Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio From ‘The Challenge’ Reveals How He Became 1 of the Longest-Standing Reality TV Personalities
As one of the longest-working reality television personalities around, Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio went immediately from MTV’s Real World to The Challenge. Then he added new shows like Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. Most recently he became the host of NBC’s travel series 1st Look. Devenanzio is only turning up the volume on his career.
He’s been in the reality spotlight for more than 15 years, which equates to eternity in an industry that churns out new faces every season. Devenanzio made his entrance on The Real World in 2006 and has worked steadily in the reality space. He’s also added “actor” to his resume, scoring parts in American Dad and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.
Devenanzio recently talked to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. He shared what is behind the grit and drive that allows him to continue working in an increasingly competitive space.
Devenanzio refuses to slow down
Devenanzio has gone hard in the reality space and it’s paid off. “I’m the only cast member who has never taken a break,” he said recalling the cast from The Real World. While others from The Real World have paused to get married or have children, he is always sharking for the next deal.
He reflected on his longevity on MTV’s The Challenge. Devenanzio moved immediately from The Real World to The Challenge and has remained a constant ever since. “I’ve stuck with it,” he says. “I’ve always known in a weird way, this is what I’m cut out for with the competition and the entertainment version.”
His “ability to just get under people’s skin and tease people and stir the pot,” is also an asset. “I really found my calling,” he remarks. “My calling was to be on television and to entertain people.”
Re-inventing himself is key to remaining relevant
While determination helped Devenanzio remain in the public eye, so did his ability to be a chameleon. He’s been able to ride the wave as reality TV has morphed and changed.
“My success from The Challenge doesn’t come from being the biggest or strongest guy,” he says. “My ability to be successful and to win on The Challenge is my ability to adapt. I’ve always said that it’s my ability to be a chameleon and just be able to kind of morph and form into whatever circumstance I’m in at a drop of a hat. That has given me the ability to continue to change and evolve.”
One example he shares is his new hosting job for NBC’s 1st Look. Devenanzio is used to being the big personality in the room and doing all the talking. He shared that he needed to learn how to be on the receiving end of the experience and be a curious listener. “And understand that not everything that comes out of your mouth has to be a joke or have a punchline,” he says.
“One of the most valuable pieces of information I was given from my producer was a little bit of humor won’t make information go down,” he shares. “It’s OK to be informative. And it’s OK to be vulnerable. Which I wasn’t so used to, being on The Challenge.” He said the persona he developed on The Challenge was of a protective nature, whereas as a host he can be more serious and pivot to more of a journalistic role.