BET’s College Hill: Interns, a spin-off of its Real World-like reality show College Hill, follows 10 college students over the course of a summer internship in Chicago. Among those interns is 20-year-old Kathy Harris of Hazel Crest, Ill., a student at Illinois State University majoring in acting/theater.
In the second episode, Kathy came out to her castmates, telling them that she has always been gay. AfterEllen.com recently talked with her about her life and what her experience on the show has taught her.
AfterEllen.com: College Hill: Interns was shot in Chicago. You’re originally from there?
Kathy Harris: I’m originally from Chicago. I live in the south suburbs right outside Chicago, and if you live in the suburbs you basically live in Chicago. That’s originally where I’m from, and that’s where I’m at right now.
AE: Did you plan the event of coming out to your castmates on the show, or was it something that happened spontaneously?
KH: It is something that just kind of came up. I was eventually going to [tell them]. But I was trying to feel them out and see what kind of people they were and then put it on the table, because I didn’t want anyone to set me up on dates or anything like that.
AE: It seemed like people were trying to hook up in the first episodes. There was a real dynamic of the guys checking out the girls.
KH: I told the girls I would never date any of them; they’re just not my type. The guys, I looked at them more as buddies as I did as any kind of love interest, anyway.
AE: How out are you in your personal life, aside from the show? Were you out to people before the show taped?
KH: Actually, before I said I was going to go do this show, everybody in my family didn’t know. My friends and people who are around me more than my family, they knew. But I didn’t actually come out to the remainder of my family until I was back from the show.
The show let me know that I’m certain in who I am, and that I know what I do and don’t want. So when I got home, I came out to the rest of my family.
AE: Were they surprised to hear it? And that they were going to see it on TV?
KH: I expected certain reactions from some people, and that’s probably why I waited so long to tell them in the first place. But I’ve gotten a lot of response via email and the internet from people who are so happy that I’m out and on TV.
I’ve spoken back and forth with a few students and young people who are just, "I’m so happy that you came out and you were comfortable with who you are." That’s more the place I am now. The show really taught me not to live my life for other people and not to dim my light to make other people feel comfortable.
AE: Tell me about the business aspect of the show and what you learned. What are your aspirations in that area? I see that you want to be a model.
KH: I definitely want to model. Anybody who’s listening, if you want to work with me I’m totally there for that. I believe that modeling is a way for people to create their own world, their own reality.
I’ve been doing theater for about seven years now, so I’m not just some nobody who wanted to be a star. Acting has been a big part of my life. Plays, theater, art, singing, acting, dancing, modeling — those are my dreams. The business aspect has just taught me that anything I want to do, I can do it. As long as I put my all into it.