Being able to connect and communicate with people, whether it be face to face, or on screen has always been a passion of mine. When Presenter Search on 3 announced its much anticipated 2018 competition, I along with thousands of hopefuls, made my way to stadiums all over South Africa in the hopes of wooing the judges. This post is a reflection on the incredible #PresenterSearchOn3 first round experience as I share behind the scenes processes as well as lessons that I learnt that I hope can assist other aspiring presenters to grow by learning from my victories and mistakes.

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The fateful day came on a sunny Sunday as the enthusiastic contestants lined the entrance of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on the 25th of March. The truth is, there is never a perfect time to audition. Whether contestants choose to arrive at 04:00 like some hopefuls (to try to catch the judges at their freshest), or join the lines at 16:00 (once the judges have gained an awareness of the standards of candidates available) there is no ideal time. Whether it is four in the morning or afternoon, your talent needs to stand out beyond human limitations. The judges are not immune to getting tired, hungry and distracted. That is why your level of delivery needs to be so high that no matter how worn-out or bored they are, they have no choice but to notice you. In a highly saturated media market, viewers at home are inundated with shows, your talent as a presenter needs to appeal to viewers to such an extent that they have no choice but to tune in. This is the level of talent that they are scouting for.

Photo Credit: Presenter Search on 3

From the second that you step into the audition arena you are being judged, as there are crew members working behind the scenes who are constantly looking out for strong candidates. There are spontaneous moments of connection to look out for, from being interviewed by Presenter Search on 3 host Pabi Moloi while waiting in the line, to being profiled while getting a delicious free coffee at the McCafe stand. Every minute that you wait, there are opportunities to stand out from the crowd, do not waste them.

With large numbers such as those experienced at audition days, the organisers often use “screening-rooms” where you first audition in front of a panel of judges who are not the core judges of the day. These judges are usually made up of prominent role-players behind the scenes who are involved in the filming, production and broadcasting side. Once you audition in this first “room” by presenting your 15 second clip, you move to the second “room” where the key judges of the day are present. In some other city auditions they used more than one screening room, with only a select few making it in front of the judges. For Port Elizabeth this key panel was made out of Expresso presenter Zoe Brown, legendary Top Billing presenter Dr Michael Mole, as well as a Capitec Bank representative as a head line sponsor.

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Photo Credit: Presenter Search on 3

The ability to wait for hours on end, yet perform your link perfectly in the few minutes that you are in front of the judges, is a true skill. One which many struggle to master. The best way to prepare is to know your link so well that no matter what distractions are thrown your way, you will be able to ensure a perfect delivery. It is also worth preparing your link in a different language in case the judges ask you. For instance, I mentioned that I am fully bilingual and can speak Afrikaans, and so I was prepared to do my link in both English and Afrikaans in case I was tested. Other ways in which I prepared was in breaking down my link and finding topics mentioned within my link that the judges would expand on. My link was as follows:

“From ballerina to boxer; fitness fanatic to chocolate sampling coordinator; model to Mandela Rhodes Scholar. Mikaela Oosthuizen might seem like a walking, talking contradiction – but I just like to think I am the full package to bring beauty, brawn and brains to your screen.”

Based on this I prepared a few ad-lib options in case they asked me to link to a ballet performance, a boxing match, a chocolate tasting event, and even an at home workout session. This gave me extra confidence walking into the judging room. I also ensured that I was very up to date on the current South African entertainment industry. Many people were asked to do on the spot links where the judges gave a South African celebrity name and they were instructed to introduce the celebrity with as much detail as possible. You need to have adequate knowledge about the industry you are trying to break into. Preparation is therefore key in ensuring success on audition day.

After the auditions, it was time for the worst part – the waiting. Waiting with baited breathe for the call to come (or not). While I waited for a possible call back, I was contacted by the team to do a profile story and so the SABC 3 crew came to my home to do a few interviews with my mother and I.

After the home interview, the crew and I adventured into the glistening sea for a surf lesson thanks to Surf Centre. Whenever doing presenting action links, there are various elements that you need to take into account such as the drone above, Go-Pro near the surf board and the standard camera on the beach – oh and don’t fall! I had a great deal of fun and am forever thankful to the amazing SABC 3 production team who make every second of filming a great pleasure. The ability to think on your feet and craft professional and punchy links that sum up the environment in which you find yourself is a skill you need to practice and perfect as a presenter.

Heading into the shot, I prepared one or two sayings that I knew I could insert into whichever link I needed. In this way I could ensure that no time was wasted on location. There is often criticism in the media space about stringent audition processes, but the reality is that if you cannot deliver a prepared 15 second link perfectly in a comfortable room, then you will not be able to deliver an on-the-spot link on the beach while the sun is setting and you have a few minutes of light left, or while you are riding an elephant, or as the parachute is landing etc. In auditions, as in actual presenting, you often only have one shot, one chance, and if you stumble over your words it means loss. A lost opportunity to impress the judges during auditions, and lost time of actual filming on set.

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A huge thank you to the SABC 3 team for running this competition to give aspiring presenters the opportunity to break into the industry. Every chance that aspiring presenters get to be in front of the camera provides a platform to make mistakes, learn from them, and continue to improve the standard of delivery of media in this country. Be sure to tune in to SABC 3 every Thursday 19:30 to follow the #PresenterSearchOn3 journey. Did you enjoy this post? Voice your support for me on the Presenter Search on 3 Facebook Page here.  Any comments of support on their page will be much appreciated.

For more pictures of the day check out Presenter Search on 3 Official Photos. 

View some PE highlights from Presenter Search on 3 Official Clip here.

bye for now xx

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