MTV's If You Really Knew Me Breaks Boundaries One High School at a Time
High School is notorious for cliques. So what if the jocks or nerds or outcasts tried to learn more about each other? In MTV's new series If You Really Knew Me (Tuesday at 11/10c), students participate in a one-day program called Challenge Day that tries to break down the walls among these different circles. Leikin, who's featured in the series premiere, tells TVGuide.com that although she was nervous about opening up on camera, every response and reaction from her peers "was completely honest." The 18-year-old, who attends Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif., talks about what she gained from participating in the series and if Challenge Day managed to ease tensions among the groups.
TVGuide.com: What were you initial reactions about partaking in Challenge Day on camera?
Leikin: Initially, I was really nervous. Going into Challenge Day I was, like: People are going to have false reactions because there are cameras around. Are they going to try to script this? I got really nervous because I'd wanted to be in the program for so long and I wanted it to be as honest of a reaction as everybody else had the opportunity to witness when they went through Challenge Day. As soon as we went into that room, you didn't even realize the cameras were there. Every response was completely honest and it was just you and your group members ... and every feeling was natural and everything you heard and said was completely honest.
TVGuide.com: What gave you the power to be able to share your story?
Leikin: When other people open up, it gets a lot easier for you to open up. The people who were running Challenge Day shared a lot, which was really cool because they went through things I couldn't even imagine having to go through in my life. So that struck a little bit of motivation to show that it's OK. Before we started sharing about ourselves, they did techniques to break down the walls and get everyone to loosen up and start bonding with each other. As soon as we sat down and it came time to sharing, it just took that one person to step forward and take a bit of courage to go first and the feeling just felt natural.
TVGuide.com: Has that day changed how you and your family interact?
Leikin: My mom and I had a good talk the day I went home from Challenge Day and things started progressing. Families are always going to have their issues and have their differences, but what it did was be able to humble myself so when it comes to times when things aren't going the way that I wish they were going ... I can just take a step back and be calm about the situation.
TVGuide.com: What's the biggest thing you took away from this experience?
Leikin: To remember you don't know what type of home somebody comes from. It's human nature to judge somebody and it's up to you whether you hold that person accountable for the judgment that you're going to be making because more often than not they're false accusations. You don't know what kind of morning they had, you don't know what kind of night they had. You don't know how their family has raised them or how their friends treat them, you don't know anything about them except for their outer appearance. So that motivated me to get to know people better ... What it is that they're going through in their lives and just let them know that I'm there for them.
TVGuide.com: Have the effects of Challenge Day remained at your school?
Leikin: After Challenge Day our leadership program developed a club called "Be the Change." Students involved in it went into classrooms once a week and did the same techniques we learned in Challenge Day for about 15-20 minutes with the kids. That way, everybody who didn't get the opportunity to go through Challenge Day got to get a little glimpse of what it is like.
TVGuide.com: Do you think this show will have an effect on other kids your age watching?
Leikin: Most definitely. I know when you watch the TV show and follow these people's lives and hear their stories it will be able to help someone say, "Hey, I'm going through that exact thing and I'm going to deal with it this way."
Watch a clip of Leikin in If You Really Knew Me.
"If You Really Knew Me" -- Leikin
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