MTV’s “The Real World” hits close to home this season with an “unpredictable” Ahwatukee Foothills hair stylist starring in the show.

Ryan Leslie, 22, is expected to be one of the most bizarre roommates on the show’s 24th season, which takes place in New Orleans, according to his cast biography on Some of his noteworthy characteristics are his tendency to chase his roommates around naked and blow dry his body.

Leslie began the “Real World” adventure when he first auditioned for the show at the Tempe Marketplace in October, he said.

“It was crazy. There’s a lot of wait time between every casting call and audition, and it was really nerve-racking,” he said.

Leslie said he thinks he was picked because he’s fun, crazy and happy with himself.

“You have to be you, 100 percent, and be able to express yourself and have no worries about what anybody thinks,” he said.

Leslie set off for the Big Easy in January for three months of taping his interactions with seven strangers. The change of scenery was huge, he said.

“I’ve always lived in Arizona,” he said. “I know everybody, every corner, every store, and to be somewhere that I wasn’t familiar with was awesome. It was the experience of a lifetime.”

Leslie said the two places couldn’t be more different. While Arizona is clean and well-organized, New Orleans is “run-down” after Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana residents, however, have “more state pride than you would ever believe,” he said.

Life on the show was certainly different from his regular routine of working for his dad at Ish Salon on 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard. Being in New Orleans during the Super Bowl and Mardis Gras was “absolutely crazy,” he said.

“There was tons of drama.”

Leslie said that his quirks and personality make the show. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is the chief instigator of the group, according to his cast biography.

Since filming the show, Leslie said his plans are up in the air. He hopes his clothing line, which he wore everyday while taping, will take off, and he wants to do more with television.

He also has recently become the spokesman of Last Round, a shot that claims to prevent hangovers if taken at the end of a night of drinking, he said.

Even with his busy schedule, he still works at his dad’s salon. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2009, and Leslie has been collecting money from cutting hair to donate to his mom and others who have breast cancer, he said.

Though Leslie’s life is hectic at the moment, he is certain that he wants to stay in Arizona. He said his time in New Orleans made him realize how much he loves the state.

“I’ve never been so happy to be somewhere the day I got back,” Leslie said.

“The Real World XXIV: New Orleans” premiered on MTV Wednesday, June 30. The show will air throughout the summer on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.


Jolie McCullough is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.


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