If you knew everything there was to know about television as a kid and always wanted to host your own show, or if you're good in front of a camera and want to make a living out of it, there are two words you must become very familiar with: casting calls. Besides having the necessary skills and background, getting into television means a life of auditioning, and each type of TV hosting job has slightly different requirements.
Live Talk Show Host
Live talk shows can come in many forms. There are traditional shows like Oprah as well as those with more of a mixed format like the Tonight Show that features skits and music. In either case, you need to be an excellent public speaker and improviser who can stay calm under pressure and think fast on your feet in a way that's charismatic, engaging, and entertaining.
Reality Show or Docu-Series
If you're an on-air personality for a reality show such as the classic Trading Spaces, you're:
- Facilitating the tasks and conversations that the reality show participants must undertake
- Participating in the show's activities. (For example, you might be sampling food at a restaurant if it's a foodie docu-series.)
- Doing off-camera work such as recording voice-over narration and coordinating with producers
Examples: This reality show casting call and this foodie and travel docu-series casting call are examples (the reality show is no longer open, but you can still see the show's requirements beneath the word "expired").
If you're hosting an infomercial, you must have a personality that lends itself to sales: persuasive, warm, and someone who earns trust with the way you communicate. Infomercials are not taped live, so there's more leeway to fine-tune your performance.
Example: The Car Service Center infomercial casting call is an example of this type of tv hosting.
The "travel presenter" show hosting job is a dream come true for anyone who has a passion for travel. In this casting call for Globe Trekker, for example, the travel presenter must go on hikes in far-away places or partake in adventure golf on-camera, communicate and narrate effectively, and have a fun, vibrant personality.
Tips for Getting a TV Host Job
If you do some or all of the following, your chances of landing a TV host job will likely go up:
- Get a degree in Communications or in a specific Broadcasting field (some schools offer very specific majors tailored toward the kind of television you want to be in).
- Use your schooling or industry contacts to get an internship in television to build your experience.
- If you get a degree in a television-related major, you might be able to use the degree to get a job such as a camera operator or other smaller role in a television production. This will get your foot in the door, expand your network in the industry, and position you for audition opportunities as you make friends with producers and directors.
While education helps tremendously, you don't necessarily need a degree to do the following:
- Create show reels (i.e. audition tapes less than five minutes) that provide a general sense of what your on-air hosting personality would be like.
- Search online for casting calls using the keywords "casting call for [fill in the blank for the kind of job you want]."
- Read the application instructions of casting calls carefully as they are often a combination of submitting certain materials and showing up at certain places and certain times.
- When you research casting calls, make sure you match the description of what the ad says so that you don't waste their time and yours. The requirements are usually very specific about the ethnicity, age group, personality type, and gender that is needed.
- Join a talent agency that works with the kind of TV hosting job you want. (Applying for a talent agency often involves similar application materials and show reels.)
Smile for the Camera
Getting anywhere in a media-related industry takes incredible perseverence and a stay-positive-at-all-costs attitude. It can be a challenging journey, so it's important to celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones and let the setbacks become fuel for motivation, not discouragement.