Last week, I got a message on here and on Facebook from a high school student in New York. The full story (that she explained in full a little later) was that her psychology teacher had seen Beauty and the Geek, assigned groups of kids in his class to watch different seasons, then gave them a few options for an assignment after that.
One of those options was to interview a former cast member, so because her group liked me the best (Yay!), they found a way to contact me, we sent a few messages back and forth and I eventually had an hour-long chat via Skype with three high school psychology students. They sent me a list of questions ahead of time, giving me time to think about my answers, so I got to tell them a couple of good stories and I like to think I dropped a couple of interesting knowledge bombs, too.
Some were basic questions that I might get from anyone: Why did you audition for the show, how has it affected your personal life, what would you have done with the money, etc. One question I liked that had an answer they probably didn’t expect was #7 on the list:
Some individuals may feel that receiving the money as an award corrupts the experience. Do you agree with this? In other words, are you glad that you didn’t win?
Aside from the obvious “I would have liked to win”, I don’t think it corrupts the experience. It may affect how you approach it: you may be there for the experience or you may be focused entirely on winning the money, but either way, your goal is set, you know what you’re trying to accomplish. If everyone is there solely for the experience and the money is introduced a few weeks in, that could corrupt it. People’s behavior could change because their goal changes. (I suppose “corrupt” is a personal judgment—you consider money a negative factor—but it definitely alters the experience, for better or worse.)
I also liked the final question, #10:
What was going through your head when you found out that high school students wanted to interview you about a show you did 10 years ago?
Initially, I was flattered. “They like me, they really like me!” Then I was extremely curious. “What was the process that went from ‘high school psychology class’ to them contacting me about a potential interview? What kind of terrible teacher would force their students to watch that show?!” (Plus there was the little voice in my head reminding me, “I’m over 20 years older than these kids… God, I’m old.”)
It was really nice that they’d seen all the episodes recently, so I could tell them stories relating to their questions and they knew exactly what I was referring to (the quotes below are approximate, but you get the idea):
- [One question on the students’ list was about whether I’m still into the same activities that I was ten years ago.] “Remember when someone mentioned ‘going out only two times a month’? That was me.”
- “We were allowed to tell girls anything but the truth about why we wanted their phone numbers, so Chuck was the smartest out of all of us because he came up with the best lie!”
- “I let Scarlet yell at me after the outdoor challenge for a long time because I agreed with her. I knew I screwed up.” [I proceeded to give them a list of things I could/should have done differently.]
- “During the Aftermath, the producers were giving people some of those questions. The girl who asked Joe on a date was 14 years old.” [Joe called her afterward and got to talk to her dad.]
- “They didn’t show all of the questions because someone asked me about how the Boy Scouts responded after my ‘meltdown’ during the outdoor challenge. I think they specifically worded the questions to see what kind of emotional responses they could get.”
Finally, toward the end of the interview, one girl asked me for five adjectives that best describe the experience for me and there’s no question that “memorable” belongs on that list.