MTV changed the formula of The Real World this season, surprising the original cast members by moving their exes into the house. As soon as the exes moved in, the weather went from partly cloudy skies with occasional rainstorms to a full blown Category 5 hurricane. Punches were thrown, someone got knocked up, and general insanity ensued. The two lesbian cast members, Arielle Fitz and Ashley Ceasar, were sane and grounded as the rest of the house self destructed around them. We talk to them about being in the eye of the storm, their relationship, and Arielle’s projects after the show ended.
Arielle Fitz and Ashley Ceasar
AfterEllen: Ashley, when you were trying out for the show, did the producers interview both you and Arielle? Did both of you audition at the same time?
Ashley: The thing is, they didn’t tell us anything about the exes coming on. While they were interviewing Arielle, they were interviewing me at the same time. They kept telling me that they wanted to know more about Arielle, but now looking back I realize how much in depth they were asking us about our relationship.
AfterEllen: Did you tell Arielle beforehand that you were going to move in, or did the producers tell you to keep it a secret?
Ashley: We had to keep it a secret. They didn’t want us to say anything at all. They told me a week before I moved in, so I couldn’t say anything to Arielle for a week. It was kind of crazy and hard. I had visited her one time at the house so I met all the roommates, but I couldn’t say anything.
AfterEllen: What was going through your mind when you moved into the house. I think the producers told you that you would be replacing a cast member, also named Ashley. Did you have any idea that all of the exes were going to be joining the cast?
Ashley: All they said was “Do you want to be the newest roommate?” and left it at that.
AfterEllen: Arielle, what went through your mind when all of the exes moved into the house?
Arielle: Actually at first I was really frustrated because I wanted to move into the house to start a whole new life and really enjoy being on my own, and seeing all the exes there really cemented that the show was going to be about our relationships and not about our lives, which is what The Real World is supposed to be, right? I felt that the carpet was pulled from under me. It was no longer my show or about me trying to figure out who I am but more about me and my relationship baggage.
AfterEllen: Ashley it seemed that you and Arielle were the only couple or ex couple happy to see each other.
Ashley: I had already visited her in the house before, and we were already starting to work things out. We were already in a good place before I moved in. I don’t think I would have moved in if we had not been in a good place.
AfterEllen: I wonder what everyone else what thinking when they decided to move in with their exes, considering what I saw on the show and how not in a good place some of them were!
Ashley: That’s what I am wondering too!
AfterEllen: How bad was the tension level in the house? I saw in the last few episodes, there were physical altercations, Jenny kicking Brian. Hailey backhanding Thomas. Was the environment always tense?
Ashley: Yes, it was definitely crazy. We were living in a house with twelve people, and we only had two bathrooms and two showers. There were five people in a room, and it was like this 24/7, so people were going to break, for sure. I’m not surprised that fights broke out, but I am surprised they got as physical as they did. You’ll see in the finale, it got really crazy.
AfterEllen: Arielle, you broke up a couple of fights in the house. Was there any point where you thought you or anyone else was in danger during the course of filming?
Arielle: I never felt like I was in any danger, but I thought that the level of violence that came up–like between Jenny and Brian–and even Hailey had a freak out–it’s just crazy today. I remember watching The Real World a while back, and if you got physical, you’re out of the house. You’re gone. There were actual consequences. Now you see Jenny karate chopping, and nothing happened, and it seems like that was OK. And it’s not OK. It bothered me that there were no actual consequences for that type of behavior.
AfterEllen: How did you stay sane with all the belligerent behavior going on around you?
Arielle: I was working on my own stuff, going out in the city, working on modeling gigs. Working on my film, so those two things allowed me to stay in the sidelines with all the ridiculousness and chaos. I was really glad to have that, and also Ashley. So yes, that and sex!
AfterEllen: Ashley, you and Arielle seemed to be the “normal” couple in the house, or that was what the show portrayed you to be. Do you think that is accurate?
Ashley: Yes, there was just so much craziness going on around us that we just held each other down. There was just so much other drama going on in the house, and I was working a full-time job the entire time. I wasn’t in the house as much, so that kind of helped too.
AfterEllen: I think the only argument I saw between you and Arielle was an argument over her wardrobe choices. Was that the only disagreement you had while you were in the house?
Ashley: Yeah, pretty much. Like I said, I was working a lot, and also we were working things out at the time. We had no reason to fight.
AfterEllen: Arielle, in the last episode, you said you wanted to be with Ashley after all. How did you come to this conclusion?
Arielle: I think there was just a lot going on in the house, and she and I are still trying to figure things out. While I was in the house, I was just surrounded by craziness, I was overwhelmed, and Ashley was the only person who was centering me. So it made sense for us to try again, and she is the one person who knows me the best.
AfterEllen: Are you guys still together?
Ashley: You’ll have to see the reunion show to find out more!
AfterEllen: Ok, but are you two generally in a good place?
Arielle: I think when you’re watching the show, everyone says, “Oh you’re this perfect couple!” And that added a lot of pressure. Also, we were the only gay couple in the house, and people would say to us, “When I grow up I want that.” We had to put up this perfect relationship for all these people, and yes, I will always love Ashley. But whether we end up together or not, we have a lot to work out.
AfterEllen: Arielle, what have you been doing with your film aspirations after you left the house?
Arielle: The crew I shot the film with in the house–we actually screened the film at Pixar. We will be having a digital release; it will premiere on the ninth of April. It’s funny I can look back at the show, and I don’t have a film school background, but now I am meeting all the right people. And I think people want to see a black queer girl with natural hair and a weird attitude making horror films. I think many people want to see a different type of person creating films. I am already working on my third film. The Anniversary and the prequel that Ashley and I shot can be seen here and folks can sign up to see Open Call which I shot at the house early at opencall.arifitz.com.
AfterEllen: Ashley, you alluded to the season finale being especially insane. Why should viewers tune in, what should we expect, and should be brace ourselves?
Ashley: This last episode is definitely the craziest by far. People did not go quietly. That is all I have to say.
Arielle: Tune in if you want to see an actual demon possession take place.
AfterEllen: Excuse me? An actual demon possession?
Arielle: As a lover of horror films I actually saw this happen in real life. And also if you think Ashley and I are the world’s most perfect couple, you might want to watch the last episode as well.
AfterEllen: But everyone came out alive?
Ashley: Yeah, that is basically the only positive thing to come out of that final episode.
The Real World: Ex-Plosion airs Wednesday nights on MTV.