Last week I was contacted by a casting director to see if I might be interested in hosting a new show for A&E/HISTORY. I was a bit surprised, but curious enough to reply that I would like to hear more. Following a short telephone call I filled out a short list of questions in preparation for an audition via Skype.
I spent about 90 minutes auditioning on Tuesday morning with absolutely no idea of what to expect. Overall, it was a lot of fun, but it was incredibly draining. Within the first minute I had to change my shirt because of a glare. I then spent the next few minutes moving piles of books and furniture to create just the right setting. Eventually, we got around to the actual audition.
Our conversation ranged from my personal and professional background to discussing examples of the proposed show’s theme that I provided beforehand. All of it was pretty straightforward. The challenge, however, was expressing it in a way that captured both my understanding of history as well as my personality. I was constantly asked to repeat a point or express it using slightly different words and/or in a different tone. At times it was frustrating, but I eventually adjusted to what was being asked of me.
Turns out that the 90 minutes we spent talking will eventually be shortened to a roughly 90 second audition for producers to review. I thought that overall the audition went very well, but I have no sense of whether I will make it to the next round. My uncertainty is a reflection of not having much experience at all with this kind of media engagement.
I’ve expressed concern and even horror at some of the history-themed shows aired on these channels. At the same time I believe these programs have great potential to educate. As someone who has tried to find creative ways to engage the general public I would be foolish not to jump at such an opportunity, if presented.