Blogging for MTV Reality World is especially fun when I get to interview strong, interesting and very cool women like Jenn Grijalva, who you might remember as the headstrong, hard-partying “rock star” from The Real World: Denver. Curious as to what Jenn has been up to since the MTV cameras stopped rolling? Keep reading…
MTV Reality World: How did you end up on The Real World? Had you always wanted to be on the show?
Jenn: Well, when I was 18 and close to graduating from high school, I applied for The Real World. But I wasn’t ready for the process. I was trying to typecast myself and wasn’t honest with the whole process. I made it to the finals, but I was cut. When I was with the Raiders, I was there for four years. After that, I was at a transition. It’s hard to find something as appealing and exciting for a regular job. The Real World presented itself again. There was an open casting call at a pub in Berkeley. I went down there and made it 5 minutes before they closed. I just went in there and from that point on, it was interview after interview. There was lots of self-examination. They were asking a bunch of questions that I never would have thought about. It wasn’t my lifelong goal to be on TV or be an actress. I just didn’t know what to do next.
MTV Reality World: Do you feel that you were accurately portrayed on The Real World?
Jenn: I think reality TV can portray you how they want you to be portrayed. And ideally, everyone wants to be portrayed a certain way. But I do think I was accurately portrayed. I was a single, 22 year-old wild child girl when I was there. I did make bad decisions. I did cry over the wrath I brought upon myself. As far as the show defining me as a person, no – that’s definitely inaccurate. It was a very short period of my life. All my roommates had their freshman and sophomore years in college away from their parents and got it out of their systems. For me, I went right into being an NFL cheerleader. I was representing the organization. I wasn’t given the opportunity to go out and party and get away with it without a camera. This was kind of like my first time graduating from a scheduled lifestyle. It’s out of my system now.
MTV Reality World: Was there anything that you wish MTV had shown that they didn’t?
Jenn: Well, the idea of a documentary is to portray the accuracy of your real life. What frustrated me the most is I lost my grandfather during filming. He was only the second. person I lost in my life that I was close to. I left the show for four or five days and went home to comfort my family and to watch my grandfather die from cancer. When I returned, I was a different person. I learned a lot during that time – to live life to the fullest. But it was completely wiped out of the show as if it had no importance. They wanted to portray me as a party girl, not show a person losing someone and being really vulnerable. That wasn’t fair. They also didn’t show that I got my first tattoo when I got back to Denver. It’s the nickname that my grandfather gave me. It was a big step. I took the plunge and they even taped it. I shared my story and opened up and I’m frustrated that they threw it away with the extra tape. I wish they had shown it. It was important and very personal. I went through several interviews about my family and my grandfather and they wiped it out. It didn’t fit in my character’s role. I was the tough girl who spoke her mind and to show me in a vulnerable state didn’t fit. They also cut out when I stopped drinking. At one point they offered me AA classes and I said I’d cool it myself. I stopped partying, lost a relative and they cut out my turnaround. I ended it as a party girl
MTV Reality World: Is there anything that you wish they had not shown?
Jenn: There’s a ton of stuff. No one wants to have themselves on TV having sex. But I went into the experience doing it the way you’re supposed to do it – be honest with yourself. Be Honest with the cameras. It’s a documentary on my life – of the things I did. I could probably in a few years say maybe I shouldn’t have done this or that. But there’s nothing I could pick through that I wish they hadn’t shown. There were bad decisions, tears arguments, foolish moments that I think people can relate to. I put myself out there completely. I think that sets me apart. A lot of my castmembers don’t talk about having sex. They said that they had just been “making out.” I pride myself that I didn’t do that. Watching it myself has taught me a lot. It’s kinda nice to get the reality thrown in your face and learn from it.
MTV Reality World: How close are you to your former roommates?
Jenn: I’m really close to Brooke and Davis. I talk to them the most. Tyrie and I are good friends too. Colie and I don’t talk often. I don’t talk to Alex or Stephen. My socializing friends that I text and talk to are Davis and Brooke. Tyrie and I are pretty close too.
MTV Reality World: It seems like the Outward Bound experience was really important to you. What would you say to kids interested in the program?
Jenn: For anyone who shows an interest, go for it. It’s kinda similar to The Real World experience. You have to go in without expectations. Go and do it with an open mind and embrace it and all that comes your way. It was the most fulfilling thing I’ve done –just feeling accomplished and cleansed from putting yourself out there. It was a phenomenal experience that very few people get to have. For anyone considering it, do it. It’s awesome. It makes you feel vulnerable. You step out of your comfort zone. I would encourage anyone to do it and go out and do it full force. It will exceed any expectations.
MTV Reality World: Let’s talk boys. From what I’ve gathered, you and Jared are still together?
Jenn: Actually, we’re not. As of last Saturday [June 9]. I was dumped via a MySpace text message.
MTV Reality World: That’s like the MySpace version of the Sex and the City post-it note!
Jenn: (laughs) You know, it lasted about ten months. I went to the MTV Movie Awards… It’s hard to have a relationship after a reality TV show. It’s hard to deal with. I’m on the road a lot and he has trust issues. It didn’t work out. He broke up with me on MySpace. It’s not even painful after that.
MTV Reality World: What about your family? What did they think about the show?
Jenn: My mom was not thrilled with Brooke and I in the hot tub on the first episode. She saw it on the internet before the show even aired and it freaked her out. She was like, “Oh my God, my daughter’s a lesbian!” She didn’t know how to take it. Your family knows you as the niece or grand daughter or, in my mom’s case, child. They don’t see my partying and my drinking and the “rock star” thing – they don’t see that side of me. It was a big reality check. We watched the first episode. My family didn’t react well. My grandfather didn’t watch it. He said, “I know you as this Jenn, I don’t want to see that Jenn.” Some of my aunts didn’t want to watch it either. My younger aunt watches it and thinks it’s funny. She remembers what it was like to be 22. But my mom is completely cool. She handled it the best. It was a shock, but for the most part, she knows me. She knows I like to party. It was hard to watch, but she did take it well. She’d talk about each episode afterward. Watching your mom watch you try to come on to someone when you’re sloppy drunk is embarrassing. It’s just embarrassing. My family handled it well, but most decided to not watch. But everyone watched The Inferno. They liked that one!
MTV Reality World: This was really the first time that the latest cast of The Real World was on two shows at once. Your show was still airing when The Inferno premiered. How long were you off The Real World before you headed to South Africa?
Jenn: We wrapped in late August . I went home for a few days, went back to Denver for a week and then had about three weeks at home with my friends and family before I left for South Africa.
MTV Reality World: Wow – that’s hardly any time at all!
Jenn: I think that’s why my time on The Inferno was so low key. I was so over the drama and trying to get my camera time.
MTV Reality World: There have been some seasons where the new kids on the challenge and the veterans didn’t get along so well, but that didn’t seem to be a problem for you and the other Denver roommates. What was it like to be a newbie?
Jenn: I think the best part about being from our cast is that our show hadn’t aired yet. We were basically complete strangers [to everyone on the Challenge]. Our show had just wrapped and hadn’t aired. No one knew who we were. They had no room to set an opinion about you or prepare for you. They asked, “Why were you selected for the bad asses?” I’d say, “Just wait ‘til you see my show.” It was nice – no one knew anything about me. It was not so much about being the rookie kid. We were given a lot of credibility for our job, since we were hiking all summer long [for Outward Bound]. It was like, they don’t know us, so set whatever example you want. But I can definitely see how it would be hard to be a new kid. They look at you and take every vulnerable moment you’ve had on TV and use it. But being a new kid and a bad ass really set the bar high. I’m not one of those threatened by veterans. Being a veteran doesn’t make you any stronger or better, you’re just avoiding getting a real job.
MTV Reality World: You made it far on the show and you played what seemed like a fair, competitive game. Would you change anything about the way everything went down? Was there a challenge that was particularly difficult or scary?
Jenn: I just went in there and the only way I would change is if I hadn’t just come off my show. I remember getting there and people were ready to be there. They were training for months. For me, I didn’t care if I won or got sent home. I just wanted to experience it. It sounded like fun. I didn’t get into the drama or the alliances or the strategizing. I didn’t try to screw someone over. I really avoided that kind of stuff. I was a mediator. I think I did well getting as far as I did after drinking beer and eating pizza every night [in Denver]. I had fun doing it. The hardest challenge was definitely the first inferno that I went into. There’s a lot of pressure. Your team’s counting on you. You don’t want to be the first girl gone. You don’t know what to expect. You’re already freaked out. It’s very intimidating when it’s you on the chopping block. You don’t know how ready they are on the other team. It’s difficult to try to get yourself ready. But there wasn’t anything physically hard or too difficult. It’s all mental, not physically demanding. You have to be in shape… This game is so mental, you can’t even believe it.
MTV Reality World: What was it like when you guys weren’t competing? Did everyone get along pretty well?
Jenn: For the most part, I think this is the first group that got along pretty well together. We just hung out by the pool. But Tonya and Susie hated each other. Tonya and Susie would just be going at it at the dinner table – they were the entertainment. This cast was a very mellow cast and all of the veterans were saying that there’s no Beth or Veronica or Rachel. It was a random cast, very mellow. I was thankful for that.
MTV Reality World: Who did you grow closest to during the inferno?
Jenn: Tonya from Chicago. She’s portrayed as a wacky, insane bitch and she’s not at all. She likes drama, but Tonya also likes attention. I love her. She’s a good friend of mine now. When I’m in LA, we hang out. I was the first girl she’s ever met on a Challenge and grew close to. And then Derrick from Road Rules. I love him to death.
MTV Reality World: As it happens, one of the fans of the show wanted to know if there was something going on between you two…
Jenn: Derrick and I had a very flirtatious friendship. He’s like my junior high crush. We liked to sit next to each other on the bus. I’m not going to speak for him, but I know for me, I had a boyfriend, but it was a fun thing to have around. He was a guy that I had this cute crush on. We didn’t hook up. It was just very much a junior high crush. We partnered up a lot. We had a lot in common. I could sit down and talk to him and he was sane. He wasn’t there for crazy reasons. Before the infernos, he would check with me and make sure I was cool. That’s how I look at it. We grew really close. When I’m in LA, we hang out. He’s a really good friend… It’s funny that you ask that because we were out in LA and people asked if we were dating. We joke about it. I just love him. He’s a great guy.
MTV Reality World: Do you get recognized a lot when you’re out and about?
Jenn: Everywhere you go now, you definitely get recognized. At the airport, the bank, the grocery line. Someone will go, ”I love you on the show.” Someone will yell my name and take pictures. I’m definitely recognized a lot and it’s fun because it comes with the territory. Christmas shopping was difficult, though. But I can’t find it in my heart to tell people to not bug me. It’s just cute to talk to people who feel like they know you. And they ask you questions. You have a million friends who are rooting for you.
MTV Reality World: Would you do another Challenge?
Jenn: Most definitely.
MTV Reality World: It seems like once you’ve been on The Real World or Road Rules, you are instantly a part of an exclusive club. Is it really like that? Have you met a lot of other former castmembers?
Jenn: One of those things that happens with the Challenges or when you’re booked for appearances with other people [from other casts] is that you get an email saying, “Welcome to the family.” It’s now another world you’re living in. You have your reality TV friends and your real friends at home. In your normal life, you don’t talk about reality TV. You talk about stuff that’s normal. Then you get together with Tonya, Janelle, Robin… All we do is talk about reality TV. I have this whole other life that I’m living and friends that I feel are just as important and close and we’ve shared an experience that only a few have actually gone through. It’s a special MTV Real World club. It’s a cool thing to be a part of that no one else will fully understand.
MTV Reality World: What have you been doing since The Inferno?
I’m very busy still doing post-season stuff. I’m touring and I do different venues. I host parties and have college speaking engagements. I’m booked to promote parties. I’m enjoying it because I am still at home with my mom. I keep stacking this money away and saving it. I want to buy a condo and invest in something and keep it going. I could choose to keep doing this forever, but it’s a strenuous lifestyle – it takes a toll on you and makes you realize, “Hey, I can’t drink beer every night!” It’s very self-destructing in a way… I’m looking to move out soon and I do have to finish school, but I’d like to take full advantage of being on TV. I’m taking an interest in hosting – some sort of spokesjob or working with MTV for Aftershows. I love interviews, meeting people. Something along that field. Public relations. Who knows? I’m gonna give myself at least a year for this show and keep going so I have a solid foundation to finish school. You know, I’m not looking to become an actress, but I’m not going to deny it if the opportunity presents itself. I don’t have a specific idea of what I want to do with my life. I love cameras and changing environments… Whatever presents itself, I’m ready for it.
Interested in booking Jenn for an appearance? Contact the MM Agency at www.mm-agency.com
Photo source: MM Agency