Karamo Brown: Host, advocate and reality TV trailblazer
Karamo Brown began his career in television in 2004 as a housemate on the hit MTV reality series The Real World, where he was the first openly-gay African-American in the history of reality TV. Since then, he’s hosted, reported and produced segments on NBC, OWN and CNN as well as returning to reality television as a cast member of TV One’s hit docs- series The Next 15. We talk about his two new shows, MTV’s Are You The One? Second Chances and History Channel’s The UnExplained, and the importance of his non-profit organization, 6in10.org, an organization that brought him to the White House to create policy/legislation to support LGBTQ youth and their allies after school hours.
What did you learn from your time on The Real World that you’ve carried with you since?
The thing I learned most from being on the Real World is that ALL REALITY STARS ARE CRAZY, but it’s okay, because it gives us an opportunity to reflect and hopefully grow. That’s what I did, which is why the wild 23-year-old boy I was on the show has now grown into a confident man, father and a successful television host.
Nearly ten years later, you were back on TV on OWN, HLN, and CNN. What’s the continued draw to television? How does that keep you creatively stimulated?
It took me 10 years to return to TV because I had a lot of growing up to do. Being a television host has always been my dream, since I was a small kid watching Arsenio Hall and Montel. I’m now in a space where I’m disciplined and driven, which is why I’m successful. Television allows me to shift the conversation and expose people to new aspect of life which keeps me stimulated.
Last year, you were back in reality TV on The Next 15. How was that experience different than The Real World and what did you learn about yourself through that process?
The Next 15 was so much fun! I did the show to give the audience a glimpse into the man I am now versus the boy I was on The Real World. The biggest difference this time is that I knew how to conduct myself and deal with the crazy cast members, like Tiffany “New York” Pollard. Young Karamo would have cursed her out. Adult Karamo realized her crazy has nothing to do with me, so I was able to just laugh it off and go about my day in peace.
Tell me about 6in10.org. Where did your passion for the organization come from and what is your goal?
I created 6in10.org out of a need to support African-American gay and bisexual men who are infected and affected by the HIV crisis. The CDC states that 1 out of 2 AA gay or bisexual men in the south will contact HIV before the age of 40. That’s a problem. I have a platform where I can support the self-esteem of these men so they make better choices.
What did you learn working with the White House?
While working at the White House, I learned that LGBT youth, and more specifically LGBT youth of color, need our help more than ever. It’s hard enough to be a kid in today’s world, but to add on not having the support of your school or community to help you through the tough times is disgusting. So I was honored to be at the White House to work and help create that support structure for LGBT youth.
You’ve got a new project for MTV. What drew you to Are You The One: Second Chances?
My new series Are You The One: Second Chances premieres on MTV March 22nd. I’ve taken 20 Are You The One couples to Melbourne, Australia to challenge them to work on their relationships and themselves, which is what drew me to the project. Being able to use my skills from working in social services to help this cast have fun, but also understand that trust in yourself and in your partner is the only way to succeed. There are so many twists and turns, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
I have a second series I am hosting on the History Channel that is premiering in the summer called The UnExplained. The topics I am investigating will blow your mind. So stay tuned.
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