Last week we had a look at the brand new reality show “Finding Magic Mike” on HBO Max and its ten finalists. This week, we delve a little deeper into the process and the challenges faced by the entire cast in Part 2 of our interview. Catch up on Part 1 here.
Inside "Finding Magic Mike" on HBO Max Part Two
Besides the obvious step outside their comfort zones, “Finding Magic Mike” also posed personal challenges unique to each finalist. For Austin Arizpe, the difficulties were a personal battle. “I think the most challenging thing for me was getting out of my own head, especially after having a career-ending injury. I was really worried about if I could keep up with the choreography getting progressively harder,” he explained. Jiovanni Teheran-Jones felt he was his own worst critic, “Getting in my own head. I would compare myself to the Pros on the show and not feel adequate enough in order to perform the way I wanted. I had to learn to love myself and allow myself to mess up, and be ok with it.”
Most of the finalists, like Adonis Frank, had no prior dance training whatsoever. “The show was a mental game all around, so it was challenging not counting myself out like I normally do. I normally compare myself to how amazing everyone else is and see myself as not worthy. However, the support from the creative team and the mikes was just overwhelming it felt like I belonged. Learning the routines was tough, and the lack of sleep and long shooting days; however, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world at this point.”
The choreography was also a challenge for Thântrọng, “The most challenging thing was learning the dance moves. I have never taken dance lessons before unless you count square dance. Learning to dance was something I always wanted to do but was afraid to try.”
Negron felt similarly about the athletic challenges. “The most challenging part for me was keeping up with the athletics. Before the show, I used to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill and watch other people work out. On the actual show, I was finally learning how to use my muscles and my body. Had I done that before the show, I think I would have had an easier time getting used to the rigorous Magic Mike routine,” he told us.
Others like Harris and Bryan cited the isolation during the competition (to ensure confidentiality and prevent spoilers) to be one of the challenges. “The most challenging part of this experience had to be the isolation from all my friends and family. They had to take our phones because they didn’t want anybody spoiling the show, which is understandable, but I love talking to my friends and my mom almost every day. They get me through a lot of the day, so for them to not be a phone call away was tough.”
A recurring theme throughout each episode was vulnerability which in itself was a significant challenge for many of the finalists. “Everyone has their own reserve to themselves, but then we threw cameras in their faces and asked them to tell us their deepest darkest secrets,” Broadlick explained, “So it’s pushing people to the limits and seeing if they can be vulnerable.” “And in front of women,” Faulk added, “We brought in all these live women all the time, so they’ve asked to do these strange things—not all dance-related sometimes.”
While clearly there can only be one true winner of this competition, it was important for the showrunners that nobody leaves feeling they had lost. “I feel like every guy on this show kind of won,” Faulk told us, “It doesn’t feel like “oh you lost” it’s like “oh you had a journey and you won, and you developed this part of yourself, and someone made it to the end.” “I think they all felt that we believed in them, even making it to be one of the ten guys on the show. And when people believe in you, you can grow and glisten and be happy and love yourself,” Rossiter added. “If no one believes in you, you won’t shine. So it was just asking them to shine.”
So did the finalists feel they accomplished what they set out to achieve? “I wanted to meet some amazing people, step outside of my comfort zone, and try something I’ve never done before,” Klass said. “I was able to achieve all of that and more. The Production team and choreographers were so amazing to work with; I feel like I learned so much about life in the few months we filmed for.”
Bryan echoed the sentiment, “I had little to no expectations going into this show. I was very nervous about being so vulnerable and open for everybody to see, but I’m glad I did because I learned so much about myself and grew from this whole experience.”
While exposing their insecurities and vulnerabilities might have proven difficult, some contestants like Harris have considered these challenges rewarding. “The most rewarding part of this experience for me has been that I have had to confront a lot of my own insecurities, and through that, I have been able to remind myself that the only opinion about me that should matter is my own. No one will see it from watching the show, but I truly believe that I accomplished exactly what I set out to do,” Ross explained to us.
Others, like Negron, found the challenges rewarding as well, “The most rewarding part was surprising myself and keeping up with men that are five times my size,” he told us. Frank felt similarly, “The most rewarding was actually seeing that I can do it, you know, actually learning the routines and completing and accomplishing something I set out to do. Also, the brotherhood I received from my fellow mikes a feeling I could never replace.”
Merlin expressed gratitude over the new friendships formed, “The most rewarding was the friendships I made along the way.” Klass also found the new connections to be one of the rewards of the experience, “I had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the most talented dancers and actors in the industry. From Alison and Luke with the choreography and the professional magic mike live dancers to the entire production team, we were always surrounded by passionate minds, and it was really a motivating experience,” he said.
Dutch agreed, “The most rewarding thing was continuing the brotherhood from our cast outside of the show. From the production crew to the creative team, everyone was such a pleasure to work with and some of the most creative people I’ve ever met.”
Friendship and Success
While similar reality shows have been commonplace in the past, they often focused on female dancers and the competitive aspect versus support and friendship. While the basis of the show is competition, the interaction between finalists is warm and supportive throughout. The ten finalists were reunited last weekend for a press conference and visit to “Magic Mike Live.” “It was absolutely amazing to get to see these guys again. I honestly love them with all my heart! I can truly say that these are some of the most genuine, kind and caring guys I’ve ever met. They’re going to be my brothers for life,” Arizpe told us. Klass echoed the feelings, “Over the two months that we filmed for, the 10 of us became very close, alongside the production team and choreographers. We were able to reconnect and watch the show together, which was a great end to the process.”
The sense of brotherhood is definitely noticeable in the show and felt among the finalists in real life—it was also palpable during the press conference as the finalists reunited. “Seeing all the guys, though, was great!” Bryan told us. “A big ol family reunion. Just to be able to experience the whole show beginning to end with them made it that much better. All those guys deserve the world!”
Harris expressed the same sentiment, “Getting to reunite with the cast and crew was something that I have been excited about since I left the show. It is almost impossible to describe the love that we all share for each other and how positively impacted my life has been by each and every person that I went through this journey with.” Merlin agreed, “It was amazing to see everyone in one spot this weekend. The top ten, the creative team, I’m sure it won’t happen again for a while so it was fun!”
So would the finalists be willing to do another reality competition given the experience they had? The responses from all ten of the finalists were extremely positive. “I definitely will be and have been pushing myself to get better every day,” Merlin told us. “So if the show or the new movie were to reach out, I’d love to work something out. Maybe I’ll be ripped by then, who knows!”
“Competing? Maybe not,” Negron said, “Hosting? Absolutely. If the people want more, though, I’d come back and win season 2 without a doubt.”
Teheran-Jones is definitely game for another round. “ABSOLUTELY! In a heartbeat. I would not even think twice. As a matter of a fact... LETS GO NOW!”
“Trying is actually the hardest thing about this show. Anything that you try to do, you make the decision inside yourself, and that’s one step. The next step is telling someone that you’re trying to do this thing,” Rossiter mused, “THese guys told all of us, a bunch of strangers, then they told an audience full of women and men that are attracted to them and now they’re about to tell the USA that they are trying to change. The courage that it takes to do that! Be honest with yourself, look at yourself in a critical way but also a loving way and try to be proud of who you are and work hard at a goal. Achieve it or don’t achieve it and die trying, and you’ll get a lot of respect.”
“Everybody of every shape and size and color is beautiful and sexy and to truly just be yourself because that’s the best thing you could ever do,” Faulk added. Broadrick concluded, “Be magical. Everyone is magical.”