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Rough road

A Tampa woman takes on the challenge of being on Road Rules, the MTV series that makes its cast members perform extraordinary feats.

By PAMELA DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 8, 2001


photo
[Photos: MTV]
Jisela Delgado, 20, of Tampa had a rough start in Road Rules, which was taped earlier this year in Morocco
and Spain.

TAMPA -- She fell off a ladder that was hanging from a helicopter hovering 300 feet in the air, then toppled off a camel as it trod through the Moroccan desert and ended the day by vomiting into a big green bowl.

Her first experiences as a cast member of the MTV reality series Road Rules turned out to be doozies for 20-year-old Tampa resident Jisela Delgado.

Feeling sick to her stomach and sick about her misadventures, Delgado cried through much of that first Road Rules adventure. And as is the purpose of the TV show, it was all caught on tape.

"The director wouldn't give me an aspirin. That's when I first realized that they really don't help you," she said.

In the beginning, ignoring the cameras turned out to be Delgado's biggest challenge.

"They had to sit me down and tell me that (the camera operators) are not allowed to talk to me. I didn't grasp the concept at first. I didn't think it was real like that. There's an imaginary line,and you can't cross over into their world."
photo
The cast of the 10th season of Road Rules deals with a new, Survivor-like twist: Members can be voted off if they fail a mission.

Delgado had not seen many episodes of Road Rules or its sister show The Real World before she went to a casting call for the two MTV programs at Club 901 in Tampa last October.

"They asked all these crazy questions,and I made it from one round to the next," she said. "I was really surprised. As the interview process went along I realized I would give anything to be on Road Rules rather than Real World. I could not sit in a house for five months and do absolutely nothing."

After making it through the casting call, Delgado detailed her life in a written application and was asked back for a round of interviews at the Marriott in downtown Tampa.

Later, she was flown to Louisiana for more interviews and then to California to learn whether she'd be selected. That final round of interviews was taped for a Real World/Road Rules Casting Special that aired last month.

It was her nose Delgado noticed the most after seeing herself on TV for the first time.

"When I squint there's like a weird look I do. I was like "Oh my gosh. That's not cute.' I don't watch myself talk,so I didn't know my nose did that."

Road Rules, an offshoot of Real World, has always stayed under the radar while its sibling show got most of the attention.

Unlike Real World, which has been criticized as a dull, voyeuristic exercise, Road Rules has adventure written into the contract. Cast members (as the show's 18- to 25-year-olds are called) are required to live in an MTV-issued recreational vehicle, collect clues that guide them from mission to mission and complete often-daring stunts.

In years past, Road Rulers strapped themselves atop flying airplanes, swam with sharks, ran with bulls in Spain and bungee-jumped from bridges.

Though Real World may have been the precursor to the current rash of reality TV programs, it's Road Rules that brought into play the game show aspect now seen in shows such as Survivor, The Mole and Big Brother.

The new season was taped for 10 weeks from January to March in Morocco and Spain. This year the Road Rulers are required to vote someone off the cast, Survivor-style, when a person fails to complete a mission.

"I didn't know it was going to be as challenging as it really was," Delgado said. "I didn't think it was as real as everybody says reality TV is. I thought if I got hurt I could just turn to one of the directors and be like, "Hey dude, I'm hurt,' but they just look at you like "Who are you talking to?' You have to fend for yourself."

Delgado has lived in Tampa for the past six years. She graduated from Robinson High School in 1999 and works as a fraud analyst for a bank while attending Hillsborough Community College. She spends some of her free time in Ybor City and likes salsa dancing.

Delgado is the second local woman to appear on one of MTV's reality shows. Former Valrico resident Melissa Howard was a cast member on last year's Real World, filmed in New Orleans.

Delgado says she has no regrets about anything that happened during the taping of Road Rules except "I wish I wasn't such a cry baby."

She has warned her parents (The couple is divorced; her mother lives in Tampa, her father in Puerto Rico.) about the things they will see their daughter doing or saying on Road Rules, but she says there's nothing she was embarrassed about.

In fact, her main concern is how she may be judged for the things she said or did on Road Rules. She wants people to understand that she was in an RV in countries where not many people spoke English, dealing with six other people with whom she had nothing in common.

"People will pass judgment, but keep in mind everything that goes on. Read between the lines and put yourself in my shoes," she warns viewers.

"This is a part of my life I'm allowing people to come in and see and enjoy the experiences I go through," Delgado said. "And if they don't like it they don't have to watch it. They can change the channel."

Delgado is sworn to secrecy about the nature of the show's missions and who gets kicked off, but she did admit that she and some of her castmates tried to outsmart the film crew.

"We thought we were slick and telling secrets in certain places. We would walk a significant distance and not tell anyone where we were going and sit there and be talking about whatever we were feeling, and a camera guy is hiding in a bush."

Delgado had no prior TV experience and doesn't plan to seek out more, although she's open to the possibilities.

"If (Road Rules) did lead to something as far as entertainment goes I'd be really stoked about it. But if it doesn't, it's cool. I have a great life as it is. I went into it like, "This is a vacation and you all are going to make videotapes for me.' "

* * *

The 10th season of Road Rules premieres at 10 p.m. Monday on MTV

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