Arissa Hill as part of "Real World: Las Vegas" in 2002, and now, an aspiring TV chef.
Yoko Ono changed The Beatles, Michael Jordan changed the face of basketball and, in 2002, Las Vegas changed "Real World," forever. At 22, Boston native Arissa Hill did what she could to aid in the effort.
Hill and her six roommates took over a penthouse suite in the lavish Palms Resort and proceeded to tear the place up with fights and sexual escapades, the intensity of which the series had not yet seen. The quick-as-a-whip wisecracker made a good friend out of Irulan, a near-enemy out of Frank (who once literally slammed a door in her face) and left the desert after four months having cooled her temper by leaps and bounds. That is, until she returned to Sin City years later to film an unprecedented "Reunited" season.
Now, the one-time "Challenge" finalist is busy cooking up ways to land her food project on TV and get her very own restaurant out into the bright lights of L.A. See what she told Remote Control below and keep up with her Twitter for some mouth-watering meal-prep shots.
Do you remember some of your first impressions of Vegas and your housemates?
I was just in such awe of Vegas. I was raised a Jehova’s Witness, so I had never been out in a place called “Sin City.” I was definitely a little scared, and unsure of what was going to happen.
I remember what it was like to first meet Frank. It was definitely just like: "Oh! I see where they’re going with this." I just knew off the bat. He’s so different on that human spectrum--really the opposite side of the spectrum. That was my first indication that it would be a lot of conflicting personalities. But then I walked into the house and met essentially my doppelgänger, Irulan.
What was it like watching yourself when the show aired on MTV?
The experience as a whole was pretty awesome. You have an idea of yourself as you’re growing up and going out into the world. You have a way that you think of what your effect on other people is. But it's totally different when people watch your interactions and then decide how they feel about you. I really learned a lot about myself: That I could definitely do better to control my temper. That was the main one.
What was it like to get a second chance to go back to Vegas, and did you make a concerted effort to do anything differently?
At first I was like "Everything is going to be different now." But it brought us back to the same situations with the same people who were behaving the same. You’re easily reverted back to where you were. You’re just like, "All right, I guess you don’t understand this nice new Buddhist aspect of me, but you will understand when the lion comes back out."
How did it feel to hear other competitors say you didn't deserve to make the finals of "Battle of the Sexes 2"?
I think I performed like a G, really. There were things that I sacrificed for my team that weren’t even highlighted. I still remember that time I got into that glass coffin and was covered with bugs for three-and-a-half hours. I remember laying next to Mark Long, and him saying to me, "The only reason I am not getting out of this coffin is because you are here next to me." Three-and-a-half hours later, bees are swarming around our heads and we’re bitten to shreds.
I mean, I was diving into snake pits. For the most part, I was handling my business. But strength training, endurance--that's different. Strategically, I will say that if I ever did another "Challenge," at the very minimum, I would make it to the end. Minimum. Please don’t underestimate me. I am a strategist.
Have you seen the promos for "Battle of the Exes," and what do you think?
A whole bunch of exes thrown together? And money--the cash incentive? Oh, this is going to be brilliant. Brilliant! I'll be voting for Mark to win.
How has your life changed since your last days on MTV, and what are your plans for the near future?
Life has been life--I've just kind of been navigating my way through it and picking up lessons along the way. I've settled into doing the things that I love that I love for myself: traveling, eating great food, meeting great people. I've just been living, man.
I would love to use modeling and acting as a segue into a food show. I have such a deep passion for food. I love to just present people with delicious plates and watch them enjoy. I'm looking more at my five-year plan--I really hope I will be working at my own restaurant. A very small restaurant...but mine.
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Photos: Rudy Archuleta and courtesy of Arissa Hill