There are interviews and then there are interviews. My chat with Jenn Grijalva was most definitely in the latter category. It is an interview in every sense of the word.
When I was told that the hottest girl from The Real World Denver would be coming to Toronto to promote her appearance on The Inferno 3, and for an appearance on Canada’s MTV Live, I knew that I had to talk to her before she left town.
Jenn Grijalva is a reporter’s dream interview. She is open and outspoken. She is unequivocal and unprejudiced. She is candid, curt and definitely cute. Before I got the chance to talk to her, I knew that there was a chance that this chat could be something special. One of those dream dialogues where every question is on point and every answer is unrehearsed and unfiltered. I really had no idea that the interview would be as good as it is and certainly did not anticipate it to be the must-read material that it is.
What you are about to read is juicy. Jenn opens up about her mother thinking that she was a lesbian after watching the first episode of The Real World, what she thought of CT punching out Davis on the premiere Inferno 3 and also discusses her thoughts on girls having one-night stands. It’s awesome, awesome, AWESOME!
Even before I arrived at the MTV Canada Headquarters in downtown Toronto, and was introduced to Jenn, I knew that there would be a lot to talk about. I remember talking to Jonny Fairplay while Denver was on and us agreeing that Jen was undoubtedly the most good-looking girl ever cast on the show. I remember telling The Fair that if I could interview anyone from Denver, I wanted it to be Grijalva because I knew she would be fun, frank and flirty. I was also excited to talk to her about some of our mutual friends, including Inside Pulse blogger/Road Rules alum Katie Doyle and Marc Marcuse from Average Joe.
When I got to the Masonic Temple and met Jenn for the first time, there was an instant chemistry and an immediate familiarity as we joked about all the former reality stars in LA before we started really talking about the Inferno 3.
I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed talking to Jenn.
Murtz Jaffer: You were my absolute favorite on The Real World Denver and next to Katie Doyle (who has blogged for us at Inside Pulse), you are probably my favorite MTV personality of all time, so I am super-excited to talk to you!
Jenn Grijalva: Oh, I love Katie Doyle. She’s awesome!
MJ: How does an Oakland Raiderette end up on The Real World and Inferno 3? How did you get cast?
JG: First and foremost, they are completely different things. And I think being a Raiderette didn’t get me on The Real World. And that was the big thing I was battling actually with my team because my director was like ‘you used Raiderettes to get on The Real World‘ and I really downplayed it a lot on the show…
MJ: Yeah, you hardly mentioned it.
JG: I didn’t talk about it a lot. Even in my interview in my casting, you’d see a little bit of me talking about the Raiderettes, but that was the only piece of Raiders that I even gave them. So I think it was basically… my thing was, I was telling them that I was “at a transition point in my life. I am not sure why I want to do this, I am not sure if I even want to do this. I just don’t know what I want to do next. I have been a Raiderette for four years and I don’t want to go back to being a regular person.”
MJ: Right, right, right…
JG: I need something bigger, I need something better and then you know, this fell into my lap. That’s really what got me on there I think. Just my open-mindedness and I was willing and able to put myself out there. I wasn’t embarrassed to do stupid stuff.
MJ: Did you just send in a tape?
JG: Actually I was just meeting a girlfriend to watch a Cal/Stanford game and it happened to fall in a casting location. So the place that we were meeting had a big ‘ol sign that said REAL WORLD CASTING and I got there… you know, the whole typical story. Five minutes to 5 PM before they ended it and I filled out the application and I was picked. It just kind of happened. It just kind of fell into my hands.
MJ: One of the things that stood out to me about Denver was that you were always saying that “I am a rock star, I party all the time…” I can’t do the sign that you always did…
(Jenn does the two-finger rock star gesture and laughs)
MJ: Haha, that’s it. So tell me what partying like a rock star means and why you’re a rock star?
JG: Well, before I went to Real World, I had taken a month off from working at anything and I was like ‘I am going to dedicate this month to partying and saying my goodbyes to my regular life because my life is going to change in a month and I want to do as much of being me as I can before I go.’ Something in that month of partying that developed was that I would get really drunk and just go ‘WOOOO HOOOO I AM A ROCK STAR!!!’ It kind of developed into this big trait that I didn’t really expect it to and it really just means that I would get really drunk and with all of my friends, our joke was that ‘I am a rockstar, I am a one-man band.’ So if somebody wasn’t taking a shot when we told them to, we’d be like ‘oh, what are you? Stage crew?!’
MJ: (Laughs). Like a roadie?
JG: Yeah, it’s like ‘what are you, a roadie?’ ‘Do you know what a groupie is?’ It was like this big joke we all had.
MJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JG: It was just like who could party til they dropped. The last person standing was the rock star and I earned that title. I partied and I never dropped.
MJ: Have you heard that ‘Party Like A Rock Star’ song?
JG: It is insane how far this rock star stuff is out there now! And I am like, I should have gotten some copyright or something! I am not going to say that I established this whole new fad, but in a way… I feel like I didn’t hear this much rock star stuff before! I was watching Grey’s Anatomy okay, and Izzie screams ‘I AM A ROCK STAR WOOOO!’ I am like whoa dude.
MJ: When that song came out, I was like when you go to one of those bar appearances or whatever… they should totally play that song when you come out like your entrance music!
JG: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh, totally! Totally! And it’s crazy because I did not realize how…
MJ: Mainstream it is?
JG: Yeah! It’s insane and it’s kind of cool.
MJ: I think that one of the best things about you is the fact that you say and do whatever you want, and even with the cameras always around, you seem to always be real. On Denver, in the first two shows… you made out with Brooke and hooked up with Alex… generally speaking, do you usually do what you want when you want to do it without thinking about the consequences?
JG: I definitely am. I act on impulse. I live my life a day at a time. I guess to be more accurate, each moment at a time. I never have been one of those people that likes to make plans or worries about my future. I definitely have never been one of those people that has been concerned with other people’s opinions. I have always just been me and I do what I do. And there are consequences to everything. Now if I wasn’t that girl that made out with Brooke in the hot tub or the girl that hooked up with my roommate drunk on the first night or second night or whatnot, then I would have been that quiet shy girl that someone had an opinion about. Now, I’d rather give you something to talk about if you’re going to talk.
MJ: It’s kind of like Ruthie from The Real World Hawaii (when she drank whatever she wanted to and dealt with it later).
JG: Totally, totally, totally. I have always just lived my life. I do what I do. Some people will look at me and say ‘oh, she does it for attention.’ But I think if you really watched me, you know that I don’t do it for anybody. I just do it. That’s just me.
MJ: When you go back and watch the show on TV, are you like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe I did that?’ or are you more like ‘wow, I am a rock star… check that out!’
JG: There are definitely moments that I cringe. I am like ‘oh, my mom’s going to see this!’ But for the most part, I am definitely like ‘hell yeah, that’s me dude. I am a rock star!’ It’s just something you gotta accept. Going into it, I never really had a chance to see myself scream ‘ROCK STAR’ every five seconds. Or mumble my words because I couldn’t keep my head up ’cause I was so drunk. It’s all one of those things that you look back and are like everybody is doing it. Everybody does this. I am 22 years old. Everybody’s gone through this. No, I definitely take pride in it and I watch it with pride.
MJ: Speaking of your mom, I read a great interview that you did with the East Bay Express where you talked about when she watched the first episode and she was like ‘oh my god… you’re kissing girls? What’s going on?!’ What was her reaction like to all of it?
JG: Oh, mom FREAKED out. I came home and my mom hadn’t watched the episode. She had seen the internet clip. It made YouTube.
MJ: Yeah, that’s right. And then they pulled it!
JG: Right. And I came home and she was sitting in the living room and she looked like she had been crying. I was like ‘what’s wrong?’ She’s like ‘YOU’RE KISSING GIRLS!’ And she thought I was gay. She seriously thought that I was gay. And she’s like ‘in my day and age, this is not what you do. If you kiss a girl, you are gay.’ She’s like ‘what else have you done with a girl?’ I am like ‘that’s all I have done… I SWEAR! I might have felt a chick up once or twice but oh my god. Mom, it’s just something that now in this day and age, it’s like if you want to make out with a girl, it’s okay.’ You do that to avoid men! She freaked out at first. She was really concerned. That being my debut to my mom made her very fearful…
MJ: It’s like ‘yeah mom, I am going to be on TV, but…’
JG: Yeah, and that was the first thing she saw. And it didn’t help that in the next episode, I hooked up with Alex. So I like ‘there mom, see! I am straight, I am straight!’
MJ: (Laughs). Did that make her feel better?
JG: Oh, totally. But not too much because the one thing she said was ‘don’t have sex on TV.’ Well actually, her actual words were ‘do not have a threesome on TV!’ And I didn’t. And I kept saying, ‘mom, I didn’t have a threesome.’ She goes ‘but you made out with Brooke and you hooked up with Alex!’ I am like you know…
MJ: It was separate! It wasn’t at the same time!
JG: So I think it’s cool because it has definitely brought my mom closer. I am much more open. I can tell her… I have always been really close to my mom but now I can talk to her about relationships. I talk to her about my sex life with my boyfriend. I tell her if something is going wrong. I definitely don’t tell her when it is great, but if something’s different, I am very open with my mom. She’s kind of embraced the idea that I am an adult now and I do do these things. It’s hard for a mother to see period. Hands down. And so for the first time I think it has opened up our gateway into having an adult relationship now. So, it’s kind of cool.
MJ: Speaking of Alex, on Denver you said that you hooked up with Alex because you were drunk and it disgusted you when you sobered up. But then it kept happening. So my question is, was Alex a drunken mistake or was there anything substantial there?
JG: Alex and I… the situation is hard to explain because no one can really understand it. I do definitely cry over it. I think the biggest thing was that I was not attracted to Alex. Alex was one of those guys that was around when we were drunk. The first night was very much a drunken mistake. I didn’t remember it. I was told by Alex the next morning. I was like ‘did we…’ and he said yes. The second time was, you know, Alex and I at the bar for six hours, shit-faced. It was just kind of like I think Alex really wanted to make Colie jealous. And I was there, and I was like, you know what? Fuck it. I have done it before. Whatever.
JG: I’d rather do it again, another notch on my belt. You know it was both of us making the adult decision. We looked at each other and I remember us telling each other, ‘let’s just do it.’ We’re both like f*ck it. There was no hidden attraction. It was purely physical.
MJ: It seemed like it was just for fun.
JG: Exactly. It was a drunk hook-up with no feelings attached. And I’ll say this to speak for all women, men often say that women can’t have a one-night stand because they get emotional and they cry about it and they like you. I am living proof that you can screw a man and not give a s*** about him the next day. Not that that’s something to take pride in, but you know what? As a woman, there’s no reason I can’t go out there and have a drunken, meaningless lay and forget about it the next day. That’s all it was. I definitely don’t like Alex at all. We’re not compatible in any way. (Laughs).
MJ: I think that one of the questions that I wanted to ask you about was the difference between The Inferno 3 and The Real World. There obviously aren’t any challenges on The Real World where you’re just hanging out in a house so you don’t have to be in top shape, what was the physical stuff on The Inferno like for you? I guess with the cheerleading experience, it wasn’t a big stretch?
JG: Yeah. I have had a whole life of being physically active. But coming off my show, I went straight to The Inferno and for that entire summer, I think I gained a total of 20 pounds by the end of it and it was because I was inactive and I did eat terribly and I drank a lot (on The Real World). So going into The Inferno, I psyched myself into believing that it was all mental. I said that this was a mental thing, this is a mental challenge and predominantly it was. A lot of the stuff was mental ’cause balancing yourself on a beam or lining yourself up on a rope 1000 feet in the air is not physical, it’s mental. I think the big difference is like you said, you live in a house doing absolutely nothing except some cheeseball job…
MJ: Even though your job actually was physically demanding…
JG: Exactly. It was a challenge. And then the Inferno is much more based around not just living atmosphere, but the dynamic of the challenge. So it was a lot more physical and a lot more demanding but I think a lot more rewarding in the sense of getting something instant… like an instant…
JG: Exactly. Perfect. An instant gratification out of something whereas The Real World is something that you don’t really learn or grow from until it’s done and you’re like wow… this is how much I have learned.
MJ: So I guess we’d never see like Brooke for example do an Inferno? Because I am looking at it and I am like she couldn’t even climb the mountain.
JG: Well, I am not going to give anything away but everybody always dips their feet into that, whether you think they are made for it or not. Everybody tries it…
MJ: Well, you can’t really say no to another show can you?
JG: Totally, totally. And you know what? If I was Brooke, I would want to do one just to prove…
MJ: That I am a rock star?
JG: Yeah, that she could do it. I don’t know. Brooke’s a whole different woman now that she has been through all this stuff and we have yet to see if she’ll make it on one.
MJ: You’re doing your first Inferno with Tyrie, Davis and Colie. How soon after Denver did you film this and were sick of seeing them again so soon?
JG: Three weeks we were in South Africa. About three weeks. Going there, going to The Inferno, our season hadn’t aired yet and we just wrapped. Nobody knew who we were. People were asking ‘who are you?’ ‘What did you do?’ And we had to them that we’re the new cast. So it was kind of a relief to have other people there because I felt completely outside of these people because they couldn’t relate to it since they hadn’t seen it yet. It made Davis and I really close. Davis and I became really really close on the challenge. Colie, I think just kind of did her own thing. Always wanted an alliance. Always wanted us to not vote her in and I am like you just can’t carry your own weight. I agreed to her face and I didn’t backstab her or anything or vote her in, I just was kind of like you’re showing a big weakness right now and I am not down with that. And Tyrie, he wasn’t even there long enough for me to signify anything but Davis and I were there the longest. I went home and Davis went home right after me so it was cool. We definitely stuck together and we were like ‘it’s cool, let’s bang it out for Denver.’
MJ: Is it more of an advantage or a disadvantage to have friends on the show and were you worried at all about going against them?
JG: It is definitely an advantage to have castmembers if you guys get along. I know seeing other castmembers, Danny would talk down about Rachel and tell me her weaknesses because they didn’t get along whereas I would see Janelle talk about Paula in very positive ways because in a way, I am sure they had an alliance because it’s kind of funny how they all made it to the end, and they avoided that Inferno. So with that being said, it’s all about how much you trust your roommates and at that point, I didn’t trust Colie. Being on the other team, I didn’t even trust Davis. I am not one of those people who likes alliances. If I am going to win, I did it on my own and don’t anybody take my credit.
MJ: On the show, you were put on the badass team. Are you typically a badass? Did it surprise you?
JG: I definitely wasn’t surprised that I was a badass. I think that being selected for the badass team was because of my rockstar mentality. My party wild girl. My ‘I don’t give a f about anybody or anything.’ But deep down inside, I am a good person. When you see the show, you’ll see that I was very much a mediator. I wasn’t a shit-disturber. I am not a backstabbing, conniving person that’s not why I am a badass. I was a badass because I go balls-to-the-walls and I am very upfront and I speak my mind. I think my attitude is more of a badass attitude than my personality because I am very much a good guy when it comes to personality.
MJ: Speaking of personality, you have some pretty strong personalities on there including Abram, Danny and Tonya. What was the dynamic like? Was it tough dealing with all these people that are used to being #1?
JG: It’s interesting because I decided that because I was the new person there, I was the new girl, I am going to take a backseat and let them be vocal. Just kind of quietly go through a few challenges. It’s insane how much people do for camera time and everybody wants to lead the group. Everybody wants to be the leader and you have to be a leader and you have to be a follower. I decided that I was going to sit back and let you guys try to lead and only speak my mind when necessary. It was interesting to see how our personalities are so similar that we butt heads, whereas the good guys are similar that they kind of get along.
MJ: Right, right. Why do you think that they always target the new people on these Challenge shows?
JG: Because of alliances. Previous alliances. New people are always targetted because ‘we’re not your friends.’ You’re the newbies. I am glad, I am happy that Davis and I kind of broke that. We definitely did good in going in there and setting an example for the new kids. Who knows what the future will hold though? Hopefully it will start a trend.
MJ: Whenever I see Susie on this thing, it seems like her team is kind of protecting her. What’s up with that? Why do you think they just let her coast, all the way through?
JG: I think Susie just knows how to play the game. Susie does a good job at playing ‘well, why don’t you guys help me get this so that we can do this,’ and watch Colie. She convinced Colie to let Susie get the Lifeshield so that they could vote in Rachel. She convinced Rachel to let her get the Lifeshield so that they could vote in Colie. She’s a badass when it comes to strategy but a good guy on the outside. I think that Susie has this sort of sweetness that is evil that overtakes her team and then they start believing that Susie is the strongest competitor and it definitely also helps… like if I had my best friend on my team, she’d be letting me win the Lifeshield too. She has an alliance that is already going to be helping her so I think that’s why she always makes it to the end ’cause if you watch it, she’s not physically strong, she’s not that great of a competitor so when you put her on the good team against girls that are willing to bow down to her, she looks extravagant you know but if were to put her on the badass team, she’s the weakest link.
MJ: Did it affect you when Colie went into Cara/Susie alliance thing? Because that was kind of surprising I thought.
JG: For Colie being on our season so long and portraying herself as such a leader, being the president of her sorority, wanting to take charge of our household, wanting to take charge of Outward Bound, wanting to be a camp counselor and being a leader, I was really disappointed at how fast she became a follower. It was obvious. It was pathetic. It was, ‘I want to let you guys tell me what to do.’ And in the end, it backfired. She got sent in, she got bullied in and she got sent home. So I was disappointed in Colie. I really was.
MJ: The first episode of The Inferno just aired in Canada with the whole CT punching Davis deal. What triggered that? What didn’t we see? Why did he punch Davis?
JG: Cameras didn’t get the punch. Nobody was out there besides Abram and Abram’s story and Davis’ story is pretty much the same; CT was blacked out drunk and punched him for no reason. Turned to Davis and said:
(Murtz and Jen simultaneously… “can you take a punch?”)
JG: And Davis was like yeah and CT clocked him. I was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I really wish the cameras would have gotten it. I really have a hard time believing that that’s just it.
MJ: There had to be something else.
JG: There had to be something else! What were you talking about that made you so upset? You were already angry so that was that. I think that’s just the way things go sometimes. You can tell with CT when he gets woken up in the middle of the night. He’s completely out of it. I mean he doesn’t even remember doing it.
MJ: Now in one of the upcoming episodes, you are in an inferno against one of the good girls and she calls you a chubby civilian girl. My question is, could this girl even see straight because I think you might be the hottest Real World contestant of all-time and a former cheerleader, so I didn’t understand that comment at all. I am looking at it and I am like she must have been drunk when she said it. Is it just a case of girls being catty?
JG: Rachel said that after she was beat by me and she was embarrassed after her mental breakdown and again, Susie played a role in this one. Susie pumped her with energy saying ‘you’re our pitbull, you’re going to go in there and you’re going to destroy her,’ so Rachel went in there completely confident. She was going to send me home. Leaving out any room for possibility. I think when she was beat, she didn’t look at it as ‘I got lucky’ because if you watch closely, I fell off the first time. I really just got lucky, I didn’t really beat her and she looked at it like a cheerleader sent her home.
MJ: But why the chubby line? That’s what I didn’t understand.
JG: Yeah, the thing is that she got beat by a “chubby civilian.” Rachel was in the army. She was a nurse in the army that went to Iraq and I guess feels that everybody else in this world is just a civilian. It’s funny, I get a lot of comments about that because I remember Rachel in the dressing room (when we were shooting the opening of the show) was crying because none of the clothes fit her and I was the one consoling her. It’s like I stood there telling you that ‘it’s okay, you’re not fat. These are just made for girls that are Suzie’s size’ and it’s funny that when I beat her, all of a sudden she flips it on me saying that I am the chubby civilian. I am like whoa, I was the one who was okay with being in a bikini. You were the one that cried because the clothes didn’t fit. I think (not to put her down in anyway) I think it was just her own insecurities of going in there and being the first female to go. She felt really stupid. Felt really weak. Felt like she let her military friends down.
MJ: Did she apologize?
JG: She did just about three weeks ago, so she held a grudge for that long. I actually did a venue and she showed up and wouldn’t even say hello to me.
JG: And instead blogs about me. Talking crap about me, about how I was a dancer and so my hand-eye coordination is better than hers.
MJ: I thought she said that you weren’t going to do well and now she’s saying you had an advantage?
JG: Exactly. After saying ‘oh, I am going to send her home. I am going to tire her out after one round.’ Well, you tired out and you dropped your stick. It was definitely a battle that I didn’t let get to me because I knew it was just her own insecurities.
MJ: Are you always so competitive and should the other girls this season be on the lookout for Jenn? Because I kind of feel like you are underrated.
JG: Oh yeah. I am definitely underrated because that’s my strategy. I am not going to go in there as the cocky one. If you notice from watching The Inferno, all the interviews of like Rachel are very cocky. She’s going home, it’s obvious. Evelyn. You know Evelyn’s very cocky but Evelyn backs it up. And look at Evelyn. She’s a damn man! You know what I mean? And I LOVED having Evelyn on my team. But it’s always the cocky ones that go home and my strategy was you know what? Keep underrating me, that’s fine. Keep throwing me into the inferno. Keep saying that I am just a cheerleader because I am going to go out there and do my best no matter what. I just don’t have to voice it. I think that’s a big part of this game. Staying mentally strong and not letting people get to you.
MJ: Why should people watch The Inferno this season?
JG: This season is definitely awesome. It’s very intense. It’s definitely focused on the challenge and the game itself moreso than the cattiness. You will have drama because you got Tonya. Tonya’s always in it for her drama scenes and you’ll have girls and some stuff with guys. The typical. But it’s not one of those where you have got so much outside drama that you forget about the game. It’s definitely mainly focused on the game and it’s very intense. These challenges are probably more intense than I have seen on most of these. So it’s probably the toughest inferno you have seen yet!
MJ: And finally, what does it take to get a date with Jenn?
JG: What does it take to get a date with Jenn? Don’t talk to me about Real World. Don’t mention reality television. Don’t tell me that you love me. Don’t talk to me about anything I’ve done on television.
MJ: What about ripping Rachel? You know… bonding over hating someone else?
MJ: Because that was kind of the technique that I was going to use. Like, if I slam Rachel… she’s going to all about the Murtzinator.
JG: (Laughs). I don’t know, to get a date with me you just have to make me laugh and you have to be charming. And don’t talk to me about reality television! (Laughs). Unless it’s your job!
MJ: Thank you so much.
JG: Thank you! You had some good questions.
What did I tell you? How cool is she?! It was phenomenal. After the interview was over, I filled Jenn in on some of the upcoming reality events that I will be attending and that she should come out to.
She then had to finish the rest of her whirlwind Toronto media tour before stopping in at MTV Live where she answered questions from hosts Daryn Jones and Dan Levy about why she decided to do the show so soon after Denver, whether the drama that we see every week is real or not and why these Real World and Road Rules continue to engage in such salacious behavior year after year. She also talked about one of the biggest differences between The Real World and the Inferno being the fact that filming stops at a certain point each night on the Inferno unlike The Real World which is filmed 24/7. Interesting stuff.
I hope my path crosses with Jen’s again in the near future and I have no doubt that it will. Reality television is like the mafia or the New World Order. You are in it for life and nobody is a stranger.
– Episode 4 of the Inferno 3 airs tonight on MTV in Canada at 10 p.m. ET. Episodes air on Tuesdays in the 10 Spot with the finale airing on September 25.
MTV Live airs Monday to Friday on MTV in Canada at 6 p.m. ET.
Sir Linksalot: The Inferno
Tags: MTV, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, The Real World