Even though Toronto and Montreal are bigger cities, Ashley Frawley feels that Moncton’s Virgina Manser is her biggest competition in CMT Canada’s Reba’s Ultimate Fan Contest.
Between her posters, appearing in newspaper articles and on radio programs and campaigning in person around campus, Frawley has become well known on the STU campus as that girl who wants to meet Reba McEntire and isn’t above taking over the computer lab while students work on papers to ask for their votes.
But Frawley isn’t the only Frederictonian taking over the reality television competition circuit. And as local talent takes to the airwaves, support from the community has become more important than ever.
It’s something Jenn Moulton has learned first hand. The hairstylist recently returned from Banff, Alberta, where she was a finalist in CMT’S Karaoke Star. The competition saw singers auditioning in ten Canadian cities for a chance to appear on national television and a shot at $10,000.00.
Moulton auditioned in Charlottetown. She found out she made the top ten three days before the finale was set to film.
“You wouldn’t believe the calls I got,” she said. “It was friggen unbelievable. The support was so amazing and everyone was just so unbelievably proud.”
Coming together to support each other is something Moulton feels comes from the sense of hometown hospitality in smaller, close-knit communities. But in the world of reality television, the regional vote has served as a double-edged sword. While support in small communities gives local competitors a better chance against those from bigger cities, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of voting for someone just because they’re from the area.
It’s something that Musiplex’s Lloyd Merrium is aware of and cautions against.
“Really, any time someone from here starts to climb the ladder, it’s good for everyone else,” he said. “It’s good motivation, but when you’re dealing with a competition like this, you shouldn’t just vote because they’re from here. It needs to be about the talent.”
But while the efforts made by small communities to band behind their local competitors is important, it does put pressure on the competitors. It’s something Fredericton’s Andrew Bravener, who recently made the top 16 in Much Music’s VJ search, has had some experience with.
“The Daily Gleaner did an article and they posted it online where people could log in and comment on it. And instead of there being a lot of supportive comments, the comments were like “Andrew’s going to forget about Fredericton, he’s not going to remember where he’s from, everyone forgets about Fredericton,” he said. “Outside of that, the support has been great. I think that maybe it feels a little pessimistic sometimes. But you know, it’s not like I can just erase those 18 years that I lived in Fredericton.”
Frawley understands the pressure, too.
“I didn’t realize how many people would stand behind me with this,” she said. “Now I kind of feel like I have to win because people have put so much time into developing carpal tunnel syndrome voting for me.”
But while they’re all in it to win, Moulton, Bravener and Frawley all know it’s not the most important part of the experience.
“It’s taking me one step closer to what I want,” Bravener said. “Whoever’s watching, they know who I am.”
“Everyone in the competition agreed it wasn’t about the money,” she said. “It was about loving the music and getting some exposure.”
“So it doesn’t really matter that I didn’t win. I did what I wanted to do, and with everyone standing behind me, really, I’ve never felt so loved.”
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