TAMPA — The teenagers came dressed in skinny jeans. They carried backpacks, guitars and photos of themselves to the cafeteria at Tampa Bay Technical High School, where a casting agent from MTV's hit series Made waited with a camera and a notebook.
The show, in its 11th season, helps teens achieve goals. Some are small goals, like asking a girl out on a date. Other bigger dreams, like becoming a professional wrestler, also get fulfilled. Producers travel to high schools throughout the country searching for daydreamers.
About 100 students waited Thursday after school. For some, it was a chance at fame. Others came in search of something more.
"I want to be made into a male model because I think it would really help me with my confidence," said Tyler Wood, 16.
Wood thinks if more teens opened up about their personal struggles and sought help, problems like suicide and school bullying would be less of an issue. Cameras or not, he plans on talking.
"Holding things in hurts more than anything," he said.
Mica Strong, 15, ended her Made audition with a smile but cried back at the table where Wood waited to hear how it went. The two friends held hands in a show of support. Strong gets bullied for being overweight and said she feels like an outsider.
"I want to feel more comfortable about my body," she said. "The coaches on Made push people to achieve their goals. If I make it, they'll help me get in shape and then I'll fit in."
Caitlin Stanley, a petite 16-year-old in dangling earrings, said she asked MTV to make her into an ice hockey player.
"People always think I'm a girly-girl, and I can't stand up for myself," she said. "I want to show them that they are wrong."
Casting agent Jay Lyons told the teens that selection depends on which student's goals best fit the show. Angel Hernandez, a junior at Brooks-Debartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa, appeared on an October episode of Made. He was made into an athlete.
"I hope at least somebody here gets picked to be on the show," Lyons told the Tampa Bay Tech crowd. "If not, I wouldn't be doing a very good job."
One by one, students went into a room where Lyons performed interviews behind a closed door. Neither a reporter nor a photographer was allowed in. He spoke to students hoping to become athletes, dancers and rock stars. He asked questions like, "How would your life change if you achieved your goal?"
Wood said being made into a model is just a means to an end. He wants to walk the halls with his head held high.
"If I'm on the show they won't see me as the guy with a personality problem," he said. "They'll see me as someone to look up to."
Sarah Whitman can be reached at (813) 661-2439 or [email protected]