Arts and Entertainment

MTV was trip for aspiring actress

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Kendal Sheppard apparently isn’t one to wait in line.

When MTV’s “Road Rules” cast for its United States Campus Crawl tour at the bar and restaurant where she was working in Chicago, she didn’t wait to try out. She cut through the kitchen, went to the front of the line and waltzed right in.

It worked.

She was with friends in an Iowa bar on a below-freezing February night when MTV staff called to tell her she’d be a cast member on “Road Rules 11: Campus Crawl.”

“They told me and a whole bunch of profanities slipped out of my mouth,” she said.

A short time later, her daily life became fodder for national television. Some of it was fine, but some of it was a little tense, especially when she considered her mom was watching.

“There’s certain stuff you don’t want to see your children doing, like drinking,” Sheppard said. “My friends just laughed. After each episode they said, ‘Oh, Kendal, I can’t believe you said that.’”

Sheppard is from Federal Way — she graduated from Federal Way High School — but after high school, she majored in theater at the University of Iowa and currently lives in California.

Now that the show’s over, she’s planning to get back into acting.

“I’m going to Hollywood,” she said.

The premise of “Road Rules” is simple, and the show’s draw comes primarily from the dynamic of the six 18 to 22-year-old strangers who spend several weeks traveling in an RV together and completing missions to get to the next location.

MTV tries to keep things interesting, so the cast members all have different backgrounds, viewpoints and personalities.

“They’re people I don’t think I normally would have picked out from a crowd, but you appreciate the differences,” Sheppard said.

Missions during this year’s Campus Crawl-themed season included gaining a group total of the Freshman 15 pounds in four hours by eating only the types of food that might be found in a freshman’s dorm room, like microwaveable chicken nuggets, and without tanking up on water. The cast also had to try to convince college administrators to bungee-jump.

Sheppard said her favorite mission followed an introduction to extricating herself from a straight jacket. The cast members were hung 110 feet from the ground in a straightjacket and had 90 seconds to get out. Failure meant bungee-jumping in the straightjacket.

“I got out in 32 seconds,” Sheppard said.

Cast members weren’t allowed to go into the game with cash or credit cards, so they had to successfully complete “extra credit” missions for cash to buy food.

This year, MTV introduced a “Survivor”-type challenge: if the group failed a mission, the cast could vote to either forfeit all their cash and prizes to that point or to eliminate a cast member.

The first time the group failed a mission, they voted to forfeit their cash. They had only earned 25 percent of the money possible during the mission to get a college administrator to bungee-jump.

“We ate baked potatoes for a couple weeks,” she said.

Still, the group managed to live by its wits. When they stumbled across a gay club in Texas that was hosting an amateur stripping contest, they talked two of their fellow male cast members to try dancing for money.

The “Road Rules” guys took first and second and scored the group the money to spend $300 on groceries.

The second time the group failed a mission, though, they voted to kick out cast member Sarah, an 18-year-old from a small Oklahoma town.

“It was pretty mean, if you ask me,” Sheppard said.

The transition from waitress and college kid to “Road Rules” cast member wasn’t terribly difficult for Sheppard. “They picked really friendly people,” she said. “I’m a pretty trusting person. It was easy for me.”

She said the cameras weren’t that hard to get used to, and she figured out ways to work the crews. The kids weren’t filmed while they were sleeping, but “as soon as they heard us, they rushed back in,” she said.

“The best way to get rid of a camera crew is to talk about something really boring,” she added.

Overall, “Road Rules” was the trip of a lifetime, she said.

“It was the most amazing experience. After it’s all said and done, there’s no way I’d change it,” she said.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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