Few can say that by age 20 they’ve lived in a house with seven strangers, watched themselves cry on national TV and flown to the Dominican Republic three weeks into a school year to compete for $150,000. But junior psychology major Priscilla Mendez says that being a part of MTV’s “Real World: San Diego” in addition to her latest reality show, “The Challenge: Battle of the Exes” has changed her life.
“It’s surreal. I remember getting that first call from MTV saying that I was selected to be on “The Real World” and saying, ‘Thank you, you’re changing my life right now,’” Mendez said.
After a summer spent enjoying a whirlwind experience as a cast member of “Real World: San Diego,” Mendez thought she was through with reality TV stardom. However, soon after moving to Davis, she was given the opportunity to return to television on “The Challenge: Battle of the Exes”, currently airing on MTV Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Unlike “Real World”, “The Challenge” is a “Survivor”-style sister show where cast members from other MTV reality shows compete in physically grueling challenges for a cash prize of $150,000. Mendez was eliminated after the first episode of the show.
Mendez said that she had no idea that she would be selected to return to the TV network that initially changed her life, as she thought that two of her co-stars from “The Real World” would be chosen based on their physical fitness. However, after just three weeks of arriving at UC Davis for Fall quarter 2011, she abruptly packed up and left for the Dominican Republic where the show was being filmed.
“As long as MTV continues to offer me life-changing and exciting opportunities, I’m going to take them,” Mendez said.
This season, which is the show’s 22nd, is centered on the idea that ex-couples must work together in order to complete each challenge and win the grand prize. Though Mendez says that her teammate, Nate Stodghill, could hardly be considered an ex, they were partnered up as a result of a brief romantic encounter on “The Real World.”
Mendez and Stodghill were eliminated after one episode of the show. After Stodghill’s failure to successfully complete their first challenge, the pair was automatically placed into an elimination challenge. Subsequently, Mendez was the first to lose in elimination.
She said that her physical endurance could not withstand the intensity of the task.
“If you watched “The Real World,” you saw how girly I was. I wasn’t really the ‘working out at the gym’ kind of girl. And since I was in school for three weeks before I got the call, there was no time to train,” Mendez said.
Mendez described the first time she saw herself on TV as incredibly weird. After being filmed 24/7, she said the experience is one requiring complete openness, and watching yourself cry on television is like watching a movie. She said it was funny to see herself weeping with sad music playing in the background, the way most people would imagine their lives to be if their everyday life had theme songs.
Though some might be worried about what close friends and family would think of their appearance in reality TV, Mendez said that she continues to have a very strong connection with her friends and family.
“My mom wasn’t surprised to see anything. We’re extremely close. We talk about everything,” Mendez said.
Lilian Mendez, Priscilla’s mother, said her daughter’s ability to be open and herself landed her the spot on “The Real World,” in addition to the invitation to be back on “The Challenge.”
“She’s not afraid to be herself. Whether it’s a good quality, or bad quality, she don’t cover up her good qualities. But on the other end, if she has things other people might try to hide, she doesn’t. She’s not afraid to show them, and learn from them, because that’s what’s real about her,” Lilian said.
The 20 year old says that many of the speculations about reality TV are misconceptions. MTV does not pay for the cast’s recreational activities, and does not condone underage drinking. Additionally, she said that she is saddened by the notion that reality TV stars are faking their personalities for the sake of entertainment.
“Some people have told me that they don’t want to watch the shows because they don’t want to see me in a negative light. It is impossible to fake your life for three months. What you see on the show is truly me,” Mendez said.
Senior psychology major Rahael Solomon said that she couldn’t imagine being in Mendez’s position; being a college student in the midst of being a reality television star could prove to be invasive.
“I’d be uncomfortable with the fact that everyone would know my business. I couldn’t deal with people judging me before they got to know me” Solomon said.
Though Mendez didn’t win, she says she is currently still watching the show, and enjoying her life as a full time student.
“I’d love to keep doing this. But for now, my time and place is school,” Mendez said.
KELSEY SMOOT can be reached at email@example.com.