By Megan Washausen
Amela Hadzic, economics and finance major at Webster University, said she suffers from procrastination. However, she can no longer condemn the practice as one that typically leads to nothing but long games of Tetris and the necessity to pull all-nighters.
During a night of studying back in August, her procrastination resulted in her spontaneous application, and eventual acceptance, for a spot on Music Television (MTV’s) popular show “True Life.”
“Basically, I had to study for an accounting exam. I was really distracted, so instead of studying for accounting, I went on MTV.com. I went on “Casting” and saw that they were casting for different shows and I applied for ‘True Life,’” Hadzic said.
Hadzic, 20, first responded by email to the casting call and then proceeded to send the same email to “Very Bad Boys,” another reality show in search of new cast members. These two emails thrust her into a period of phone interviews, video submissions and casting calls with producers from both shows. She had just finished a casting call with the producer of “Very Bad Boys” when she received a call from the producer of “True Life,” who immediately explained to her how the filming process would work.
“True Life,” which aired its first episode in 1998, documents the struggles of young individuals and couples. Though Hadzic cannot disclose any details surrounding her episode, she can say that it revolves around her and her boyfriend of two years, Senad Sadovic, 25. She did not inform him that they had been selected for the show until after she had received the initial call from the “True Life” producer.
“I basically told my boyfriend, ‘You have to be on this show with me.’ I didn’t really give him much of a choice,” Hadzic said. “I told him it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Sadovic, however, was not easily sold on the idea. He worried about what putting themselves out there could do to their reputations.
“I wasn’t sure what the outcome of the show would be,” he said. “I was worried they would make me look like the bad guy because most of these shows, that’s what they will try doing. I wouldn’t want them to make both of us look bad.”
After speaking further with the show’s producers, Sadovic came around to the idea. The MTV crew arrived in St. Louis to shoot several scenes over the course of three days in January.
“That just made my winter break the best winter break ever,” Hadzic said.
Filming occurs once a month over three days, during which the couple is shot almost nonstop. While this process usually lasts for three to four months, the producers are contemplating extending their time with the couple. “You do a lot of different scenes and you talk about touchy subjects that the producers ask you to talk about,” Hadzic said. “One thing I like about ‘True Life’ is that it is really true, it’s not staged. I don’t have lines to say. It’s what it basically sounds like. It is your true life depicted on TV.”
When the producers arrive for a weekend for a shoot, they immediately ask the couple what their plans are, and may suggest a particular venue. MTV must receive permission to film in certain venues and complete the appropriate legal paperwork.
“At first it was kind of weird, you’re kind of shy,” Sadovic said. “It takes about an hour or two to get used to and, at times, they’ll reshoot a scene if they think it could be shot better.”
Filming in public has been an entirely different experience for the couple as they’ve witnessed firsthand what the camera can do to people.
“When the cameras are out in public, we try to go to places that seem, you know, classy and where people will be well-behaved, but we actually went out to a bar and grill and people were jumping in front of the camera screaming,” Hadzic said. “They were trying to be on the camera and our producer told them, ‘You have a better chance of getting on camera if you just act like a normal human being.’”
Hadzic and Sadovic said they have had an easy time keeping the details of the show from friends and acquaintances. Both have friends who appear on the show. Their friends also were required to sign contracts assuring they would not disclose any information about the episode.
While she has found her friends and Sadovic’s mother to be very supportive, Hadzic’s own family worries about the effect it could have on her schooling and future.
“When I told my mom that we got chosen to be on ‘True Life,’ she thought that I was lying. She just said, ‘I thought you were going to tell me something good,’” Hadzic said. “My brother is also against it. He’s like, ‘Make sure it doesn’t mess up your professional life once you get out of school.’ On the other hand, my dad is super supportive and thinks I should make the most of it.”
The couple realized that their extended family in Bosnia, where Hadzic and Sadovic were born, will be able to see the episode.
“It is weird because you think just people (in the U.S.) are going to see it, but people all over the world are going to see it,” Hadzic said. “That’s scary, a little bit.”
Hadzic said she feels there is something incredibly powerful to be gained from this experience that will not only impact Sadovic and her, but audience members.
“‘True Life’ describes young people’s struggles,” she said. “That is really why I did it, because I’m all about being a strong, independent woman, and I hope that will come out on camera and it will help somebody my age going through similar things.”