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'Made' for big dreams

MEDFORD — Whitney Johnston wants to be "Made" into a professional barrel racer. There is one small problem.

"I have never ridden a horse before," the North Medford High School junior admitted Friday afternoon while waiting for her chance to try out for MTV's "Made."

Producers of the reality show were in town recruiting students brave enough to allow camera crews to follow them around while they work to achieve goals such as becoming a singer, beauty queen, class president and ... ballroom dancer?

"The show gives you the chance to try something you always wanted to do, but never imagined you'd get the chance," said North Medford sophomore Roger Keller, the ballroom dancer hopeful.

The students learned "Made" was hosting tryouts in December during a school assembly. The show scouted talent at Phoenix High School on Thursday before heading to North Medford High School's auditorium.

The chosen few are paired with "Made Coaches" who are acknowledged professionals in their fields. In past seasons, teens have received monitoring from the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg, skateboarder Tony Hawk and pro wrestler Chris Sabin.

The chance to meet a celebrity and live under the scrutiny of a camera crew for a few weeks was not the primary motivation for most of the students.

Matt Wickstrom, a high school graduate, hoped the show would bring attention to his poetry. If that didn't fly with the producers, he would be willing to pursue his other passion: music.

"If they set me up with a band, I could use my poetry with the music so it wouldn't die on the vine," Wickstrom said.

Freshman Caleb Rising was trying out to be a DJ, something he hopes to do in big city clubs someday.

"Right now I'm like a home DJ that thinks he's cool, but he's not," Rising said. "I don't care who I get paired with as long as he has the skills to teach me."

Freshman Alli Colmenero wants to show off her singing skills, but needs to conquer stage fright. She feels the show could help her get comfortable singing in front of a crowd.

"You never know what people are going to think about you until you're out there," she said.

The students were given a sheet detailing what they could and couldn't pursue. The goals must be achievable in a few weeks and not be too vague. There was no word about whether the show was recruiting at other Southern Oregon schools or when the selections would be announced.

"Made" hopefuls were called one at a time to a room behind the auditorium stage. There, they were filmed and interviewed by an MTV scout.

The process was a bit awkward for Keller. He was told to dance by himself on command.

"It was kind of weird having to dance by yourself with no music," he said.

About 25 students showed up early for the tryouts, with many more expected to descend on the auditorium after school ended.

Self-described "klutz" and "class clown" Melissa Birdsong wanted to be made into a beauty queen.

"I'm doing this because it's so far from who I really am," she said. "It would be funny if I had to, you know, do my makeup and actually try to look good before school."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

North Medford High School students, from left, Melissa Birdsong, Roger Keller and Whitney Johnston talk about their tryout for the MTV show “Made” on Friday. - Jim Craven