‘The Surreal Life’ Cast Opens Up About the Return of VH1 Series Return After 16 Years
The doors of The Surreal Life house are opening up for the first time in 16 years with a VH1 reboot. Yes, the celeb reality series that gave us Brigitte Nielsen and Flavor Flav love, Omarosa Manigault, and Janice Dickinson’s beef, and wedding bells for Christopher Knight and Adrianne Curry.
The eclectic cast this time around includes August Alsina, CJ Perry, Kim Coles, Manny MUA, Tamar Braxton, Stormy Daniels, Frankie Muniz, and NBA legend Dennis Rodman. Cameras will be the fly on the wall for viewers as these stars spend a few weeks living together in a home. We caught up with Coles, Mua, Daniels, and Muniz ahead of the premiere to reflect on their experience
What motivated you to join the show?
Frankie Muniz: I watched the show when it originally aired. It was definitely a guilty pleasure. It was really one of the first celebrity reality shows. You would see people in a situation you wouldn’t normally see them in, cameras filming 24/7. When I was asked to do this reboot, I was nervous. A lot of the previous seasons had a lot of craziness and drama. I really thought it would be something outside of my comfort zone, getting to be put in a situation I wouldn’t normally be put in. I also didn’t know who was going to be in the house. I learned so much about myself and others. Both good, bad, and all that jazz.
Kim Coles: It was presented as an adventure. An opportunity to show up and just be and learn and form relationships. The producers were very clear that you would learn about each other. That you’d fall in love with each other, like each other sometimes, and not like each other the other sometimes. We got to have an adventure and show our humanity. A fun experiment.
Stormy Daniels: It was a chance to show your real story and debunk things and to make yourself not just a headline because let’s face it, I’ve been just a headline and sometimes a meme. I thought it was a chance to show that sex workers, porn stars, are human. The one thing that affected me the last four years and what I’ve been through is nobody looked at me as a real person. You never saw my name without the words porn star in front of it. I was simply identified by not just my job but only one of my jobs. I saw this as a chance to maybe show the world that people who work in the adult business are human and have families, friends and interests and talents and feelings, and emotions. Maybe change the perspective a little bit. And for the people who hate me, just keep showing my face on TV.
Manny MUA: I think it’s really important to be able to show who you are as more than a headline. More than your online persona, your acting gig, whatever it might be. Showing the actual facets of you is so important and surreal if you will. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had seven roommates with big personalities. I’ve never had a roommate in my entire life, so I wanted to go into a situation where it’s sink or swim. Where I’m going to be uncomfortable and I’m going to make sure I thrive. That’s exactly what happened.
What from home did you bring that was a comfort to you?
Kim: I brought lots of crystals and sage.
Manny: I brought gloss.
Stormy: Manny brought so many products.
Manny: I wanted to be comfortable, and I wanted to be hydrated.
Kim: You turned us on to a lip bomb that was just all the things. I am also moisturized for life now.
Frankie: I don’t know if I brought anything special.
Stormy: The outfits were enough.
Manny: The outfits you brought were something.
On that first day, tell me about those first impressions.
Stormy: The cool thing was got to know Frankie and not Malcolm. You don’t walk in and see him and not know who he is. We only know that one aspect. Now when I see his face on something I go, “Oh, it’s Frankie!” Then there are people like Rodman, who I won’t say too much about other than that he is exactly how it appears. Except without pants. I didn’t need to see all that.
What are some of the fun activities we can expect to see?
Manny: We got to dress like luchadors and go into a wrestling ring.
Kim: We got to create our own characters. Manny was strutting down.
Manny: You know what was funny? I wanted to call myself something inappropriate. They were like, “That won’t work or TV.” We got to have these kumbaya moments where we are wearing these facemasks and enjoying each others’ company.
Frankie, having watched the show before. What stood out about the reboot?
Frankie: We filmed this about a year ago, still in the height of COVID and lockdowns. Other than my family, I hadn’t been with anybody for a long time. One thing the producers said about the last seasons was there was a lot of drama. Lots of bickering. The producers were like, “We want to make a nice light show. A positive show, and experience, bringing cool life experiences. We really did some amazing things. That being said there is still going to be drama with eight big personalities. There is the good and bad and conflict and all of that. I’m excited to see how thousands of hours of footage actually get portrayed in the show. I think we all learned from the experience, and in the end, when we look back, it was a good time. I’m happy I did it and have some crazy memories for sure.
How would you sum up your time in the house? What kind of feeling did you come away with?
Kim: I came away with a little bit of PTSD because like Frankie said we shot this in the middle of the pandemic. We had only been with our friends and families, and now here were. They tested us every day. We stayed in our own little bubble, but I did come away with a little bit of PTSD and a whole lot of compassion. I think I worked my compassion muscle.
Manny: When I walked in, I was scared as hell. I thought, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m this social media girly. What the f**k am I doing here?” In the beginning, I was like, “I want to go home. This is crazy.” Throughout the experience, I bonded with my castmates, and we had the most amazing experience. By the end of it, I felt like I belonged. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel like they belong. In a situation where I felt like I might not, I did. It was what I was really happy with.
Frankie: I was really scared and left even more scared.
Stormy: Hey Frankie! You’re welcome. I went in very nervous and scared too. In my case, it was more of what else could I get into. I’ve gotten myself into so much trouble. I’ve had so many bad experiences I initially didn’t want to do it. I went in with PTSD and everyone came out with it. I left actually feeling pretty good. I felt like I was heard for the first time in four years. Maybe they didn’t have a choice because we were locked in this house together. I do feel like I saw people’s opinions of me change literally in front of my eyes. Even if people don’t like me or have issues with me, I still feel like they heard me. That was really therapeutic for me.
Frankie; That is what is cool for me about this show.l You might have a preconceived image of a person. Then it changes. When Stormy came in, she came in a day late because she had flight tissues. She may have come in like an outcast, but by the end everyone loved Stormy. That’s a really cool thing to see when might only know the headlines. I hope audiences get to see that for her sake. She is a really cool person.
The Surreal Life, Season Premiere, Monday, October 24, 9/8c, VH1