May 27, 2008 08:44 PM by Joe Reality
The seventeenth season of the Real World was set in Key West. One of the seven strangers living in the house was named Paula Meronek, but she went by the nickname Paula Walnuts. Currently the twentieth season of Real World set in Hollywood is airing on Wednesday nights starting at 10 PM ET/PT on MTV.
Real World Consultant and Journalist Neal Damiano recently caught up with Paula Walnuts about her experience during Real World Key West. Paula Walnuts granted Neal Damiano an exclusive interview for Reality TV Magazine.
RTVM: How did you get cast for Real World Key West?
Paula: I was living in New Jersey, working a regular job, hating my life. I sent in a tape to casting without telling anyone. Then a year later Bunim/Murray Productions gave me a call and said do you want to start the casting process, then from there started the snowball effect.
RTVM: How did the casting process go for you?
Paula: It started with a 26 page application form, then to several interviews on camera, then they interview your friends and family, then you go to semifinals in LA and eventually to finals.
RTVM: Why do you think you were chosen as one of the seven housemates?
Paula: I think they saw I had just about every issue a girl could have. I think they saw that I was honest with my problems and open to expose them. I think a lot of people try to be something that they are not to get cast and they saw that I was real.
RTVM: When you finally met the roommates was there anyone that you related to instantly?
Paula: It’s such a surreal experience, you have the cameras in your face 24/7. You’re living with six other crazy people. It’s such a weird environment, Svetlana and I instantly gravitated towards each other, Jose was super sweet. I was just so freaked out by the experience, I put up a wall, but I was very honest with my problems so everyone was understanding towards me.
RTVM: Do you think they accurately portrayed your personality or did they dramatize your issues?
Paula: I love Bunim/ Murray, the crazy thing is they made me look better than I actually was. I was a complete nutcase, and they were so caring, offering me therapy and really genuinely wanted to see me in a good place. I was a trainwreck, they were worried and showed a lot of bad stuff, but for the most part they were good to me showing who I was everyday.
RTVM: They showed you having an attraction towards John, was that for real or played up?
Paula: Oh no, I really did seek him out. When I got really drunk, I went after Johnny Bananas for some reason. When I got drunk, I made it really miserable for him. I had this vendetta against guys at the time, he was the typical frat guy, alpha male type to go after. We are actually the closest friends from the house now, we’re really good friends.
RTVM: The environment you’re in with the cameras and living with six people you don’t know, did that add to your stress and issues, at any point did you want to leave?
Paula: Everyone at some point wants to leave because there’s no vice to get yourself out of, you’re constantly thinking about your situation. There is no TV, radio or ipod, it gives you such inner reflection. I had such issues and stress and always felt looked at, but as time went on you forget about the cameras and you own the experience.
RTVM: What was the best part of the whole experience?
Paula: Watching it actually, because in the house I was literally fighting an eating disorder. It’s a weird thing, you don’t know you’re in trouble ’till you actually see it. When I saw myself on TV, I was like wow that’s why everyone is so concerned and that really helped me get past it. I’ve had people write me thanking me for putting it out there with all your issues and being so honest. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, I learned so much about myself.
After the interview, Paula also mentioned that she was terrified from the hurricane that hit while they were in the house and that it destroyed everything.
Paula’s official MySpace page is located here.
Photo Courtesy: Neal Damiano