Could ‘Miss Seventeen’ come from University?

By Evangeline Politis

Jill Belsley is a regular college freshman with one exception.

This freshman in LAS made it to MTV vying for the title “Miss Seventeen.”

“Miss Seventeen” is a brand new program on MTV at 9:30 p.m. that presents 17 college-aged girls who are fighting for a college scholarship, a paid internship and the front cover of Seventeen magazine.

The girls all live in an apartment in New York City and battle in different competitions and challenges to reach their final goal.

She leads a normal life now that she’s back on campus, attending class and getting involved in Greek life. No one has recognized her from her appearance on the season premier of the show last Monday, she said.

“It sounds like a good concept for a show, but I think the girls on the show aren’t real,” said Samantha Johnson, freshman in LAS. “They all seem to have hidden agendas.”

Belsley’s sorority sister Lauren Baugh, sophomore in LAS, met her for the first time at the beginning of the semester.

“The first time I got to know her was through recruitment,” Baugh said. “I got to rush her during open house and of the 60 or so girls I was meeting, she stuck out as being so enthusiastic. She is a very unique and approachable person.”

Belsley got involved in the show after clicking on a link found in a bulk e-mail she received in the spring of 2005. From there, she filled out an application with a series of questions, and sent in photos and a 10-minute video, she said.

She was then called to do a phone interview with MTV for about 45 minutes, she said. For the final phase she traveled to Los Angeles. She went through various on-screen interviews and physical and psychological tests.

“They wanted to make sure that each applicant was both mentally and physically prepared for something like this,” she said.

Belsley grew up in Morton, Ill., about 10 minutes from Peoria, and said the transition to New York City wasn’t that difficult.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was my first experience ever visiting the city, so I had nothing but great expectations for it.

“We lived right in the heart of Manhattan. There is just so much going on and just to be immersed in it for the summer was awesome.”

The first cut of girls occurred in the season premier last week. A total of seven girls were cut, leaving Jill along with nine others to fend for their survival throughout the remainder of the competition.

“I think every girl was kind of nervous for the first cut … we didn’t know what they were looking for; it was kind of up the in the air,” she said.

The cut was mostly based on the first impressions of the girls, she said. Since everyone had so much to offer and had a variety of personalities, it was a nerve-racking experience for most. None of the girls knew what it would take to stand out this early in the game.

Although Belsley thought “Miss Seventeen” was a great experience, there were some negative factors included in getting involved in a reality TV show.

“It was awkward at first to be tapped all the time because none of us have ever been in that situation before … we had mic packs on from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to sleep,” she said.

Another frustration for her is the experience of watching the show after it has been edited because she knows what actually happened, rather than how certain situations are being depicted.

“I thought they portrayed (Belsley) as being the vocal one of the group,” Baugh said. “They seem to be making her out to be the leader of the show. They even put in that one quote saying that she’s not here to make friends. But she is so friendly, and they are portraying her as the girl who just wants to win.”

In the preview for the next episode, Belsley is quoted as saying she is not doing the show to make friends.

“I didn’t apply for the opportunity to make friends, but I still had the incentive that I would make life-long friendships,” Belsley said.