Investigating the Career of a Full-Time Reality TV Star

It's more exhausting than you'd think.

By Billy Nilles Feb 07, 2018 12:00 PMTags
Full Time Reality Stars, Omarosa, Brandi Glanville, Chad Johnson, Heidi Montag, Spencer PrattCBS; NBC; E! Illustration

Some turn to reality TV to revitalize a sagging career. Others to finally get their big break. And then there are those who cling to the medium, turning appearances on show after show after show into a full-time job.

With tonight's premiere of the first U.S. edition of Celebrity Big Brother on CBS bringing a pair of full-time reality stars back to our TV screens for even more exposure, we thought the time was right to take a look at the stars who've managed to make a living solely out of reality TV. With no side gigs or part-time hustles that we know of, these are the reality TV repeat offenders who've proven that, for some, the only work you need is simply being yourself in front of a camera.

Investigating the Career of a Full-Time Reality Star
Omarosa Manigault-Newman

When We First Met Them: Omarosa first burst onto the reality TV scene way back in 2004 in the first season of NBC's The Apprentice, forming an alliance with host Donald Trump that would eventually take her all the way to the White House. Finishing in eighth place, her cunning and alienating game play would brand her one of reality TV's most infamous villains.

What They've Done Since: She immediately began parlaying her infamy to more and more TV gigs, with an appearance in season four of Chelsea Handler's prank show Women Behaving Badly the same year she competed on The Apprentice. In 2005, she would compete in an episode of NBC's Fear Factor and join the season five cast of VH1's The Surreal Life. Three years later, she was considered famous enough for Trump to include her in the inaugural cast of The Celebrity Apprentice, where she came in sixth place. In 2010, she and Trump teamed up for The Ultimate Merger, a dating competition on TV One wherein 12 men selected by Trump himself vied for Omarosa's affections. (Yes, really.) Three years later, Trump would bring her back for the cast of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, where she would finish in 10th place. Her consolation prize? He named her the Director of African-American Outreach for his 2016 presidential campaign, earning herself a gig on his transition team and White House staff. She would depart her role in December of 2017, just in time to join the cast of CBS' first-ever Celebrity Big Brother

Brandi Glanville

When We First Met Them: In season two of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Bravoholics were introduced to Brandi Glanville as she came bounding in on crutches, ready to spar with just about everybody. During her three-season tenure, Eddie Cibrian's ex-wife made enemies of Adrienne Maloof, Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards and Lisa Rinna. Impressive, no?

What They've Done Since: Immediately out of RHOBH, Glanville competed in the seventh season of The Celebrity Apprentice, making an enemy out of fellow Bravloebrity Kenya Moore and coming in fourth place. In 2016, she attempted to solve her romantic problems on the first season of E!'s Famously Single. The next year, she competed alongside Dean Sheremet, the ex-husband of her ex-husband's new wife Leann Rimes, on Fox's My Kitchen Rules, appeared as a panelist on Logo's Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul, and was a housemate on season 20 of Celebrity Big Brother in the U.K. Not content with being evicted fourth across the pond, Glanville has joined Omarosa as a housemate on CBS' Celebrity Big Brother.

Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt

When We First Met Them: In 2005, the world got their first taste of Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, albeit on two different shows. Pratt made his debut on Brody Jenner's short-lived Fox reality show, The Princes of Malibu, which he also helped create, while Montag recurred in season two of MTV's Laguna Beach. A year later, she and BFF Lauren Conrad hit the big time when The Hills debuted. Pratt and his crystals joined the MTV hit in season two, giving birth to Speidi and destroying Montag's friendship with LC in the process.

What They've Done Since: A year before The Hills came to an end, the couple competed on NBC's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here, where they quit on day two, then returned, only to quit again when Montag fell ill. In 2011, in a rare solo effort, Montag took part in VH1's Famous Food, which saw seven celebs work to open a restaurant (which closed after five months). Two years later, they entered the U.K. Celebrity Big Brother house as a single entity, eventually being named runner-up. The next year, they took part in an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, followed by a stint on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars 2 in 2015. In 2016, Montag and her mother, Danielle Egelhoff, joined the cast of Lifetime's The Mother/Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition. A year later, she and Pratt would re-enter the U.K. Celebrity Big Brother house, eventually being evicted on Day 25.

Tiffany "New York" Pollard

When We First Met Them: Tiffany Pollard made her reality TV debut in 2006 as a contestant on VH1's Flavor of Love, competing for the affection of rapper Flavor Flav. It was then that she earned her lasting nickname "New York," which was given to her by the rapper. (He gave all the women nicknames because learning their actual monikers was too hard, apparently.) After being infamously spat on by ousted contestant Brooke "Pumpkin" Thompson, Pollard made it to the final two, where Flav chose Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander over her. The rapper may not have chosen her, but America had sure fallen in love.

What They've Done Since: Pollard was invited back the next year for Flavor of Love 2, first to help the rapper eliminate contestants halfway through the season, then to vie, yet again, for his love. History repeated itself in the finale and Pollard was passed over for another woman. Her consolation prize? Two seasons of her own dating competition on VH1, I Love New York. In 2008, New York Goes to Hollywood debuted on the cable network, chronicling her attempts to establish herself as an actress. The next year, New York Goes to Work premiered, following her attempt to find a real job. I Love New York 3 was set to go into production in 2010 before VH1 canceled their whole "celebreality" programming block, shelving plans indefinitely. She tentatively returned to reality TV in 2015 on an episode of Botched, before exploding all over the place the following year. In 2016, she competed in Celebrity Big Brother U.K., coming in fourth place, participated in TV One's The Next :15 (which featured six former reality stars whose celeb status had faded), and returned to VH1 for Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn, alongside her mother, Michelle "Sister" Patterson. A year later, she competed in VH1's Scared Famous, once again solidifying her place as one of the network's go-to reality figures.

Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio

When We First Met Them: America first met Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio in 2006 as a 22-year-old graduate of Penn State when he appeared on The Real World: Key West, where he and his housemates were forced to evacuate not once, but twice, due to Hurricanes Rita and Wilma. 

What They've Done Since: In the same year, Devenanzio would make his debut on spin-off competition series The Challenge, competing in The Duel. Here he would find his new career, competing in a series record 16 seasons, including the currently airing Vendettas season. He's won the most Challenges, six, and taken home a total of $685,043 in winnings. 

Kate Gosselin

When We First Met Them: A registered nurse, Kate Gosselin and her then-husband Jon were introduced to the world in the 2004 NBC reality show Home Delivery, which documented the renovation of their Wyomissing, Penn. home after the delivery of their sextuplets. A pair of specials on Discovery Health in 2005 and 2006 led to a series, Jon & Kate Plus 8, which began airing in 2007. 

What They've Done Since: In 2009, following her divorce from Jon, TLC made Kate the face of the show, renaming it Kate Plus 8. The next year, she competed in the 10th season of Dancing With the Stars, where she was eliminated fourth. In 2013, Kate participated in an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, switching places with Kendra Wilkinson. In 2014, she competed in season seven of The Celebrity Apprentice, finishing in 8th place. That same year, Kate Plus 8 returned to TLC after three years off the air.

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

When We First Met Them: MTV first unleashed Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi on the world in 2009 in an episode of a dating series called Is She Really Going Out With Him? That same year, she was tapped to join the cast of a little something called Jersey Shore. Six seasons and one on-camera arrest later, she and her fellow co-stars were reality TV royalty.

What They've Done Since: Following the end of Jersey Shore, Polizzi and co-star Jennifer "Jwoww" Farley began starring in spinoff Snooki & Jwoww, which premiered on MTV in 2012 and ran for four seasons. In 2013, she competed in the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars, coming in 8th place. She and husband Jionni LaValle landed a show on fyi, entitled Nicole & Jionni's Shore Flip. Premiering in 2016, it lasted one season. She then joined the cast of The New Celebrity Apprentice in 2017, where she was eliminated fourth. Later that year, she and most of her Jersey Shore co-stars teamed up for Jersey Shore: Reunion Road Trip on E! before re-teaming with MTV for the currently filming Jersey Shore Family Vacation, due later this year.

Chad Johnson

When We First Met Them: America first got a taste of Chad Johnson when he competed for the affections of Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher in 2016 in the 12th season of The Bachelorette.

What They've Done Since: That summer, Chad joined the cast of Bachelor in Paradise, though he was ejected in the first episode by none other than host Chris Harrison thanks to his belligerent behavior. The following year, he made a cameo in an episode of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? before joining the season two cast of E!'s Famously Single. Later that year, he competed in the U.K. version of Celebrity Big Brother, making his way to the final and ultimately coming in fifth place.

Mama June Shannon

When We First Met Them: Mama June Shannon and the whole Honey Boo Boo brood were first introduced to the world in the season five premiere of Toddlers & Tiaras, where young Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson became a fan-favorite and was quickly spun off into a TLC series of her own, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which starred her entire family. The show was canceled in 2014 after four seasons due to reports that Mama June was dating a man convicted of the aggravated child molestation of her oldest daughter when she was eight years old.

What They've Done Since: In 2015, Mama June and ex-husband Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson joined the cast of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars 4. Two years later, the family returned to TV with WE tv's Mama June: From Not to Hot, which chronicled her weight loss transformation as she lost 300 pounds. A second season is currently airing.

Whose career impresses you the most? Sound off in the comments below!

Celebrity Big Brother premieres on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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