After reality show experience in New York, UW-Madison student adjusts to campus life

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Posted by Ciley Myrus on April 20, 2009 at 12:45:09:

After reality show experience in New York, UW-Madison student adjusts to campus life

by Katjusa Cisar April 16, 2009

When Samantha DeZur returned to classes at the UW-Madison in January, it was like the previous five months in New York City hadn't happened.

"Where is my microphone? Where are the cameras?" she wondered. After being at the center of the Style Network's reality show "Running In Heels," it was bizarre for the Oshkosh native to be back at college.

"My life here is exactly the same. Nobody talks to me about it," said DeZur, a 22-year-old senior majoring in Spanish and communications studies.

The eighth and final episode of the show, which documents the experiences of three interns at fashion magazine Marie Claire, airs tonight at 7.

"There is something big that happens in the last episode," she said. The Style Network's teaser is, "(Marie Claire editor) Joanna (Coles) announces the exciting news that they will be doing a Mexico shoot -- but who among the staff will be chosen to go?"

Unlike most reality shows, "Running In Heels" does not feature elimination-style competition. Instead, the show focuses on the drama between the three interns -- Ashley Gosik of Florida, Talita Silva of Los Angeles, and DeZur -- as they write magazine copy, help out with photo shoots, attend fashion shows and run errands (and, yes, that means running in heels, as DeZur painfully learned in the first episode).

Of course, they all have radically different personalities and clash at almost every turn. But what's reality television without tension, friction and tears? Within the first five minutes of the first episode, it's clear what roles the show's producers have carved out for the young women, and DeZur is Nice Midwestern Girl.

DeZur refers to her role in the show as "my character," as if she's talking about someone else. But it's really just another side of herself, she insists.

"Maybe we played into our roles, but I don't think we were fake. All of that is really us," she said. Besides, she added, "the viewers only get to see about 25 percent of what happened."

Sometimes DeZur consciously put on her "Midwestern Girl shoes," she said, like during an episode in which the interns are tasked with writing sex diaries. Aware that her family and grandparents would be watching, she kept herself guarded and treated it like any professional setting where sex is not openly discussed.

"My character on that show is going to be seen like a sheltered, prude little Midwestern girl," she said, when in reality, she's not that innocent, she said.

Choices such as these about how to present herself on national television tie in closely with her focus on rhetoric as a communications major. Her studies have made her hyper-aware of "choosing words correctly," for instance.

"Rhetoric has shaped revolutions," she said.

Now that the show is on the air, she and the other two interns are blogging about their experience on the Marie Claire Web site. It forces her to relive the drama: "I have to think back on the time when I was so mad at them, I wanted to kill them."

But the bond of being on the show together has kept the interns in touch. They're Facebook friends, they text and e-mail, but their communication remains mostly about the show, not their personal lives.

Ironically, although she loved being on the show and is looking into doing more shows like it, she "hates reality TV." Her friends watch reality shows almost exclusively, but she's more into dramas like "Grey's Anatomy."

DeZur doesn't buy the common critique that today's generation of young people is narcissistic and overshares as a result of reality television and social networking sites like Facebook.

"It just capitalizes on the people who would (overshare) already," she said.

As for that dreaded question about the future that all second semester college seniors face, she's unsure of what she'll do after graduation in May. Maybe the Peace Corps or teaching English in Mexico, maybe public relations, maybe more reality TV.

"Such polar opposites!" she said, laughing.

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