Jenna Compono is a fan favorite on MTV’s The Challenge! She was once just a Long Island girl who got caught up with a bad ex. Little did she know that her ex would be her ticket to MTV. From being on MTV’s season of The Real World Ex-Plosion to then being a contestant on several seasons of The Challenge, including Battle of the Exes 2, Invasion of The Champions, and the most recent season, War of the Worlds, Jenna is a Vet that other challengers do not want to mess with.
Check out our interview to see what Jenna Compono is all about in and out of The Challenge!
Compono was born and raised in Long Island, New York. She describes her childhood as a great one – full of family, competition, and fun memories.
“I am very lucky to have such a huge family that I do absolutely everything with. I am 1 of 6, and have over 50 first cousins. So as you can imagine growing up in my household was very crazy, but a ton of fun.”
Despite a lack of athleticism, her competitive edge has stayed with her throughout her life. “I tried out for sports, but I really wasn’t that athletic. When I was younger I played soccer for a little bit, but I liked the boys on the opposite team we were playing, so I used to help them score in my own goal. As you can imagine, I didn’t stay with soccer. I actually decided I wanted to be a cheerleader and I did that my whole life. I also horseback rode, and competed in a few shows–not too many people know that about me!”
Jenna’s Start on MTV
How Compono joined the MTV family is very different than most people. For a lot of Real World and Challenge cast members, being on the show was a dream of theirs. After a lengthy interview process, they were given the opportunity to be on TV. For Compono, however, there was no audition required. Jenna was actually sought out by MTV in order to be a part of the twist for the 29th season of the show, The Real World: Ex-Plosion. “I actually never intended to try out. The guy, Jay [Gotti], who I was dating at the time tried out and made it on to the show. Then we were told they wanted all the exes to come in and live with them, without them knowing.”
Jenna made quite the impression on production and on fans of the series. After Ex-Plosion, Compono was asked to compete on The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II with Gotti. Since that season, Compono has been a mainstay on MTV’s hit competition series.
“So hey, I got SOMETHING out of that relationship because now I keep getting called back for The Challenge.”
On Being a Rookie in the Challenge House
Being a rookie in The Challenge house can be very intimidating. More often than not, the rookies are the first contestants targeted, as the vets look at them and believe they have to “earn their stripes,” in order to be respected. “I think the hardest part of the show is politicking. People form friends and alliances based on who they room with, or who they know outside of the house.”
“When it is your rookie year I feel like it is almost impossible to form any alliance! Unless you’re hot. Then the guys want you to stick around longer so they have something to stare at!”
This wasn’t the case for Compono, however. She and Gotti made it to the finals of Battle of the Exes II.
Compono has nothing but fond memories of her time as a rookie on the show. “I loved being the new girl and I have to say, that was one of the best casts they’ve cast in awhile. A ton of good ol’ vets. I really lucked out with my rookie season, I roomed with a bunch of nice girls, and that’s when I met Nany!”
Nany Gonzalez is a fellow cast member, who was originally on The Real World: Back to Las Vegas in 2011, but has since been a part of The Challenge roster. Compono and Gonzalez hit it off on Battle of the Exes II and have been close ever since. “The best friendship I made from this show is by far Nany. I talk to her every single day, and we are just so much alike. She is definitely one of my best friends for life. That girl has been with me through thick and thin and helped me with a lot of life situations. She is genuinely the nicest, most real person out there.”
Hooked on The Challenge
The Challenge house is unlike any other in reality TV. Cast members are flown out to exotic locations and participate in death-defying competitions, while playing a game of human chess, in order to make the final and win some money. For some, this would be overwhelming but Compono is all in on the once in a lifetime opportunity. “The most interesting thing about The Challenge is doing crazy stunts that most people will never get to experience in their lifetime.”
“Plus, who gets to travel the world for free, live in a huge mansion, and get paid for it?”
Out of all the seasons and challenges that Compono has participated in, there is one that stands out to her as the most memorable. This challenge was memorable for all the wrong reasons though. “The hardest challenge I ever had to do on a show was the last challenge before the final on Battle of the Exes 2. We had to slide down 5 ropes over this huge building… at night… in the rain! One of the scariest challenges ever. Plus we fell from heights a bunch of times, but this fall felt so long that at first I didn’t think my harness was attached–so scary!”
The Challenges of The Challenge
For a show that focuses on competition and athleticism, Compono says that it can be difficult to stay in shape while actually participating on the show. “It is impossible to stay in shape in the Challenge house! Usually it’s super hot and humid so no one wants to be working out in that heat. Plus we don’t get to pick our food. The catering company usually brings food that is super salty or just a ton of carbs. I usually gain like 5 or more pounds on The Challenge. But as soon as I get home I do a cleanse and get back to my normal routine.” Maintaining a healthy routine is not the only difficult part of living in the house. The mental warfare aspect takes its toll.
“You don’t know who genuinely has your back or who is trying to get you out of the game. You have to realize everybody is here for the same thing, that big cash prize. So you really can’t take anything personal.”
Outside of the Show
Fans know Jenna Compono as being nicer than the average Challenge contestant. Because of this, Compono has received backlash in the past as not standing up for herself. This is an image that Compono does not really agree with and she says that it is not entirely accurate. “I really am not this big push over who doesn’t speak up. I do when I need to. Not everything that happens is shown, and I can be a little feisty firecracker. Ask anyone back at home! I do have my crazy side.”
Despite this, Compono does not mind being seen as “the nice girl.” In fact, she lives her day to day life with the belief that in order for good things to happen, you must embody that spirit.
“I live by one word and that word is KARMA. It will catch up to you, so I believe that if you are a good person, great karma will come your way!”
Jenna Compono has not yet won a season of The Challenge but with all the good that she is putting out into the world, it shouldn’t be long before that good karma comes back to reward her.