Creative Careers: Interview with Reality Show Producer Karri-Leigh Mastrangelo

Karri-Leigh Mastrangelo is a reality show producer whose credits include "Ready For Love," "Cheerleader Nation" and one of the most popular reality franchises "The Bachelor."

Though working in television can be very exciting and rewarding, working in reality TV comes with its own set of pros and cons.

How is working in reality TV different from working on a typical drama or sitcom?  

Karri-Leigh: I have not worked in scripted television, but I worked in both talk and news before starting a career in reality.  Honestly, I think there is a very specific skill set necessary for producing reality television well.  We really are a different breed.  Our hours are significantly longer than those in the other genres and because we are dealing with real people (not actors) issues can come up any time, any day.  Our people skills need to be sharp 24/7.
 
I often hear horror stories about the hours, particularly in reality TV. What are your thoughts on the schedule?

Karri-Leigh: It is no secret that our hours can be quite difficult.  That said, the hard work comes in waves.  As a working mother, balance is really important to me.  I love the thrill of the work that I do, but also long for a hiatus between projects when I can focus 100% on my family.  That is an upside of freelance work.

 

What’s the upside to working in reality TV?

Karri-Leigh: Ha! Definitely the hiatuses, which I just mentioned.  There is a sense of adventure to working in this industry that you can't find elsewhere.  I have traveled to interesting, exotic places and had experiences there that I could never have imagined.  I have also developed incredible friendships with creative, likeminded people.  Our co-workers become family, which can come with its own challenges...
 
If you weren’t a producer, what job on the crew would you like to have?  

Karri-Leigh: Wow, I have never thought about this!!  I have always been intrigued by set design.  Keep in mind that many locations are completely gutted and re-designed for one set.  In other words, a reality show will rent a private home, empty its contents completely, and redecorate from scratch.  Then upon completion of the project, everything gets put back together just as it was before we began.
 
Advice for anyone wanting to get into TV production? 

Karri-Leigh: Internships and networking.  You've got to put yourself out there and be willing to do anything to get your foot in the door.  If you lack people skills, you have no chance.  Have confidence, but not arrogance.  Be charismatic, but not an ass kisser.  And remember that no matter how small the job, experience is experience.

Follow Karri-Leigh on her blog Dirty Laundry and Dirty Diapers. While you're there, be sure to read her very first post about how she went into labor while overseeing the filming of the 2008 season premiere of  "The Bachelorette."  Now that's dedication to your craft.

What Do You Think?

If you could work on a reality series, which show would you choose and why? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo credit: ABC/MARK BRENDEL

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