When The Real World: Brooklyn premieres on MTV tonight, viewers are likely to want to find out more about Sarah Rice.
The 22-year-old student from San Francisco looks different from most of the Real World housemates. Her tattoo-covered arms and dark black hair set her apart from many of the show’s perky, blond female housemates primarily interested in partying and hooking up with their roommates. Rice does not seem interested in either.
In the past, Sarah has dated only women, and she is now in a monogamous relationship with a man. She doesn’t define her sexuality, but knows that a lot of other people would like her to.
Putting your personal life on a show like The Real World does beg for some explanations, and sets up expectations of an on-camera romantic rendezvous. But despite any preconceived notions of the reality series, Rice said we can expect the cast this season to be diverse, career-driven and all “good friends.” Is this really The Real World?
AfterEllen.com talked with Rice about why she wanted to be on the show, how she started working with the Gay and Lesbian Center in New York while living there, and why she’s not so concerned about people judging her sexuality.
AfterEllen.com: How did you become interested in going on The Real World?
Sarah Rice: Honestly I went to the audition — I wouldn’t say a joke, because there was nothing else to do that day. A few friends and I heard about it on the radio and thought “Oh let’s go, it’ll be really funny. Like they’re going to pick us!” Yeah right! So I went and was myself, really and kept getting called back. After thinking about it and talking about it with my family and everything, I figured I really could be a voice and share my story, and even if one person saw me on TV and said they could relate to me, it would make it all worth it. That’s kind of what drove me to do it.
AE: Had you been a fan of the show before you were on it?
SR: I don’t think there’s a person under the planet under 25 or even 30 that can say they’ve never seen an episode of The Real World. I, of course, was familiar with it. I couldn’t tell you everybody’s names from the last five seasons but I knew what it was all about. I also really wanted to go on because I really wanted to show people there are other people out there besides pretty blond girls with big boobs. I felt like I’m a real person and really wanted to be on there to show others not everybody with tattoos and black hair is what you think they’re gonna be.
AE: Did you start to wonder what it was about you that was really of interest to them, that was different from other people auditioning?
SR: I think a lot of it was that my exterior does not match my interior. People look at me and expect me to be some party girl. They don’t know I’m an advocate for victims’ rights, and they never guess that I want to be an art therapist and work with children. I think the appeal was that I’m not what people expect.
AE: Were you apprehensive about the people they were going to place you with?
SR: Yes, I was convinced, based on what people were telling me — friends were like “You know you’re going to be the only one like you. They’re all going to be a bunch of frat boys.” I was prepared for that. I was absolutely shocked and impressed with everyone once I met them. It felt so good to be in a house with people who felt the same way I did. We all thought we would be the odd ones out. I like to say we’re like an entire flock of black sheep.