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MTV’s celebrated reality TV series, “The Real World,” embarked on its ninth season, venturing into the heart of the vibrant city of New Orleans. This landmark season marked the show’s inaugural journey to the West South Central States region, setting the stage in the unique cultural backdrop of Louisiana.
Seven diverse individuals came together to share their lives, living under one roof in the meticulously restored Civil War-era Belfort Mansion, nestled in the picturesque Garden District of New Orleans. This season initiated the show’s enduring connection to the city, preceding its return a decade later in its twenty-fourth season.
The intimate narratives and evolving dynamics of the housemates were unfolded over a period of 124 days, spanning from January to late May in the year 2000. Viewers were privy to the real-time unfolding of friendships, rivalries, and unexpected bonds, crafted through 23 gripping episodes that commenced airing from June 13 of that year.
Adding a touch of literary excellence to this season, renowned author Anne Rice graced the show with a special guest appearance, further elevating the rich tapestry of experiences and stories that “The Real World: New Orleans” had to offer.
Join us as we revisit the transformative journey undertaken by a group of strangers, navigating the complexities of cohabitation and self-discovery, all while immersed in the rich culture and history that New Orleans offers, shaping a season of unforgettable memories and life-changing experiences.
In the heart of the Garden District of New Orleans stands the historic Belfort Mansion, a remarkable 19th-century Greek revival edifice that housed the cast of “The Real World: New Orleans.” This two-story mansion, enveloping a sprawling 7,000 square feet (650 m2) at 2618 St. Charles Avenue, exudes history and architectural grandeur. Originally commissioned by Alexander C. Hutchinson, who resided there with his spouse until his demise in 1902, the home has narrated countless stories through its venerable walls.
The storied abode underwent transformations over the years, transitioning from a family home to an apartment complex. As it verged on reclaiming its former glory as a single-family dwelling, it caught the eye of the producers scouting for an emblematic setting that would echo the rich cultural backdrop of New Orleans. Entrusted to the artistic vision of Monroe Kelly, a locally based art director, and the expertise of architect Lee Ledbetter, the mansion gracefully returned to its original layout, poised to become an iconic set for the season’s production.
Breathing life into the mansion were art installations valued at a staggering $293,442, transforming the space into a vibrant canvas that mirrored the dynamic and colorful journey of the cast as they navigated their shared experiences. This illustrious set became a living entity, pulsating with the emotions and narratives that unfolded within its confines.
In the post-production phase, meticulous efforts continued for an extended period of nearly four and a half years to reconvert the mansion to a singular residence. Displaying resilience akin to the enduring spirit of New Orleans, the Belfort Mansion withstood the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, emerging unscathed and standing tall as a testimony to the time-honored elegance and robustness that define this historic monument.
**Jamie Murray (22, Wilmette, Illinois)**
Described by MTV as “cocky, confident, and astoundingly ambitious,” Jamie is a web entrepreneur and Ayn Rand aficionado with dreams of marriage in the future. Despite Melissa’s affections towards him, Jamie remains steadfastly platonic. His journey continued beyond this season, appearing on the spinoff Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
**Matt Smith (21, Hiawassee, Georgia)**
A devout Catholic with a penchant for hip-hop, Matt works as a web designer to fund his studies at Georgia Tech. His protective nature towards Julie remains unyielded to her romantic advances, choosing to focus on fostering friendships during his stay in the New Orleans house.
**Melissa Howard (22, Tampa, Florida)**
An effervescent personality likened to Chris Rock, Melissa, who is half African-American and half Filipino, is recognized for her vibrant humor. Her artistic impulses find an outlet in painting, influenced by her friendship with New Orleans artist Lionel Milton. Post-show, Melissa ventured into TV comedy and embraced marital bliss, adopting the name Melissa Beck.
**Danny Roberts (22, Rockmart, Georgia)**
Danny, a modern-day James Dean according to MTV, harbors a close bond with his mother and navigates a secretive relationship with military officer Paul Dill during the show. His journey reflects a search for identity, resonating with many viewers.
**Kelley Limp (21, Fayetteville, Arkansas)**
As a sorority girl deeply committed to her relationship with Peter, Kelley often prefers his company over that of her housemates. Known for her sassy and strong-willed demeanor, she stands as a pillar of direct honesty and loyalty.
**Julie Stoffer (21, Delafield, Wisconsin)**
Julie, a Brigham Young University student, grapples with the challenges of diverging from her school’s honor code and explores the broader world beyond her Mormon upbringing. Her evolving perspective and troubled relationship with her father become central narratives in her journey on the show.
**David Broom (22, Chicago, Illinois)**
A dreamer with aspirations stretching to the presidency, David emerges as a talented musician, navigating the space between his ambitious future and his challenging past. His endeavors to distance himself from the hardships of his upbringing reflect in his dedicated academic and personal discipline. David’s musical talents enchant viewers, transcending the show to grace stages including the popular “Chappelle’s Show.”