A question on an application for a new reality TV show for ABC asks, “What scares you the most? Why?” Insurance Investigator Dontae Mosbey replied, “Death. Can’t plan for it, not sure what happens after.” Murder turns out to be the driving force on the reality show “WhoDunnit.” Mosbey entered the luxurious Rue Manor Estate with twelve others to solve murder mysteries in pursuit of $250,000. The show places the guests in CSI situations such as inspecting the crime scenes, examining bodies at the morgue, and studying the last known whereabouts. There’s another crucial competent where the “killer” gives the guests a major clue hidden in a riddle. The clue could be the difference between life or death. Dontae unfortunately met his fate and bid his housemates a fiery farewell (What the killer called an homage to Dontae’s Inferno). I spoke with Dontae about his experience, the buzz around viewers believing that the contestants actually died and more about the never-been-done reality show.
Walking into this competition, the details given to you must have been very little. What kind of game show format did you hypothesize it was when you applied to be on the show?
Definitely not the type of game show that it turned out to be. We were given some detail into what it would be. Yet, hearing/being explained what an obstacle course will be like and then seeing/participating in it are night and day. I expected it to be 24 hour murder mystery CYA, don’t sleep the killer might get you, cameras everywhere in the house 24/7, if you get caught you’re out, cryptic messages, trap doors, random power outages and etc. Had I known what it actually was heading in, things would have turned out drastically different.
There have been articles published saying some of the viewers actually thought the victims died on the show. What would your response be to that, and do you think the show has that powerful of an effect on its audience?
In response to the people who think the deaths were real “Hi, I’m alive, follow me on FB or Twitter for further verification” haha. I think the term “reality show” itself has had that powerful of an effect on audiences. I’ve heard countless arguments over whether reality shows were real or not. This show should have, in many ways, put an end to that argument.
When Giles first walked down the stairs, it seemed like most of you (except for Melina) didn’t notice him. What was your impression of Giles?
Initially, I thought he was trying too hard to make a strong impression. haha. Slightly after that, I began to warm up to his personality. It is similar to when I was in middle school. All my friends used to play Pokemon and I’d say “Pokemon suck, only losers play or watch that show.” After that I would watch them for a while, then I secretly bought my first deck, start watching the show, knew the first 151 and was catching em all. haha. In other words, he grew on me and became an addiction!
Obviously there’s a lot you cannot disclose. If you can, share with us something “Behind The Scenes” that you found interesting.
Actually, the whole process was interesting. A show like this has never been done before, so initially there was plenty of trial and error. I was surprised by the amount of takes for a reality show to catch all the angles, by the amount of people it took to make it work, by the actual size of the mansion, by the makeup & effects team extremely awesome job and even by the humble and personable traits of the Executive Producers. Many people on set run around acting like head honchos, but the actual head honchos are the most down to earth coolest people you’ll ever meet. Oh, plus the on set food is to die for.
There’s been a lot of talk about the selection process during the “investigation phase” of the crimes. How long did it really take the guests to decipher who would go to the last known whereabouts, the morgue, and the crime scene?
It’s really, from what I remember, a 10 minute process. We talk among ourselves, quite like you see on TV, then from there we go to the locations we selected. I only did one actual investigation phase, as i’m sure you all know (lol), but my strategy (after my initial team picking strategy fell through) was to go where the fewest people were going. That would, in turn, make my information the most valuable.
That riddle for Sheri’s crime appeared to be pretty tough. What was going through your mind when everyone was frantically searching the house for the major “last clue?”
I think, since it was the very first find the clue challenge, it was overall the hardest just because no one knew what we were supposed to do. Without revealing too much, that challenge took much longer than anyone there could have anticipated or anyone watching on TV could have imagined. lol. So by the time the clue was actually found, I was just thinking “FINALLY!!!!” Plus a housemate actually shared the information of what the clue was with me, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to have me spared!
I love the part of the show where everyone states their cases. Did that seem like a nerve wrecking part of the competition because everyone was fighting for their lives?
Yes! It was actually the most nerve wrecking part of the competition for me. I paced back and forth for hours before stating my case going over what I was going to say. I take alot of flack for what I did actually say, but I’m fine with it. I made the decision alone in my room that if I was crucified for taking a gamble, which I believed at the time was in my favor, then I’d be totally fine with that.
There’s a lot of confusion on who is chosen as the next victim, but there’s a disclaimer at the end of each episode that states that each elimination is based off a written exam. Are you at liberty to clarify that a little more?
I can clarify that each elimination IS based off the written exam. The disclaimer claims the truth!
What’s the cast like off screen? What’s it like when “WhoDunnit” is in not reality TV mode?
99% of the time we are NOT allowed to talk off camera in order to preserve the integrity of the show and to allow the development of our relationships to be authentic, but boy do we LOVE that 1% haha. Sometimes it’ll drive you a little mad not being able to talk to anyone else for so long, wanting to know things but not being able to ask. The desire to communicate with those around you is a basic human nature and when that privilege is taken from you, you’d be surprised what kind of mental loops/tricks your mind will put you through.
Finally, what would you consider the biggest highlight of being on the show?
I see this as a cop out answer, but The Experience… Meeting cool people from everywhere, the Executive Producers of other big name shows and actually being the part of a scene where my character is SET ON FIRE. To me, that is a once in a lifetime experience and that is what life is all about.
Thanks, Dontae for a lovely interview! It was my pleasure.