If you’ve ever watched the CBS reality T.V. show Big Brother and thought to yourself two questions: 1. Where and how do they find these people? Or 2. How can I get cast? Enter Robyn, who is the go-to #girlboss when it comes to casting the popular series, where 16 people live in a house completely cut off from the world and compete for money and prizes.
In fact, Robyn, a Los Angeles, CA native, began recruiting and booking dating shows right after college. In 2005, Robyn saw a hole in the reality T.V. industry and decided to open the first full-service reality casting company, Kassting Inc. Since then, she’s enjoyed a rollercoaster of a ride while casting a ton of shows (think Survivor, Big Brother, The Bachelor), including season 20 of Big Brother, which is airing now.
Robyn called up VINAZINE and gave vinas all the inside scoop on her career path, her secrets to success and Big Brother intel, of course. So get your cup of tea ready—she has a lot to spill.
VINAZINE: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into the casting world?
Robyn: I was a lifelong dancer and I was semi-OK at it. I was never great, but I was good enough to land a few roles. I went to California State University and was a communications major, but I was a lost puppy going through those college years. Here in LA, once you’re 21 or 22, you’re kind of old in the dance world, so I knew it couldn’t be my forever path. Born and raised in LA, the industry is just all around us. Everyone you talk to or meet, there’s some sort of connection. I met a girl who had been casting dating shows. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I gave it a try. I started with The Big Date, a show on USA Network. I was recruiting, going into bars, clubs, malls and trying to get single people to sign up for the show.
VINAZINE: What were some of the early struggles you had at first?
Robyn: Well, day one, you’re not making the money that you expect to make, you’re making $400 a week. I was waiting tables in the evening. But it comes down to how bad do you want it. You need that fire and desire. No one is going to be making $100,000 when they start out. You have to pay your dues, and I was fortunate to move up pretty quickly. Any job is hard in the beginning, but you have to show that drive.
VINAZINE: What made you decide to open your own casting company?
Robyn: When reality T.V. started, like Survivor and Real World, I was at the forefront of that. Producers and networks were like, “Who do we get to get this stuff?” I was a go-to person because I knew how to talk to people, but I was freelance and could only take on casting one show at a time. So I launched my business in 2005, knowing that with a team, I could take on more shows. It was definitely scary—I didn’t completely know what I was doing. Insurance, office space, payroll—all that stuff was very new to me. But I had a lot of good relationships with people before I opened, so people trusted me.
VINAZINE: OK, so you’re at a casting audition and meeting a ton of hopefuls. What exactly catches your eye?
Robyn: The things that stand out to me are the things I’m not expecting. I don’t go into casting and hope to see something; I go into casting hoping I see something new, or something that opens my eye or shocks me. People think when it comes to Big Brother casting, I have to be like, “Oh I’m looking for this type of houseguest.” But no, I don’t want to see a repeat. I have a better time with someone completely new, someone who has a weird energy to them.
VINAZINE: So it’s all about being genuine.
Robyn: Yes, I say this to everyone: Don’t overthink it. I can tell if they rehearsed what they were going to say or tell if they’re reading off something in a video. All those things don’t come off as good authenticity. If there’s a blooper in there, great! We want to see the unexpected, we want to see you just go for it and we want the authentic answers. We don’t want cliche answers—we’ve heard those thousands of times.
VINAZINE: What current houseguests stood out you during casting?
Robyn: Well, JC has a very unique story. Or Sam, who is from the middle of nowhere and doesn’t really know anything about reality T.V. They are sometimes the best characters. Or the free spirits, like Kaitlyn, who is into yoga and chakras. How do you bring that into the game of Big Brother? She’ll probably blow up.
VINAZINE: I assume you watch each season?
Robyn: I am a die-hard Big Brother fan. I watch it through different lenses since I’ve formed relationships with these people. But I’m as shocked, if not more shocked, at the relationships that form. I always try to guess who is going to be in a showmance, and I’m always wrong! I’m very motherly to the cast so when one of them gets evicted, it hurts me a little bit more.
VINAZINE: Are you close to the houseguests from past seasons?
Robyn: Yes, I’m in contact with probably every houseguest through social media or texting. It’s fun having a relationship with them outside of Big Brother. I know the difficulties that houseguests go through to get into the house, so I’m proud of anyone who gets the guts to go in there. I do have favorites—there are four marriages, four babies. I’m really proud of that because I’m a bit of a matchmaker! Jeff and Jordyn are due with their second baby on my birthday, and Brendan and Rachel were married on my birthday.
VINAZINE: How do you think you’d be in the BB house?
Robyn: If I was a regular fan, I feel like in my heart, I’d kill it. I think any fan would say that!
VINAZINE: Your job sounds like a lot of fun, but what are some difficult things of you encounter?
Robyn: I have hiccups to this day. It’s just part of this world. What I do is really exciting and cool, but I second guess myself. I may see a show and wonder why I wasn’t called for that show or I might bid on casting for a show and don’t get it. That stuff always happens. And I don’t get along with everyone, so some people might say they don’t like me. It’s not an easy business.
VINAZINE: What is your best career advice for people who wants to work in the casting world?
Robyn: Treat everyone with respect. Leave a lasting impression so that they want to work with you again. And in any career, when you start off, work harder than anyone else. Put in extra hours for less money. Make sure people know you want to be there. Have a really good attitude—that goes a long way.
VINAZINE: Lastly, how can people apply for shows, or apply for a job at your company?
Robyn: Go to kasstinginc.com or follow me on social media @kassting. Also, there are a lot of scam casting companies out there, so never trust any company that you have to pay for, so be careful. And if you’re looking to work in casting, I have shows that come and go all the time. Send a cover letter to casting companies that are hiring, and if you are determined and a hard worker, they’ll see that.
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