Nany Gonzalez saw reality TV as her ticket from small-town boredom, and like thousands of young adults from across the country, she tried out for MTV’s “Real World.” The long-running series brings a group of young adults together in one house to live for several months, with cameras taping their relationships.
Gonzalez, who was studying criminal justice at Jamestown Community College, won a role on Season 25 of “Real World.” Taped in Las Vegas at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the series aired last year. For Gonzalez, it was a dream come true.
“I was very bored with my life,” she said during a phone interview from Jamestown. “I’m from a small town, and I wanted to see the world and get a feel for life outside this small town. Doing ‘Real World’ was the easiest way to do that. It had nothing to do with acting or modeling aspirations.”
Her appearance on “Real World” did lead to another reality role, however. This season Gonzalez is appearing on “The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons,” which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays.
The show takes place in Bodrum, Turkey, and brings together fan favorites from seven “Real World” seasons. In all, 28 contestants are competing for the top prize of $350,000.
“If anything, I’m really glad to be back on TV and part of ‘Challenge,’ ” Gonzalez said. “On ‘Real World,’ they saw the emotional, serious side of me. ‘Challenge’ is more about me competing.”
On “Real World,” Gonzalez rode a roller coaster of revelations, including past encounters with domestic violence and an unsuccessful attempt to locate her biological father.
“I did go through a lot on my season of ‘Real World,’ and it took a lot for me to put that much of myself on TV,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t necessarily come off as such a strong person, but since then I’ve grown. I would definitely have to say that the most rewarding part of all of that was the amount of young girls out there who went through what I went through. Despite all the scrutiny, I had a lot of support from the fans.”
On “Challenge,” viewers see another side of Gonzalez. Opposing teams compete in various missions in order to win prizes and advance in the game. Following each mission, two cast members are voted into an elimination round, in which they compete against one another to determine who leaves the show.
“Challenge,” in its 23rd season, premiered Sept. 19.
“The challenges look more scary on TV than they actually are,” said Gonzalez. “It was mostly just getting over your fears. Mine was heights. We had one challenge two miles up a mountain, and we were carrying 50-pound logs. It takes a lot out of you, and if you’re not in decent shape, then it will be very hard for you.”
Gonzalez is contractually barred from revealing the outcome of “Challenge,” which took five weeks to tape. She has quit waitressing and bartending, and now manages a floral shop.
“When I moved back [to Jamestown] it was hard,” she said. “I really didn’t have a lot of friends because they had moved away to the Buffalo area.”
For now, Gonzalez is taking a break from reality TV so she can return to school and achieve her goal of becoming a parole officer. Recently, she said she met a young man from North Tonawanda; they’ve been together for seven months.
“I want to have a career,” said Gonzalez. “Unless you’re on ‘Jersey Shore,’ there’s not really a career on reality TV.”