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Subject: Students to compete on MTV reality show


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by Jessica Blackmore
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Date Posted: 10/ 5/05 3:21:11pm

October 05, 2005


Two Vanderbilt students will compete for a scholarship and a paid internship at Seventeen magazine in MTV’s newest reality show “Miss Seventeen,” which premieres Oct. 17.

Leah Watson, a senior in the College of Arts and Science, and Kristen Tsaklis, an A&S freshman, are two of 17 finalists who were cast to compete for the title of “Miss Seventeen.”

“I actually thought I didn’t make the show because I had seen the anticipated start date,” said Watson.

When both girls received the final casting call, they were extremely excited to participate and anxious to find out what life is truly like on the other side of the camera.

“I got off the phone and said to myself, ‘Did MTV just call and tell me I got on the show?’” Tsaklis said. “It was surreal and exciting at the same time. But then again, it seemed like I was just another person trying their luck on one of the millions of reality shows there are out there.”

According to MTV.com, “Miss Seventeen” is a show that “puts 17 accomplished and ambitious young women in a Manhattan loft to compete in weekly character-testing challenges...The winning girl will receive a prize package including a college scholarship and a paid internship at Seventeen (magazine).”

Although the girls’ participation in the show is now public knowledge, initially the girls had to keep everything confidential.

“My mom obviously knew, but I couldn’t tell everyone,” Watson said.

When asked if their experience was what they originally anticipated, both girls had very similar responses.

“(The cameramen) do a good job of pretending to be invisible. They are around you 24/7 so it is so easy to forget about them, be yourself, just let your true personality let loose, and probably do and say things you later wish you didn’t do on camera,” Tsaklis said.

“I’ve seen my bio on MTV...and I’m worried about being the stereotypical Vandy girl, which is what I think my depiction is going to be ... but, I really enjoyed it and the girls were awesome,” Watson said.

Tsaklis said that this show is just like any other reality show that brings a group of teenage girls under one roof. No matter how smart or accomplished they all may be, she said, the “backstabbing dirty-competition-filled” element of reality TV still comes into play.

“If you think you are tuning in to watch a bunch of overachieving girls being all respectable and nice to each other as they compete in friendly competitions, you are in for a big surprise.” Tsaklis said.

In addition to competing on a nationally televised reality show, both women are involved on campus in a variety of different student organizations and community service.

Tsaklis participates in Fashion for a Cause and is an active member of Vanderbuddies, dance classes, Vanderbilt Association of Hispanic Students, Ambassadores, and hopefully Alternative Spring Break.

“The groups I have joined in college are basically an extension of what I enjoyed doing in high school and are a good display of my passions in general,” said Tsaklis. “I love to do community service and I will hopefully get involved with the school newspaper as well.”

Watson is double-majoring in communication studies and sociology with a minor in womens’ studies. She is also an active member of Vanderbilt’s Honor Council, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., VTV and weekly community service projects at the Andrew Jackson Boys and Girls Club.

“(The Boys and Girls Club) is one of the highlights of my week,” said Watson, “These kids need reading comprehension skills so bad. We also try to spark their interest in terms of going to college.”

Watson is also a semi-finalist for this year’s homecoming. She is currently co-authoring a book with John Sieganthaler at the First Amendment Center and competing in the Miss Tennessee USA Pageant this week.

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