College Park resident on MTV's Real World' reality TV show
UM grad stars in 25th edition of MTV's reality TV show
Michael Ross just wanted to get out of town.
At the suggestion of his friend and roommate, Ross, 23, of College Park decided last April to head to Philadelphia, Pa., and audition for MTV's 25th season of "The Real World."
Several more auditions and six months later, Ross found himself 2,000 miles away from the ex-girlfriend he wanted distance from, living with six strangers and having his every move taped as part of the latest cast of MTV's "The Real World."
The reality TV show features about seven or eight strangers men and women in their 20s who live together in new cities while cameras film them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The Real World XXV: Vegas" premiered March 9. The show began in 1992 in New York City. Previous shows have been held in 17 U.S. cities and four countries.
Ross, a 2010 University of Maryland, College Park, graduate, said he was "shocked" when he was told he was cast in the show and going to Las Vegas.
"It started as a joke and I never really thought that I would actually get on," Ross said.
Between April and July, Ross said he had three or four callbacks from casting directors who asked him questions to get a feel for his personality.
The show was taped from October to December, said Ross, who lived in a Las Vegas apartment set up by MTV.
"I was nervous. I'm moving into a house with a bunch of people I don't know. I'm going to have to co-exist with them or learn to live with them and have millions of people watch me," said Ross, who said getting used to the cameras was an adjustment. "It's all out there and you get to a point where you just have to be OK with it."
Ross said the show was a learning experience as he thought it would be a lot of partying and fighting.
"I came out with the realization that while all of that happens, the show really is about growth," he said. "The show really gave me an opportunity to not only learn a lot about other people, but also about myself. It turned me into even more of an open-minded person."
Ross described the show's cast as "pretty eccentric characters, pretty strong-willed characters."
Other cast members hail from Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.
Ross' friend and roommate David Kraus, 21, of College Park said he watched the first episode and thought Ross was himself on the show.
"When he comes home he's still Mike, he's the same kid," said Kraus, a UM senior. "That show is real he's definitely himself."
Ross said he hopes to use his celebrity to speak at different colleges about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and the "green" movement. Ross is also interested in Libertarian politics.
"I want to use this experience to help as many people as possible," Ross said.