During the filming of Mrs. Eastwood & Company, I've come to realize that being on a reality show comes with a whole new set of challenges and experiences. A normal day in the reality-television world starts off with someone from the crew knocking on your door before you have had the opportunity to brush your teeth and finish your first cup of coffee. After you have been mic'ed up, the cameras start rolling, and you go about your daily business. It is all pretty normal -- well, except for the crew of camera, light, and sound people following you around. I've quickly become accustomed to having people in my personal space most of the day, and I've begun to function as if they aren't even there. One day we were filming at the gym when an Overtone fan approached us and asked us what we were doing. We replied, "Nothing much, just working out." She turned and pointed to the cameras, clearly confused, and we realized that we had become completely oblivious to their very presence.
The reality show has been a dream of Dina Eastwood, our manager, since we were fresh off the boat. She believes it is one of the best ways for fans to really get to know every individual of the band intimately. In addition to creating a platform to launch our new music, it will help us reach a wide audience and get more fans, both here in America and internationally. Being part of a "cast" of so many diverse personalities makes it easy for a wide audience to identify with our individual dreams, struggles, and challenges. We often joke, "Reality television is like therapy on speed." This is because we have to face any and all confrontations head-on and work through them, whether they be personal or within the group. Ultimately, this has brought the band, Dina, and the whole family closer together, having strengthened relationships and healed a lot of personal battles.
I, for one, have learned a lot about myself and have come to terms with my innermost conflicts regarding my sexuality. Initially I did not want to reveal my sexual orientation on the show, because there were many people back home in South Africa who had yet to find out. Out of respect for my family, I wanted to keep it secret. However, my attitude changed during the filming process. After a lot of meditation on the matter, I realized that using this platform to share my journey would allow me to be true to myself; help other people in my situation see that they, too, can get through "coming out"; and educate society by demonstrating that we doesn't lose our values or moral compass upon coming out as gay. Growing up, I had no gay role models to look up to. Only when Ricky Martin came out did I grasp that I, too, could be both openly gay and successful and happy in the entertainment industry. If just one person came up to me one day and said that I'd given him or her hope, then all the personal struggles I have gone through will have been worth it.
I must say, the coming-out process was probably easier for me thanks to the tremendous support I've had from my fellow bandmates and the whole Eastwood family. From the day I came out to Dina, she has been helping me through the process. She would tell me, "Exist in your normal state!" She has helped me overcome many obstacles, including the limitations I put on myself and the fears I had regarding being myself. She guided me through the whole process and is still a constant source of inspiration and balance.
The biggest lesson that filming Mrs. Eastwood & Company has taught me is this: If you do not love yourself, you will never be able to love others the way you should. You shouldn't be too hard on yourself, especially if people don't understand or accept you; it's only a reflection of their own insecurities and fears. Be true to yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised by how it can deepen even your closest relationships. Dream big, and use every opportunity given to you, because this life is too short.
The new E! reality series Mrs. Eastwood & Company premieres Sunday, May 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!