Reality television has made stars out of otherwise average everyday people. Some try their hand at it and move on, while others make a career move out of the experience. Jennifer Toof became a memorable character on not one, but three reality series – the first being the second season of Flava Flav’s love conquest show Flava of Love. Nicknamed Toastee by the Public Enemy hype man, Toof made it through only a few episodes before competitors took gossip and potentially damning information to the bachelor himself. A survivor to the bitter end, Toastee went on to answer the call of disciplinary adjustment with Charm School. Again, no graduation to the top of the class, but viewers were certainly familiar with Toof’s on-screen persona. By the time I Love Money 2 came courting, she was a reality veteran and made her strongest effort. But in between the melodrama and controversy of reality shows, Toof was thrown a curve ball that both served as a public relations nightmare and a giant blast of notoriety – the sex tape scandal. Toastee now reveals the good, bad and ugly of the reality show experience, and gives some insight into the woman behind the Toastee persona.
How did you make your entrance into reality television?
I didn’t go about looking for them; I got the casting call for the show because I ran a modeling agency while I was in college in Boston. I made an audition tape for fun, didn’t think they would pick me, but they did pick me so I did Flava of Love. After that, they called me to do Charm School and then called me to do I Love Money. So, I didn’t really have to do much. It was something that came about and I’m glad I did it.
When you began in reality showbiz, did you know what to expect or did producers give much info ahead of time?
No, we didn’t know anything going into that show (Flava of Love). I think girls on later shows knew from watching what it would be like. For us it was all new. They told us it was a dating show and there wouldn’t be any privacy, but we wouldn’t know what would happen from day to day. We just had to roll with it.
Do you become accustomed to the invasiveness of cameras rolling all the time?
It gets very annoying, but you do get used to it. By the time I was on I Love Money, well, you get so used to it by the time I went home I was still checking my shirt for the mic. It is really invasive, and the only time you’re really allowed to be by yourself is in the bathroom, but if someone else comes in that bathroom – they can bring the camera crew in too. So the cameras are there from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep.
When on a reality show, are you expected to play certain things up or down and do producers push for one thing or another?
They want you to be yourself because they cast us for a reason. They like who we are and don’t want us to be fake. But, at the same time, when a camera is on you all the time, you’re not going to do the same things you would if there wasn’t a camera. You want to be a little more exciting, funny and you know what they want, so you give it to them.
Are cast member conflicts egged on from behind the scenes?
We’re not allowed to physically fight with someone, but they do want the verbal altercations. And I think in casting, they will cast people that would fight with each other. I didn’t really have that until I Love Money, where it got a little crazy and they had to break it up. But, it won best fight in the reality t.v. awards.
After conflicts, do you brush it off and shake hands or does the tension truly continue on?
When you’re going through it, of course it’s real. On television its funny and six months later when it airs you’ve forgotten about it.
Do you feel the reality experiences worked out well, even when your television persona is viewed in less than flattering light?
At the end of the day, it’s just a television show. People have their opinions, and I’m my own person. I’m Jennifer and I’m also Toastee, but my friends know me. I’m glad I did, but after Flava of Love, I really didn’t like my edit, but I got the opportunity to show more of myself then on Charm School and I Love Money. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
How did you react when the sex tape surfaced?
At first, I was like oh crap because my family saw it. It was something I did with an ex years ago and never thought would be public. I’m going through with a lawsuit against Vivid right now. It did get me out there, and made me one of the more memorable characters, and I think I was the first reality star with one – now it seems like everyone has one. At first it sucks, but you just deal with it.
Favorite reality series?
I Love Money. It had mental and physical challenges and wasn’t to win a guy you didn’t even want. The prize was money. I liked that there were guys too, not just girls, and I lasted the furthest on that series.
People may not be aware, but you are college educated and very involved in charity. Is education a backup plan or the foundation of a future outside television and what charities are important to you?
It’s not really a backup. Its what I want to do. Television. is extra. I graduated in psychology and am thinking about my masters. I already have the experience working with crazy people! It helps a lot! The one charity I’m most active with is RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). It’s an issue that affects so many girls. I also do charity poker tournaments.
Word has it you plan to write an autobiography?
That’s what I really want to do. I love to write, so I want to talk about what goes on behind the scenes and all the things people ask me. As far as I know, no reality show star has written a book about it yet.