First broadcast in 1992, “The Real World” is a reality television program on MTV that was inspired by the groundbreaking 1973 PBS documentary series, “An American Family.” Now in it’s 27th season, it is the longest-running program in MTV history and one of the longest-running reality series in history, credited with launching the modern reality TV genre.
The current season, set in on the exotic island of St. Thomas, follows the young castmates as they experience everything Caribbean culture has to offer from island romance, rum and scuba diving to island-hopping, kayaking, and dancing in the streets at the traditional Carnival parade. And this time around, the seven strangers are living on an island accessible only by boat — so they’re going to get very close, very quickly. In fact, romance sparks almost immediately for four of them.
One of the immediate cast standouts is Brandon Swift, 22, who goes by Swift. He recently graduated from Temple University with a business administration degree in legal studies, and is now looking to utilize his behind-the-scenes television experience.
“I wanted to get into sports/entertainment law,” said Swift. “But now I’ve learned a lot since that I’ve been on the entertainment side of things, especially with being on a television show and I see what goes on a lot with production — and that’s the number one thing that I actually really enjoyed learning about while I was filming: learning what goes on with making a huge production. So, it’s given me some insight and it’s given me some very, very rare information a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to learn about in this industry. It definitely could tie into what I want to do when it come to that field.”
But there’s another side to Swift, one that is charming, charismatic and drives the ladies wild. It was that spirit that lead him to unexpectedly audition for the show. “One of the girls that I was dating at the time, she was trying out for the show and she asked me to go down with her for moral support,” recalled Swift. “I really didn’t want to go, and she literally annoyed me for hours. Finally, I’m waiting in line for hours and decide if I’m waiting in line like this, I might as well fill the paperwork out and throw it in and say my piece. Did that, and the rest is history. They liked me. I got a call back, she didn’t get a call back and then she was mad. I had another interview, then went to L.A., and then the Virgin Islands.”
Currently, Swift is working as a VIP host at a popular local club. While he’s not exactly ready to settle down, he finds the player’s life shallow and empty. When asked directly if he considered himself a “player,” he let out a hearty laugh as he explained his stance on the matter of his love life.
“You know what? I feel like a player is somebody that will say or do anything just to get it,” said Swift. “Me, quite frankly, I will not say or do anything — or lie — just to get a girl. I’m the type of person that has a roster. Sure, I might drop a couple of free agents and some might get picked up in a day or two, but at the same time I’m very up front with women. It’s never really hard for me to get women and have a couple of women on my team because a lot of guys will lie and mislead so that they can get them and keep them. Me, quite frankly, a lot of women find my honesty refreshing. So yeah, I wouldn’t say I’m a player, but a lot of ladies love me back — and we’ll leave it at that.”
Swift possesses a strong sense of loyalty for his friends and family, which he feels causes people to gravitate toward him. Still, discovering that his fellow castmates are not who they first seem to be gives him reason to ponder.
The series was hailed in its early years for depicting issues of contemporary young-adulthood relevant to its core audience, such as prejudice, sexuality, AIDS and substance abuse, but later garnered a reputation as a showcase for immature and irresponsible behavior.
“It’s not as easy as it looks, and I tell people that all the time that being on a reality television show, especially on “The Real World” where you’re recorded 24/7, and there are not a lot of shows that you are on camera 24/7 like that,” said Swift. “You’re always in constant contact. You’re always mic’d up. It’s interesting and it’s kind of difficult. It took me about two weeks to get used to it. A show like that where I pride myself with being very real and blunt, and you see other people that you’re a castmate with and you can tell that for the camera they are being a little fake, but when you sit down with them they are a different person, that was my issue. Somebody like me, who is blunt and is about people being real and people who respect you for who you are regardless, that would eat me up. I couldn’t stand it.”
New episodes of “The Real World: St. Thomas” airs on MTV every Wednesday at 10 p.m.