That ‘Homeless Youth’ Miley Cyrus Brought To The VMAs Is Actually An Aspiring Model

Miley Cyrus and homeless friend Jesse Helt at 2014 VMAs(Photo: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment)

Remember that time that Miley Cyrus sent a homeless guy up onstage to accept her award at the VMAs this past weekend? Well next time she wants to attempt a grand gesture like that, she should probably make sure that the kid is actually homeless. Facepalm.

By the cold light of day, we’re finding out that this guy is a twenty-two year old named Jesse Helt, from Salem, Oregon, and the only reason he’s technically without a home is because he chooses not to live in it after striking out on his own in Los Angeles in an attempt to make it as a model. We felt bad giving Miley side eye in the moment, but come on guys, really?

Obsessed with the side eye that Sam Smith and Katy Perry are giving here. We feel you guys. We feel you.

Obsessed with the side eye that Sam Smith and Katy Perry are giving here. We feel you guys. We feel you.


I’m not trying to undervalue any struggles Jesse may have experienced, but you have to admit that his is a very different plight than that of many homeless people who have lost their homes and/or their families to addiction, mental illness, natural disasters, or any range of tragedies that don’t require headshots. According to Jesse’s mom, whom Oregon Live was able to get in touch with, Jesse moved to LA a few years ago…

“Because he wanted to make it on his own.”

He did have a living situation set up, but later left because it was a bad situation.

“He called me and he said, ‘Mom, I’m living in a bush.’”

And then you what? Sent him money? Be honest. It’s great that Miley and Jesse were able to bring attention to homeless youth, but perhaps in the future she might want to consider a poster boy who doesn’t have a ready made safety net in the form of a living, supportive parent who wasn’t so much worried that her son wasn’t okay, but excited that he was on TV:

“My son, my youngest baby! He called me last night at about one o’ clock. He’s going to be traveling to Oregon today.”


Yeah that’s right — he told his mom that Miley had given him some money, and he chose to use that on a flight home to see his family. Not on food or shelter or survival, because he apparently has all those things — but a flight back home where he presumably eats and lives for free. Times is hard.

Miley met Jesse when she visited My Friend’s Place, an LA center for homeless youth:

“He was at the right place at the right time. It’s time for him to have some good luck. He needs to be blessed.”

You’re right. This attractive, twenty-two year old aspiring model who is now friends with Miley Cyrus really needs to be blessed. God forbid he’d have to move home into the safe, supportive environment that’s been available to him all along.

Thank goodness you got here in time, Miley, to the Self-Congratulatory Celeb Club! Macklemore was the main member so far, and he was getting really exhausted from marrying same-sex couples onstage in desperate bids for attention and patting himself on the back all the time. He’ll be relieved to hear that you can take over.

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    • Jenni
      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Except somehow even LESS self-aware.

      • fantasymother

        Fascinating article. Consistency would have been nice, like noting that supporting her children had been part of her stress then mentioning her children had been living with their father since she went into grad school.

        Tsk. One must be careful when one exaggerates – just as this homeless guy is learning.

    • Nbl

      My eyes just rolled so hard, I’m pretty sure I saw my brain. Little concerned that it’s a sign of a serious medical condition.

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    • TJ

      You can tell what kind of life she’s lived and who she has had contact with when this is the most struggling homeless youth situation that she could find. I work with underprivileged and at risk youth and let me tell you that many of them would be grateful to be in a situation where they could call home and have loving parents welcome them with open arms.

      I don’t know all of Jesse’s story so mybe his struggles are more than what was let on but I think to advocate the kind of program that she is, she should show a more relevant situation to the widespread problem that is youth homelessness.

      I’m not trying to devalue Jesse’s situation or say that his life isn’t hard; but the problem is that he made a choice to leave home where most kids in a homeless situation are there because they were abused, abandoned, in life threatening situations, or orphaned. These are the kinds of stories that need to be brought to people’s attention.

    • Samantha Escobar

      I volunteered at a homeless shelter full of families that were ACTUALLY HOMELESS. Not ones that had a mom with a home to fall back on. By no means am I saying I remotely empathize with the plight of being homeless, because I never have been, but to my understanding, there is such a remarkable difference between choosing to run away from home to become a model and being forced to be homeless (whether it’s by danger, eviction, etc.).

    • FemelleChevalier

      I once flew to US alone because my family have stuff they need to finish back home. I then stayed with a friend because reasons. Guess that made me “homeless” for a week.

      I think I need to get in touch with Miley for my heartwarming and touching story.

    • shoey

      I’m sorry, but 22 is not a “youth”, that is an adult age. If he had been homeless for his teens, then yes, I can get why he would be a good spokesperson for youth homelessness.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        No, because he’d still have a home and a family wanting to help him.

    • wolfheart
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