Anyone who knows me knows that bodybuilding is my passion. I've been training and competing in bodybuilding since I was 14 years old and 118 lbs. Today I'm about 230 lbs., so it's worked pretty well. I used bodybuilding to clear my mind in the beginning, and it soon became the dominant force in my life.
When I was 14, I won the New York Gold Cup and Eastern USA teen titles in one week (youngest winner ever). I went on to win the Tri State, Eastern States Men's (youngest winner ever) and Teen titles, Atlantic States teen title, and second at the Teen Mr. America, before winning the Light Heavyweight Teen Nationals in 1995 and being acknowledged as the best teen bodybuilder in the country.
I've had to sacrifice being a regular teenager to be a successful competitor. While other kids were eating pizza and drinking soda, I was having tuna, chicken or steak every 2-3 hours along with four or five protein shakes a day. While they were out partying I was home resting for my next workout.
When contest time rolls around, things get even more restricted. Twelve weeks before a show I only leave my house to go to the gym and the supermarket. This may all sound strange, but I've got a room full of shiny first place trophies to show for it.
I hope to turn pro in bodybuilding in the next three or four years, and continue to compete until my late twenties while pursuing careers in journalism and acting. I don't just want to be a one dimensional musclehead. People seem to think bodybuilders are these dumb muscle-bound Neanderthals who only care about their own reflection. I would like to change that perception. Although I'm a bodybuilder, I have other interests as well, because it's important to have a well rounded personality, not just well rounded biceps.
Hosting is horrible. I hate it. I am constantly miserable, can't stand my co-hosts, and have trouble sleeping. Just kidding.
Being on In the Mix is great. We get to do tons of fun things, meet lots of great people, educate teens about issues that are important to all of us, and rub elbows with celebrities. Producing In the Mix is definitely a group effort. The producers usually approach us with ideas they have for stories. If we think the idea is stupid, we tell them, but usually we just give our input on what angle we think the story should be reported from. Then the producer sets up the shoot by making the appropriate contacts, and writes a basic outline script. We then throw out that script and make up the words as we go along. It's not that we want to disobey authority or anything, it's just that we want the show to be in our own words, so we take the producers basic outline and work with that.
Sometimes the producers will give us some articles or other materials to read about the subject of the story. It's always helpful to know as much as possible about the piece because then we're able to dig a little deeper. If the piece is a profile it's important to spend downtime with them when the camera is not on. That makes it more comfortable talking - so when the camera is on, it seems more like a conversation than an interview.
A lot of our time on shoots is spent sitting on our rear ends bored while the producers set up. A five-minute piece may take ten or twelve hours to shoot, and sometimes the last thing you shoot in that tenth hour is the show opening, so you're supposed to look fresh and excited when you're actually exhausted. That's show biz.