While obviously not nearing the popularity of other reality-based series such as Survivor or Big Brother, we must not forget that shows like Road Rules and The Real World were really the progenitors of this latest television trend. For nine seasons, they have been teaching young MTV viewers how to be good little voyeurs, and, by all accounts, they’ve succeeded. After all, even if you haven’t watched those wearisome Real World marathons in their entirety, it’s still hard to forget about Heather B., Puck, and Ruthie. We all know that MTV has a distinct knack at transforming practically anyone into a household name.
And this year on Road Rules 9: The Maximum Velocity Tour, reality doesn’t just hit home; it hits campus. The six-person cast includes Kathryn, an ARME major and recent Cornell graduate. Last January, she left prelims behind and boarded an RV for a 10-week filmed journey around the country and the world.
Here, Kathryn chats with Daze on everything from casting to her favorite teammates to the often ludicrous editing process.
Daze: What do you think made you stand out from the thousands of other applicants who applied?
Kathryn: I have no idea … I guess it was just a weird combination of things. You have no idea why you. It could be timing or a bunch of other factors.
Daze: Did you participate in the casting call in Ithaca?
Kathryn: I was waiting in line with a friend ’cause she really wanted to go.
Daze: So you didn’t have any intention on going yourself?
Kathryn: No, not at all.
Daze: The producers cast for Road Rules and The Real World together, so did you try to make yourself seem more fitting for one show or the other?
Kathryn: No … you’re fit into a group of people for certain reasons … rather than for one show or another.
Daze: Were you a huge Road Rules fan before you went on the show?
Kathryn: No, not really … In fact, all of us [the Road Rules cast] weren’t big fans.
Daze: Road Rules seems to have undergone a makeover this year. Why was this season billed “The Maximum Velocity Tour”?
Kathryn: Our missions are a little bit riskier. I believe it was because the show was getting very poor ratings with Semester at Sea. And that’s why they [the producers] needed to make it a little more daring, a little more scary.
And everything we do more or less deals with fear.
Daze: The Roadmaster seemed pretty freaky. Did he frighten you guys when he came on the screen in the RV?
Kathryn: (laughing) No! All of us would rip on the Roadmaster like 24/7.
Daze: Did he pop up unexpectedly like it seems on the show?
Kathryn: No … The production crew would call us and be like “OK guys, everyone in the RV. We gotta shoot the scene” … There were technical difficulties almost the entire time.
Daze: Was there a camera on the cast constantly?
Kathryn: No ….There’ll be James throwing a temper tantrum, ripping the crap out of the RV, and they can’t show it because they didn’t film him doing it.
Daze: So, how accurate was the edited, TV version compared to what you really experienced?
Kathryn: It’s a TV show … Do I feel like I look like myself? No … But I’m a character. And we all knew that going in, that we would become characters. They have an incredible ability to take someone who’s a full fleshed-out person and make them very two-dimensional. Half the time we seem retarded in the stuff we say in the interviews.
Daze: Yeah, you guys do. So what were those interviews like?
Kathryn: They were very intense. There’d be a 3-hour interview once a week … The producer and the cameraman and some others would sit you down and you have to answer questions. And the only way I would describe it is to take your worst investment banking interview and make it personal. Make it about your mother.
Daze: Do the producers push?
Kathryn: Oh they push and push. They really do. I mean interviews were not fun. We did not look forward to them …
Daze: Did the producers try to turn your castmates against each other?
Kathryn: I would say that there were some behaviors that I would consider very questionable.
Daze: So that brings up the whole episode with Latterian. Was that blown out of proportion?
Kathryn: Entirely. The producers were heavily involved in that. And that was a sad situation that was made into something that it just wasn’t.
Daze: Did that really tear the group apart like it seemed on the show?
Kathryn: No it didn’t. They tried to make it look like we were fighting because of that… First of all, the scene where we supposedly hook up was fabricated. The night when it happened they weren’t even filming. We were all just wasted at a bar … celebrating my birthday. So the producers were really upset that they didn’t catch it on tape … So they made up the scene
where it happened. When they showed us at dinner, it was weeks before.
Daze: The producers really try to get the juices flowing, huh?
Kathryn: Well that was something that was really tough for me. It was a difficult situation.
Daze: Did you really want to go home at any point?
Kathryn: The reason I was considering going home was because you get there, and you think it’s going to be this great experience. And it really was … I had the opportunity to do things that people don’t ever get to do in their lives, no matter how wealthy … And for that, I’m very very grateful … But I wasn’t ready for the poking and the prodding and what I used to call “stirring the pot” … I remember we used to get in trouble for watching TV because we weren’t fighting enough.
Daze: Are you serious?
Kathryn: Yeah, they [the producers] wanted us to interact and talk about each other … We were all very aware of what we were not doing that they wanted.
Daze: Do you think any of your castmates played to the camera?
Kathryn: If you’re playing to the camera you don’t even know it … You sit down at your interview, and you have clipped lines that they want you to say.
Daze: Wait a second here. The producers tell you what to say?
Kathryn: Yeah … They were very specific in what message they want you to give.
Daze: But you tried to be yourself?
Kathryn: You try to be yourself, but you’re definitely guarded … You have to protect yourself because it’s a very difficult situation … I wasn’t surrounded by friends … or by people that were necessarily looking out for my best interests … In a lot of ways, you know you are going to be exploited and try to prevent it.
Daze: Wow. So on a lighter note, what was your favorite mission?
Kathryn: It’s coming up, and it’s in South Africa spending time with the tribes there. It was a very incredible experience … They embraced us.
Daze: Do you find friends and family are reacting to you differently since you’ve been on the show?
Kathryn: I think that people that know me the best … all react the same. It’s me. They know that. And they know that this is a TV show.
Daze: Have you walked down the street at all and been noticed?
Kathryn: Occasionally. But I found that most people don’t watch the show. It’s not as popular as Survivor. So I don’t get that kind of instant recognition. There are times when people look at me and sometimes walk up to me. But it’s always very positive. I thought people might react negatively, but they haven’t at all … I mean, at least not to my face. But I know there’s always stuff floating around on the Internet.
Daze: So did you grow attached to any of your teammates?
Kathryn: Msaada and I were really close on the show … She was like my confidant
. Actually, I hung around a lot with Holly … She’s actually a pretty good person.
Daze: So you don’t keep in touch with the guys?
Kathryn: I talk to James and Theo every once in a while.
Daze: You wouldn’t do it all over again if you had the chance?
Kathryn: They [Bunim-Murray Productions] inquired if I would be on the [Real World/Road Rules] Challenge, but I turned it down.
Daze: Have you had any opportunities knocking at your door since the show?
Kathryn: You know what, not really. It’s something that you would have to pursue, but I haven’t … ’cause that’s not the business I want to be in.
Daze: So what career path have you taken?
Kathryn: I’m doing consulting.
Daze: What do you make of the reality TV explosion like Survivor?
Kathryn: I love Survivor. I thought it was very, very interesting… They did a good job editing … But a word of caution from somebody that really experienced the other side … You have to realize it’s TV.
Daze: Reassure me that you did have fun sometimes.
Kathryn: Oh my God, yeah. We had fun a lot of the time … It was 85% great, 15% crap.
Daze: So nothing could have really prepared you for the experience?
Kathryn: No, nothing.
Be sure to catch Kathryn and the rest of the Road Rules gang on Monday nights at 10 p.m. on MTV.
Archived article by David Kaplan