The New Orleans Melissa Interview, Part I
One of the breakout roommates on this year's edition of Real World has to be Melissa Howard. Whether you love her sense of humor, or are annoyed by her stated desire to be in the spotlight, she captured your attention. I wish I had some exciting story about how I searched high and low to find Melissa, but the truth is that she came to us. She started posting on our forums a few weeks ago, and recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to Melissa in a free-ranging, two-hour telephone conversation. The topics discussed ran the gamut, from the editing on the show to meeting former Real World-ers to *NSYNC.
It seems fitting to start the interview the same way that the show starts -- with the true story of seven strangers.
Kim: So, what's the story behind the opening with, "Picked to live in a maaansion...."
Melissa: Ugh! Oh, God. Could I be more annoying? You would record each thing. It would be like: "This is the true story. This is the true story. This is the true story." Then, move on to the next one. "Of seven strangers. Of seven strangers." And you've got this director, like, "Now feel it!" I'm like, "It's a fucking opening, shut up!" Of course, my role on the show is to be the firecracker, and they're like, "We don't want you to read yours normal." So I had to be like, "This is the true story, uh huh, of seven strangers..."
All these things are subliminal, I think. Like, "Let's just play with Melissa with the class issues. She's never had a mansion." So, I'm supposed to be like, "Oh my God, a maaansion!" So, after saying it forty times, I was just fucking with the director. I started having orgasms; I was like, "Aaaah. Picked to live in a maaansion." And so many times, they'd be like, "Melissa, shut up!" [laughs] So, I did it and then they picked the worst one. Julie hates hers too. We were watching the show the other day, and we're like, "Oh my God! You sound like a man!"
Kim: I remember one scene where you and Julie were talking about white beauty standards, and the beauty myth, and all of that. And I thought that was so real, because it was something that every woman, no matter how rich you are, how poor, what race, whatever, struggles with. I think this is the first time in the whole run of Real World that anyone had addressed the issue, about women being insecure because of the media. It's such a big issue.
Melissa: It was reinforced all the time, when we would do photo shoots or whatever. I remember the makeup artist saying, "Well, it's come back to us that you can't do glamorous." So, they'd put me in this kooky-ass outfit, and I'd be like, "Whatever." And you feed into it. Every time you see Julie, she'll have a skateboard, or a tank top and some jeans on.