19 Latino Cast Members That Made ‘Real World’ the Melodramatic and Unforgettable Show It Is

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Real World, the MTV show that hoped “to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real,” was a pioneer in the growing reality TV boom that so characterized the 1990s. Premiering in 1992, it presented the novel concept of confining seven strangers to a household and documenting their life together. What was first a fascinating look at the conflicts that arise when people from different backgrounds are forced under the same roof ended up becoming an equally entertaining series of drunken makeouts, breakdowns, shouting matches, and epic meltdowns.

Awaiting the show’s 31st season, which returns to Las Vegas in 2016, here’s a list of 19 houseguests with Latin American roots who span the gamut from AIDS activists to outright party girls and everything in between.


Irene Berrera-Kearns

Real World: Los Angeles

The show’s second season moved West and was initially titled Real World: California, though the title was later amended to Los Angeles once other seasons were set in that state. The Southern California native worked as a cop and for the Los Angeles County Marshal’s Department. Described by the show “as the ‘mom’ of the house,” she eventually left the household midway through the season after getting married.


Pedro Zamora

Real World: San Francisco

A Cuban-American AIDS educator, Zamora was the first openly gay man with AIDS to be presented on national American television. During his time on Real World: San Francisco, he was able to bring awareness to what was then still an underserved epidemic. He died of AIDS complications mere hours after the final episode of Real World: San Francisco aired in 1994.


Rachel Campos

Real World: San Francisco

A young Republican who grew up in a conservative household, Rachel’s major storyline during this politically-heated season was her interaction with Pedro. She functioned as an audience surrogate as she slowly warmed up to Pedro and his AIDS diagnosis.


Melissa Padrón

Real World: Miami

Born into a Cuban-American family in Miami, Melissa is perhaps best remembered for her epic fight with Dan during which she called him a “flamer” and for the infamous shower threesome that would soon seem tame in comparison to later season’s focus on attention-grabbing sexual escapades.


Elka Walker

Real World: Boston

Still mourning the death of her mother, Mexican-American Elka Walker grappled with her father’s controlling ways throughout the season, at times openly rebelling by smoking a cigarette and getting her eyebrow pierced.


Willie Hernandez

Real World: Philadelphia

One of two gay cast members that season, Willie came from a religious family who didn’t accept him for who he was. He left his home at the age of 15, though he remained close with his siblings. With a musical theater background, Willie hoped to pursue a career as a writer-actor though he worked as a personal shopper. Before his appearance on Real World he was a child actor on the show Ghostwriter.


Johanna Botta

Real World: Austin

Peruvian-born Johanna moved to the U.S. as a small girl and grew up in Southern California. MTV described her as “highly opinionated and argumentative.” She hoped to become a clinical therapist.


Jose Tapia

Real World: Key West

Raised in Brooklyn, Jose is a real estate broker known to his friends as “The Don.” An unforgettable presence on the show, his main source of drama emerged when viewers and housemates learned he was moving out of an apartment he shared with his former girlfriend.


Jennifer “Jenn” Grijalva

Real World: Denver

A former Oakland Raiderette cheerleader and a self-professed party animal, Jenn grew up in Martinez, California. From the season premiere onwards, she was at the center of a love triangle with fellow castmates Colie and Alex.


Shauvon Torres

Real World: Sydney

Having ended her engagement to her fiancé to pursue her career, much of Shauvon’s story during this Aussie-set season focuses on her attempts at becoming a successful journalist. She even writes her own dating and relationship column titled Sexcapades. She eventually leaves the house to return to her fiancé.


JD Ordoñez

Real World: Brooklyn

Half-Cuban half-Puerto Rican JD worked as a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld. A gay man who suffered violent abuse at the hands of his father, he put himself through college before securing his job at SeaWorld, which he’d coveted since he was a little kid.


Ayiiia Elizarraras

Real World: Cancun

Ayiiia got on the show as the winner of the contest. Despite coming from a Mexican family, her time in Cancun was her first extended trip to that country. Her past history of self-harm was a prominent storyline in the season.


Derek Chavez

Real World: Cancun

Raised by his grandmother in the small town of Loving, New Mexico, Derek was the resident “nice guy” of the house that season. Openly gay, he stood out among a throng of housemates all too intent on drunken partying.


Josh Colon

Real World: D.C.

A singer, songwriter, and dancer from South Philadelphia, Josh has Puerto Rican roots. His confident demeanor (and proud ladies man bravado) was at times off-putting; in the reunion special, a few castmates talked about his “peacockishness.”


Nany González

Real World: Las Vegas (2011)

A Dominican woman who hoped to become a parole officer (she majored in criminal justice at Jamestown Community College), Nany came to the house after dealing with a number of family issues (an estranged father, a drug-addicted mother). Indeed, her search for her father is central to her stay in the house.


Naomi Defensor

Real World: Las Vegas (2011)

A Puerto Rican and Portuguese American originally from New York, Naomi was a member of the Latin Sorority Lambda Theta Alpha. She was described by MTV as a “firecracker,” which perhaps all to bluntly perpetuated stereotypes about sassy Latinas.



Priscilla Mendez

Real World: San Diego (2011)

The youngest cast member that season, Priscilla is of Mexican descent. Priscilla – who was close to her mother (who had her when she was merely 17 years old) as well as with her large extended family – was also a student at the University of California-Davis during the show’s run.


Averey Tressler

Real World: Portland

A waitress at Hooters during the show, Averey was born in Tecumseh, Michigan. She is of Mexican, Native American, and European heritage. In her bio, MTV characterized her as “insatiable,” seeing as she considered herself “extremely sexual.”


Jessica McCain

Real World: Portland

Hailing from a conservative half-Hispanic, half-Irish family, this sorority girl and model was nevertheless quite liberal-minded in the show’s 28th season – she even admitted to wanting to be a Playboy Playmate. She was described by MTV as the “attention-seeking, annoying little sister” of the household.