The Challenge has given us a number of successful people. Not just on the show, but some people have gone on to become bonafide celebrities. While some people fully embrace their past on the show, others have left their MTV experience in the rare view.
Why do people do this? Mostly because it can hurt their chances of getting auditions and casting opportunities. One of the biggest examples of this would be Theo Von. He last appeared on MTV in 2006 (filmed in 2005) on Fresh Meat, and since then he hasn’t appeared on MTV.
Here are a few people who have found success after The Challenge outside of reality TV. Some people like Trishelle moved onto other reality shows, so obviously she couldn’t ignore her past on reality TV.
- Mike The Miz Mizanin- Real World: Back to New York, Battle of the Seasons, The Gauntlet, The Inferno, Battle of the Sexes 2, Inferno 2
- Theo Von- Road Rules: Maximum Velocity Tour, Battle of the Seasons, The Gauntlet, Battle of the Sexes 2, Fresh Meat
- Karamo Brown- Real World: Philadelphia, The Inferno 2
- Jamie Chung- Real World: San Diego, The Inferno 2
- Christina Pazsitsky- Road Rules: Australia, Battle of the Sexes
- Dave Giuontoli- Road Rules: South Pacific, The Gauntlet
Theo has talked about his time in Road Rules in more recent years after he established success outside of the show. He had since appeared on Last Comic Standing, had his own Netflix Special, and created a podcast. He’s doing really well for himself, and his past on the show isn’t defining him. For newbies in the acting or comedy world, their appearance on reality TV has be very defining. There is a stigma attached to it, mostly that people are chasing fame rather than pursuing talents. This can limit opportunities for people like Theo who want to break out of the reality TV mold.
For some people, it’s not all bad. Mike established his “Miz” alter-ego on The Real World. He maintained the persona on shows like Tough Enough and carried that into a career in WWE. Even though The Challenge may have some stigma attached to it, I truly believe Mike benefitted from his experiences. He was regarded as a beast on the show and The Miz has been a television personality for two decades now. A level of authenticity shined through during Mike’s experiences on MTV. That’s not to say he didn’t have some tough moments that could have hurt his career, but he was always willing to grow and came across as very human, not just desperate for fame.
Now Mike is back on MTV in a hosting capacity. Clearly he embraces his past. Karamo, who has a role on the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix, has done segments talking about his Real World experience. Jamie Chung (known for roles in Once Upon a Time and The Hangover) has also spoken positively about her time on MTV. Most of these people enjoyed their time on MTV, but only speak about it once they’ve established a resume based on their talents.
I completely understand why some people ignore their past on MTV. The Challenge is still on and there is a level of trashiness associated with it. There are many polarizing characters on the show and that stigma can carry into other career opportunities. I know that people like CJ Koegel and Scott Herman chose to decline opportunities to compete. Not because they didn’t want to do the show, but because they couldn’t get modeling auditions after appearing on The Challenge. For example, CJ filmed Battle of the Seasons in May and June of 2012. He would be limited in his ability to audition for modeling gigs until November of 2012 because his season hadn’t aired. Until he was off the show, agents would be concerned he’d come across as a villain on the show and a poor representation for brands. So, if he wants to be a model, The Challenge isn’t a smart career move. One season could put him out of work for half a year.
I love when people get successful after the show, and I like it even more when they speak fondly of their time on MTV. Still, they owe MTV nothing. If cast members want to be successful in a different field, they need to carve their own path. Theo Von did it, and I can’t fault him for anything.