24-year-old Ari Fitz is an Oakland, California native who didn’t have to travel far for the new season of The Real World because it’s back in San Francisco this year. “You can imagine my complete surprise when I found out I was just taking BART,” says the out model/filmmaker, who is one of the new castmates on The Real World: Ex-Plosion, premiering Wednesday night on MTV.
“It was actually fine,” Ari told us. “I was in the middle of a few projects and I was actually really excited because I can keep working on those things without having to kind of drop everything and move to a whole new town.”
We talked with Ari about the show and its new premise this time around, a Real World first: Seven strangers, picked to live in a house and then forced to live with their exes. Ari’s ex-girlfriend Ashley was one of those exes. She also dished on creating horror films, being a lesbian on reality television and how she ended up modeling.
AfterEllen.com: Did you go to school for filmmaking or is it something you picked up on your own?
Ari Fitz: No, I did not—not at all. That’s the crazy thing. I went to Berkeley. My whole little story or my spiel if you will, I grew up close by and I got a full ride to Berkeley, and immediately thought I needed to go for something tangible—engineering or business—so I got a business degree at Cal and after doing a lot of stuff in the start-up community, I just got sick of it and quit everything and was like ‘You know what? I’m going to work professionally as a model to be able to fund creepy horror films” which is what I’m doing right now.
AE: That’s a nice fallback plan! “I’m just going to go model.”
AF: [Laughs] It’s the weirdest thing ever but it happened. I bumped into a few photographers in San Francisco and they were like “Hey have you ever considered it?” I was like “Eh no.” I was never that interested. And then I met my agent and kind of fell in love. I started to book a lot of work and had all this free time and I was like “Finally, I can make films!” It was weird and serendipitous but it worked out because I’m actually doing the thing that i love.
AE: Do you act at all? Are you in your movies?
AF: Yes, I am but it’s kind of by default. Sometimes I’m like “I want a character that can do this and, oh whatever, I’ll just do it.” The short, The Anniversary, is actually me and my ex, so that’s kind of cool.
AE: What can you tell me about how you and your ex ended up in the house together?
AF: The big thing was, coming into the house, my ex Ashley and I were on the rocks, pretty much because of what I just told you. I was the golden child, I was the one that was making money, we had a nice apartment—we pretty much were on track to do the whole getting married, having a family and all that stuff and I’m 24 and I think I just got nervous and had a quarter life crisis, and was like “You know what? I need to be me, I need to live my life” and so we broke up. And I decided I would work as a model and make creepy horror films and started to feel more and more like myself. So really Ash and I, we broke up because of the classic, “It’s not you, it’s me” kind of thing. I needed to spend more time figuring out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t do that when I was in such a committed relationship. It’s funny because, I rarely ever tell anybody about this, but one of the reason why I even said I was interested in going into the house was because of my relationship with Ashley. I broke off this perfect relationship and this perfect life, let’s blow some stuff up. Let’s do some crazy stuff and let’s go and experience one of the craziest things you can ever do, which is moving into The Real World house.
What I know is we went on a day trip and everyone was relaxing. We were on some jet skis and then we come back home and suddenly all of our exes are living with us. I really don’t know how the process happened, I just know that I thought I had six roommates and suddenly had a lot more.