A Conversation with Reality TV star Paulie Calafiore

Reality TV star Paulie Calafiore visited ‘Jake’s Take’ for ‘A Conversation.’ (Photo courtesy of Paulie Calafiore)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome Reality TV star Paulie Calafiore to Jake’s Take.

Reality TV fans came to know him in 2016 when Paulie starred on Big Brother’s eighteenth season. He spent 65 days in the house, won the Head of Household twice, and won three veto competitions. Following his appearance on the CBS television series, he appeared on the inaugural season of Ex on the Beach USA.

Over the past two years, Paulie has become an integral part of The Challenge community. For his first season, The Challenge: Final Reckoning, he was forced to team up with Big Brother 18 houseguest Natalie Negrotti. Despite being sent to The Challenge redemption house, the duo ultimately took home third place.  On this season, The Challenge: War of the Worlds, Paulie is partnered with newcomer and American Ninja Warrior star Natalie “Ninja” Duran.

In this edition of “A Conversation,” Paulie Calafiore opened up about the similarities and differences between Big Brother, The Challenge, and Ex on the Beach. He also gave his opinion on why the Big Brother and The Challenge are similar and different, plus teased his new podcast: The Lion’s Mentality.

Jacob Elyachar: This summer will mark your third anniversary entering the Big Brother house. How have you grown as a person since that experience?

Paulie Calafiore: It’s the same as anything that comes with age. It was not just the Big Brother house. It was the environment of being in that pressure cooker, competing, and realizing that you can handle certain situations a little bit better. If anything, Big Brother taught me more the game of politicking. When it comes to the real world because that’s exactly what Big Brother is whereas The Challenge is more reliant on your performance in competitions. As a person, I have learned how to communicate better in real life. I have also learned how to put my ego aside when it comes to dealing with business situations when it comes to friendships, family relationships, real relationships. Overall, it showed me how to deal with people online and hate that they can spew. It humbled me a little bit for sure.

Jacob Elyachar: You have appeared on several Reality TV shows such as Big Brother, Ex on the Beach, and The Challenge. What are some of the similarities and differences between each show?

Paulie Calafiore: Each show is different. Big Brother is very much a social game. It is relying on how good you are at being a chameleon while at the same time being strategic and then hoping that you can pull off the competition win here or there or that your alliance stays loyal to you and they can win competitions when you’re not safe. Whereas The Challenge, you can continue to win challenges back to back to back until you lose. Then, it does not come down to getting voted out. You really cannot get blindsided. If you do get blindsided, you go into elimination and then if you lose, you go home. If you win, you come back, and all hell breaks loose. I do not know about Ex On The Beach. That was stupid and completely different. It was just a whole bunch of people fighting, arguing, hooking up, and then getting wasted.  I don’t drink so I stayed away from alcohol. I stayed with one person the whole time while I was on the show because I didn’t want to deal with any unwarranted drama. I tried to provide funny commentary which is not indeed viewed anymore. They want people talking shit it causes Twitter drama.  So, I feel like the subtle art of interview comedy is slowly fading.

Jacob Elyachar: I am glad you brought up Twitter. As a Reality TV fan, I noticed that several shows such as American Ninja Warrior, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice have fan communities that lift each other up. However, what I noticed about is that the Big Brother and The Challenge fans on Instagram and Twitter are so toxic. In your humble opinion, why do you think is it that way?

Paulie Calafiore: I don’t know what it is. As you said, the American Ninja Warrior community, they all uplift each other for the most part. However, there are a few bad eggs in that group. Even in certain other communities that are all about having each other’s back. Just like Bachelor Nation, even though that is probably one of the most pathetic shows on TV. They usually have each other’s back on social media and always praising each other. I think the problem is with both Big Brother and The Challenge that most people who are going on those shows because they want followers, fame, and attention brought to themselves. There’s only a select few that goes on to those shows for competition and the money. Others for a reputation of being a good competitor or being a strategic mastermind.

What happens is then in Big Brother it’s one and done.  The only way to stay relevant, you know, once you get this short burst of fame when you first get off Big Brother is to trash the people who are villains and praise the people who are heroes on each season that comes. So that’s where the toxicity in the Big Brother community comes from because it’s like a mob mentality. Everybody wants to try and gang up on people to make themselves look better, and they try to stand on a moral high ground.

The Challenge is not that different. The only difference is on The Challenge by arguing with somebody on Twitter you can end up being their partner on a future season if it’s rivals. Or you can get yourself cast on the show just by having beef on Twitter. So that’s unique. It’s just a toxic mess because not everybody on these shows is comfortable and confident in themselves enough just to do their own thing and keep it moving. So, they try and drag other people down and get fans hyped. It’s not about being right or wrong anymore; it’s about how can you convince the fans to be on your side. How can you persuade Twitter trolls to be on your side? It’s not about what’s morally right, what’s morally wrong, whether something is right or wrong. You can be a challenger, and you can be like, “Yeah I murdered this person, but these are my reasons.” As long as you can convince the fans that it’s okay, they throw morals out the window mostly. Twitter is like The Purge. Completely anarchy. Where people can hide behind profiles and say and do whatever they want. So, they do it.

Jacob Elyachar: I am glad you brought up the Big Brother alums. Counting yourself, several former Big Brother houseguests are competing on War of the Worlds. In your humble opinion, why does MTV and their casting process embrace the former house guests while the CBS series is only invited a few players back to compete?

Paulie Calafiore: To be honest, Big Brother really does not need to bring people back. That’s not how that show gained popularity. Returning houseguests do not improve the ratings. Yeah, having vets come back is cool but the whole point of Big Brother is like figuring out that game when you go in it. If returning players come back, chances are you will make it pretty far unless all the people there hate you or view you as a threat because you have played the game before. Ideally, houseguests should to go in and lay low for the first half of the season. Also, they should not be loud, otherwise people are going to start looking your way. Finally, they should slowly form an alliance, but let your alliance come to you.

It is a little different when it comes to The Challenge. It’s a competition show. You cannot go one and done because The Challenge is more comparable to sports. Season after season, you come back, and you compete. Whereas Big Brother, it is more of a social game. People want to see how brand new individuals respond to the madness that is Big Brother. Fans do not want to see people who have done it before.  Until you go into the Big Brother house, you really have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. It’s crazy. The Challenge is a little different.

(Photo property of MTV; courtesy of Paulie Calafiore)

Jacob Elyachar: Speaking of The Challenge, you partnered with Natalie “Ninja” Duran this season. What was your reaction when Natalie picked you as her partner? Also, what can my readers expect from your partnership as The Challenge: War of the Worlds continue?

Paulie Calafiore: I loved the fact that she picked me. I was going to pick her. I really like loud confident individuals who are not afraid to say, “I’m here to win and I’m a competitor.” That’s how happy I am that she picked me. Something you can expect from us is to see us perform. Tune into MTV every Wednesday and watch how we do. I cannot give away too much, but we are definitely a bad ass team.

Jacob Elyachar: You and Natalie are definitely a bad ass team because you got one of the biggest Challenge legends [Johnny Bananas and his partner, Morgan Willett] out of the game.

Paulie Calafiore: Yes, He’s gone. I made it a point this season to come in because everybody coming out of last season was like, “You would never last in a real season with real challenges and with the badass challengers the whole time because you spent most of your rookie season in the redemption house.” Even though I came out and dominated the time that I did when I got out, this season was my time to prove that not only can I hang with the best, but I can beat the best, and I can send the best home.

(Photo courtesy of Paulie Calafiore)

Jacob Elyachar: What have been some of your biggest challenges throughout your entire career (sports, TV, et cetera)? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Paulie Calafiore: It is really the same mindset when it comes to everything. You cannot look at the negatives as if it is the worst possible thing in the world, and you cannot look at the positives as if it is the best thing in the world. You’ve got to try and ride the waves of life, because there is always going to be failures. There’s always going to be hardship, struggles, successes, and beautiful moments in life. You really got to just enjoy the beautiful moments while they are there and forget the bad moments as quickly as possible. Learn from them, but then put them where they belong…in the past.

Jacob Elyachar: I really want to talk to you about your new podcast: The Lion’s Mentality. Why did you start this podcast? How does this podcast standout in the podcast community?

Paulie Calafiore: We just released our first episode with my friend and fellow Big Brother 18 houseguest Corey Brooks. Right now, we have recorded about over 20 of them. Our goal is to get at least 40 more podcasts, so we at least have a podcast put out each week for a year straight. So that we could just continue to focus on getting new guests as the year goes on. This podcast is basically set up because we’re bringing successful minds in all fields and all walks of life into one area and having them talk about the mentality because there’s a lot of life traps that are put out there that are meant to stray us away from our path. There’s something inside all of us that turns on when we finally are fed up with accepting what life is giving us and we want to go out and we want to instinctually hunt our goals. We want to succeed in whatever it is we’re setting out to do. And no matter what happens, how do you overcome it? That’s what The Lions Mentality is all about. My co-host, John (Vagueiro), and I have done a really great job interviewing all these successful people from ranges of like fitness celebrities, reality TV stars, entrepreneurs, all people who have proven success coming on just to talk about their mentality, talk about their stories, talk about their life story and times where they were down. They also speak about times where people said they were not going to amount to anything. Our guests also reveal how they overcame these obstacles and became what they are. It also serves as like a guideline to kind of show people where they came end up in life.

Jacob Elyachar: Awesome! Do you and John have a dream guest list? Or who is the ideal guest that you want to have visit the podcast?

Paulie Calafiore: Eventually, we will get there. One day I hope to turn the podcast into an actual panel where we’re bringing celebrities all over the world, flying them in just to kind of talk on the panel and doing it as like a live show. So that’s the ultimate goal of this is to turn it into that. And also help a lot of people along the way by giving out sponsorships to new businesses that are trying to start up and need some guidance and need some help from some of the most successful minds all over the country and all over the world. So that’s the dream right there of where I want it to end up. Right now, it’s just the starting point. It’s just the building blocks. So, the only thing I am focusing on is getting the guests in there, talking to them, having a good time, and putting out some really good content with sound and with the video quality.

Jacob Elyachar: You have inspired a lot of your fans through your Cameo videos and Instagram Stories. If you had the chance to meet with fans who are struggling throughout their lives’ journeys, what advice would you share with them?

Paulie Calafiore: The only thing I would say is that whatever you are going through it is never as bad as it seems. Even though you think it may last forever, it never does last forever. There’s always something that is going to pull out of that moment. But you have to actively and consciously focus on it. You have to wake up and you have to tell yourself that you are going to get yourself out of whatever funk it is you are in or whatever situation you are going through. If you are going to overcome it, you have to be positive.  You have to give yourself positive self-talks every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. Because, it is just like anything else.

To find out how Paulie and Natalie do on The Challenge, watch The Challenge: War of the Worlds on MTV!

You can connect with Paulie on social media! Visit his Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels.  


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  2. […] have gone on to compete on The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and The Challenge. If you had the opportunity to compete on any other shows, what would they be and […]

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