“Jersey Shore’s” Vinny Guadagnino discusses reality TV, mental health

By Guy Ovadia, news correspondent

Vinny Guadagnino of the hit reality show “Jersey Shore” came to Blackman Auditorium on Monday, Sept. 17, to discuss how his dreams of being an actor lead him to an audition for a reality TV show.

Ten years later, he had finished five seasons of “Jersey Shore,” produced his own talk show and authored the 2012 book “Control the Crazy.” Last April, he appeared in the spin-off series Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.

At the event hosted by the Council of University Programs, Guadagnino spoke about how, over the years, the cast of “Jersey Shore” grew to become like family. Nowadays, the spin-off series features most of the original ‘party-animal’ cast, except now many of them are parents.

“That’s the new element of ‘Jersey Shore’,” Guadagnino said. “Moms during the day, and moms-gone-wild at night. Nothing’s changed. We’re the same kids. In fact, we’re crazier now ‘cause we’re older.”

Jersey Shore never had a sophisticated reputation, but that didn’t stop Guadagnino from taking his career seriously. Guadagnino told the audience he has been taking improv classes since the first season of “Jersey Shore” in order to craft his talents.

“I watched ‘Jersey Shore’ growing up,” said Keyon Rostamnezhed, a third-year international affairs major. “He was always the most honest and real character.”

Guadagnino got into the behind-the-scenes and spoke about how the show affected his mental health and personal life. On set, he was going crazy because he had no phone, books or sources of entertainment other than Pauly DelVecchio, who grew to become his best friend on set.

“Pauly is like a secret agent that is playing a guido,” Guadagnino said, “because below that is a really positive, intelligent guy.”

Guadagnino talked about the effects of the intense reality TV lifestyle such as constant drinking, partying and recording cameras. The constant surveillance turned the set of Jersey Shore into an anxiety-inducing nightmare, Guadagnino said.

The stress of the show caused Guadagnino to rapidly gain and lose weight in between seasons. This prompted him to adopt a ketogenic, or low carb, diet. The cast thought he was crazy for eating the cheese off of pizza, he said, which earned him the nickname the “Keto Guido.”

After struggling with anxiety for many years, Guadagnino wrote a book about dealing with and overcoming its limitations. In the book, he shares how exercises and mental tricks can be used to overcome anxiety.

“It was very inspirational,” said Noor Abbas, a second-year health science major. “He talked about anxiety, which is relatable to college students.”

Guadagnino shared one of his biggest tips for dealing with anxiety: stop pursuing an unattainable standard. He blamed social media for emulating the unachievable perfect life.

“I used to freak myself out,” Guadagnino said. “Once I stopped trying to do things perfectly, the anxiety stopped.”

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