San Mateo resident hopes for her big break on 'Oprah' 

The hard work is over for Vanessa Vasconcelos, but that doesn’t mean the sweating is done as the San Mateo resident tries to attain her dream job.

The 22-year-old could learn any day if she is one of the final 40 contestants for Oprah Winfrey’s “Your Own Show.” Voting ended July 3 and the top five online entries will join 35 picked from open casting calls.

“Even if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, it has been great exposure for me,” she said. “I now know the process of making a reel and promoting myself.”

Vasconcelos developed her interest in media at the young age of 10, when she worked for a morning radio show, the “Doghouse,” on KYLD-FM, better known as Wild 94.9, in San Francisco.

“Originally, they were looking for a younger person to open the show, but the position evolved into a younger person’s perspective on current events,” Vasconcelos said. “Later, I started falling in love with theater and began feeling more comfortable in front of the camera. I eventually wanted to combine my two passions.”

The contest hosted several casting calls, but none in San Francisco, so Vasconcelos had to rely on a three-minute video submission. Luckily, she works as a production assistant on the KGO (Ch. 7) show “The View from the Bay” and was able to use the show’s set and cameras.

She also enlisted the help of Spencer Christian, current co-host of “View” and former weatherman for “Good Morning America,” to appear as a co-star in her demo reel.

“She was amazingly poised, confident without being obnoxious,” Christian said of Vasconcelos’ demo reel. “She can think on her feet and ad lib, something that people with years of experience are unable to do. It’s raw talent, she has
it all.”

Christian said Vasconcelos possesses a strong work ethic and is extremely driven. Ever since working on the radio show 12 years ago, she has known exactly what she wanted.

“It is my dream to host an informative, entertainment-oriented talk show,” Vasconcelos said.

In total, there were 9,504 submitted auditions for the show that will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network in January. Vasconcelos is currently in the top 150, but the results of voting will narrow the contestants to 40.

“No announcements have been made, and so far people have not been notified if they won,” Vasconcelos said. “So now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that they like my audition.”

The next big thing

Thousands of people entered to win Oprah Winfrey’s “Your Own Show” contest.

5: Finalists to be picked from online entries
35: Finalists picked from open casting calls
122,474: Votes for Vanessa Vasconcelos’ video
12,387: Views of Vasconcelos’ video
1: Person who will win the contest

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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