Exclusive Interview: Evan Starkman, Contestant on MTV's The Duel (Part 2)
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We all witnessed the Robin and Aneesa incident. Were there things that went on behind the scenes that we didn't get to witness on the episode? Was it as bad as what we saw on television? Yeah, I think it really was as bad. I think that Robin, who I still talk with, was completely out of line. And you will remember - this is not the first time that she's made some sort of racial remark on a television show. We've all made mistakes, we've all said things that we wish we could take back, but when it becomes a repeated habit, you have a problem. You know what I mean? I think that is what really hurt Brad's feelings and other people that have known her for a while. It's like, "Wow, you haven't progressed beyond this? It's not cool to be a racist. It's not cool to judge someone on their sexual preferences." And especially when you live in a Real World house, there are a lot of people who make a lot of different choices and come from different backgrounds, so it's, like, you've lived with people like this for years, so you should definitely be a little more accepting, and I definitely think that the show did give it a fair portrayal. The only thing maybe people didn't really get a sense of enough was how offended people in the house were, beyond Aneesa. Some people even though that...for example, if Tina gets sent home for hitting Beth in the face, is a racial remark not even more hurtful than a punch in the face? Are words not as powerful as a fist? So, some people were even asking for Robin to be sent home. That's how intense it got for a period in time. Generally speaking, most people know that there is a lot of editing that goes on in these shows. Do you feel that The Duel is pretty true to life as far as how it portrays characters? And even for yourself personally, do you feel like you've been portrayed on the show authentically? Absolutely. I think a lot of people think that something funny goes on with editing and, for sure, there is a lot of editing. But there are so many cameras around that are filming 24 hours a day that of course they have to cut it down to make a show. And there's so many interesting people that they want to exploit or show. But you can't act, you can't hide. Production never sets up situations, production never creates situations. They might focus on 10 percent of your personality or 100 percent of your personality, but it is you. I think that I've been portrayed as who I am. I'm happy with how I've been portrayed, and even the times when I'm like "Whoa, I kind of look like an idiot," or "Whoa, that's kind of a funny situation"...it's like, well, it's a growing experience. This is part of who I am, and you accept it, it's very freeing in a way. The whole world knows, so might as well let it go. I definitely think that anyone who's ever said that production has screwed them over, I think they're just too immature to deal with the fact that that's just who they are. The show is about who people are, and they expose different aspects of people. Everything you see is definitely part of who people are, and the Real World really has some interesting people on it. Do you train for these challenges? Absolutely! Listen, I'm not joking...this shit is out of control. You have to realize that 95 percent of cast members make a living from this show. So, this is not like, oh, fun little vacay. This is people's jobs. When they get invited to the challenge...I know people before this challenge who had personal rock climbing trainers, personal boxing trainers, people helping them with agility, balance. I know someone who got a swim coach to help them learn to hold the water. This is their job. And if you're putting three hundred grand on the line, and that's your job, who wouldn't go out and get a trainer, who wouldn't get serious? I don't take it to that extreme, but I'm definitely aware...and you've noticed, the guys on this show get bigger and bigger. It is getting fricking serious out there, and I've been calling for it, I think it's got to start now: I think we need to start drug testing people for performance enhancing drugs. If they're going to do it in baseball, we got to start doing it on the challenge. I think Jodi might need a test as well, you know what I mean? All the guys and Jodi, because she's a heck of a competitor. But yeah, it gets serious. People are training. There's a lot that goes on before the challenge even starts, people calling each other trying to set up alliances. They don't even know what the game is. It gets very serious several months before we leave for the challenge. Yeah, I think I've heard before that you don't even know what the challenge is about before getting into it? That's absolutely right. We don't even know where we are going. People think they call you up and are like, "Do you want to come to The Duel, it's a new concept, it's in Brazil?" No. They say, "Do you want to come to the challenge?" And you go to the airport and you don't know where the plane's going. So, not only is that really scary, but how cool is that as a story? Like, you can tell all your buddies that I went to an airport and I had no idea where I was going. The only thing that I'm assured of is that I'm going to get there, and there's going to be a lot of weird shit about to happen to me, you know what I mean? We have no idea where we are going, we don't even know the game. That's why it's funny when people call and try to make alliances for this stuff, and especially when the game turns out to be The Duel, and you're just like, well, screw that idea. You had mentioned that while a lot of cast members do these shows for a living and this is what their life is all about, you don't take it to that extent. How involved do you plan on getting with these shows and with entertainment? And what do you envision down the road for yourself? Well, I think that the problem with these shows is that if you start taking them too seriously, you really start to lead a super unhealthy life and you become a really weird person. But for me, it's a great time. I get to travel somewhere far and wide in the world, I get to see a new place. I get to meet a lot of interesting, crazy people and I get to do a lot of crazy things. Like, who can say I've swam with sharks or ran on a beach in flippers. We get to do the craziest stuff and it's an amazing story, and there are some perks after the show, but I always tell myself, if I have something better to do, I'm not going to do a show. So for example, I got invited to the next challenge, and I was like, listen, I'm in school. School is my little golden ticket. The shows are a lot of fun and I'd recommend them to anybody, and I really feel like a kid who won the lottery. But, at the end of the day, it's a dead end road, and it's not a lifestyle. So, what I plan on doing, if I was lucky enough to do another challenge, I'd love to. Other than that I'm hoping to use some of the connections in the entertainment industry and some of the publicity to promote my foundation, BranchOut, and try to get positive messages out there to youth. That would be my goal. To help me further my foundation, and have a little fun doing it.
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