MTV Star Andrew Jenks & The Power of Perspective

Submitted by Mike Moritz '11 on February 6, 2011

As the crowded Lower Level of the Barone Campus Center echoed with the sound of a short clip from MTV’s World of Jenks show Thursday evening, the anticipation of the star’s arrival steadily rose. After an announcement from FUSA that Andrew Jenks had arrived, the crowd quickly applauded and “Jenks” took the stage for his lecture entitled, “The Power of Perspective.” FUSA chose to bring Jenks to Fairfield because the University’s theme this year is global citizenship, and Jenks has documented a plethora of different people from various backgrounds, including a subject in Japan.

The 24-year old Jenks started his television career by working on a documentary for HBO. At the time, Jenks was an unhappy, 19-year old sophomore at New York University looking to get away from college life and do something meaningful. The documentary named Andrew Jenks Room 335 featured Jenks in a nursing home in Florida and received many positive reviews. From there he pitched an idea to ESPN to document the life of baseball legend Bobby Valentine in Japan, who, according to Jenks, has streets and burgers named after him. He recalled a funny moment when one of his cameramen was trying to get a good shot on top of one of the infrastructures, which was forbidden by security. Since it was the last game of the season, Jenks’ cameraman tried to get the shot anyway, which resulted in the Japanese media calling Jenks’ cameraman a sniper and the game being delayed.

After his film in Japan, Jenks was offered a deal from MTV to take on his own show documenting the lives of different people.

World of Jenks premiered on September 13, 2010 with a memorable episode documenting Jenks’ time with rap star Maino. Jenks spoke of following Maino around and being constantly told that, “We’re gonna hit you up.” Jenks soon found that Maino meant he was going to get Jenks high, but when Jenks tried to pass a joint to Maino, he exclaimed, “No, man, I don’t get involved with that,” to which the audience burst out in laughter.

Many of the audience members remembered Maino assaulting Jenks, which resulted in the question, “Do you keep in touch with people who have been on the show?” Jenks replied that yes, and in fact he and Maino are relatively close; however Jenks remains closer to people such as Danielle “Heavy D” Earls who is a homeless girl documented in Episode 3. Jenks planned to keep Earls company in the back of her van the following night as they have remained good friends. One of the more memorable questions asked by the Barone audience was, “Do you pay the people who are on the show?”

“No,” Jenks replied, “because when you give someone something they usually want to give something back in return. I want to document their lives in their most authentic forms.”

Overall, the Fairfield audience really enjoyed having Jenks come speak to them. They laughed at all of his jokes and received genuine responses to their questions. Alex Santiago Llorens ’11 said that, “Jenks was very entertaining. He has some awesome experiences and it was fun hearing about them.”

Like Alex, I thoroughly enjoyed what Jenks had to say, and his experiences were a breath of fresh air from other lectures I’ve attended. It’s clear that Jenks isn’t all about money or fame, which takes strength of character considering the position of “power” he is in at such a young age. With so many one-of-a-kind stories, Jenks possesses a very unique perspective on life – and I recognize the power of that.

Jenks is currently looking for prospective people to interview for another season of World of Jenks and has in mind a 21-year old Nascar driver, a 25-year old woman who is terminally ill with cancer and writes comics for younger cancer patients, and a war veteran who lost both legs and an arm.

On his train ride heading back into NYC, Jenks tweeted “Great time at Fairfield U.” You can tweet him back here or follow him on Facebook.

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