Former ‘Lofter’ upbeat since 24-hour live TV show ended
One day she’s sending off résumés and demo tapes to television networks, the next she’s licking stamps and mailing out medical school applications.
Heather Basciano is keeping her options open.
Summer’s almost over and the 24-year-old Torontonian is making the most of her extended vacation, mostly catching up with friends and pounding the pavement – hoping to catch a break.
She used to be a “Lofter,” on camera 24/7 for the whole wired world to see, working as a host on the Internet reality-based television station U8TV.com.
The gig was supposed to last for a year, but ended abruptly in late June when the network pulled out, canceling the show U8TV: The Lofters and shutting down the U8TV.com Web site, leaving Basciano and her eight roommates without a job.
Now the bubbly blonde is still trying to find out where she belongs and what she wants to do, without a camera trailing her every move.
“Six months living like that and some old habits are hard to break,” she says in an interview.
“At first it was hard for me to not keep checking on my invisible microphone and (to not) keep looking around to the side to check if the camera was looking at me.”
Wiser from the experience, she admits to missing the novelty factor and semi-celebrity status that came with the job, but at the same time welcomes the return of her privacy.
“I am thrilled to be back to normal and get started on my real reality right now,” she says.
More than two months out of the loft, she’s still unemployed, but not too worried. She knows something will fall into place.
Instead of filling her days hosting shows about love, news, music, life and entertainment, she spends her time surfing the Internet, browsing classified ads and networking.
She’s also taking a couple of acting and improvisation classes to hone her skills.
And if it nothing pans out soon, she’s considering packing up and moving to Los Angeles this fall.
“I’m going to go and try and get an agent,” she says.
“I’m not expecting anything, but it will be an adventure and if something happens, great.”
Her adventurous outlook explains why she’s gushing about a book she just read, Whoever Makes The Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation, by Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes.
A business management book, the authors reason that while some failure is an inevitable part of the road to success, it actually may aid in the process of achieving it. They’re encouraging readers to take chances and learn from their mistakes.
“This book is totally the way I live,” she says. “I just picked the book up off the shelf and couldn’t put it down.”
A Queen’s University life science and biology graduate, Basciano is still a newcomer to the entertainment business.
After giving up a job as a pharmaceutical rep to take the job as a Lofter, her six-month stint was among her first experiences on camera.
“I took a huge chance. I threw away a really good career, a company car, a two-bedroom apartment and lots of money,” she says of her decision to become a Lofter.
“It was scary throwing that all away and doing something so ludicrous, but then all of a sudden I realized that it would open up so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had before.”
Her mother thinks it was a huge mistake, but Basciano doesn’t see it that way. She’s realized she likes acting and hosting, and if it doesn’t work out, she still has her education to fall back on.
She’s also learned she has strong opinions and 24 years of experiences to share with others.
As a Lofter, Basciano never dreamed how powerful her voice would become as a tool to help others.
“People would ask me advice about everything, ranging from what they should do about their husband cheating, to how do they subtly ask for a raise at work, to detailed disparities of depression and confidence issues,” she says.
Viewers found comfort in the fact that Basciano has her own quirks and problems, which she never shied away from sharing. Of all the shows she hosted, she received the most feedback from a series recounting her experience being raped as a teenager.
After those shows aired, women started sending her e-mails detailing their personal stories and commending her for her bravery. The e-mails never stopped coming. Basciano guesses in six months she received about 7,000, each one of which she responded to.
Sitting in her new bedroom earlier this summer, staring at the walls of the uptown apartment she now shares with her two roommates, she says she misses the type of interaction she had with viewers and the opportunity to help others.
She’s sad that U8TV is over, but proud for taking such a big chance.
“I figure if you have the opportunity to do something in your life that you’ll probably never do again, then just do it … This was my one year to push the envelope and really explore my creative side.”
Now she’s looking to the future, gearing up to pounce on whatever opportunities cross her path.