Taking the Plunge: How One Audition Started My TV Career

I was in sixth grade when I decided what I wanted to be when I “grew up" — a news reporter and television anchor. I don’t even know stumbled upon that. I just decided at the beginning of the school year that that was what I wanted to do. I actually really liked watching the news and writing, and my parents said I had no problem talking, so this career seemed like the perfect fit. I knew newspapers and magazines weren’t as widely read anymore, but television was still popular, so there would be a future in my career. The question was, how would I actually end up on TV?

Jumpstart to the beginning of my college career, August of 2014. I struggled deciding where I would go off to school during my senior year of high school and finally decided to attend school locally at Daytona State College. I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I decided to stay local, as most of my friends went off to a university elsewhere in Florida or even out-of-state. I thought it would be smarter and cheaper to get my first two years out of the way while also being able to live at home and work. And I didn’t realize until later just how smart of a choice staying in Daytona was for me.

While getting my AA degree, I was also getting an AS degree certificate in Television Studio Production. I needed electives anyway, so I decided to use that certificate for all my elective requirements. The college had an actual PBS station on campus, which is where I had my three-semester certificate course. The studio production classes were all about jobs behind the scenes of a live studio show. I learned all about cameras and floor directing, everything in the control room and audio, as well as directing and producing a live show during my course. I was never on camera, but I felt like it would be useful to know how everything works before I ended up in front of the camera one day.

During the last day of class for that program, our television professor was casually telling us about the show that would air the next semester, in spring of 2016. She mentioned that it was going to be a business talk show, only featuring millennial entrepreneurs. The crew and producers of the show wanted two hosts, a male and female host, for the show that would air every Thursday night. They also wanted the hosts to be young, college-aged students from Daytona State College. Our professor said that auditions were being held the next day at noon, and if we knew anyone that would be interested, to let them know. During the whole conversation, I was extremely intrigued. I had never heard of an opportunity to just host a show, especially for young college students. The whole drive home I could not stop thinking about it and how awesome it would be to be a television host on a local talk show! But how would I audition? I’ve never been on live TV before. However, I have always been comfortable in front of the camera, as one was always around my sister and I since my dad loved making movies and my parents had a recording studio. But, I was just a part of the crew behind the scenes at the station. Wouldn’t that be weird if anyone there saw me audition to actually be on the show?

When I got home I told my dad right away what my professor said, and that I didn’t know if I should audition the next day. I had really wanted to but kept talking myself out of it. I kept telling myself, “the chances of me getting the part were slim to none”. But my dad gave me some really great advice: “If you want to try out, then try out. If someone else is capable, then so are you. And even if you don’t get the part, it’s not like you’ll lose anything, since you haven’t done that yet.”

The next day I decided I would head to the station to try out. I dressed the way one would dress when hosting a fun, business talk show, and walked in acting like I knew the place like the back of my hand (because I did). I arrived early and was the only one there, so I decided to help the producers set up the studio for the audition. I was paired with a random crew member for my audition (who pretended to be the other host) and was given an opening script to read from the teleprompter. After that it was all ad-lib, off the cuff conversation, the way the show would actually be (they would have a few questions loaded into the prompter but that was for emergencies only). There’s no script, you literally have to come up with questions in your head to ask your guests on the show and carry out a normal, comfortable conversation with them, all on live television. When you’re live, there’s no going back or restarting. No editing afterwards. Whatever happens is happening live on people’s televisions, and whatever mistake is made, well it happened and you just have to move on.

After I left the audition I felt pretty damn confident. I thought I did great and having worked on the past shows behind the scenes really helped me perform well. The audition was held right before Christmas break, and we wouldn’t hear back about the results until January. I thought about it every single day, but knew that a good number of people had gone to audition after me. I prepared myself for the worst, saying that I probably wouldn’t get it. When January came around I finally got a call to come in one more time for a second audition/practice. There was hope! When I was sitting in the control room, waiting for things to be set up, my past professor walked in and asked if I was excited. I told her I was excited to be called in for a second audition, and she looked at me and laughed. “Sasha, you got the part. This is a practice for the show next week, not another audition!” Dear Lord this was not happening! I actually got the part?! That was one of the most exciting days of my life, without a doubt.

The Millennial Show was every Thursday night at 7 pm, and it aired live to 16 counties in Central Florida. Every week we had a different guest and I had the time of my life, meeting new people and learning new things. If I could host a talk show every single day I would. I’m so grateful I had that opportunity, but it was because I worked hard and took the plunge to go ahead and audition, instead of letting doubt take over.

We’re all scared of something, but I think it’s scarier to lose out on something that you wanted rather than getting rejected by it. The next time an interesting opportunity comes up, just go ahead and try it out. You may surprise yourself with how good you are and potentially get whatever you tried out for.