I never thought I'd end up on television. At least, not in a "regularly scheduled programming" sort of way. Once in awhile I envisioned myself making a daring rescue (and the accompanying news clips that would follow), but I never thought I'd appear on TV for no particular reason. Regularly. Practically every week, in fact. For a good two years.

And then, thanks to the MTV After Show, I did.
Picture
Outside the MTV building (the Masonic Temple), Toronto
I first discovered the After Show by accident. It was... rough around the edges. Amusing, sure, but I wasn't a regular viewer and I didn't think about it often. And then one evening, fueled by too many glasses of wine and copious amounts of reality television, and egged on by my then-friends (fans of the show The Hills) I send the wee show an email. 

That was the beginning.

Many, many months later, following a move to Toronto and various life changes that made me forget the email I sent in the first place, I got a call about an audition. I went. And suddenly, it seemed, I was sitting in a studio at MTV, right next to Jessi Cruickshank and Dan Levy, with shaking legs and two very attractive underarm stains (not to mention a decidedly sweaty belly) which -- thank goodness -- didn't show up on camera. (Yes, I said sweaty belly. I was nervous, okay?) I have little memory of my first show, but I guess I did okay because they next thing I knew, I was being asked back, and then back again, week after week after week.

I loved it.
Being on the After Show was NOT a job. At best, it was a hobby. It was a fun, unusual, odd, surreal and very lucky hobby. In my years on the show, it went from being on once a week to being on every day. We moved from a small studio to a large one and audience sizes ballooned from an average of about 10 people to groups of 100 or more (depending on the occasion). It was all very heady. I was never recognized on the street or anything. (Others were.) And it certainly didn't make me rich (despite what the high-schoolers think), but I loved it.

In addition to appearing on the show, I wrote a few blog posts, and was blogged about. (One reporter even called me "amazing" - thankyouverymuch.) It was all very exciting. And a nice change from being called a sell-out and a Carrie-Bradshaw-Wannabe which is what I often got as a junior level journalist in the newspaper industry. (Thanks to my age and long hair, I suppose... Yuck, right?)

Being on live TV, in any capacity, can teach you things about yourself that are worth learning. I learned that I make comic, over-the-top faces. A lot. I do it unconsciously. (Which is worth keeping in mind, because lord knows, I've probably been pissing off strangers on the subway with my appraising scowls.) I also learned that I have a seemingly-affected way of smiling and laughing that can look fake, even when it's not. Finally, I think learned to give myself a break about my weight and my skin and my appearance in general, because in the After Show environment, how you looked mattered, but in my role, what I had to say mattered more.

As an After Show "Friend" (as opposed to a CTV Globe Media employee) I was allowed to say nearly anything I wanted (within reason) and that was a great thing. I was often the antagonist, bringing up things like feminism, equality, race relations and gay rights (in other word, things that aren't a part of the usual MTV lexicon) and I like to think that, thanks to popular culture and reality television, between jokes about Heidi Montago, Brent Bolthouse and boob-jobs, I got a few 14 year old girls to think about things they might never have considered otherwise... but that's self-congratulatory (and probably unlikely). Mostly, I just had fun.

As I sat in the studio for the last time on Tuesday night, I thought to myself, "you should remember this." I tried to take a mental snapshot of the scene. After all, the whole thing happened so unexpectedly. My minor fifteen minutes, spread out over two years, are already a blur. But I know the show was something I was lucky to have. And I'm grateful. Remind me of that the next time I complain about anything.

I'm a bit sad it's over, actually.

Thanks MTV. Thanks universe. Just... thanks.
 


Comments

NKL
07/09/2010 11:04

I'm going to miss seeing you. I thought you always did an amazing job of raising important issues that would otherwise have been ignored. I also thought you were really, really funny.

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Heidi
07/22/2010 10:22

Thanks Jen for being my '6 degrees of separation' famous person for a while! I'd giggle every time I saw you on there and boast that I know you or knew you when (mostly to decidedly less enthusiastic responses) but you are my famous almost relative!!! Oh and beyond my need for self importance you were really fabulous!

Reply
07/22/2010 10:41

Thanks for the comment guys. I love that people actually watched and noticed me.

And Heidi, I love that we are almost-relatives. Better than being actual relatives (at least in the sense that we both escaped a pretty bad sitch!)

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