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Bunim/Murray Productions: Casting with the Inventors of Reality TV

Los Angeles, Aug 19 – During a recent session of the RespectAbility Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals, the cohort was joined by the folks at Bunim/Murray Productions to get the inside scoop on how to tell an authentic story through the unscripted genre.

Since the release of the popular reality TV series The Real World in 1992, followed by the equally popular series The Challenge in 1998, Bunim/Murray has paved the way for the rise of unscripted content fromKeeping Up with the Kardashians to The Simple Life with Paris Hilton. Founder Jonathan Murray was joined by Megan Sleeper, Senior VP of Casting; Myeia Coy, VP of Development; Jacob Lane, VP of Post Creative; and Alexandria Seidel, Director of People and Culture, to enlighten the class on what it takes to let the story organically unfold without a script.

Megan Sleeper smiling headshot

Megan Sleeper

“You’re always looking for layers and storylines that might develop. And they’re not just simply in love, there’s potential for quite a bit of story there,” explained Megan Sleeper during her presentation on the process of casting for dating reality television. Many shows like The Bachelor and Love Island have captivated mass audiences with their heart-wrenching drama.  But putting together a show where the talent calls the shots is more challenging than it might seem. And especially difficult is the task to find those who will stand out and keep audiences coming back for more. This is Sleeper’s challenge as a leader in the casting department at Bunim/Murray. “One of my favorite questions to ask a cast member is what’s your best and worst personality traits? And that’s where I start to kind of be able to feel more into who they are and who we see on a show.” The crew learns to trust the process as they won’t know if the talent will deliver a good story until they are already in front of the camera.

So, the next time you find yourself entrenched by Kim and Khloe’s beef on Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Summer and Dylan’s relationship status on Endless Summer, you can think of the hardworking crew that is behind the scenes at Bunim/Murray.

RespectAbility’s third annual Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities brings authentic and diverse portrayals of people with disabilities to the screen by creating a pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities behind the camera. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. Lab alumni from 2019 and 2020 currently work for a variety of studio partners including Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and The Walt Disney Company, as well as in writers’ rooms for Netflix’s Mech Cadet, CW’s 4400, and Showtime’s Dexter, among others. Others have had films featured at festivals such as SXSW and participated in additional career track programs including with Film Independent and Sundance Institute.

Meet the Author

Krista Ramirez-Villatoro

Krista Ramirez-Villatoro is pursuing a Masters' degree in Design and Media Arts from UCLA. Her goal is to become a director of photography on projects that highlight the experiences of those with physical disabilities.

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