Friday, May 9, 2008

An Interview with MTV's Amanda Lorber


Jessica: I guess I just wanted to start out with some general questions. My first question would be, how did MTV first approach you about doing the series?

Amanda: Well we heard about a casting call that was online for an accomplished school newspaper. They wanted us to send in a video, so we sent in a mish-mosh weirdly put together video application thing and sent that in. And then they got back to us and told us we were one of the best they had seen, so a few of us went and talked to the principal and asked him if it would be ok if we could continue to be in the running. Then they narrowed it down to three and finally they picked us. And it was really surreal at first-- it was still kind of unrealistic because they were only going to be filming a pilot show which was going to have to compete against a bunch of other MTV pilots to see which one would get a TV show. But finally they chose us.

J: Okay, so given the bad rap a lot of people get on reality shows, what made you decide this would be a good choice for you and for your staff?

A: I know you’ve watched it and when they sold us the idea it’s a “docuseries”-- it’s not necessarily a reality show because most reality shows are scripted and in our case none of it is scripted. My big reason for doing it was it would be a really good opportunity to encourage other students to pick up journalism in high scool. Because if you pick it up then you’ll continue with it.

J: Did you get paid at all?

A: We got paid a lump sum but we’re not allowed to talk about how much.

J: Okay. One of my other favorite shows on MTV besides “The Paper” is “The Hills,” which is rampantly popular and your show comes on right afterwards. I don’t know if you watch “The Hills,” but how do you feel being led in by MTV’s most popular reality show?

A: When I first heard it was going to run after “The Hills” I was confused because I didn’t see how the same viewers would appreciate our show. I think it’s a great honor to be behind a show that does so well behind MTV. If we were behind “Tila Tequila” I would’ve been mad – I would be an angry little journalist right now. I didn’t realize what kinds of viewers we were going to have and now that the show has aired I see it’s a great honor to be following “The Hills” because it has the greatest population, but I think we have enough drama and passion to wrangle the same type of viewers. Because I’ve seen now from viewer comments and blogs like yours that you can appreciate our show without being a journalist. I mean, journalists watch it, professional journalists, high school students, adults, parents. I think we’ve gotten a pretty big audience from what I’ve seen. I think it’s got a little of everything for everybody.

J: What was the filming schedule like? Did they film 24/7?

A: It was more planned and scheduled, although it was kind of sporadic because I had a lot of important classes I was taking and I needed to make sure my schoolwork came first. They did film every day in school though.

J: Do you think that people joined the newspaper because they wanted to be on MTV?

A: No, because the ones that tried to were kicked out. If somebody tried to join without the prerequisite of Journalism 1, my teacher knew they were just trying to be on TV. So most people wouldn’t do it because they had to take the prerequisite so they knew they weren’t going to be on film.

J: So are they still filming now?

A: No, I don’t know if they’re going to do a reunion; they’re looking for another staffer for season 2 and I don’t know if that’s a complete go but I know that they’re looking right now.

J: Your family is noticeably absent from filming-- was that a conscious decision?

A: Do you know what it was? If they were filming after school both my parents work! So I was alone with my little brother, who wasn’t in the shots. But yeah, they do make me look like an emancipated minor. I’m not alone! My parents just both work. But you’ll see more of my family in the episodes to come. They’re my inspiration, and my dog Gabby - you get to see a lot of her.

J: Speaking of Alex, are you guys still on the rocks or have you mended up your friendship?

A: Um, we are merely acquaintances now. When it comes to working together, we do it and we’re a good team for putting the newspaper together.

J: Do you feel that they edited you in a way that misrepresented you or you felt wasn’t like your true self?

A: I think that I’m a little more normal than I come off in the show. I am a very spirited person and slightly eccentric-- I have my eccentric tendencies. But I’m a little more normal. I’m not quite as bossy. And I’m not a loner! I have a lot of best friends, most of them are in musical theatre, and then Cassia - who is on the show - is my best friend of all time. We have a band - Cassia and the Amandance kid. We’re writing another song about bad Florida drivers right now and it will be on Youtube.

J: The show is airing right now and you’re still in school, so how has that affected your friendships and how has the school reacted to its newfound fame?

A: People who aren’t even associated with the show get recognition wherever they go: “Oh you’re the school that’s on TV, you guys are Cypress Bay, wow.” And sometimes the response isn’t so good but it really depends on the type of viewer. For me and the other cast members we get a lot of recognition in public. I get recognition when I’m out in public now, at the movie theatre someone followed me into the theatre the other day - it’s a little freaky. I take pictures with people, I signed a t-shirt, I signed a tush.

J: Okay, so do you consider yourself a celebrity now? Do you feel like this status will positively affect you in the future when you come to NY?

A: I don’t see it as celebrity status because I think celebrity has to be more - I know that we’re nationally televised but I feel like you have to be more than that - I think we’ve received acclaim and recognition. And I do think that it could possibly help me. If my future employers decide to watch the show and they look at our newspaper at, I think they’d be very impressed and perhaps it could open doors. This is what I want do with my life so having a TV show about something I want to pursue in the future is not half bad.

J: Okay, so what kind of journalism do you want to go into?

A: I’m really very fond of print, but depending on who you speak to it could be a dying breed. I know that you’ve transitioned into online as well--

J: Yeah, NYU Local is all online.

A: Right. And I think that I could, if I need to, I’ll definitely make the transition to whatever I need to to stay in the journalism industry - print, online, perhaps magazine. I’m really into serious news pieces, but I love in depth features and entertainment writing. I really like every kind of newspaper writing with the exception of sports writing. I love everything about newspapers, even the texture. I like getting that ink on my hands; it makes me feel like I’m doing something.

J: Now -- I have to ask this question. MTV made a big deal about the fact that you got a nose job, how did you feel about that being televised and did you do it because you were going to be on TV or was it something you had been considering prior?

A: My surgery was something I had been contemplating for years. This was not for TV. It wasn’t for a medical purpose and it was definitely to help enhance my appearance. And I have to say this was not something I did spontaneously-- this was something I put a lot of thought into. I don’t think it’s so far reaching to say that most high school students have insecurities -- everybody does. I think that some people can see surgery like that as vain, I see it as a method of self improvement that I could not have done naturally. People work at improving themselves all the time and this is just another way to do that. I didn’t love having it televised, I wasn’t too happy about it - that’s why there’s not all that much footage about it. I don’t want people to see it and think that I was this vain, uncomfortable person, because I’m quite confident in my abilities, like my writing abilities. I’m confident with what I do in school, theatre performances, there are a lot of things you can be confident about, but I had issues with my appearance like most girls do. And some girls choose to do something about it whether it’s a surgical procedure or wearing a lot of makeup or things like that. And I just want to say I’m not encouraging surgery for young girls or anybody watching. I contemplated a long time before I did it.

Me: OK so -- what made you decide to come to NYU?

A: It’s been my dream school for years. It started off as my dream school because I wanted to do theatre and it doesn’t explain on the show that the first thing I wanted to do with my life was be on Broadway. And I had always loved to write and it had always come kind of naturally to me, and I was always a really avid reader. I used to read at the dinner table when I was a little kid. But Broadway was kind of my first passion; and then I transitioned into something more realistic that would be more rewarding for a longer period of time. And it was kind of by accident; I fell into it in 9th grade and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into newspaper -- but I’m going to say it was the best mistake of my life. And NYU was just the place where they had it all, and it’s so prestigious and it’s such a prestigious school and I think I’ll be surrounded by people who are similar to myself for the most part -- people like you!

J: Awesome! So, are there any misconceptions you feel the show put forth that you wanted to clear up?

A: I think that I’m a very friendly and not bossy person! I’m mildly eccentric and more on the normal side. I am theatrical - they did pin that.

J: Yeah I’m surprised you haven’t broken out into song yet during this interview.

A: Yeah I thought about it but then I wanted to make sure this was a serious interview for you.

J: Okay well that’s all I have. Thank you so much-- I really appreciate it.

A: Thank you.

J: Hopefully I’ll see you around campus or at an NYU Local meeting.

A: I want to go meet you right when I get there-- I really do!

J: Okay awesome. Well good luck with everything!


Hannah said...

Your first celebrity interview! I am so proud of you Jess!!!


LOLSAM said...

loving this.
amanda, jess will be abroad in the fall, but you and i should chill.

samantha neugebauer said...

Nice job Jessica.

I'm meeting with Russell about our writer's group tomorrow, and I'll call you with the details.

Vanessa said...

Agree to all of the above.

You probably don't remember me but I sat two people away from you at the NYULocal meeting a little while ago.

I don't watch the show but this Amanda girl sounds like legit my soulmate, so maybe I can hang out with her and Sam come the fall. We could sing Broadway songs together and chat about how NYU was first our dream school because of Tisch acting. Woohoo.

(Sweet blog, it has become my new go-to in the past 72 hours. You even beat out Gawker.)