Why We Turned Down $40,000 to be on TV

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the background of why we turned down $40,000 to be on TV:

a casting assistant found a photo of mine on instagram of me and my husband (i know…crazy! it only feeds my addiction to the ‘gram) and reached out about a reality tv opportunity. the show is about different couples at different places in their lives and relationships. some of the couples have lost their spark, some of the couples might be headed for divorce or some couples (like us) might have had a recent change to their relationship (like starting a business together).

we were really excited because hellllllo, the allure of being on TV sounds super fun! not to mention it would potentially be held in a tropical location (the beach is my other love) the money was great, and the exposure would be awesome (i was considering making all my bags and sweatshirts say ‘the new wifestyle’)!

ryan and chelsea avery thanksgiving 2014

we had a few different skype interviews with various people to share our story, talk about our relationship and who we are as individuals.

we picked out the perfect shirts that wouldn’t be distracting and look good on webcam, my hair was down and curly, my normal mascara/eyeliner make-up routine in check and my husband was freshly shaved. i felt great, he felt great and we were giddy with excitement!

those interviews went awesome – they loved our story, our little banter back and forth and how they could tell we really cared for each other. scoooore!

after the third virtual interview, the woman we were working with said we were among the top couples to be selected but she wanted us to interview with the BIG producer of the show. he was someone of high status but she said he was a great guy and we could really seal the deal with him. these were her next words to me:

her: so chelsea, i love how you’re more natural looking and don’t get me wrong, your style is great BUT for your next interview with the big guy, do you think you could look a little ‘sexier?’

me:. ummm? what do you mean?

her: i just mean like, straighten your hair, put on some more make-up. nothing too crazy, but like foundation and blush and heavier eyeliner. i mean you look great natural but i just want you guys to really impress him! so maybe like…just more “glammed” up. does that make sense? oh and do you have contacts?

(she probably meant something closer like the photo below…where i spent $100 to get 2lbs of airbrushed make-up on my skin and fake eyelashes for a wedding 3 years ago. that’s as glammed up as i get. it’s not very often nor does it feel like me.)

Chelsea all gussied up

me: well, i’m actually really happy with my hair and i don’t straighten it anymore because my hair is naturally curly so i’m going to leave it this way. no, i don’t have contacts because i wear glasses. in terms of the make-up, maybe if you said something like “look how you look when you get all gussied up like you would for a hot date night” that would come off a little better than what you’re saying to me. (yes, i actually helped her with her language so that she could better tell me how to look different and ‘prettier.’ ew.)

her: oh yeah totally! that’s such a great way to put it! okay talk to you guys soon you are are SO GREAT byeeee!

my husband was actually the first one to get really upset after we were done with the interview. he was quite frankly pissed at her for even suggesting i alter anything about the way i look. he was ready to call the whole thing off right there.

i (stupidly) fought for it. i said that it didn’t bother me as much if i thought about looking ‘prettier like on a date,’ (because hellllo, $40k was more than i ever made in a whole year!) i convinced him that we should follow it through and have the next meeting.

so we did the next interview. i kept my hair curly but added blush and pink lipgloss because that’s about as fancy i get. it went great again! they would be in touch in the next 3 days to tell us how to proceed.

a day later i started thinking about what this might mean for us as a couple and me as a woman. if they didn’t like my more ‘natural’ look during the interview process, i could only imagine the pounds of makeup they would force me to wear on the show. not to mention that my hair is regarded as less desirable than straight hair so they would burn the curls out of my hair with a straightener.

as we were talking with our close friends alison and matt about this, they brought up the great point that it’s TV…meaning they can edit it how ever they see fit because they are after dramatic, reality TV.

what if we were having an argument or conversation but they decided to splice it differently and totally misconstrue what we were saying and now all of america thinks we are having huge marital conflicts because i’m pregnant with another man’s baby and he’s been lying this whole time about his height! oh, and now everyone thinks i have naturally straight hair.

my husband and i had some more conversations around this and decided to make a pro/con list. the biggest pro was that with this money, we would have to worry a lot less about our income for the year and focus on growing our businesses without that panic of where next month’s rent is coming from. heck, we could even put a huge down payment on a house or travel to some amazing places!

turned down money

the biggest con was the lack of control we have over how we are portrayed to the viewers watching.

as you already know from the title of this article, the cons won out and we pulled ourselves from the show.

the money no longer seemed worth having to change myself physically because that would ultimately change me internally. it wasn’t worth adding stress and strain to our relationship or letting editors have their way with our reputation or relationship.

our relationship, my confidence and our marriage is not worth the money they put on it. i am however, grateful for this experience because it reminded me that i like my appearance just as it is (if you love wearing make-up and you feel good in it, more power to you!)

i also appreciated that my husband was appalled that anyone would ask me to change my looks and we connected more deeply on just how much we value our marriage, which has no price tag attached to it.


  1. Ann Snelling

    January 5, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Amen, Chelsea! There IS no price tag for a great marriage. High Fives for your well thought out decision and the why of it.

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      thanks ann! you are so right that there is no price tag for a great marriage and virtual high-five back!

  2. Melanie @ Ribbons and Rotor Blades

    January 5, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I would have said no right away, for the exact reason you stated about how they choose to portray you. They would pick the most unflattering conversations, arguments, comments, etc and use them and it’d make us look back. It’d probably showcase marital issues that aren’t even really issues. I just couldn’t do it. Especially because I feel after the show, dealing with the drama it created and the false perception it gave people, would put tension and strain on a marriage that was good and strong prior to the show. Who needs that?! You made a great decision, in my opinion. The changing your appearance was just icing on the cake. In the words of Michelle Tanner, “How rude!”

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      yeah it’s so true, melanie! it’s completely out of your hands for what they do with you and how they edit it. we also talked about how they’d make marital issues out of ones that don’t even exist-just like you said. you also get huge points for incorporating michelle into your comment. WINNING!

  3. Leanna Lindquist

    January 5, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I am proud of both you and Ryan. Your decision reflects who you are and why you are loved by so many.

    As Mark Darcy said in Bridgett Jones Diary, “I like you just the way you are.”

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      thanks leanna-i appreciate that and great quote that i also appreciate from you 🙂 it was the right decision and we will make $40k in another way!

  4. Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

    January 5, 2015 at 11:08 am

    whoa- that’s crazy!! I agree with your decision– if they were already asking you to change just for an interview, who knows what they’d do to you when it actually came down to make the show. I don’t think I could ever do anything like that– I know how terribly they splice things to make “good” reality tv and I’d be mortified to see something I said one way be skewed to look another way! And then be out there in reality tv world forever, haha.

    Good for you guys- I think you definitely made the right choice 🙂 Although, for what it’s worth, I would have totally watched!!!! 😉
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted…The Importance of Having {Cheap/Free} Hobbies

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      exactly ashley! we were joking that they’d probably make me get fake tans and boob implants-no thanks 🙂

      it’s so true that then whatever they choose to put together (or whatever comes out of my mouth while PMSing) will be out in the world forever-no thanks! glad we would have had you as a view though haha!

  5. Brittany

    January 5, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I think this is great. Don’t get me wrong, I’d tune in to watch you & Ravery on reality TV but from my obsessive “Real Housewives” watching I’ve learned that reality tv is not so great for relationships. My boyfriend and I have talked about it and decided we would never go on TV together in the “Reality TV” space because its just a recipe for disaster. Sad about the money but your relationship is obviously more important to both of you!

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      haha thanks for saying you’d watch us brittany and yeah…those ‘real housewives’ marriages and relationships seem to be crazy toxic and nuts (thanks to probably a mix of reality and editing)!

      we talked about what TV we would do like you guys have brittany and reality TV just doesn’t seem good. now if they gave us our own travel show or something like that…sign me up!

  6. Alison

    January 5, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Those of us that know you like you for YOU – curly hair and all! Your relationship and real self are worth far more than $40,000!

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      thaaaanks alison! #curlygirlsforever! and you are right…we can find other ways to make that money without it hurting our marriage!

  7. Danielle (@TheLifestylePrj)

    January 5, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Wow what a story! I would be very hesitant as well because of the lack of control about how you’re portrayed. What if they edited all the content to produce something that you guys weren’t proud of and wasn’t reflective of your business/brand? I think you guys made the right decision. Are you able to share the tv show/network that reached out to you? (I’m sorry, I can’t help but be curious!)
    Danielle (@TheLifestylePrj) recently posted…Find the Silver Lining

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      exactly what were thinking too, danielle! it’s not worth it to risk our personal or business reputations at all and i feel good about our decision. we will come up with other ways to pull that kind of money in!

      i unfortunately signed a document that says i can’t talk about more of the details of the show but it was a common network that has lots of reality TV shows 🙂

  8. Heather Hawkins

    January 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I have no idea what Nick would say if someone told me I needed to get “sexier” but I can’t imagine it would be that nice. Curly hair is totally “in” by the way. People come to me and pay 90 to 150 dollars to make their hair look like yours and I’m just a student! Way to stand up for yourselves.

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      i was mostly upset with myself that i basically helped her and covered for her while talking about how to make me ‘better.’ yuck. that’s nuts that people are wanting curls and then people will curly hair are getting blow-outs to make it straight! “the hair is always better on the other side” or something. and nicely done with solid payments, student or non student heather!

  9. Paula Howley

    January 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    1. could you possibly GET any sexier? whatevs!!
    2. silly tv people.
    3. You and Ryan rock and roll. I mean, you really really REALLY rock and roll.

    Every day I am out people compliment me on my hair and women always say they wish they had my hair. We curlies, my dear, as you know, are the lucky ones.
    I’m glad you opted out Chels- they would have torn you guys to bits. That’s their job. You and Ryan are one of the smartest couples I’ve ever met in terms of how much effort and value you put into and on your marriage. It’s too bad reality shows aren’t interested in perhaps showing how amazing getting along with your spouse can be.
    Now, cue billy Joel song “I love you just the way you aaaarrre!”

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      hahah i probably “could” paula, but i don’t really feel like it 🙂 i think you super rock ‘n roll too, paula!

      they totally would have shredded us and it would have been BAD. thanks for your kind words because we do work really hard on having a solid marriage together…it’s not always easy so we don’t need producers making it worse!

  10. Rachel G

    January 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    What an interesting experience! Glad you guys went with your guts and did what you thought you should. I probably wouldn’t have been super happy about that comment (except I hate the way I look with glasses so I’d have already been going blind for the interview, lol!). I’m sad to say Angel would most likely have gotten way too excited at the thought of me looking even remotely sexy. haha–he would have agreed with her and encouraged me, just because ‘sexy’ is so not me and he would be amused by it.
    I like to think that if any opportunity like this were to come to us we’d come up with some super secret evil plan and act totally not like ourselves, instead really, really eccentric, and have secretly already planned skits to act out when the cameras were around…I feel like most people do that–act ridiculous when on tv…
    Rachel G recently posted…The Hardest Part of Learning Mandarin

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      it was super interested to go through now that i’ve had some time to reflect, rachel! that is super smart and we should have come up with an evil plan not to be our actual selves! maybe we can call them back…ha 🙂

  11. Annette

    January 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    You birds are wayyyy to sane for Reality TV…40’s is not enough to potentially lose the relationship and turn you into something your not…And Girl, you already got it all goin on…

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      haha, thanks annette…i can get a little crazy but nothing like i’m sure they would edit it to be. you’re totally right that 40k (or any amount actually) is worth even a slight change of upsetting our relationship. thanks also for the confidence boost at the end 🙂

  12. jennifermckennasays

    January 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Bravo Chelsea and Ryan! Way to protect your marriage and your “you”
    “just as you are”– what a great way to
    strengthen your marriage!

    • chelsea

      January 5, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      thanks jennifer! it was tempting for a hot minute but nothing is worth potentially harming our marriage our changing me!

  13. Luci Loomis

    January 6, 2015 at 2:02 am

    I met you last May, 2014, in Palm Springs.
    Amazing. Amazing — two people.
    Blessing you both— Blessing your business–
    Blessing your hearts and the sincerity and genuineness
    of being —
    Deep Gratitude to you both and for you both
    for sharing your heart and soul with

    ~ Luci Loomis, Redlands.


    • chelsea

      January 6, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      ohhh plam springs was SO fun, definitely one of my favorite places we went last year luci! thank you for your kind words you shared on my blog and for reading, we both really appreciate 🙂 hope you are doing well!
      chelsea recently posted…Why We Turned Down $40,000 to be on TV

  14. Amanda Wood

    January 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Good of you guys. I think reality shows like this tear people apart more than bring them together. And that sucks. I can’t believe they actually asked you to “look sexier”! I mean wow.
    Amanda Wood recently posted…The Awesome Thing About Dogs

    • chelsea

      January 6, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      thanks amanda! it was definitely the right decision although $40k dangled in front of my mind for a whiiiiile. reality shows totally tear people apart because that is what makes good TV!
      chelsea recently posted…Why We Turned Down $40,000 to be on TV

  15. Jared Easley

    January 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    How dare you not sell your souls for the possibility of fame!

    just kidding…

    I love you guys & greatly appreciate your convictions. You will not regret this decision. Well done & great example!
    Jared Easley recently posted…How to Get Podcast Sponsors with Josh Elledge (@joshelledge)

    • chelsea

      January 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      i know jared, shocking really. i was like “but then i can buy all the things i ever need to start a podcast and see guster and jared will be impressed!” 🙂 thanks for your support and keep on helping us starve those doubts sir!

  16. Cynthia A. Brown

    January 6, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Great post Chelsea Avery, it was a wonderful reminder of what is important in your marriage. Plus $40,000 does not go as far as you think it would, remember Uncle Sam. $20,000 is not worth the magnifying glass on you, Ryan and your marriage. Your natural look, totally rocks as well. In the glam photo you shared, you did not look happy at all.

    • chelsea

      January 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      ohhh good point, cynthia! it’s not like i could have even held on to all that cash (though i might have requested it in the form of $1 bills so it felt like more). thanks for your sweet words about my ‘natural look’ it is where i feel most comfortable!

  17. Jim Key

    January 7, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Good for you! I’d be willing to bet $40K that their edits would’ve portrayed things different from your reality, and they’d have conjured up some sort of controversy. After all…normal, happy relationships don’t produce ratings like sensationalism and scandal. (Just look at all the train wrecks that have been on “reality” TV…)

    You did the right thing…kudos!

  18. Vivien

    January 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I’m curious, perhaps the “Big Guy” would have liked a more natural look over a glammed up look? How does she know with 100% accuracy?

    I find it interesting how individuals will often say something and never seem to catch on as to how much it stings for the person for whom the words are intended for. (Makes me wonder what words I’ve said that have accidentally hurt someone too…oh dear). Just the other day I was talking to a guy when he mentioned he was going to Vegas for a trip. When I told him I had never been to Vegas he just said “oh, wow, you’ve been too sheltered.” My thoughts were, I had said I had never been to Vegas. I never said I had never traveled.

    I think you and Ryan did a good thing by turning down the offer. I believe it will only make way for something better down the road.
    Vivien recently posted…Trusting in the Relatable

    • chelsea

      January 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      that’s a good point to consider too, vivien! i can only assume they talk to so many people every day that maybe they had a feel for ‘what works’ on reality tv but gross either way.

      you bring up another good point about how powerful our words can be. i heard a quote along the lines of “it doesn’t matter how you intended it, it’s how it was received.” so weird and kind of offensive that someone would assume that you’re too sheltered because you haven’t been to vegas! for the record…i personally would not choose to go to vegas as a trip because the party scene is not my scene. thanks for sharing

  19. Amanda

    January 8, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Wow, what an amazing story! It would have been awesome to watch you on TV, and I bet it was so hard to turn it down, but you did the right thing. Money is motivating, but it can also change us, and that was braze of you to stick with your gut. I do bet that they would have gone even further while filming, so that’s definitely a good thing. Our marriages gotta come first, even over a cool opportunity and money sometimes.
    Amanda recently posted…Golden Vlog: January

    • chelsea

      January 8, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      totally amanda because $40k is not a small chunk of change! you are absolutely right that our marriages have to come first, even when that means turning down interesting opportunities!

  20. Courtney!

    January 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Wow! I don’t know what I would have done. I think I would have went for it on like a game show (I’ve always dreamed on being on one of the Real World Challenges on MTV, haha), but I don’t think I could ever consciously sign us up for a couple based show. Too personal and too much to lose if things were misconstrued or misleading. I think you made a good choice!
    Courtney! recently posted…Staying on Track in the New Year!

    • chelsea

      January 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      yeah i agree…if it was for some game show or something else, then maybe but when it has something to do with our real life marriage and we don’t get control over it-no thanks! thanks for your comment courtney!

  21. Charles Mencke

    January 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    So glad you didn’t succumb and “sell out”! Way to go, you made the correct decision.

    • chelsea

      January 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      thanks charles! it’s going to take a lot more than that to sell out…just kidding NO selling out allowed!

  22. Rich Hopkins

    January 8, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Trust me – even a documentary can be reality TV in the end – you made a great choice.
    Rich Hopkins recently posted…Toastmasters Saturday: The New Year That Almost Wasn’t

    • chelsea

      January 8, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      good point, rich! i suppose most everything in the hands of the entertainment or even ‘documentary/educational’ fields get a lot of other people’s approval and ‘pizazz’ before it goes out!

  23. Lindsay Ropella

    January 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Good for you for standing up for yourself! I’m sure walking away from that money and experience was not an easy thing to do, but I’m sure you made the right decision. And that lady – eww! Sounds like a total B to me. 😉
    Lindsay Ropella recently posted…New Year Resolutions for Newlyweds

    • chelsea

      January 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      you’re totally right, lindsay! it was hard to walk away from at first but after talking more about it, it was totally the right decision!

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  25. LIndsay @ The Wife in Training

    January 22, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I think you made the right decision, for what my two cents are worth. How cool that they wanted you, that’s super awesome! But you’re beautiful and perfect and wonderful just the way you are, and for the record I would in fact pay $40k to have your natural curls. Kudos to you guys for being true to yourselves and strong in will. I admire y’all’s character in such a difficult decision!

    • chelsea

      January 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      thanks lindsay! it was need that they were interested in us and then a little less neat that they weren’t necessarily interested in the ‘real me.’ i will happily share my curls with you if you give me your eyelashes?! i think we could have something going…