Arguably one of the most influential shows in television history, MTV's "The Real World" paved the way for shows such as "Survivor", "Catfish: The TV Show", and "Big Brother."
More importantly, the show, which first aired in 1992 with the inaugural season filmed in the Big Apple, has a special relationship with the city of New Orleans as the show has ventured to the city twice, first in 2000 (ironically the season the Saints won its first playoff game) and again in 2010 when the city celebrated the Saints' Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Recently, 2010 cast member Jemmeye Carroll and I had the good fortune to correspond via email about her Real World experience, which ironically included the Saints' Super Bowl celebration.
Now living in New York City and working on her first book, Ms. Carroll looked back on her time in New Orleans with fondness, especially the night in which the Saints brought home the Lombardi.RH: Tell me a little about yourself
I grew up in a small town in Mississippi and prior to filming the Real World I was a college student at Mississippi State University. After Real World, I stayed in NOLA and did a couple challenges and opened an online boutique.
RH: Did you watch the show prior to auditioning for it? What was the audition procedure like?
Yes, prior to auditioning I did watch the show. I decided to go on the show because I was graduating college early and I didn't want to get a real job so my girls convinced me to go to a casting call. I first went to an open casting call in October in Memphis. I was asked to come back the very next day for a one on one interview and went through about a couple more in person interviews, a couple phone interviews, and then was asked to send in a videotape in. They literally find out everything about you in those interviews, they are long & very in depth. My final Interview was in mid December and that's when they fly 14 or 15 people out then picked the final cast based on that last interview
The Real World house at 1633 Duffosat Street in Uptown
RH: In one of the earlier episodes, the cast took part in the Saints' Super Bowl celebration. What was that like?
Being in NOLA when the Saints won the Super Bowl was the best night of my life. The feeling in the city that night was something words can't justify. I actually grew up a Saints fan & being from Mississippi I was the only cast member who knew how bad Katrina really was. So I think out of all the cast members I was the only one who understood the importance of that night.
RH: Throughout the show, the conflict with Ryan was prevalent. Was it any different away from the camera with him?
Ryan was a horrible human being away from the cameras as well. I can't remember one time I genuinely connected with the kid or understood him thou we all tried to make a connection. I don't think I've ever met somebody like him, he's honestly unbearable. He was a lost cause the moment he walked in that door and honestly I wish we would have kicked him out earlier.
RH: You had a great friendship with Preston on the show. Do you guys still keep in touch? What about McKenzie, Ashlee, Sahar, and Eric?
Preston and I still talk all the time. Luckily every challenge I've done he has been on which has been nice to have somebody you genuinely trust in that environment. Preston is currently living in South America...
I knew Ashlee was special from the moment we met & is still one of my best friends 4 years later. She has a radio show in Boston and is living with her boyfriend Zach from Real World San Diego.
I don't talk to McKensie and Sahar that much because we are all so busy living our lives. Mckenzie is still in Jupiter, Florida where she is working as a model & living with her serious boyfriend while Sahar recently graduated college and moved to Chicago.
Eric and I are still friends as well. He actually just did a cross country move from NYC to La a couple months ago and stopped in NOLA and spent a weekend with me. He is pursuing his comedy nowadays in Los Angeles.
Knight is currently back in Wisconsin & still does MTV affiliated things, however, we have no contact.
RH: In the last episode of the Real World: Back to New Orleans, you said it was a magical place. As a person who has gone to the city seven different times, what makes the city magical to you?
People always ask me what my favorite part of the Real World is and I always say the city I ended up in. From the moment we started filming I felt connected to the city. We finished filming in April and by June I was back living in NOLA because I just couldn't stay away. I was just drawn to the city, the culture, & the people. It honestly just felt like home, and I will always consider it home.
Still the fundamental problems with New Orleans are so finely balanced by what makes this such an extraordinary city. Potholes can't rattle history. Bullets can't pierce charm. Oils can't coat culture. And broken levees can't drown pride.