"I was being stopped by hundreds of people wanting photographs and even autographs."
Reality TV can be a launch pad for a successful career in the public eye or a stint that hinders your profile, rather than helps it. In this three-part series, STELLAR chats to Irish reality TV stars about their lives post-telly – the third is Geraldine O’Callaghan, who appeared on The Apprentice Ireland in 2009 and now writes travel pieces for a number of newspapers and magazines
“TV was never on my radar. To be honest I would have much preferred to take part in the competition if it wasn’t televised. I went on The Apprentice because the business I’d had when I was 24 went belly up and I was on the dole, so I needed a job and there wasn’t too much happening in Ireland then as we were on the verge of recession. I thought that if I didn’t win maybe I’d at least get a job in the aftermath. Which I did, so it served its purpose.
Working in reality TV is actually way harder than I ever could have expected. I would consider myself a grafter but even at that the hours are so long and it’s anything but glamorous. I didn’t particular enjoy my time filming The Apprentice as the amount of backstabbing was pretty hardcore and I think you’d need to be made of stone not to feel in some way hurt or insecure by everyone pointing out your flaws or trying to get you fired. I have since worked on other reality TV shows that I did really enjoy, even though the hours are always really long or I’ve had to do some crazy stuff!
Immediately after the show was quite the tornado as I was being stopped by hundreds of people wanting photographs and even autographs. It was all very full-on and a bit claustrophobic. I never minded reading stuff about myself on social media. I know who I really am and my real friends know that too so anything else is just idle gossip but I did get really hurt when someone wrote something about a member of my family that was untrue. I put myself in the public eye so I had to accept and deal with the consequences but a family member didn’t so I felt responsible that they had been gossiped about.
In general I feel that reality TV has helped with my career as working in media really helps with meeting the right contacts. Although, I’m very aware that once I’m starting on a new project or new job I have to prove myself as a serious employee and show that I don’t think that just because I was on TV that I don’t have to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. It opened doors for me. I now write travel features for a number of newspapers and magazines which is something I would not have had the opportunity to do before I became well known for being on TV. I’ve seen places in the world that I may never have considered going to. Most recently I was on trips to Ethiopia and Cape Town that I wrote about for my website TravelAndCulture.ie.
I believe in life we should always push our boundaries and try things completely out of our comfort zone, reality TV was that for me so of course I feel it has helped me to grow. I have recently just started some salsa lessons so Dancing With The Stars could be very interesting to me!”