Thursday, March 20, 2008

Top of the Class At Another 20 Year Reunion...

With the 20th anniversary season of The Real World hitting the air just in time for Sweeps (May 21) and the previous seasons' first Real World Awards show coming to MTV on April 2 (and considering most showed up for said red carpet looking unidentifiable), I have decided to take a look at some of my favorite past RW-ers* and see what they've been up to since leaving the MTV limelight. I am highlighting the one stand-out from every season since I began watching (which was only in 2000; I didn't have cable TV as a kid, remember?).

Sadly, this list does not start off too well, but I'm sure it will pick up (it has to, right? MTV couldn't possibly have cursed everyone who has crossed its cameras...), as my favorite from RW: New Orleans, David Broom, who became famous on his season for being the one who didn't cause controversy or upset amongst the group, wanted to stay in the spotlight in a modeling career but ended up there four years after his season ended for an arrest that would make Eliot Spitzer shake his head in shame (David's hooker of choice was of the toothless, cracked-out, under $20 variety). Though he has since displayed his moving vocal talents in an episode of Chappelle's Show, the stigma of his record must have been too much for him because he has retreated into anonymity in Chicago. Rumor has it he works as a doorman at the Ritz-Carlton.

I haven't seen Mike "The Miz" Mizanin (RW: Back To NY) since Christmas 2005 at the Grove. He was shopping with some other ex-MTV "stars" who shall remain nameless because they are far from my favorites and therefore undeserving of being mentioned here, now. That year marked his last appearance on a Real World/Road Rules Challenge, as he was already making the jump to full-time professional wrestling with the WWE, something which he said he wanted to do way back when he first appeared on the small screen. And unlike many other RW alumni who call themselves actors but never actually have roles in anything, Mike is making his dream come true: he also appears on the WWF Smackdown! and shares the Tag Team Championship title and belt with John Morrison. Hell, the kid even has his own action figure!

Though I actually only caught a few eps of RW: Chicago, I guess I have to talk about Kyle Brandt who spoke openly about wanting to become a politician on his season but then moved out to L.A. to become a soap opera actor. Far cry, my man; far cry. Though he left Days of our Lives in 2006, he has continued to pursue acting, and he will next appear in the indie Broken Windows alongside Larisa Oleynik, Jennifer Hall, and another soap alumn, Jason George.

Ah, Vegas... who can I talk about from RW: Vegas? During the season, the only cast member I felt I could relate to even a little bit was Irulan, but since the airing of Reunited: The Real World Las Vegas Reunion mini-series, I was saddened to see that most of the immaturity that shone during the early twenty-somethings initial season was still at the forefront some five years later. In fact, the only cast member who seemed to be making something of herself at all was Brynn Smith, who appeared to be the youngest emotionally the first time around, making herself known as the fork-throwing bar dancer. Brynn expressed trepidation about returning to the suite because of just how different her life is now, especially comparatively. She married the guy she was dating during her season, Austin Cain, and they live far away from La La Land with their two little boys.

Mallory Snyder (RW: Paris) always seemed to be a "down home girl" who was born to be in front of the camera. During her season, she caught my attention due to her striking physical resemblance to my then on-air host (and current reality TV star), Alexis Jones. Though she didn't get the guy in the end (Ace went on to date RW: San Diego alumn Cameran after meeting her on a Challenge), she did get the career... at least for a little while. Flipping through one of my mother's Avon campaigns, I did a double-take, surprised that Alexis wouldn't have told me she got a modeling gig with the company for which my mother used to work. Upon closer inspection, though, I saw that it was in fact Mallory who graced the cosmetics catalog page; and she has had other such gigs, appearing in back-to-back Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues and most recently in Self Magazine.

Jamie Chung became famous during RW: San Diego for being the only cast member to immediately take notice of the sexual assault incident (oh excuse me, the alleged sexual assault) and do what she could to help the girl get the proper help safely. She has since taken less noble roles as an Under Five in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, CSI: NY, and Days of our Lives. She can next be seen in the live-action adaptation of Dragonball (same title) due out in 2009.

Looking at a photo of the RW: Philadelphia cast, the only one (other than MJ) I remember is Landon Lueck, so I know that season was the beginning of the end of my love aff-- oh, who am I kidding? my mild interest in the show. Known for wandering around the cold east coast house shirtless, Landon has shown off his athletic physique professionally as an underwear model in recent years. He also tested his acting chops in the 2006 film Open Mic'rs and has performed as a country singer, touring with fellow MTV-reality star, Nick Lachey.

Lacey Buehler won me over during RW: Austin for taking charge of and treating very seriously the documentary project the roommates were given as their assignment, despite Nehemiah's vehement claims that he was "the film guy" and wanted to work in that industry professionally when he left the house. She was the self-proclaimed levelheaded and opinionated one down south (and her actions on the show did back up those adjectives), who wasn't a drinker or a partier in general. It's really no surprise that in researching this blog, absolutely no information could be found on her other than a two-year-old article (it came out right when the season finale did) about the hate mail she got for being portrayed as a backstabber. Presumably Lacey is back in Florida, living the quiet, unassuming lifestyle she did before the show.

Jose Tapia (RW: Key West) won me over from his audition video, and he proved himself to be one of my favorite "characters" of all time with his sweet smile, laid back demeanor, and independent spirit. It's still hard to say why someone as low-key as Jose went on a drama-filled program like The Real World, which is notorious for featuring high maintenance individuals. Already a businessman when he went on the show, he has continued down that path and in 2007, he started his own real estate investment firm. Jose has also leant his name and fame to the Get Out The Vote cause and has dabbled in writing music.

I watched about five minutes of RW: Denver-- and I never tuned into RW: Sydney at all-- because at first glance I could tell these new kids were all just clones of each other, and their gorgeous spread had become a glorified frat house. When Mary-Ellis Bunim got the idea for The Real World: a social experiment where seven strangers from all walks of life are picked to live in a house, work together, and see what happens when they "stop being polite and start getting real," somehow I think she envisioned more of Pedro's raising awareness of HIV and AIDs and less of Trishelle's drunken make-outs. Though I don't have high hopes that RW: Hollywood will take the show back to where it needs to be on a socially conscious level, a girl can dare to dream, can't she?

*Those who have appeared on a recent Challenge were not eligible for consideration.


uhhuh said...

I saw a thing about Lacey at the Real World Awards Bash. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida and has her own hair salon called Lacey May Salon. Jose gets his hair cut there!

danielletbd said...

Oh, cool; thanks for the info. I wish they'd do a "Where Are They Now?" special for those who didn't decide to make a career out of returning to MTV for "Gauntlets" or "Infernos" because those, at least to me, are some of the most interesting characters-- people who are managing to live normal existences and not try to milk the fifteen minutes even further.

Jess said...

2 things:
1) I don't think we can have a discussion of New Orleans David without at least one "come on be my baby tonight" reference

2) I find it kind of funny that you only talked about cast members from seasons that I tend to dismiss as "shitastic". To me, the quality of cast and shows petered out around New Orleans/New York season 10. I'd take Sharon from London or Jon from LA or even Cory from San Fran over most of the borderline alcoholic borderline personalities that overpopulate the latter half of RW seasons. And don't get me started on RW Sydney..... :)

danielletbd said...

No, I agree: the show became a tabloid trainwreck right around when I started watching, but seeing as how I didn't have cable as a kid, I couldn't see the earlier seasons, so I wouldn't even know who to talk about from there.

DC said...

Ah this list wouldn't be complete without The Miz. I love that he's actually still The Miz on WWE.

Not a lot of love for the later seasons? No likey Rockstar Jenn (AWOOOO!!) or Isaac who proved that you can be a semi-normal guy on Real World?

I'm still a RW fan, even though I got in during Real World Chicago.

danielletbd said...

I've heard of Isaac, and I feel like if I had watched that season I would have clearly picked him to profile in this blog... but seeing as how I didn't actually watch, i didn't really feel comfortable adding him. That and it was already waayy too long.