Nate Dern was probably the least geeky of all the Geeks on Beauty and the Geek this season. This was perfectly exemplified by his on-screen romance with Beauty Jennylee. That touching stoyline was perhaps the most notable of any of the events this season. Although he ended up losing in the final elimination, Nate retained his dignity. He stopped by and talked to us at BuddyTV earlier today.
How did you end up on Beauty and the Geek?
Well, I wasn’t planning on being on a reality TV show. Last spring I was walking around campus, handing out fliers for an upcoming show for this band that I’m in. And then these two people came up to me and were advertising an open casting call for Beauty and the Geek and they handed me a flier and said, “Hey we think you would be great for this show.” And then I read the flier and it kind of took a second but then I realized that they thought I was a geek.
And at the time I probably had a big beard and my clothing, which, I was probably wearing plaid pants and a plaid shirt and a trucker hat. I told my friends about it and they were like, “Well, are you going to go?” And I was like, “I don’t know, should I?” And they were said, “Yes, it’d be funny, go to the casting call.” I went just sort of on a whim and then, you know, they invited me back for another interview. One thing led to another and all of a sudden I’m going out there.
What were your expectations or goals going into the show?
One goal was just to be open as possible. I heard it was going to be tough and strange with the cameras and I just wanted to be as open as possible, try to meet some new people and try to learn from them. Yeah, just ready for anything, pretty much.
What were your initial thoughts when you found out you were going to be partnered with Cecille?
Well, at first I was just intimidated because she was very, um, aggressive in terms of being physical. And I’m kind of a shy guy at first and she was giving me hugs or spanking me on the butt; that kind of really intimidated me. But that was in the first hour, my reaction, and then after that the next sort of phase of our relationship was me thinking, “Well, she’s different from you, you have a lot to learn from her and maybe she can learn something from you.” So I just tried to be positive. But yeah, I think we definitely had some differences.
Cecille was probably the most frustrating of all the Beauties to have as a partner. How difficult was it for you to deal with that and did it get easier as the show went on?
Well, I think I might agree about that. I think the other contestants would agree as well. And, you know, one of the things the show is supposed to do is bring people together that otherwise wouldn’t work together and that was definitely the case with Cecille and I. I learned a lot from her, just in terms of how to work with people that are different from you and maybe even have different values than you do. So, if the experience was about learning, I’m grateful that Cecille was my partner because I think we tend to learn a lot when things are difficult and things were definitely difficult with Cecille as a partner.
Would you agree with Megan and Scooter, who said yesterday that Cecille was given a tough edit?
Well, I think that reality TV shows, I don’t know if they create fiction, I think that they exaggerate things. I think that they exaggerated parts of Cecille’s personality. They didn’t show conversations late at night when Cecille was telling me about her sisters or her mother and how much she cared about them, you know, they don’t show that. However, especially in the last episode, Cecille said some really mean things about other people and, I don’t know, how much of that is creative editing? It’s not even camera test, it’s her saying mean things. That being said, it was a frustrating time, she was feeling cornered and feeling a lot of pressure, so maybe she said some things that maybe in other circumstances she wouldn’t have. Yeah, I think that they definitely chose to represent Cecille in one way, but I don’t think Cecille made it difficult for them to do that.
Your romance with Jennylee was one the biggest storylines of the season. Looking back, how do you feel about everything that happened?
You know, watching the romance develop on the episodes was one of the hardest things just because it was one of the most personal things and, obviously, if I was going to kiss someone in the house I should have been expecting that they were going to show that on TV. But at the time it wasn’t thinking about that, the only thing I was thinking of was, “You’re an amazing person that I’m sharing this experience with and we might never see each other again.” So, even though it’s less than ideal sharing a moment with each other with a video camera right there, it’s the only option.
Was there anything more with Jennylee that you wish they had shown on TV or is it the other way around?
No, I mean, it was just that we shared a connection with each other and I hope it came across how much we meant to each other. Like I’ve had some people wonder if I really liked her and did she really like me. You know I definitely had feelings for her and I hope that that comes across.
I know a lot of fans are curious, what will your and Jennylee’s relationship be going forward?
Well, right now we’re in different geographical locations, I’m finishing up school on the east coast and she’s working on the west coast, so for now that makes a romantic relationship sort of difficult. But I think that we’re just going to stay close, stay a part of each other’s lives. We’re both a really important part of each other’s lives and I don’t think that will ever change. I’m actually going to be visiting her next week.
Was there ever a point on the show where you thought you had a good shot at winning?
Yeah, I tried to put winning it out of my mind because I was trying to focus on the day to day interacting with other people. I am a person who values hard work and so each challenge I went in wanting to win. I like to do the best job I can at everything I do. So definitely, challenge by challenge, when I found out what the challenge was, my attitude was like, “Okay, we’re going to win this.” I wanted to stay in the house as long as possible because I wanted to get the most out of the experience, but wining in the end was never the most important thing.
Going into the finale were you pretty confident?
I definitely thought we had a good chance. When we walked into that room before they revealed how it was going to be determined I thought that Cecille and I definitely had a good chance.
Were you surprised that the winning team was going to be determined by the votes of your fellow contestants?
I was completely surprised. Even when the host told us that the people who knew us best were going to be voting, my first thought was like, “Oh, are they going to have viewers call in and vote?” Even though it was in the future. I had no idea how they were going to determine it. So, when they showed them on the screen it hit me and I wasn’t even thinking about how they were going to vote, I was just so happy that I got to see everyone again because every single elimination room event was really sad because you were having to say goodbye to people that you had entered the game with and maybe you would never see again. And, so just being able to see everyone again was awesome, really awesome.
You actively campaigned for your fellow contestants to vote against you? What made you want to do that and was it hard for you?
Well, you know, that night after we found out how it was going to be determined, I talked with Cecille, and I think Cecille and I both had a sense that night that we were probably not going to win. We had a sense people were favoring Scooter and Megan, so we talked about it that night and tried to come up with a plan. You know, the way I tried to frame it to her was that she was given the opportunity to make things right and that she should consider herself lucky that she was given a second chance to be kind to people that maybe she wronged. So I was trying to make her see it as a good thing and then the next day, especially that morning, it became clear to me that Cecille hadn’t changed and also was saying she hadn’t changed and was sort of indignant about the thought that she would change from the experience. So it really hit me like, “You don’t deserve to win this, we’re probably not going to, so I might as well.” I don’t know how many people’s minds were changed but I just wanted to make sure that nobody voted for us and also wanted to let people know who weren’t going to vote for us that I appreciated them and there’d be no hard feelings and that we’d still be friends.
One last question: What are your future plans?
I’m going to be going to Cambridge University in the UK next year for a one year masters program and then after that I’m going to do Teach for America for two years and then, in terms of what I am going to do with my life, I’m not really sure. I like teaching, I’d like to keep learning my whole life.