Reality Show snags Wanship native
North Summit High graduate, T.J. Bates, had no idea his future would hinge on a chance meeting during a routine workday at Deer Valley Ski Resort.
Two years later, he is being featured on the reality show "Janice Dickinson’s Modeling Agency" on the Oxygen network, aired June 6 at 10 p.m.
"I thought it was just another rich, hot lady," he said.
He was going to college, earning his pilot’s license and working part-time at the resort for some extra cash when, Bates said, a flamboyant, charismatic woman walked through the door. It was Janice Dickinson, one of the three judges on UPN’s "America’s Next Top Model."
"She ended up calling me and said, ‘I am the world’s first supermodel and you need to be modeling. I need you to call me as soon as possible with a portfolio.’"
A couple days later he got a call from the IMG agency in New York City, one of the premier agencies in the country.
"It was Chris Forberg, the head men’s booker," Bates said.
Forberg planned on attending the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004 and scheduled to meet Bates in Park City.
"We hung out for awhile and he looked me up-and-down and said, ‘I like you, you got a great personality.’ Which is big to have a personality in this business, and then he offered me a job in New York."
After growing up in on a ranch in Wanship, Bates moved to the Big Apple in April of 2004. There he quickly experienced success. He had a 10-page spread in Marie Clair Magazine and was picked up by Bananas, the No. 1 agency in Paris.
Four months later however, Bates wasn’t fulfilled with the modeling career. He had to front a lot of the money it took to thrive in that business, and he felt more secure coming back to finish what he started.
"I decided I wanted to come back home and finish flight school; at 23 I was getting old for a modeling career, and I left New York and everyone from New York to Paris called me, telling me I made a mistake."
His father retired as a commercial pilot and Bates seemed to be traveling the same road. He finished up flight school and got a corporate pilot job for a small company in Bountiful when the stars of Hollywood called again.
"Out of the blue, I got a casting call for a reality show so I flew to L.A. for the weekend," Bates said. "Luckily I kept myself in shape but at this time I was focusing on my flying career, I was working with connections at SkyWest and this literally came out of nowhere."
At the audition he saw a familiar face Dickinson, who was in charge of casting.
"Janice didn’t look like she remembered who I was," Bates said. "And this was during filming."
He reminded Dickinson of when they met in Deer Valley and from that point on he knew Oxygen would cast him in the show, even though he didn’t know what the show was going to be about at the time.
"In the show, the Park City thing plays a big part in me being on the show my relationship with Janice."
Dickenson’s show will star 30 models, half boys and half girls. It will be similar show to MTV’s "8th and Ocean." They live together and will be filmed going to different castings and interacting with each other. According to Bates, he will be one of the stars of the program.
"I’m kind of the Casanova of the group and there’s a separate part of the show that explains that," he said.
After a month of straight filming, on May 22 they finally finished.
"It was so freaking awesome, it was a blast," Bates said.
Bates believes the show has huge potential. "They are putting a lot of money and they expect it to be the top show on the network," he said.
During his time on the show he networked with other producers and is now working on another reality show, not as a character, but in casting. His quick rise to the top has taken him by absolute surprise.
"Mainly everything that’s happening is better than anything I could have expected," Bates said. "I had high hopes for this, but where it’s led is catching me by complete surprise, it’s totally unreal.
The new show he is working on, "Bridezillas" will air on Women’s Entertainment. Bates wants to cast somebody from Utah.
He has set his sights on a future acting career. He studied acting with Rob Diamond while he was in Utah and is also working on a short film that he hopes will air at Sundance Film Festival.
"I feel so fortunate," Bates said. "I can’t believe how well this is working out, there’s nothing that’s gone wrong, knock on wood, it’s been flawless."
1999 North Summit High graduate, T.J. Bates, will star on the reality show, "Janice Dickinson’s Modeling Agency,"on the Oxygen Network. The program will debut June 6 at 10 p.m.
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