enjoy it while you're there.

What happened when you went? 

Met my handler in the lobby of a hotel.  They checked to make sure my 90 plus pages of paperwork were in order.  They took another picture of me.  Talk to your handler.  They aren't the most important decision maker in the process, but they could be a tie breaker.  Every person in your corner helps tilt the balance for you. 

Then I got sent up an elevator and went into the suite where they interviewed me.  They mic'd me up.  They told me to look into the camera and not the person that was interviewing me (note this has varied the two times I've been through this process.)  45 minutes later it was over.  They said they loved me and they were going to pitch me.  They gave me paperwork that explained deadlines, etc.  I went home.

Were you on the damn show??? 

Yes.  My name is Matt Hoffman.  (No.)

Video sent

How did you prepare? (Make an outline, do a few on your phone video, read Dan’s book, talk to Jokerette HAH!) 

I honestly don't remember my video for last year.  The one video I did get a callback from I did no prep at all.  I sat down in front of a camera and took a very laid back approach.  Talked about my genius and how past houseguests were staggeringly unintelligent.  For both BB and for Survivor the two times I got callbacks were not prepped, totally off the cuff, sit down and wing it.  There is something real about lack of preparation.  I had done other very elaborate videos which warranted no response.  Just follow the KISS principal.

I did read Dan's book, but that helped me more with the open call than the video.

What did you concentrate on?

I tried to be funny.  I think for Survivor I said something along the lines of "I have actually won more challenges than" and it warranted a callback. 

Did you hear back?  

Yes, twice from videos (once for BB, once for Survivor) 

If so, what did it say? 

For BB I did my video while the show was wrapping up for the previous season.  I did it and forgot about it.  6 months later I actually had a message in my spam folder (so check your spam) that asked me to come to the local open call. 

I had no intention of doing that.  I had done the open call thing before (twice) and had no success.  One time I was too quiet and the other time I got into a fight with casting (see below).  I sent an email stating that I would not be at the open call, but if they wanted to talk to me individually to call me on my cell phone. 

Did you get further? If so, what was live audition like - apply all above questions lol 

I kind of covered this in my semi experiences above.  The call back from the video was first, and I learned a lot from this one which I applied last year.  Here are a few additions

I screwed up in that I wasn't amped enough.  My energy level was average.  It should have been off the charts.

BB was not my favorite show (though it has gone up in my rankings since then) and I told them that (stupid). 

I kind of hedged on a couple answers and said I didn't know to a few rather than answer. 

I also was way too censored about what I said.  I didn't want to offend or be controversial. 

Overall it was a good interview, but I didn't feel I knocked it out of the park because I was too low key.  Like Dan says, be yourself, but be yourself on speed.

The other thing I noticed (and where I really screwed up) is at one point they were using answers from my long-form application trying to trick me.  I was asked if I thought I was better than everyone else.  I made a very PC "people are people", etc. answer which was dumb.  If they ask you if you think you're better than everyone else, you answer YES.  Then you talk about how great you are.

Lastly I didn't end well.  I should have had a big finish in my head, but it was just done.

This year

Are you applying again?

Unfortunately no.  With a kid due in August I can't do that.

If you were auditioning this year, would you do anything differently?


Are you applying to other shows too?

Not right now.

Tips, Odds & Ends

What would you advise other people auditioning to do or not do and why? 

Besides all of the above a few notes from my experience (which might seem obvious, but weren't to me at the time.)

  1. Don't get into a fight with the casting people.  You can disagree with them, but during an open call I made a disparaging comment about Paris Hilton.  Apparently this person was a "close friend" of Hilton's.  That pretty much sealed my fate on that one.
  2. Don't be afraid to look stupid - If you get on the show you will eventually do something very stupid and it very well might make the air.  Boston Rob's original video was him and he got stuck in a fridge and got flustered.  Got him noticed.
  3. Don't belittle the program.  If you are a huge Survivor fan and watch Big Brother some, don't mention this.  For the sake of the Big Brother program, BB is the bestest program ever.
  4. Let the process flow - Even if you have (what you think is) a perfect line or joke, don't force it into the conversation.  A time will come when the moment for that nugget will arise.
  5. Don't let rejection get you down.  They are looking for round pegs.  You might be an awesome square peg, but you just can't fit a square peg in a round hole.
  6. Keep your contacts - Follow people on Twitter, get email addresses.  When the next session comes out, send out a feeler (just one,) to see if they're involved.  Anything that gives you a leg up helps.  Dan says this in his book.  Even if "your" person isn't casting this year, they very well might know who is.  If they remember you, it might be enough to get you one step further in the process.
  7. Patience - They will contact you if you're moving on.  If the deadline passes you can send one (and only one) follow-up.  As crappy as it is, the rejections tend to be form letters and they come late.
  8. Lastly, just like on the show.  It's a game.  Don't take it personally.  Believe it or not your casting person might love you and fight for you, but AG and RK trump everyone.  Not getting on the show doesn't mean you screwed up (you might have, but don't think about it that way,) but maybe they needed another Mactor for the show.