There are more than 100,000 actors trying to make it in New York, and The It Factor
— Bravo's newest reality show — profiles 12 trying to make it to the top.
Unfortunately, that's the show's biggest problem: It tries to bite off more than it can chew. Installments are just 23 minutes in length, and by the end of the second episode, we haven't even really met anyone yet.
As a result, we only get brief glimpses into the personal lives of such aspiring thespians as Miranda Black, a hopeful from Eastern Ontario who moved to New York knowing no one and runs her own house-cleaning business on the side. The viewer follows her to auditions and to cleaning gigs, getting a sense of both sides of her life.
But the premiere episode — which centers around the audition process for the series itself — just skims the surface without really drawing the viewer in. It only gets close to one cast member, Queen Esther, and spends a lot of time with actors who aren't selected for the two final spots. Nor does the show spend enough time with acclaimed Hollywood casting director Billy Hopkins and his colleagues behind closed doors, listening to them discuss why some had "it" and others didn't.
In the one all-too-brief behind-the-scenes glimpse, all Hopkins does is gush, "I'm really shocked … how many good people there were."
But there are some revealing moments gleaned from the auditions. One actor concedes that he finds the audition process terrifying; another young woman shows the cocktail dress she was required to wear at the waitress job from which she's just been fired: "It should really be a shirt."
Perhaps the most charismatic of the cast members, a young Nigerian-American actor/comedian named Godfrey, steals the audition sequence with his "monologue": an angry tirade at the casting execs for not telling him a monologue was required. "That was kind of good," he deadpans afterwards. "You believed me, right?"
Although the first installment is unsettled, the show hits more of a stride when it gets involved with individual stories: Chelsea Lagos, an attractive young woman who knows her looks aren't a permanent asset; Daisy Eagan, who won a Tony award for The Secret Garden
at age 11 and now finds herself in a more competitive adult market; and several others, whose stories unfold after episode two. The It Factor
does well in depicting what these actors go through. Hopefully, as the series unfolds, it will tell us more about what they need to succeed.
The It Factor, which premiered Jan. 6, airs Sunday evenings on Bravo.