As Seen on TV?
Sculpture by Mashanda Lazarus, who appeared on House Hunters Renovation “The Unlivable Living Room.” Photo by Matt Meindl for USC Dornsife Magazine.

As Seen on TV?

A quintet of USC Dornsife alumni leapt into public consciousness through appearances on television reality programs — but what did they learn from their experiences?
Susan Bell, Michelle Boston, Dan Knapp and Laura Paisley

Although its popularity exploded in the 1990s, reality television —  in one guise or another — has been around almost as long as the medium itself. While the genre is frequently derided as being anything but real, many programs have opened the eyes (and minds) of viewers to people and situations they otherwise might never have encountered. MTV’s The Real World, for example, put a face on the AIDS epidemic for an entire generation when Pedro Zamora, who was HIV-positive, was cast in the series’ third season. And Sharon Osbourne, who co-starred with her husband, rock star Ozzy Osbourne, and their children on The Osbournes, confronted the stigma surrounding colon cancer when she famously chose to continue filming the show following her 2002 diagnosis.

Over the years, dozens of USC Dornsife alumni have found their own 15 minutes of fame by appearing on reality television programs. We caught up with five notable participants who left their marks on their respective shows and who were, in turn, forever changed by the experience.


  Brad Goreski ’07

Stylist Brad Goreski broke into popular culture on The Rachel Zoe Project. Now, he dresses his own roster of celebrity clients for the red carpet, armed with a love of fashion and a foundation in art history from USC Dornsife. Read more >


  Alexis Jones ’05, ’06

A contestant on the 16th season of the CBS competitive reality TV show Survivor, Alexis Jones leveraged the media interest around her participation to launch her nonprofit I AM THAT GIRL. Read more >


  Curtis Kin ’93

Fifteen years ago, Curtis Kin was a participant on the popular CBS reality TV show Big Brother. Now a judge for the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, he talks about his career and life in the real world. Read more >


  Alpha Mulugeta ’06

The academic and creative interests that Alpha Mulugeta explored during his time at USC allowed him to seize professional opportunities wherever they were presented. Mulugeta appeared on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and is an in-demand cabaret performer. Read more >


  Jenny Wu ’03

Fashion blogger Jenny Wu participated in CBS Television’s The Amazing Race to push the boundaries of her courage and then learn from the experience. Read more >

Read more stories from USC Dornsife Magazine‘s Fall 2015-Winter 2016 issue >>