INTERVIEW: Shalandra "Shay" Cham dishes on 'Beauty and the Geek'
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/16/2007
When Shalandra "Shay" Cham first met her eventual Beauty and the Geek fourth-season partner Joshua Green, she didn't even know people like him existed.
But the 26-year-old bartender and beauty-pageant queen from Little Rock, AR made a life-changing connection with Joshua before the two became the seventh pair eliminated from Beauty and the Geek 4 during Tuesday night's broadcast of The CW reality competition series.
On Thursday, Shay talked to Reality TV World about how she strong-armed Joshua into being her partner; how her attempts at helping one of the remaining couples work together as a team was apparently futile; why she was so confident heading into the only elimination room she endured; and why participating in the show was a "life-changing" experience.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for Beauty and the Geek 4?
Shay: Oh my goodness... Well one [casting] guy came down to my sister's salon here in Little Rock, and we didn't ever end up talking. Then I heard about [open auditions] on the radio, and I was like, "Oh, it's in town." But I didn't even worry about it, I was just like, "Oh, okay I heard about it."
It just so happened that same Saturday I went to the River Market downtown to go get some fresh vegetables, and saw the [open auditions]. Everybody was like, "Go in there and try-out." I was like, "No! I'm way too smart for this!" (laughing) So I didn't think they would choose me, but I went in there and tried... The rest was history!
Shay: Wow... All I have to say is that I didn't even realize people like Joshua existed when I first met him. I was like, "You've got to be kidding me." It was pretty amazing...
Reality TV World: What was your initial reaction when you learned you received the lowest score on the intellectual skills analysis?
Shay: Honestly, I almost started to cry. I was just like, "All those years of private school, my mom is going to be so disappointed!" (laughing) All the money's like down the drain! It was kind of sad... But I was like, "This test must be wrong! This must be false, like a glitch in the system or something." I just said, "Oh well. I'll make fun of myself at the end of this, so whatever."
Reality TV World: Joshua was initially hesitant about having you as a partner. Why were you so insistent about having Joshua as a partner?
Shay: Joshua... I'm like, "Joshua, listen sweetheart. We have the lowest scores [out of the beauties and the geeks]. How are we going to split that bond up? We both know who's the smartest -- most intelligent -- and the most social, why not stick together because people aren't going to look at us as a threat because they look at us as the bottom of the food chain pretty much." He was like, "No, no, no, no, no." I was like, "Okay we're being partners. That's the end of it." I had to twist his arm a couple times, but we ended up actually being friends, so it came out okay.
Reality TV World: Pretty much every eliminated team we've talked to said they were happy with the partner you gave them. How did you decide on the couples?
Shay: Some of it we were like, "Okay, since we think these people don't want to be together, they maybe can learn something from each other." Some of them we were just like, "Okay, you know what? Time is winding down let's pick a number and pull it out and put these two people together." Then some of them we were just like, "[Amanda Hanshaw] really wanted to be with [Tony Tran], so let's just go ahead and give her that." That's pretty much how we came down to it...
Reality TV World: What did you think initially about the fourth-season twist of including Sam as the hunky guy and Nicole as the nerdy girl?
Shay: I was in shock. I was like, "I can't believe that this is going to happen. This is going to change the dynamics of the house, and it's probably going to distract a couple of people."
Shay: On Rebecca's part, I was kind of like this could be a good thing because -- if Sam is winning all the challenges -- he would never send her to the elimination room. So if that was her plan, it worked. I was just like, "As long as someone's doing something around here, I guess this is good!" (laughing) I don't know if Nicole took it that way. She looked at it as Rebecca was a distraction...
Reality TV World: Prior to the makeovers, you commented how you thought improving Joshua's outer appearance would help his confidence. Do you think you were right and after the makeover he became more confident?
Shay: Oh most definitely. A lot of people would probably say that we shouldn't judge by what people look like. But to be honest with you, everyday you see somebody, you have 2.2-seconds where you think, "That girl's attractive. That guy's handsome. Oh my goodness! What's that guy have on?!" I'm like, "Joshua, sweetheart, you're going to have to start investing -- you're investing all this time and money into your education and your brain -- you're going to have to put some of that into your everyday attire. Because nobody's going to take you seriously. You pretty much look like you're a 13-year-old kid."
He just kind of looked at me and he's like, "Really?" I'm like, "[Sigh]... okay Joshua." He just never knows what's going on. So he had to change. This was a must. I didn't even realize people like Joshua existed when I first met him. So, it was a shock.
Reality TV World: You seemed really happy with his makeover when it was first revealed.
Shay: Oh my goodness I was so excited! I was like, "This is good! This is a good change for him!" He had no where to go but up...
Reality TV World: How did it feel to win that "Back to School" challenge since it required you to teach a subject -- math -- that you knew so little about?
Shay: For me to HATE math... I don't think you guys understand me when I say I hate it. I didn't even take it this semester because it freaks me out so much. I'm going to take it in the summertime -- like one class -- just so I can focus on it. It depresses my thoughts to go into a math class (laughing).
To hate something that much, and to go in and actually win at [teaching] it? And to have children accepting what I taught, that was even better! So I was really psyched about it.
Reality TV World: You made a few attempts to help William and Jennifer work better as a team. Why do you think they're having such a hard time working together?
Shay: They're having such a hard time because William had incidents whenever he was younger where he had a group of people who pretty much picked on him -- who were athletic builds, you know? He pretty much wrote everybody else off in his life that remotely even looked or resembled any of those people from that one particular time in his life.
So being that Jennifer is athletic and she's tall and she's a girl, he's just like, "I don't want to have anything to do with her." He's pretty much letting that right there come in-between them. No matter how hard Jen tries to put everything aside, he constantly keeps it in his head. Now -- not to even just take sides -- but Jen, sometimes she would say stuff or make little remarks that would make everybody else laugh at [William], but she doesn't realize what she's doing.
I tried to help them out, but I don't think it worked, to be honest with you (laughing).
Reality TV World: Do you ever see William and Jennifer coming together as a team?
Shay: No... To be honest with you, they fought more than what [the show] showed. It was way worse actually than what they showed.
Reality TV World: Joshua commented some of the other teams had taken to calling you two, "the old, married couple." What do you think of that comparison? Did you see it as a compliment?
Shay: I didn't take it as offensive at all. I'm just trying to help him out (laughing)! Don't condemn me for helping him out! If I see something that I think is wrong, I'm going to let you know Josh... That's just it (laughing)! I felt like if anybody should tell him it should be me first because I'm his partner. We're in this together, so all be darned if I'm going to let somebody else come in and put their two-cents in and they don't have anything invested. So if something's going to go wrong or something is wrong, than you know what? It should come from your partner.
Reality TV World: You guys seemed to have a really good relationship with each other and were also receptive to each other's suggestions. Was that the case?
Shay: Very much so. Like I said, the first night it was kind of rocky. We fought. But at the end of the day we just decided, "You know what? If we're going to make this work, we're going to have to come together as a team, respect each other's opinions and learn not to where our emotions on our sleeve. If something goes wrong, you tell me. If you see something that I'm doing to somebody else that you don't feel is right, you tell me and we're going to work this out."
Reality TV World: Why do you think you were never nominated for the elimination room?
Shay: Because we both had the lowest score [on the intellectual and social skills analyses]... On the negative side, [the other couples] were like, "Okay, they both have the lowest scores. They're not a threat. Oh whatever. They're not going to actually win this thing." But on the positive side, [the other couples] were like, "We actually see them having a little bit of changing. This is a good thing." So I think those were two reasons why people were just like, "Ah, let 'em go!"
Reality TV World: How confident were you heading into Tuesday night's elimination room against William and Jennifer?
Shay: If you would have told me 10 minutes before that I was going to be eliminated that night, I would have called you a liar.
Reality TV World: Really. So I take it you were confident?
Shay: I'm talking about there was no way! (laughing) It was so bad -- talk about cockiness -- I told Jasmine, "I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't you worry about it."
Reality TV World: So what do you think went wrong?
Shay: It was definitely luck. There was no true way to study for that stuff. But I told Joshua before we went into it -- that was like so crazy -- I was like, "Joshua, look over these questions on the games we play in bars." He was like, "Oh they're not going to ask us that." I'm like, "You don't know that! Joshua, look over this stuff right here!" I told him that. [Joshua incorrectly answered a question about drinking games.]
It's crazy that it happened like that because I remember telling him that. I was shocked at that. If you go back and replay the tape, I just sink [when he answered the question wrong]. I was like, "This can't be!?"
I literally told Jasmine two second before I walked [into the elimination room], "I'll be back in a few minutes. We're going to finish this game!" (laughing) I was in shock really.
Reality TV World: Is there anybody in the house you'd like to see win? Anybody you wouldn't want to see win?
Shay: I wouldn't be upset if Sam and Nicole won.
Reality TV World: Why?
Shay: I mean if Jen and William won... because William is so just cocky and developed this arrogance that wasn't cool. I mean whatever on that.
I would really prefer to see Jasmine and Dave win, because they were really trying, they were really cordial towards each other for the most part. William and Jennifer pretty much hated each other.
Sam and Nicole -- they're cool -- I think they're learning something from each other. But you know what? They've won everything else! Why not let somebody else win? (laughing)
Reality TV World: Do you think participating in the show really had an impact on the way you look at yourselves as well as other people who are different from you?
Shay: I think before... I don't think I was really mean to people but I think I was judgmental. I think I had a way of looking at people that was a little close-minded. The way I talked to people probably wasn't the best way. It really honestly changed me. Before I went on the show, I was the girl who was in-front of television saying, "Why are those people crying? This is BS. This is not real!"
But definitely it was a life-changing experience. I will tell my grandchildren about this, I will tell my children. My little niece... I definitely think that it changed me in life. The way I'm around my family and friends, especially my niece. I would never want her to grow-up to be like... to look at things a certain way. You know, it was like be a little more open-minded about things. I definitely think I changed... It was for the better.
Reality TV World: So what's next? Got any plans?
Shay: I'm about to finish school, I have a degree in communications. I went to real-estate school, I finished that already. I'm probably going to end up moving back out to L.A., maybe do some modeling and acting stuff. Just take one day at a time, see what kind of doors open up. Hopefully something good comes out of it... we'll see.
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