Friday, 6 March 2015

The Amazing Race 26, Episode 3 (Update on how to apply for "The Amazing Race")

Nagano (Japan) - Phuket (Thailand)

This season’s broadcasts of “The Amazing Race”, at least on the San Francisco TV station I’ve been watching, have featured repeated advertisements for auditions next month for contestants on future seasons of the reality-TV travel show.

If you want to take your own trip around the world, you are better off working to pay off your debts and pay for your own trip than investing your time in a long-shot effort to get picked by the producers to be in the cast of a TV show. As I said after the first episode of “The Amazing Race” on 5 September 2001, “You don’t have to be selected by network television producers to be able to take a trip around the world.”

It’s easier than you think to do it on your own. There’s detailed advice about how to get the time and money for a trip around the world in my book, The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World. Airline ticket prices are significantly higher than they were in 2001 when The Amazing Race premiered, but that’s only one more reason to take a longer-duration trip and to combine trips to multiple destinations in a multi-stop journey rather than taking multiple brief round-trip vacations.

But I realize that some people are travel exhibitionists, and want to show off their travel skills and have their missteps and arguments with each other exposed on TV and preserved for posterity. An article I wrote in 2004 in this blog about how to apply for The Amazing Race has remained consistently among the most-visited pages on my Web site for more than a decade.

So what’s happening now with casting for future seasons of The Amazing Race?

You can be picked for the cast of The Amazing Race in any of three ways:

  1. Film your own application video (or have a friend film it), and upload it with an online application through the casting Web site at Don’t try to get too fancy with your video techniques. You are applying for a place in the cast, in front of the cameras, not for a spot in the production team behind the cameras. (Applications used to be accepted by mail, but the postal address has been removed from the application Web site, so it’s not clear if that is an option any longer.)

  2. Come to an open “casting call” for “The Amazing Race”. These are held at unpredictable times and places, and aren’t advertised in any consistent manner. Casting calls have been held at outdoor clothing and sporting goods stores, shopping malls, movie theaters, and ski areas, among other venues. A professional TV film crew — typically provided by a local CBS affiliate TV station — is set up to film application videos. Presumably, the TV producers realized early on that some people who looked good on camera had no skill at video production. The advantage of applying at one of these casting calls is that you don’t have to film your own video. The disadvantage is that you only get one chance in front of the camera to film your application video in a single take. If you are thinking of applying for the cast, and have a chance to go to one of these casting calls, you should go and observe, even if you plan to film your own video. It’s a unique chance to meet your competitors and see how they present themselves, to help you figure out how to make yourself stand out from them.

  3. Be invited by one of the members of the TV production team. This doesn’t get talked about much publicly, but since the earliest seasons of The Amazing Race, many members of the cast have been invited to apply. The casting staff for the TV production are constantly on the lookout for people they think would attract viewers to the TV show. They approach friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. People have been accosted on the street, or in a bar, and asked, “Would you be interested in being on The Amazing Race?” Some of these people had never heard of the TV show before they were invited to apply. Some have been invited as individuals, some as couples. “Is there someone you would like to go on the show with? Can you find a partner for the show? Would you like us to find you a partner?” Sometimes the TV producers already have one person in mind for the cast, and are looking for a partner for them. Is this fair? No, but that doesn’t matter. This is a commercial, for-profit television production. Casting decisions are made on the basis of which cast members, in which partnerships, the producers believe will maximize viewership and profits. Nothing else really matters.

Casting for the first few seasons of The Amazing Race was advertised one season at a time, although in practice the producers would routinely hold on to some applications that were interesting but passed over from one season, and call applicants back for future seasons.

Now it’s official that applications are being accepted year-round, on a rolling basis, without regard to any particular deadlines for specific seasons. Apply whenever you are ready, and the producers will call you back whenever they have a season in which they think you might be a good fit. That might be right away, or not for several years, or never.

Applications are also now officially being accepted from singles as well as couples, so you can apply by yourself if you are open to having the TV producers pick a race partner for you. Half of the teams this season were matched up by the TV producers. That’s actually happened before, and it looks like it could happen again. You might be introduced to a potential partner well in advance, or assisted by the producers in finding one acceptable both to you and to the TV producers. Or — as was done this season — you might be asked to agree to a “blind date” (“We’ve got a perfect match for you…”) for the month-long race around the world.

There aren’t really any “rules” for casting. If the producers really want you, you may have some room for negotiation about which season would be most convenient for your schedule, or whether you want a partner picked in advance or a “blind date” you meet at the starting line.

There’s now a dedicated Web site for applications for the cast of “The Amazing Race” at, which includes the online applications for teams of two people (any relationship) and individuals applying by themselves.

The casting Web site includes some, but not all, of the open casting calls, and some of the information including casting call listings is out of date.

Here in San Francisco, the next open casting call (not listed on the main casting Web site, as of now) is on Saturday, 18 April 2015, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Marmot store at 165 Post St. (between Kearny and Grant; take the Post St. exit from the Montgomery St. BART station) near Union Square. I’ll drop by for at least part of the day to check out the scene and interview people waiting their turns in front of the camera, so please say hello if you are there.

The casting call advertisement on the Web site of the local CBS affiliate also includes a list of casting criteria and suggestions for applicants. Nothing really surprising, but these aren’t on the main casting Web site, and I haven’t seen them spelled out like this before:

Suggested Questions To Answer While Auditioning:
  1. Why would you make a great team to win The Amazing Race?
  2. What do you hope to improve or change in your current relationship?
  3. What issues do you need to work on?
  4. How much have you traveled together?
  5. What team do you most relate to from the past season?

Contestants will be selected based upon having the following traits:

  • Strong-willed
  • Outgoing
  • Adventurous
  • Physically and mentally adept
  • Adaptable to new environments
  • Interesting lifestyles, backgrounds and personalities.

What if all this sounds too complicated, or too much of a long shot? It’s a lot easier to take your own trip around the world than to get on the cast of The Amazing Race. As Scoop Nisker always says on KFOG, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” Over to you, travellers.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 6 March 2015, 23:59 (11:59 PM)
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