In Gold Derby’s latest roundtable group panel, leading reality TV producers, directors and stars discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic affected their various shows and how working in the medium has given them thicker skin. Our Meet the Experts: Reality TV panel includes participation from Monica Aldama (star of Netflix’s “Cheer”), Sue Aikens (star of National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero”), Nneka Onuorah (director of Amazon Prime Video’s “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls”), Paris Hilton (star/producer of Peacock’s “Paris In Love”) and Jonathan Murray (producer of Paramount+’s “The Real World Homecoming”). Watch the group panel above. Click on each person’s name to watch an individual chat.
The panel begins with Hilton and Murray reflecting on their original celeb-reality show “The Simple Life,” which aired two decades ago on Fox. “I’ve gotta say, Paris, I apologize, I underestimated you,” admits Murray. “You are a force. I’m just so impressed with all that you’ve been able to accomplish and the young woman that you’ve become.”
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“Thank you,” she responds, “and as I tell everyone, I’m not a dumb blonde I’m just very good at pretending to be one.” Hilton explains that “The Simple Life” was “the start of my career and it’s so iconic and people still love it. It’s so timeless and it really just kicked off this whole new genre of celebrity reality TV. It was so pioneering and innovative and everything, so I’m so happy that you convinced me to do it.”
Being a relatively new member of the reality TV family, Aldama notes, “I was thrown into this world not having a clue that I would be, and I was so used to always trying to be so perfect and do the right thing that I really didn’t have people say bad things about me ever. And then I suddenly have this influx of wild things — a lot of people love you and then some people think you’re a crazy psychotic whatever. I just really took it for the past two years and I got a lot thicker skin for sure.”
Aikens gives her thoughts on online trolls, stating, “I also think it’s important, at least for me, [that] just because you are invited to an argument does not mean you have to attend. Empower yourself and really look at it — what is it hurting? To react is the whole reason they do it.”
Onuorah chimes in, “To be honest, the way I deal with things in general is I just don’t put them on my radar. My main concern was, am I doing honor? Am I showcasing these women who are plus-size with poise? Do they feel like royalty? Do they feel beautiful?” The director adds, “I feel like putting that energy into the girls actually made that energy be infectious to the world.”
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