Odd Jobs: Jennifer Castle

Jennifer Castle, author of upcoming YA title The Beginning of After fills us in on her craziest-ever summer job. Read on to discover the fabulous behind-the-scenes life of a Green Room Hostess on a daytime television show! Also, I know owning wild animals is illegal and dangerous and wrong, but if you don’t want to steal that tiger cub and raise it to be your friend, I don’t even know who you are anymore.

by Jennifer Castle

One summer when I was in college, my mom was working as a producer on a cheesy daytime TV talk show and she got me a gig as the Green Room Hostess. In case you don’t know, the Green Room on a TV show is a lounge where guests hang out until it’s their turn to appear in the studio. My job as the fabulous hostess was to keep guests entertained with refreshments, conversation, and the illusion that they would not be waiting there all day. I also had to make sure each guest signed a release that gave us permission to put them on the show — that was crucial.

Typically, my Green Room lineup would go something like this:
Morning: Celebrity I am too starstruck to even look at, let alone speak to. All communication done with hand gestures and stares at the ceiling.
Mid-morning: Author of the newest diet revolution/self-help book/revealing memoir. I fake great interest and eagerness to read their work.
Lunchtime: Some person who was famous for something twenty years ago, but of whom I have never heard. Must pretend to be honored by their presence.
Mid-afternoon: Grab bag of assorted fitness experts, scandalmakers, permanently up-and-coming musicians, makeover mavens, etc. “The taping is running behind but we should be ready for you within the hour.” (NOT!)
End of the day: Stand-up comic asked to come in and fill airtime with bad jokes, which get practiced on me. I master the polite giggle and offend more than a few with funny wisecracks of my own.

It was a unique job with definite moments of awesomeness, like when I got to meet my favorite sitcom actor, or when that wildlife guy Jack Hanna came in with a pair of white tiger cubs and I got to play with them all day. Then there were episodes of extreme stress, as in the time I was so nervous around a pair of porn stars that I forgot to have them sign the all-important release; they got very angry during their interview for some reason and stormed off the set, and because they hadn’t signed, there was a possibility they could sue us. My bad! That was where being a producer’s daughter kept me from getting fired.

Looking back, I realize how much that summer taught me about dealing with many different types of people — an excellent skill to have in life. It was the real world delivered straight to me, experienced a little bit at a time in a windowless room full of bagels and coffee. The weirdest summer job I ever had, but definitely the best!

Jennifer Castle is the author of the debut YA novel The Beginning of After, coming September 6 from HarperTeen. She’s also a mom, a catlady, a terrible smartass, a British comedy geek, and often lost in 80’s nostalgia. Jennifer is currently at work on her second novel to be published by HarperTeen in 2013 (or eventually).

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