Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Reality of Reality TV, Interview With Christa Stephens
Mike Furches (MF): Christa & Dennis tell us some about who you are?
Christa Stephens (CS): My full name is Christine Antoinette Stephens. Ever since this 4th episode, everyone thinks my last name is Pista (laughter between us,) but it’s Christa Stephens and although my full name is Christine, I go by Christa. Do you want me to tell you my age and stuff?
MF: Nah, just tell us a little bit about what you do, what you do on the show and maybe a little bit about life before the show.
CS: Okay. Before I joined the scene here at JKK Security I was actually in school for Cosmetology and had just graduated. The guy called for Chief asking me to come be a secretary for her to help with the show. At the time we didn’t really know if it would happen or not but it was in the works. I still went on to get my Cosmetology license and what not. I did come here to work and I’ve been here now for about a year and a half. Like I said, I’m the secretary and pretty much most of my job title is to answer the phones, help out with billings and things like that. I also help keep the place clean whenever it’s not too bad in another bathroom. (laughter again, sounding like Chief also laughing in the background) That really kind of raps it up for what I do. (Christa is still laughing, her mannerisms here indicate how real she is, with her thick southern drawl she is friendly and giggly, but in a very pleasant way) We all just kind of joke around and what not.
MF: I appreciate that: Dennis, how about you?
Dennis Croft (DC): I’m the operations manager Mike. I control all of the operations of the security. I deal with the clients and the employees for training and placement for the officers and specific clients. I also make sure that everybody is doing their job properly.
MF: The article I am doing is titled; The ‘Reality’ of Reality Television. I have seen in a number of interviews and so forth where you guys don’t refer to Small Town Security as a Reality Show. How do you describe the show?
DC: A reality show?
CS: We describe it as a Dramity. It’s also been worded as a docudrama. Those are the two primary words to describe it, but I say it’s a Dramity a lot. I think we lose the word reality because in my personal opinion is if you see a lot of these reality shows and you can tell there having a fake fight. Their just horrible freaking actors! You know what I’m saying? With us, we’re real, 100%.
DC: Our show is unscripted and it’s a Dramity simply because there’s funny moments in life and there’s a lot of drama in life and you’re seeing that combination.
MF: Was AMC the one that moved you in that direction or was that something you guys kind of insisted on yourself?
DC: You know what? We are who we are and we haven’t been altered in any way. What they are getting is us on a normal day in day to day life.
MF: What is it that makes Small Town Security different than other reality programs?
DC: You know as far as a docudrama, I don’t think this show or this type of show has ever existed in television history, other than possibly a documentary itself. It’s true to its description of animal behavior or something like that. We are basically a show where the cameras are watching the animals in their environment. (laughter) We just happen to be human. That’s pretty much it except we run a security company. The visuals are what they are and you are seeing our life in our environment.
CS: And the office! Dennis is very well spoken but I want to add that there is life outside the office. We do have a lot of security guards and it’s not play time. The Lieutenant runs as the operations manager, taking care of the security guards and what not. We have 60 plus guards so that is something I would kind of like to be known. That is, that when it comes time for work, we mean business. It’s not like that outside of the office.
MF: Your lives have to have changed since the program has started airing?
MF: It hasn’t changed?
SC: No (laughter)
MF: So are people recognizing you in your travels or at all?
CS: Oh yeah! I mean as far as that goes we’re only 4 episodes in right now and we’re really just now getting our fan base. We’re on facebook and all, and Dennis and I have had a lot of people talk to us on there. Things are really picking up, but as far as us being us…, no, we’re going to be who we are and nothing has changed. People stop by here and some of them just want to turn around and leave and others come in and relax, and were just like, come on in, what’s up? We talk to them. In other words, we’re not turning into a bunch of snooties, or where we’re like better than you just because we’re on TV, if that’s what you mean by have we changed.
MF: While both of you have kind of answered this, but from what you’ve seen on screen, is what is being presented an accurate presentation of who the two of you really are?
CS: Yes, 100%
MF: So the producers are doing a good job of making sure that you are edited, and represented in a fair and honest way?
DC: Yes, in matter of fact, I’m in awe of how condensed they have to make it with all of the material they did shoot, and then get the true essence out of each individual in putting it into your viewing eyes.
MF: That’s great to hear. Christa, I’ve seen every episode so far and in the last episode it explored your efforts to become a private investigator. How is that progressing and are you going to be content in being a secretary or will the show continue to show your efforts at being an investigator.
CS: I certainly want to pursue it but I’m going to primarily be in the office. Keith and I have discussed me and what I am doing, but again, I am primarily in the office. If a case comes up where a woman is needed that’s what my training is for. If we need a female for whatever reason to go out in the field and do the work, then I will be licensed and be able to do something.
MF: This is for the both of you, but it is evident that the office is a fun place to work, that you all get along, you care for each other. That is all clear from the representations we see portrayed on screen. The reality is you are a security company and there has to be some level of stress and difficulty. How do you handle that and will those types of things be shown on the show?
DC: While a lot has happened I don’t know much of it was shot and in those critical moments. As far as what is going to be used, I don’t know what’s going on with that. I guess I have a tendency of run and going out a little bold to take care of some business to help concentrate when things like that happen. I do have the tendency to do that, I have really been unaware of the camera’s following me.
CS: Same here. We have gotten accustomed to the camera’s being there. It’s like Mike said from the beginning. Mike being the producer, one of the main producers, ‘We’re flies on the wall. You go on about your business, do what you do, we’re a fly on the wall.’ None of us are camera shy, and really, we act like they’re not even there.
DC: We run around drunk sometimes. (laughter)
CS: Yeah, there are plenty of times that things aren’t all that clear in the office and we’ve taken out a camera man or two.
DC: Been there. (more laughter)
CS: Again, we are who we are and I believe they’ve done a wonderful job.
MF: The way I found out about the show is that I love Breaking Bad. I had seen all of the trailers and teasers for the show so I thought I would go ahead and watch this because there hasn’t been anything that like looks at a small town security office and it would be kind of cool to see. To be totally honest, for the first 20 minutes of the program I really didn’t know what to think. Then in that first episode there is a reveal or epiphany moment regarding you Dennis. Don’t take this wrong or let it get to your head, but I think that moment may have changed Reality Television as we have known it.
DC: I believe it.
MF: There has been a great deal of praise about that, about your willingness to come out in regards to being transgendered. Can you tell us some about that decision and that moment in the program?
DC: You know that was really a hard thing for me to do. I was okay to do it, but sitting there watching the television brought all of those feelings back. That, the decision making and how right it was for me. It was something I was willing to do because I knew it would be good for the show and that show is for Chief. So, I did it for Chief. I also know it’s going to help a lot of people.
DC: You’re welcome.
MF: What is your primary hope for the show, Christa or Dennis either one? Regarding the program and your stories?
CS: I know that for me personally, I just want to make the people laugh. Chief does to, me and her are kind of on the same page. We’re the loud ones I guess. (laughter) You know, I just want to make the people laugh. I like playing pranks and stuff and laughter is good for you. You know, you only live once, so live. That what it’s about, I don’t care for these people that are talking crap about the show, me or whoever, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that’s fine. For those that do like it, those that are saying like, it’s so funny, it’s so funny, that makes me feel good because as far as I’m concerned, I’m not showing off for the cameras or anything, that’s me! I just want everyone to like me for me. Enjoy the show, like you said it is not like any other show. It is real.
MF: Dennis, what about you?
DC: You know, every family, every business has individuals who are unique and particularly is an avenue to display to the world that you can be yourself, be professional, do a good job, and still be yourself and have fun and enjoy life. You have your problems, you have your good points, your fun times and things are outrageous sometimes. Our lives are outrageous sometimes; sometimes they’re very tense, sometimes they’re very upsetting. So this show kind of blends everything like that together. When it’s shown this way, I think that anybody and everybody can at some point relate to the show.
MF: Are lessons that society can learn from the show?
DC: Yes, if not lessons, at least discussion points for their lives.
MF: What would some of those be?
CS: Being true to yourself!
DC: Being who you are and not being afraid.
CS: Right! You know, a lot of people try to be someone that their not. You have certain people who act like their lives are perfect. I don’t care who you are, everyone, whether you’re married or not or what not you get in a fight with your spouse, you have your moments for this and that. It’s just that we’re willing to put our lives out there. It isn’t that we don’t care or nothing like that but the point I am getting at is that with us being together, we are like a family in a sense. We’re willing to put this on film and not really care about what people think. We just want people to learn from it. We want them to be like, it’s okay to come out and be someone, be who you are.
DC: I think I’ve said everything that it is for me.
MF: I’ll close it with this, I have seen the comments of some, but would say that you are who you are, and your willingness to encourage people to be who they are a very admirable thing. From my perspective, I don’t think you are an embarrassment at all to anyone. For those that need an encouragement to be who they are, you are an inspiration. I appreciate your willingness to take the time to me about your program.
CS: We appreciate you as well Mike.
DC: I feel sorry for the ones that are embarrassed!
MF: Me as well Dennis
DC: It’s just that they are hiding their own self; they’re not even seeing who they are. They’re denying even who they are. They’re not only putting themselves in a box, they’re putting themselves in a mental cage.
MF: Well it will be kind of nice for some of those folks to see an article written by an outsider that sees the benefits of the show. Maybe they will see that not all of the people from across the country see the show the way some people think they do.
If ever in the area I would love to visit, to stop by and say hey. It would be great to meet you in person. Thanks again for the time, I really appreciate it. Now in that you deal in security services, stay safe.
DC: Thanks to you very very much and we look forward to seeing you if you make it down this way.
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