“If you get the chance to be on TV, take it!” Cathy Hobbs, Interior Design ’06, advised a group of students and alumni in the John E. Reeves Great Hall on Tuesday. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Hobbs was one of three alumni TV stars invited to talk about their careers in the spotlight on Tuesday, in the culminating event of Alumni Day of Legacy Week. Brian Williams, Fashion Merchandising Management, vice president of alumni affairs for the FIT Student Association, moderated.
All three stars were glad they said yes to the tube.
“TV has made me an international figure,” said Sondra Celli, Menswear Design and Marketing ’78, known for her TLC shows My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and Bling It On. (When TLC called her about the show, she was initially hesitant.) “I could never have bought this much press.”
“I never thought I’d become a gypsy designer,” Sondra Celli said. “They pulled my name out of someone’s Rolodex and started calling me.”
Hobbs, a TV reporter and finalist on Season 6 of HGTV’s Design Star, remembered the taping process as being incredibly intense. She was picked up in a van and left in a hotel without her cell phone or wallet. “It was like being incarcerated.” And she was miked constantly. Whenever her microphone was off, she was “on ice,” which meant she wasn’t allowed to speak. Oh, and her daughter was one year old at the time.
For Cathy Hobbs, Interior Design ’06, “Reality shows seemed like the shortest line between two points.”
Daniel Silverstein, Fashion Design ’10, found the auditions for Fashion Star very daunting. A casting agent emailed him, offering a VIP interview. When he got to the show, he understood that he might not be so special after all. “There were 100 VIPs and also a line of not-VIPs around the block.”
“Because of the show, I’ve sold to Saks, I’ve sold to Macy’s, I’ve sold to Express,” Daniel Silverstein said. “When I exhibit at trade shows, buyers think, ‘NBC invested in you, so I can too.'”
But all three have survived their dabblings with reality. Celli’s business has expanded by leaps and bounds. Hobbs has a line of paints, with other products coming soon. And Silverstein has already sold a million dollars worth of his product.
As soon as there’s a reality show that pits writers and editors against each other in a series of solitary, internal challenges, Hue is definitely going to audition.
Celli will rhinestone anything: glasses, shoes, even toilet paper. (Honey Boo Boo, eat your heart out.)