"I spoke with Justin, who lives in Atlanta and didn’t have to travel far to be on the show (MTV's The Real World):
Why do the show: “A large motivation for me is there are so many conversations that need to be had. Social media is not the place where these conversations can be made. ‘The Real World’ is a great place for that to happen. We’re in a place with people with drastically different backgrounds with views that could be drastically different. That’s where tough conversations can be had.” A fan: “I definitely used to watch the show. It always seemed like a cool thing to do even with all the crazy stuff going on.”
Working class family: Justin grew up in Clearwater, Fla. with a social worker mom and law enforcement dad. He faced racial discrimination at Florida International University in Miami, which he’ll discuss on “The Real World” in more detail. He became engaged in social justice and how blacks are suppressed in society. And he chose two years ago voluntarily to move to Atlanta, the hub of civil rights, hip-hop and the black elite, to make a difference. He is getting a masters at Georgia State University in African-American studies.
Social media influencer: He has drawn 119,000 followers on Instagram calling himself Justin Blu University. “I just speak about issues going on in the black community and work to educate people as much as possible,” he said. One major issue on his mind: the prison industrial complex that houses so many black men.
Avoiding stereotypes: “I feel I came in with an open mind. I really tried to judge people by their actions rather than their race or whatever stereotypes they might evoke. I tried to give each person a true chance before I made any final judgment.”
Minimal distractions: The magic of this show is the forced interactions even though they were allowed to be on their phones unlike some other shows. “People can’t hide who they are forever, for better or worse. Hopefully, we all learn who we are as well.”
Not an Atlanta expert: Though he knows some parts of Atlanta well, Justin said the show forced him to explore other parts of town. But he said at clubs, he had to keep an eye out of drunk publicity seekers who notice they were doing a TV show and tried to provoke them to get camera time. “People often do act differently when a camera is on,” he said.
He didn’t go home or see his regular friends or do anything routine: “I didn’t even drive by my place. I tried not to think about it. It’s such a different set of circumstances. I felt like I was living in a different city in many ways.”