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CwL Ep 161 –  A Sliding Doors story

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When she was 20 years old Lisa applied to be on a brand new reality TV show and kept getting further and further through the audition process. 

Listen to this story about the biggest sliding doors moment of her life. 

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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here.

All right. I’m going to tell you a story about a time that I was in a car and I was with my boyfriend at the time. I was probably 20, I reckon. And there was this ad on the radio. They were talking about how you could win a quarter of a million dollars by going into a house and hanging out with 12 people. So 12 people enter a house, and if you’re the last one to stay in that house, you win 250 grand. I was like, what is this thing? I could stay in a house with 12 people?

And this thing was called Big Brother. And I thought, this sounds like a really cool adventure. So I went home, I heard the ad on TripleM and which is a radio station here in Melbourne. And I went home and I looked it up on the computer. We had the internet by then. And I saw this thing. It was this Big Brother house, and I decided to fill in the application. I just thought, I dunno what this is, but I need some excitement in my life. I was a uni student. It was that time where you could do weird things. So I put in my application, and then a few days later, I actually found out that I got accepted. I think maybe I had to make a video. I can’t really remember, can’t remember what I needed to do. But I did it with no time to spare, left it to the last minute.

And then I found out that I could go for an interview or to the next step for this thing. I was like, well, you know what? I’m just going to go. I’m going to go because Yolo and who knows what this thing is, but I’m willing to just have an experiment, see what it’s all about, have an experience. I’m always putting my hand up for things. I’ll go. And so I went and it was held. There were auditions held at a hotel near us. There were rooms, there was so many people at this thing. And we all had to do these different activities. And there’s just people watching us do stuff. And I had no idea what I was doing. They just tell you to be yourself. So you do, but you know you’re being watched. So it’s all a bit strange. And then that day they just sat us down and they said, if we call out your name, go and see this person.

And they called out my name. And so I went and saw that person and they said, congratulations, you’re through to the next round. And this process continued. It continued, and I kept finding myself going through to the next round and the next round and the next round, it turned out that Triple M as a partner for Big Brother put someone in the house. So I probably had some sort of fast track. I don’t know how many people applied to be the Triple M person in the house, but I kept getting through. I remember one audition, it was at Crown Casino, and we’re all sitting on chairs, and we had microphones and they asked us different questions. Who do you see yourself being? What do you see yourself being in 10 years time and blah, blah, blah, blah. And of course I said, I saw myself being Oprah. The Oprah of Australia or the first woman, prime Minister Lisa, aimed low at that stage of our life.

And suddenly, and I was just having a good fun time. I took it. I did not take it seriously. I did not think I wanted it. I was just enjoying being a part of this experience and meeting fun people along the way. There were parties, it was really great. And suddenly I got chosen to go in the very first Big Brother house in Australia. And I said, no. I was like, actually, no. And they’re like, what do you mean no? I said, well, no, no, no. I don’t even really understand what this is. And I go to uni and I have a boyfriend and my family were freaked out.

Totally. Oh my God, what are you doing? You’re going to be famous.

There was going to be people sleeping on our nature strip. I’m like, what? Hang on. How did we get here? Anyway,

I had the executive producer calling me up and talking to me all about the program, all about these pieces of a puzzle. He kept calling it, we put together pieces of a puzzle and we find people who we think would make a great show, and you are a really important part of that puzzle. So what can we do? What can we reassure you about? How can we make this a thing? So he sent me these DVDs, of course, back then of clips of Big Brother in the UK and Big Brother in Sweden, because of course, whatever we weren’t seeing on our TV screens didn’t really exist, did it? So we had no idea of this thing that was going on. And I remember sitting there with my boyfriend watching these shorts from the Swedish Big Brother thinking, wow, did he think that this was actually going to convince me?

And I mean, there was prize money, there was all the excitement of the Knights when they let you out and people are screaming your name and it’s all super exciting. But there was also just a lot of shots of people inside a house. And I thought, what happens with the nudity? What happens? Are you literally being seen all the time? Is someone going to watch you go to the toilet? What about showering? How does that happen? And they said, there’s absolutely no nudity, nothing explicit. And still, I was like, I can see that this would be a really super fun, exciting thing and it would take my life in a certain direction. But there was just this big enough part of me that was like, I don’t think I’ll be Prime Minister if I do Big Brother. I’m feeling like I might lose the opportunity to be considered a serious PhD student. I mean, I was coming back from, I wanted to study. I thought, look, career trajectory, I thought for me was probably in government or the un, something like that. I was studying international relations. I really thought that’s where I was going. And I was like, this is going to probably put that in jeopardy, so I’m going to say no.

And it was such a sliding doors moment because the opportunity was there for me. And so of course I watched that first season intensely. And if you are Australian, I mean, it was Blair and Chrissy and all of those people, Reggie, I

Think it was that first one. And I remember watching them all go in thinking they literally have no idea what is happening because they would’ve gone in as clueless about it all as me. They genuinely had no idea what was about to happen. And I remember watching the first Big Brother uncut, I think it was called, where it was all of the outtakes. It was the sexy stuff. It was absolutely things that I would’ve hated to be shown on tv. And I can remember my dad saying, well, I mean if you had gone in and we saw this, I’d be getting lawyers and getting you out of there. I thought, thank God I did not do this. But it’s always been something that’s just sat there going, wow, I wonder what life would have looked like if I had just said yes in that sliding doors moment.

It’s pretty crazy. I think it also shows that, yeah, we have ultimate agency over so much of our lives, and just because something presents itself, it doesn’t mean we have to actually follow through with it. I say that to my kids all the time. Options are endless and we just have to sit with ourselves and use ourselves and how we feel as the best guide to whether to pursue something or not. And sometimes we can be nervous and frightened and we need to call on bravery to move forward. And sometimes we can be nervous and frightened, and that is also enough to say no. It’s just about getting better and better at knowing when things feel right and when they just don’t feel like the best choice for us. So that is my story of almost being on the very first round of Big Brother and a very, very large sliding doors moment for me.

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