Andrew Jenks Interview: 'Word of Jenks'

Andrew Jenks Interview: 'Word of Jenks'

Check out our new interview with Andrew Jenks, the star of MTV’s World of Jenks!

The show follows the 26-year-old award-winning filmmaker as he explores the lives of three extraordinary people.

Andrew actually moves in with his subjects and completely immerses himself into their everyday routines to help fully capture their amazing stories.

JJJ recently sat down with Andrew to get the scoop on the second season and his new book “Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker.”

Click inside to read our interview…

Andrew Jenks – Interview How has the show evolved from the first season three years ago?

Andrew Jenks: The first season was 19 minutes and 20 seconds after commercials, and it was a different person in every episode, which was really cool. But I think for the viewers, at the end of every episode, it was like you got to know that person, that world or that subculture, and you were like, “Wow, this is really interesting. I could get into this.” And then it was bam, on to the next one. So for season two, we thought it would be better if we kind of changed it up. I lived with the same three people over the course of a year. And those three people are in every episode. The episode is an hour long so you can really get to know them better, understand their stories better, the layers, the depth, and really the trajectory of these three people over the course of an entire year.

JJJ: Is it hard at times to witness such powerful moments? We imagine it must be emotional too.

AJ: All the time. I would say I’m fairly sensitive. And I think it’s also important for me to show emotion – I think that’s part of the reason it’s better that I’m in front of the camera – because I’m living with a lot of people who are vulnerable. I think being in front of the camera, I’m not kind of hiding behind it in more of a safe zone. So they may see me cry or they me see me get mad, but they can think, “Oh, Andrew‘s willing to do it. Maybe I shouldn’t be scared of opening up either.”

JJJ: How long does it usually take for them to build that trust with you?

AJ: For some people that I’ve moved in with, it will take a couple days. Sometimes it takes a couple months. It really depends. Early on, I let them know that there will be a trust that exists between the two of us because we’re both on camera and they are exposing themselves. And when we’re done filming, we have each other’s number. We’ll see each other. We’ll hang out. We’ll talk about the episode so they see my perspective on how I’m capturing and showing their lives. I maintain a very open dialogue with everyone I follow.

JJJ: Being away so much filming and living with strangers must take some getting used to. Do you miss home often?

AJ: It’s definitely uncomfortable and takes time. You do get homesick and that sort of thing. But when you’re with a lot of these people who I’m able to film, capture, and live with, you’re humbled big time. You see what they’re going through and you realize, “I really shouldn’t complain this three-hour flight I have to go on.” You realize they’re allowing us to capture their lives and give us full access. I miss a lot of family events and things with my friends I wouldn’t normally miss for the world, but I’ve certainly learned not to feel bad for myself. There’s no sense of self-pity because I see what these three people are going through. They don’t ever say, “Poor me.”

JJJ: So tell us about your new book! How did that come about?

AJ: Some publishers at Scholastic had seen my first documentary and the TV show, and they asked if I’d be interested in doing almost like a coffee table hardcover book with lots of pictures that followed the trajectory of when I was really young, moving around with parents – because of my dad’s line of work, we were in Belgium and Nepal – my best friend became the camera because no one else spoke English, so I would just walk around filming whatever I could. I would narrate it like I was a CNN anchor or something.

I had a public access show when I was in high school. I started a film festival when I was 16. Then I talk about how I moved into a nursing home and not just what it was like to get the film picked up by HBO, but also what it was like for people to get to know these individuals living in the nursing home who didn’t have family or friends visiting them. I talk about what it was like living in Japan making my second movie for ESPN and the MTV show, and the behind-the-scenes of it all.

JJJ: Was writing the book therapeutic for you?

AJ: Yeah, dead-on. I actually say that all the time. It was like the ultimate therapy. It was grueling too, but it’s the ultimate therapy because all you think about it “Why do I do this” or “Why do I do that?” So I’m happy I did it. At first, I was often skeptical because I thought it was weird being 25 and reflecting on my life. That’s where Scholastic came in and let me miss every deadline and that sort of thing.

JJJ: And if you could give your teenage self any advice, what would it be?

AJ: I’m really happy I took that chance [to do the documentary] because otherwise I don’t know where I’d be. So I think taking those risks when you actually believe in them is good. And also, it came from a sincere place. It wasn’t like I was doing some gimmick. It came from my grandfather going through dementia and living in a nursing home and that really hitting home with me. I think that I would have told myself at that age and I stick by it big time – doing projects that I actually believe in.

World of Jenks returns tonight at 11pm ET on MTV.

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Photos: MTV
Posted to: Andrew Jenks, Exclusive
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