End Of An Era: Leroy Is Retiring From The Challenge

Leroy announced at the beginning of The Challenge: Double Agents that this would be his final time competing on the hit MTV series. The veteran — who made his debut on the show back on Rivals in 2010 — came up short (once again) when he nabbed the bronze medal with his Real World: Las Vegas roomie Nany. And on Part 2 of the Season 36 reunion, the unforgettable competitor received a sentimental and sweet send-off.

“Running that final with Nany and finishing with her, and what we have right here, that was the icing on the cake,” Leroy told host Vernon Davis after he was asked if this was truly the end of his road on The Challenge (it is).

And while his girlfriend Kam isn’t saying goodbye to the game, she fully supports his decision to step away from the battlefield.

“He’s ready to move on to the next stage of his life — I don’t question it,” the Double Agents second-place finisher stated. “Whatever he wants to do. If he likes it, I love it.”

Leroy’s cast members also bid him adieu with some pre-recorded messages. Nelson praised Leroy for giving him the “cleanest cuts” in the house, and Jay felt honored that Le got his Gold Skull against him. And, of course, Kam had some heartwarming words for her beau.

“You are truly an inspiration, and you have left a legacy on this show,” she said. “Even though we didn’t win, in real life, we won because we have each other, and we get to come home to each other every single day. I look forward [for us] to spend the rest of our lives with each other, and I love you so much.”

We love you too, Leroy. Share your favorite Leroy MTV memories in the comments!

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Pink Skies Ahead Transformed Jessica Barden’s Relationship With Mental Health

It was three days before Christmas when the actress Jessica Barden received an Instagram DM from Kelly Oxford, the New York Times best-selling author of When You Find Out the World Is Against You. This wasn’t out of the ordinary — the two had struck up a friendship online about five years ago after Barden discovered Oxford’s writing — but the content of the message certainly was. “Hey, I’ve written a script. It’s about one of the passages in my book,” it read. “We have to film it in Los Angeles in the summer because I have kids. Let me know if you want to do it.”

“I was like, this is the most iconic job offer I’ve ever gotten,” Barden says over Zoom from Sydney, Australia. The 28-year-old’s career has included standout performances in the dark comedy The End of the F***ing World and the edgy rom-com The New Romantic, and she is currently “living the best life ever” down under while filming the upcoming Netflix thriller series Pieces of Her alongside Toni Collette. “No one had ever straight offered me a movie before so I thought, I hope she thinks that she’s not making a mistake.”

The project was MTV Entertainment’s Pink Skies Ahead, an unapologetic and brutally honest coming-of-age story in which Barden stars as Winona, a 20-year-old writer whose world is turned upside-down when she moves back in with her parents after dropping out of college. She is subsequently diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and in one pivotal scene, her attempts to ignore her mental health and “act normal” induce a tear-filled panic attack. Written and directed by Oxford, the film, which premieres Saturday (May 8), is based on her own experiences living with anxiety as a teen and was adapted from an essay titled “No Real Danger.”

Due in part to these heavier moments in the script, Barden felt equal parts thrilled and nervous when accepting the role. Despite her initial reservations, the actress related to Winona’s denial of her diagnosis and saw it as the perfect opportunity to “do something constructive” with a part of herself she was similarly avoiding: her own anxiety. “When I read the script, I felt so lucky that she wanted me to be a part of making people feel better,” she says. “I wish that this movie existed when I was younger.”

MTV News: Pink Skies Ahead is based on Oxford’s own experiences living with anxiety. Did the fact that Winona is based on a real person change your approach to the character?

Jessica Barden: I have this theory that every movie is slightly autobiographical for a director because I think that’s why they would want to make it. So this made it easier, actually knowing that this was a part of Kelly’s life. It felt like we were sharing the role together, especially with the panic attack scene. I felt like I was sharing the upset and also the embarrassment. Everyone’s panic attack is going to look different. That was a mixture of how Kelly and I feel ours manifest, but you can have a completely silent panic attack and it doesn’t mean that you have less anxiety than anybody else. Telling people that you throw up from anxiety is personal, but knowing that you’re doing this scene and you have this connection and friendship with the director makes everything so much easier.

MTV News: What was on your mind while filming that scene? 

Barden: This was just definitely one of those schedules where you decide, OK, I just have to commit and do it. I just had to run into that fire and hope for the best, but I was so tired by the weekend. I had swollen eyes the whole shoot. It was only the second day that I met this crew and I thought, these people are going to think that I’ve really got a lot of pain inside of me to be able to do this all the time. But they were really supportive.

MTV News: From her hair to her wardrobe, everything about Winona is blue. We often describe mental health ailments as invisible illnesses, but this felt like a visual manifestation. Yet no one around Winona sees her struggling. Why do you think that is?

Barden: She’s not really connected with them. When I made this movie, I was the same. I knew that I had anxiety because I was afraid of things that some people weren’t. I thought, I don’t need to get help. This makes me interesting. I don’t care. That’s what anxiety does. It just works its way into your life. That’s what happened to Winona. You get used to your life feeling like it’s on fire all the time to the point where it’s really easy to suppress it. It can take you years to want to [get help]. Winona is the same as millions of people: You kind of know that there’s something wrong, but it’s such an effort to fix it.

Tiffany Roohani

MTV News: At times, Pink Skies Ahead felt reminiscent of the five stages of grief. Viewers watch Winona fight each step before ultimately accepting her anxiety disorder as part of herself. How has being part of this film altered, reinforced, or challenged your perspective on the importance of mental health? 

Barden: I got a therapist after this movie. Many people that worked on this film, behind the cameras or in front of it, had their own relationship with anxiety. I have a therapist now because I realized from [speaking with] all these different people that I’m not supposed to swing from being afraid to feeling like I’m fine. That’s not a constructive way to live. It helped me grow up and realize that I could actually have a calm life. When I was watching the film after, I could remember the scenes where I was really having anxiety, and when you watch yourself doing that, you realize it doesn’t have to be like this. The whole experience from start to finish helped me make my life a lot healthier.

MTV News: Mary J. Blige plays Winona’s therapist, Doctor Monroe. What was it like working alongside her? 

Barden: She was so nice! She’s literally one of the most famous people in the world. I didn’t know what it was going to be like because I’ve never really been starstruck before, but she felt like a superstar. And then when she came, she was this really sweet, quiet woman who was there to act. I realized that I needed to get it together because she was a regular person. Before the scene, we were talking to each other and saying that we were both nervous. It was so funny because everybody’s always the same.

MTV News: Winona has a strained relationship with her mom and dad; both sides seem to want to bridge the gap, but can’t quite get there. Where do you think the disconnect between them lies? 

Barden: Around that age, you don’t ever want your mom to be right. You need everything they suggest to be wrong. It’s a devastating relationship you see in this film because they love her so much, and she thinks it’s so embarrassing. Like, how dare you love me? Her anxiety needs to be the main relationship in her life. It needs to be at the center of everything. It’s unmanageable and her parents have to watch their child be overtaken by it.

Tiffany Roohani

MTV News: While Winona externally can be blunt and unapologetic, she’s also incredibly vulnerable. How did you work to balance both parts of her personality?

Barden: I remember that we were really worried about that because it is so contrasting, but it’s also why I love the character. Parts of her are so aggressive and in your face, and then parts are so vulnerable. In truth, I tried not to think about it. I choose a lot of roles that have somebody who’s very strong but also very vulnerable at the same time, or in this case, somebody who is seemingly very confident and brash but on the inside is completely lost. Especially in a film like this, it just had to be as natural as possible because there’s nothing harder than being like, how do I act a mental health issue? I trusted Kelly, the script that she wrote, and her eye overseeing everything I was doing.

MTV News: At times, Winona’s brutal honesty reminded me of Alyssa from The End of the F***ing World. Is there something in particular about these stories that inspires you? 

Barden: I saw someone made a meme about me on the internet and it said, “Jessica Barden being offered a role that isn’t completely unlikeable” and it was me slapping the phone from [Adele’s “Hello” video] closed. I couldn’t stop laughing because that’s so true — I love playing characters that are unlikeable. Not because I necessarily think that I am difficult, although everyone is, but I just love playing people that are complicated and messy because I don’t know anybody that’s not. I choose characters that remind me of myself.

MTV News: Winona dates Ben, whom she describes as a “less-funny Ross.” Which Friends character are you most like? 

Barden: I’m definitely like Phoebe. One of my friends literally cried the other day because he was like: “I don’t know what you’re doing anymore.” I was like, “What do you mean? I’m in Australia filming a TV show.” Then he said: “I don’t know anything. One moment you can be in Africa making a movie and the next you’re somewhere else.” And I replied: “I don’t know. I just get on with it.” I feel that’s quite Phoebe-like, where you don’t know what I’m going to be doing from week to week. Also, my mom always sings “Smelly Cat” to me and I don’t know why!

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Sacha Baron Cohen Will Receive The Comedic Genius Award At The 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards

Just last month, Sacha Baron Cohen was recognized with a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2021 Oscars for his work as Abbie Hoffman in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. As that film landed major awards props, Baron Cohen’s other key 2020 cinematic moment — the resurrection of his most famous character, Borat Sagdiyev, for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — was likewise highly lauded for its immense comedy, deep irreverence, and political satire. It was a good year to be Baron Cohen.

And the celebration continues: The Academy Award-nominated actor, screenwriter, and comedian will be honored with the Comedic Genius Award at the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards, airing live on MTV from Los Angeles on Sunday, May 16.

The designation “honors an actor who has made incomparable contributions to the world of comedy, providing a major influence through their work and transforming the genre at large,” according to a press release. Though he may be best known for his work as Borat, including in the seminal 2006 film that became a worldwide phenomenon, Baron Cohen’s character work has colored 20 years of comedy, notably via his HBO series Da Ali G Show, his subversive Showtime saga Who Is America?, his 2009 film Brüno, and his memorable turn as French race-car driver Jean Girard in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Baron Cohen will become only the fourth-ever recipient of the award, following Melissa McCarthy in 2016, Kevin Hart in 2015, and Will Ferrell in 2013.

Baron Cohen is also nominated in three MTV Movie & TV Awards categories: Best Performance in a Movie for The Trial of the Chicago 7; Best Movie for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; and with his co-star and fellow Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova, Best Duo for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Find the full list of nominees here.

Hosted by Leslie Jones, the show is set to celebrate the biggest moments in film and TV from the past year. This year’s party is so big that it can’t be contained to a single special: The first-ever MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, hosted by Nikki Glaser, will air the next night, Monday, May 17, to honor all the best in reality TV.

The 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards will be air live on Sunday, May 16 from the Palladium in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The inaugural Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted will air on Monday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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New Dad: Here’s Brandon’s Siesta Key Path To Fatherhood

Brandon revealed at the first-ever Siesta Key reunion that he was a father (and Camilla, his girlfriend at the time, was not the mother). He did not divulge too many details about his child or the mother of the baby, but he did admit that he was “going through a lot.”

When the hit series returns next week, viewers will see Brandon with his son Quincy and Quincy’s mother Delainey.

“How are you doing buddy?” Brandon states in the sneak peek, as he gives his mini-me a kiss.

Before we get a glimpse of Brandon as a dad, we’re taking a look back at the aspiring musician’s evolution on the MTV series. From dating Madisson to working in the studio, relive his Sarasota journey to fatherhood in the video. And do not miss Brandon, and the rest of his SK cast members, when Siesta Key premieres on Wednesday, May 12 at 8/7c!

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Here Are Your 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards And Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted Presenters

You already know that this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards will be a bigger event than it’s ever been.

How big, exactly? Big enough to stretch out over two nights in Los Angeles, including the main show on Sunday, May 16 and the first-ever MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted on Monday, May 17. That’s pretty big. Huge even. And the good news that none other than Leslie Jones will host the main show while Nikki Glaser will assume emcee duties for the Unscripted special? Even huger.

How much bigger can this celebration get? The answer, as it turns out, is quite a bit. Expect to see familiar faces presenting some of the key awards throughout each night. The squad of presenters slated for the main show includes Anthony Mackie, Yvonne Orji, Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, the cast of Netflix’s Outer Banks — Chase Stokes, Jonathan Daviss, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, and Rudy Pankow — and so many more.

Antonia Gentry, Eric Andre, Henry Golding, Jacob Elordi, Justin Hartley, Mandy Moore, Nasim Pedrad, Patrick Wilson, Riley Keough, Taylour Paige, Tom Hiddleston, and Vera Farmiga will also be part of the presenting fun.

The party continues the following night for the inaugural MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, which will see presenters including the D’Amelio family – Charlie and Dixie, and their parents Marc and Heidi — along with Paris Hilton, the cast of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation — Angelina Pivarnick, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Nicole Polizzi, and Vinny Guadagnino — Selling Sunset‘s Chrishell Stause, Christine Quinn, Heather Rae Young, and Mary Fitzgerald, and many more.

Anna Shay, Bretman Rock, Brie Bella, Christine Chiu, Erika Jayne, Gottmik, Heidi Klum, Kim Lee, Nikki Bella, Princess Love, Ray J, Symone, Tayshia Adams, and Winnie Harlow will all also help ring in the first-ever Unscripted show as presenters.

Winners in the scripted categories will be announced Sunday, May 16 during the MTV Movie & TV Awards, while Unscripted winners will be crowned the following night during a celebration of all things reality TV.

This year, shows like WandaVision, The Boys, and Emily in Paris racked up the most nominations in the scripted field, while movies like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm garnered the most nods in the film categories. RuPaul’s Drag Race led the Unscripted field of nominees, trailed by reality faves like 90 Day Fiancé, Bling Empire, Legendary, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Nailed It!, Ridiculousness, and The Challenge. Find the full list of nominees here.

The 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards will be air live on Sunday, May 16 from the Palladium in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The inaugural Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted will air on Monday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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Which Show Alum Will Win The Challenge: All Stars: Real World Or Road Rules?

The Challenge once pitted Real World against Road Rules. So when it comes to All Stars, which show will produce the contest’s newest winner?

After Arissa’s fiery (and fiercely profane) exit from the show at the most recent Arena, players learned they’d have to survive a dreaded mini-final to advance to the game’s next round. In “Connect ‘Em All,” competitors — initially grouped in three teams of six — would race through a winding course completing a series of checkpoints. At certain points along the race, teams would shrink until a final race to the finish line left every man and woman for himself or herself.

Oh, and the lifesaver — the spark that lit Arissa’s fuse — would henceforth be off the table, host TJ Lavin said, meaning winning missions would stand as the only way to guarantee safety from The Arena.

Players breezed through the mission’s first checkpoint — a mix of math and memory that yielded hidden code words — but were quickly cut down by its subsequent slog: an uphill climb under the weight of a giant log. Syrus, who was suffering through a busted ankle, stepped up and kept his team heartened, but his teammate Alton struggled to perform.

Elsewhere, the day’s task produced top-tier warriors. When groups finally arrived to the game’s second checkpoint — the recreating of a memory board — teams condensed themselves to pairs, and Kendal and Laterrian immediately proved they were top dogs.

“You’re not gonna tell me that the girl who does yoga eight hours a day is soft,” Laterrian, who quickly snatched Kendal as his teammate, said. “She’s a f***ing beast.”

And KellyAnne, who completed the memory board with Derrick in second place, knew the final sprint would come down to a dogfight with Kendal.

“I said it from Day One: Kendal is the girl to beat,” KellyAnne said.

After one final dash, Road Rules: Maximum Velocity Tour export Laterrian beat out Road Rules: X-Treme alum Derrick to earn first place among the game’s men. And Road Rules: Campus Crawl standout Kendal, who’d grown accustomed to winning performances, once again grabbed a victory on the women’s side.

Road Rules isn’t dead!” Derrick shouted as he and his fellow former RV-dwellers celebrated.

And Derrick wasn’t wrong: Across the first five All Stars missions, six winning captains had been former Road Rules contestants, while Real World had only produced four. Further, all four previously eliminated players — Ace, Trishelle, Teck and Arissa — had all been Real World exports, while Road Rules hadn’t yet lost a single person.

And the metrics would quickly become even worse. Syrus, who finished last in the day’s mission, learned in The Arena that each subsequent elimination would be a double-cut, meaning he and his opponent Alton would each have to battle alongside a friend. Because Beth finished last, she was automatically named Syrus’ partner, while Alton drafted Aneesa from the crowd because of her storied elimination-round record.

“I enjoy being an underdog and competing to take down the person that’s supposed to win,” Syrus said. “I get a thrill out of that.”

Sadly, the thrill was short-lived. In “Over and Under,” which Beth and Arissa were scheduled to play but never did, partners had to each separate a mass of four walls before transferring five giant balls — one at a time — over and through (yes, through) each wall. Syrus, who struggled to put pressure on his ankle, quickly fell behind with Beth, and Alton and Aneesa eliminated yet another pair of Real World exports.

So let’s put this simply: Real World graduates are getting their asses kicked by Road Rules delegates, and it’s in keeping with the franchise’s history. Of the six Challenge seasons that specifically pit Real World against Road Rules that aired between 1999’s Real World vs. Road Rules and 2004’s The Inferno, Road Rules has left Real World at a 4-2 deficit.

Still, Road Rules, which hasn’t aired a new season since 2007, hasn’t produced a Challenge winner since Tori Hall won 2010’s Cutthroat. Real World, on the other hand, has produced winners as recently as Double Agents, and in three of the last four seasons.

So what do you think: Will Real World eventually be able to dust themselves off, pick themselves up and win? Or has Road Rules already proven All Stars is in the bag? Share your thoughts, and hang tight for the next episode on Paramount+.

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Ashley’s Teen Mom 2 Debut Featured A Milestone Anniversary (And A Proposal)

Ashley and Bar’s Teen Mom 2 debut featured a milestone: Holly’s parents celebrating their fifth anniversary on a parents-only trip. But it wasn’t just a beachy getaway commemorating the length of their relationship — the young dad planned to propose (again) to his longtime love.

“I stepped out and got a nice ring,” Bar told a friend before the pair left for their trip. “We’ve been running smooth for [like a] year now. Why now? We in a position to, it’s nerve-wracking to make sure it’s going to be right, as far as the setting. But otherwise, I’m excited.”

Fast-forward to an evening stroll in Pismo Beach and an area near the surf and sand that Ashley described as “cute and nice.”

“I still got one more present that I still want to give you,” Bar began, as he told Ashley (who knew what was about to happen) to “stand up.”

“I just want to tell you that I appreciate you — you have been with me through a lot,” he thoughtfully reflected, as she grew emotional and covered her face with her jacket.

He continued that he was thankful for her for standing by him. And then he got down on one knee.

“I would like to ask you, will you marry me?” Bar asked, as he flashed the ring.

How will Ashley respond? Do not miss her answer next week on Teen Mom 2 at 8/7c.

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Olivia Rodrigo Went From Plucking ‘The Climb’ On Guitar To The Top Of The Mountain

Few people have had as good a year as Olivia Rodrigo. The singer-songwriter and star of High School Music: The Musical: The Series created 2021’s first big hit in “Drivers License,” a No. 1 coming-of-age heartbreak tune that explores the backstreets before revving up to a shout-along coda — the kind of built-in drama that understandably inspired a TikTok trend. After, she went experimental on her kaleidoscopic follow-up “Deja Vu,” which became another Top 10 hit and saw her diving into conceptual territory for the music video.

But for all her recent success — yes, that includes passing her road test — she still can remember her humble beginnings: plucking one note on a “terrible, awful little pink guitar” to play along to the opening of Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” “It’s legitimately one note. It goes dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, ‘I can almost see it,'” the 18-year-old Rodrigo tells MTV. “I would literally just play that one note over and over again and sing ‘The Climb.'”

Despite her protestations, piano lessons followed at her parents’ insistence, and even though she cried before every session, she’s grateful for the foundation now that she’s writing chart staples with her trusted collaborator Dan Nigro. Rodrigo, who is the MTV Push artist for May, says songwriting inspiration can come from anywhere — a conversation, a poem — but as the self-proclaimed straight-A student also notes, the act of crafting music often works best when it’s treated as a discipline.

“I really think that more or less forcing yourself to write a song sometimes is really beneficial,” she says. “I think you can’t rely on those lightning bolts of ideas to strike you all the time.” But when they do? That’s when the discipline pays off. The end result of that practice finds Rodrigo with a forthcoming debut album called Sour, out May 21, full of songs that stem from a period in her life when “everything that I had that was, like, really awesome and good in my life went really sour.”

You can hear that acrid taste in both “Drivers License” and “Deja Vu,” despite the pop sweetness that covers both songs like a glaze. The work that goes into making that sonic sheen can’t be overstated, she says, which is what makes the subsequent success so wild. “I don’t think anybody goes into [making] a song with expectation like that.” But that combination of sour and sweet is precisely what Rodrigo hopes will connect with listeners.

“I just hope that people see bits of themselves in my songwriting, hopefully, or sort of become engrossed in the stories I’m telling,” she says, “because those are my favorite songs to listen to.” Or as her original inspiration Miley once sang, “Keep on moving. Keep climbing.”

Get to know Rodrigo further in her MTV Push interview above, which also includes a stripped-back, Rhodes piano version of “Drivers License” and a full-band performance of “Deja Vu.”

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Deena Cortese Welcomes Second Child

Deena Cortese is a boy mom — times two!

The Jersey Shore: Family Vacation star and husband Chris Buckner just welcomed their second son, Cameron Theo. The longtime couple is already parents to two-year-old Christopher John (aka CJ).

“The Buckners are now officially a party of 4,” Deena captioned the album above. “Cameron Theo Buckner was born May 1st at 7:21pm weighing 7 pound 3 ounces and 20 inches long he is such a little angel baby .. mommy is feeling well and we are all so beyond happy and we’re bursting out with so much love .. our hearts are full! We can’t wait until he meets his big brother tomorrow!!”

Deena and Chris shared that Baby Buckner #2 was on the way in October 2020 with “little pumpkin” CJ in tow. On Halloween, the clan held a gender reveal bash (Coco costumes included), and a blue cake revealed CJ’s sibling would be a baby brother. Deena sweetly told her JS cohorts last season with a towel which read “I’m pregnant” — and now her fellow cast members will be able to meet the newest addition to the MTV family.

Offer your congrats to Deena, Chris and CJ on the arrival of Baby Cameron, and stay with MTV News for all Baby Buckner/Jersey Shore updates!

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