What’s it really like to live, play and compete on MTV’s The Challenge? Fans of the show have often contacted The Ashley with questions about what it’s like to live in a ‘Challenge’ house, and what really goes on behind the scenes of the show.
Camila Nakagawa, an eight-time veteran of The Challenge and star of the current season, “Rivals III,” was happy to answer The Ashley’s questions about life in the ‘Challenge’ house. Although it appears to be all fun and games, Camila says that being cut off from your loved ones and living in close quarters with people you may not like is not easy.
“It’s worse than prison sometimes!” she told The Ashley. “At least in prison you get a book or a magazine or a Bible! Actually, I think they do allow us to have Bibles but I don’t think too many people bring a Bible to a Challenge house!”
Camila says that there have been points in every season where she has regretted saying “yes” to appearing on a Challenge.
“It’s such a love hate relationship,” she says, adding that she does really love doing the shows. “Every time I say I’m never doing another season, then they call me, and I’m like ‘Ahh, OK!’ It’s hard to say no.”
Below, Camila answers some of the most frequently asked questions she gets about life on ‘The Challenge.’
Are Challengers completely cut off from their family and friends back home? We see them on the phone sometimes on the show.
Basically, yes. Stars of ‘The Challenge’ are not allowed to have Internet access or cell phones. They do, however, get access to a telephone one time a week.
“We get one 10-minute phone call a week,” Camila said. “Every phone call is recorded and filmed, so it can be really tough on personal relationships.”
(This explains why we sometimes see competitors talking on the phone to loved ones. The editors reserve the right to use any recordings/footage that they deem interesting in the episode.)
“Otherwise, we don’t get to talk to anyone back home at all,” she said. “We can’t email them or anything. There’s absolutely nothing to keep us entertained, so our only outlets are each other. It gets to the point where I just don’t want to talk to anyone back home. For me, I’d rather focus on the game and completely forget about what’s happening back home. I’m very emotional and my emotions can get the best of me sometimes if I’m talking to people back home.”
How can these people be away from their jobs for so long?
While everyone on the show has different work situations back home, Camila says that everyone struggles with figuring out how to keep their jobs while they’re away on a Challenge.
“It’s very hard,” said Camila. “You literally put your life back home on hold. When you’re on a Challenge, one day that you’re gone feels like weeks, and one week feels like a month. It feels like an eternity, so when you come back to real life, you feel so out of place. It’s such a weird feeling. By the time you get used to reality, [the producers] are calling you to go on another Challenge!”
Camila counts herself lucky because she works for herself, running a total body cleansing spa in Miami.
“Everything is cleansing-related, so we do colonics, foot detox, massage detox, yoga, everything,” she says. “Luckily I have a partner who is on location [while I am away]. We started this when I was 23. My situation is different than some [Challengers] because I work for myself and make my own hours and can leave for as long as I need to, as long as I plan ahead.”
Camila says that some people have, indeed, lost their jobs over taking absences to compete on ‘The Challenge,’ though.
Do the Challengers get paid for doing the show even if they don’t win the final prize money?
Yes. Most people who appear on a reality competition show receive some sort of appearance fee just for being on the show, and ‘The Challenge’ is no different. According to Camila, Challengers all receive a base fee for just showing up. However, that amount varies depending on who the cast member is.
“It really depends on how many Challenges you’ve done,” Camila said. “But they do pay all of us. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get paid! It varies based on the level of the cast member.”
For instance, a longtime veteran like Johnny Bananas would make a lot more than a first-time ‘Challenge’ star.
What happens to a Challenger who quits the show?
Since Camila has never quit a Challenge, she isn’t exactly sure what happens to a person who decides to go home early. They do not, however, get an extended vacation off-camera once they quit.
“I do know that they have to go straight home,” she said. “They are put on a flight back home and don’t get to do much after they leave the house.”
Next week, The Ashley will post Part II of her interview with Camila, where ‘The Challenge’ star will discuss “Rivals III,” her feud with Amanda Garcia, and how she really feels about those Are You The One? kids coming on ‘The Challenge!’
(Photos: Courtesy of Camila Nakagawa, MTV)