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How real is reality?
Speaks out on MTVs The Real World: St. Thomas
Reality television itself is a controversial topic. Many viewers often doubt the validity of what is being displayed behind their TV screen. I caught up with one of the stars, LaToya Jackson, to discuss her experience on The Real World.
"When it comes down to it, you're seeing what happened during our 3 months together. Some things may be a little over exaggerated and everything we say and do on the show may not be shown in the correct chronological order from in which it occurred, but you can trust and believe that it is all real," LaToya verifies.
Prior to the filming of The Real World, LaToya had just graduated from Virginia State University with a degree in Mass Communications. She worked as a Production Assistant at a local CBS affiliate news station in Richmond, Virginia which was about a 40 minute drive from her home town. Although it didn't pay all that well and it was only a part-time position, LaToya's drive and ambition to make it in the television industry brought her back each day.
"After a day at work if I wasn't exhausted from the drive, I would come home, spend my cheque at the mall and hang out with friends until the next day of work arrived and I had to do it all over again," She adds.
The opening credits for The Real World, which airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, say "see what happens when people stop being polite and start being real." When asked how long it took for the house mates' true personalities to begin to outshine the first impressions that they were trying to portray, LaToya says "I started to notice a few 'true' personalities starting to appear by the end of the first week in the house. You'd be amazed at what massive amounts of alcohol, a few lights and a camera can unveil in some people. The more comfortable we got with one another the less polite we became and the more 'real' life in St. Thomas had suddenly become."
Speaking of cameras, LaToya acts like a natural on television so viewers shouldn't be surprised to learn that her dream was to be a part of the industry. In the beginning, it took a little bit of time for her to get used to the cameras following her around. She says that they literally followed the cast everywhere and anywhere, except for the toilet. Comparing the cameras to an "annoying fly swarming you," she says that she eventually got used to it after about two weeks. After all, it is their job to film and it was her job to be filmed.
The cameras weren't the only adjustment that LaToya and the other cast members adapted to. In a short amount of time after the premier of season 27, these 7 people were virtually transformed from being average to admired by fans worldwide.
"It's still unbelievable for me. Just a couple of weeks ago I was just a girl from Petersburg, VA with about 250 followers on Twitter. Today I have over 6,000 who are diehard fans and a hometown that tunes in to watch me every Wednesday expecting me to represent to the best of my ability. It's crazy how my life has changed in such a short amount of time. I have people expressing their love for me, I'm being recognized in public and to most I'm considered a 'star'. I love and appreciate it all but at the end of the day I don't feel or act any different. I go home and look in the mirror and still see 'Toya'. It's just that the rest of the world is late. They are just being exposed to the girl that my family and friends has always loved and admired," LaToya explains when discussing the transition to reality stardom.
Since filming, LaToya has only had the opportunity to see one of the cast mates'Brandon Kane. They worked together on a project for MTV and LaToya says that although it was work related those few hours spent with him were awesome none the less.
"I honestly didn't expect to learn so much about 6 strangers in such a short amount of time. It still amazes me that after two weeks we all sort of felt like we've known each other for years," She says about her cast mates. "Looking back from the moment I first met my roommates to the day we all departed, I've realized one thing: I may not be able to live with them but it would be boring as hell living without them."
My experience speaking with MTV's LaToya Jackson was excellent. I enjoyed how real and down to Earth she is and her sense of humour was sure to keep a smile on my face. As a viewer of the show myself, I can't comment for certain how "real" it was in St. Thomas but I can definitely agree with LaToya when she says, "We are real people, with real lives and real issues. The only difference between us is that for three short months of our lives we had a camera follow us around to capture every moment for your amusement' Unlike other 'reality' shows, you won't always see us prancing around looking our best, with our hair done precisely, wearing make up 24/7. You're getting the real deal that everyone should be able to relate to."
Be sure to follow @LaToyaJMTV to learn more about her journey from average Pennsylvanian girl to MTV reality star.
Brittany Fenech, Contributing Writer: Brittany Fenech is a writer based in Toronto. Born and raised in Cape Breton Island, on the east coast of Canada, Fenech has always had a strong passion for writing—fiction, non-fiction, poetry and news. As a bilingual, she was first published in French non-fiction in the fifth grade and hasn't stopped making such accomplishments. Despite the risk of pursuing a career in a field such as journalism, Fenech has always believed in chasing after a dream instead of wealth and materialism. She... (more...)