Yasmin Almokhamad Opens up About 'The Real World: Atlanta' Experience
What happens when people start being polite and started getting real...on social media? The answer is The Real World: Atlanta, the 33rd season of MTV’s long-running reality series currently running online via Facebook Watch. The overall social experiment of following seven strangers as they share under one roof remains, but the format is not, with multiple scene drops leading up to a full episode on Thursdays.
Embarking on this new era for the show is Dondre Randolph, Arely Avitua, Justin Blu, Tovah Marx, Meagan Melancon, Clint Wright and Yasmin Almokhamad. They each bring unique backgrounds and life experience.
Almokhamad, for example, is a pansexual who grew up in Seattle with a Christian mother and Muslim father. This artist and model is a free spirit who is unapologetically comfortable in her own skin and proponent of body positivity. Here the 27-year-old checks in to talk about her time in the house.
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Did you have any trepidation about doing the show?
Yasmin Almokhamad: I was more nervous to leave the comfort of my life that I had built for myself because I had recently moved to New York. Everything in my life was finally coming together exactly how I wanted to. Then I basically abandoned it overnight. It was very scary thing. I told friends I wasn’t going to do the show, they were getting mad at me. “Everybody wants to be in your position,” they said. I thought nobody was going to like me there.
Then there was the thought of having a moment that will never leave your life. Saying the wrong thing or something like that. It’s a fleeting moment that can be stuck with you forever. That was a fear, but I’m the type of person that doesn’t regret anything I do. I do believe even if you do something wrong or that might be offensive or hurt someone, it happened for a reason. So I didn’t let thoughts consume my mind because if I did do something wrong or hurtful, it’s learning more than anything.
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They’ve done a great job casting a diverse group of roommates this year. Is there one who you might have had a certain perception about from first impressions that changed considerably as you got to know them?
I’m a very judgmental person. I think I know everything because I’ve experienced so much in life. I think I know it all. I’d say 75 percent of the season I was proven wrong. Being exposed to all these personality types. People with different life paths and experiences.
People thought I wasn’t going to get along with Meagan because she is so conservative, and I’m more open-minded. I actually didn’t have preconceived notions about Meagan. I thought she was sheltered. I had no issue with bonding with over time.
The person I thought I wasn’t going to bond with over time was immediately Dondre. I thought I would have to rip Dondre a new one from the first 30 seconds of meeting him, let alone live a house with him. But Dondre is now one of my best friends ever. We talk every day. We actually have so much more in common than we realize. Even though people haven’t had much exposure to all these different parts of him on the show yet, I will say Dondre does actually have a mission to bring people together and learn and understand people.
You mention Meagan. What was it like to help her come out of her shell through the letter you wrote and the photos you took of her?
I tried to share with Megan the tools I use myself on a daily basis for many years to build my confidence and through healing. With Megan, I wanted to teach her. For me, I write affirmations on a daily basis, learning gratitude. Taking photos might seem like a very shallow thing, but for some people they never let themselves be in the photos.
In our society, image is such an important thing. Knowing that somebody looks at you in a way you wish you can see yourself can spark an idea. I was hoping through taking photos of her, she can see people do appreciate and see her beauty even though she is not able to see it in that moment. Megan is gorgeous. Honestly, when she walked in the door I thought she was the prettiest girl in the house. She is so beautiful, so I was confused why she couldn’t realize that herself.
You have been a confidante in the house and someone who keeps the peace within the house. Is that a role you expected to have?
Even in my personal life, people tell me I have a very maternal energy. Even at my job as an art teacher at a juvenile detention center, I work with youth primarily. Being in this house was kind of like working with youth. I know that sounds almost ridiculous, but some of the people in the house didn’t get an opportunity to do the internal work or process their trauma or emotions over time where I have gone through countless years of therapy and learned about myself and others. But also how can I not be compassionate when someone needs my help.
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I’m with these people all day long. They are in front of me, so I’m not going to ignore someone who needs help. I don’t want to devalue their experience because the only way to move on through pain is to acknowledge it. It’s something important to me because I know how much s--- I have gone through that has been painful, but I worked through all that stuff to get me in the position I am in today. I hope providing these tools can help someone do the same thing.
You are touching on a lot of tough topics through this platform and getting the chance to see the reactions on social media. The cast is spurring conversation coming off of dialogue regarding race, gender labels, representation, sexual orientation, rape, immigration and politics in general.
I always like to say people’s existence is a revolution in itself. Existence is resistance. People like Arely, who is an undocumented immigrant who has experienced the trials and tribulations of this nation. Her existing and trying to be the best she can be in her daily life is an act of resistance against this whole system that is made to benefit her.
The same can be said for everyone in the house in very different ways. Whether it’s Meagan’s self-esteem, Dondre’s sexuality, Justin’s black activism. I think it’s very powerful that we can all be ourselves together and existing. I think it’s a form of activism in itself.
Every single person in this country is living their own story. That’s their own personal experience. Whatever people are going through, they need to realize them living is a form of activism and bringing attention or they have an opportunity to bring attention to what matters most to them.
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What can we expect with the rest of the season?
There is a lot more debates happening. People think it’s closed out and done, but no. There are things still unsaid, especially in the final episodes because we feel like we are reaching the end and you see a lot of people baring their soul in the end. In regards to me, you get a sense of what my personal struggles may be and if I find a way to fix them or not.
New episodes of The Real World drop Thursday nights at 9/8c on MTV's The Real World page via Facebook Watch. Multiple scene drops Monday-Wednesday Noon/11c and through Facebook Stories.