Top 11: Top Billing Presenter Search

The Top 11 left the Pilanesburg and headed back to Johannesburg. We were staying at the D’Oreale Hotel, Emperors Palace for the next few days.

Alan Ford checking in

We were swopping room mates now. Lauren and I were rooming together and we immediately started unpacking, chatting and wondering what the Johannesburg leg of the competition had in store for us.

We had dinner and then Simba, Justin, Kalysha and I went to Marc Anthony’s Bar … we danced and sang and just let our hair down … it was exactly what we needed!

A big part of being a TV presenter and especially a Top Billing Presenter is looking well groomed and camera ready. We were taken to Carlton Hair, Melrose Arch where David Gillson would style us. He decided I needed a toner to take the “yellow” out of my hair, which would automatically make my blonde richer in colour.

He gave me a moisturizing treatment, shaped my hair and added a slight fringe and then blow waved my naturally wavy hair sleek and straight. It really is incredible how good hair boosts confidence and can change a look.

 Post Make-over

 Post Make-over

 Post Make-over

 Post Make-over

I felt like a million dollars. To add to our “movie TV star” look, we were also spoilt with True Religion Jeans … let me tell you, I’ve converted! The quality and fit is incredible. We were also spoilt with beautiful tops and a pair of Armani sunglasses!

All 11 of us looked gorgeous (if we say so ourselves) and headed off to Emmerentia, where we were to have a make-up lesson by celebrity make-up artist Posh.

After some really interesting tips, it was PHOTO SHOOT TIME!

We climbed up the hill -the guys in their suits, some of the girls in the jeans and tops and some of us in our evening dresses. I wore my evening dress by Oreb and when I look at the photo’s – it looks like it could be for a cast of a hit TV series like 90210! Ha ha!

We really had fun!

 Bailey Schneider and Tawanda Chatikobo

“The Cast” 🙂

We got back to the hotel for dinner and were told to have an early night as we were going to be doing something insanely hectic the next day and that we should dress for comfort, but still in the Top Billing sense. This made me extremely nervous. What would we be doing that would be that crazy?

I didn’t have to wait long to find out. We set out in the direction of Soweto. In the distance I could see the brightly painted Orlando Cooling Towers and that could only mean one thing. BUNGEE JUMPING. I immediately felt weepy and nauseous. I have a paralyzing fear of heights. 

Orlando Towers, Soweto

It turned out it didn’t only mean one thing. It meant one of three things. Either the Bungee Jump, the swing between the towers or the Internal swing into a cooling tower. 33 stories high.

The challenge was this: As a Top Billing Presenter, you will be placed into difficult, scary situations and yet you will have to perform an excellent link. You can make the nerves work for you, but you cannot let them take over and show JUST how scared you are in your links … A TB presenter can do anything.

We were going to have our names and which activity we would be doing, pulled out the Top Billing Top Hat… we would also jump in the order we were called out.

I was shaking. All I could think is this: “I can’t do this. There is no way I can bungee jump, do the internal swing or the swing between the towers – they all involve heights. I’m going to vomit. I’m going to pass out. 33 stories high. Can’t. do. heights. If you walk away now and don’t do it, no one will blame you. Everyone who knows you, knows how petrified of heights you are and no one will judge you.”

Then new thoughts.

I have to jump and make it to the Top 8. This has been your dream since you were 16. You’ve got this far and to back away now would be a huge mistake. Don’t live with regrets. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this….OK, but if I’m going to do this, then I don’t want to go first, but I don’t want to go last … mind won’t cope by waiting for so long…. need to get it over and done with! Please no bungee jump. Please no bungee jump. I’ll do the swing if I have to.”

Ursula pulled the names out of the hat and everyone lined up in order. I was pulled out LAST and had to do the Internal Jump. I couldn’t believe it. LAST. I needed to mentally prepare for a few hours now, instead of a few minutes.

I ran to the bathroom and threw up. When I get ridiculously nervous, I vomit. Sorry for the TMI.

I know that I threw up three times before I had to actually go up.

I had burst into tears (several times) and all the contestants were just phenomenal. They all hugged me, encouraged me and kept reassuring me. At one stage, I was ready to back out again and Justin Gray pulled me aside, asked me to look him in the eyes and then asked me if I trusted him. He told me that everything would be OK. He would be right there with me and that I could do this.

Justin – if you’re reading this, I really appreciated that and I certainly needed it. Thank you.

Justin Gray

It was my turn. I was harnessed in and Kenneth and I got into the lift together.

Don’t. Look. Down.

Ken took my camera from me. (I don’t remember any of this…only the photos to prove it…Think I was so focused on not looking down.)




I got to the top and remember for a brief second that the view was quite something, but it was all very short lived as my fear started strangling me again. I tried to control my fear and my emotions. I was trembling, I was trying not to cry.

I remember Gabbi asking me to tell her what I had eaten for breakfast … just to take my mind off it. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I vomitted it all up already.

BUT it certainly helped get my mind off the task ahead.

Kenneth kept squeezing my shoulder and hand and kept telling me to not look down and to breathe Thanks Ken!!

 Struggling to keep it together … 

You can see how PALE I am, underneath the TV make-up.

It was now or never. I could back out but I would go home. That was not an option for me.

I was listening to the guys harnessing me up properly and they said to me, that they would rather BUNGEE JUMP than do the internal swing, which is what I was about to do. They said the internal jump was far scarier. GREAT. Good to know BEFORE my jump. I must have asked the guys to check my harness about 12 times.

 I was terrified…even though it doesn’t look it here! And the Oscar goes to…

It was SHOW TIME. I had to walk a plank into the dark cooling tower and then turn back to camera, say a link and JUMP.

Facing my fear…

 You want me to jump into WHAT!!??

I don’t remember what I said. I did my link and then heard them shout: “3, 2, 1…” and I expected to be pushed.

I wasn’t.

I had to step off the edge.

Every cell in my body had gone into “survival mode” … it isn’t natural to throw yourself off a cliff, a bridge, a cooling tower… When you take a step, your body automatically expects there to be ground underneath your foot. Instead I fell. I screamed but my scream was caught in my throat from the free fall. It was such a horrible feeling, free falling and seeing the cooling tower wall coming at you at such a speed. It was only when the harness caught me and jerked me up again that I caught my breath. I let out a scream from terror, fear, emotions and relief. I sounded like I was auditioning for a horror movie, but it was such a relief. I needed to let it out. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins and I really felt AMAZING afterwards. Very very proud of the fact that I had managed to do it, that I had faced my fears and accomplished something I ordinarily would never have done.

I swung down to the ground and even though I’m proud I did it, I will never do that again.

We ate lunch and got back to the hotel for more diary moments. It was also our last night together AND elimination night.

I was incredibly nervous. I couldn’t remember my link on the cooling tower. I know I did the jump, but it was more about the link…Had I completed the task? Had my nerves been too overwhelming on camera that my links weren’t good? I felt anxious and went very quiet as we waited.

Elimination time:

Wimpie Ackermann was the D.O.P (Director of Photography) who had worked with us in Soweto. He was a judge, along side Ursula Chikane and Risuna Mayimele.

I was called up along with Vanessa and JP. As soon as I heard my name, my heart sank. Wimpie started with me and said: “Bailey, you had the worst fear out of everyone. I could see your fear, I could even smell your fear…”

As he said this, my heart sank even more…the challenge was to make your nerves work, but not look like a nervous wreck … not “see the fear…”

He continued, “But when we asked you to deliver, you delivered a perfect link to camera despite your fear.”

Ursula then said, “Bailey, that shows me that you are a true professional. You are safe and the first person in our Top 8.”

Had I heard correctly? I was SAFE! I felt this rush of relief and excitement as I sat down. It was short lived though, as Vanessa and JP were eliminated. It really was getting harder and harder to see friends go.

Lauren was eliminated too and I was fighting back tears. Ursula said that Lauren is a true broadcaster and I absolutely agree.

That night we had dinner, went for a few drinks and in the morning after breakfast we all hugged and kissed each other good bye.

The Top 8 would be seeing each other again in 10 days time. IN MAURITIUS!!

How unbelievably EXCITING!!

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