Living In The Real World: A Conversation With Julie Stoffer


Charles White






The biggest craze on television today is reality shows. Shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor and The Real World capture our attention, emotions and imagination. Although they are called reality shows, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t believe me? Just ask Julie Stoffer of MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans and Extreme Challenge.


Julie was born in Provo, Utah. Due to her father’s job, she ended up calling a myriad of places home. Although her parents ultimately put down roots in Wisconsin, where Julie went to high school, Julie now calls Southern California home.


After finishing high school, Julie was accepted to Brigham Young University, a private religious school. It seemed that Julie was living the life of an average teen until she attended a casting call, on a lark, for The Real World: New Orleans. When she was placed in the house, along with her other castmates, her life changed forever.  It’s an experience that she looks back on with positive feelings.


“It was a really good experience,” Julie related.  “I had a lot of fun. I went on a whim and tried out and I made it.”


However, this experience had a downside as well. An extremely conservative institution, Brigham Young University has a rigid honor code which forbids members of the opposite sex from living together before marriage. When Julie entered the New Orleans set for The Real World, she never thought that this would cause her to be suspended and four years later expelled from BYU.


“When I first got suspended I was so hurt and angry, but eventually my feathers settled as I realized that I was a grown woman who wanted a degree,” Julie explains on her website,  “First, BYU administration told me that I got suspended because I was sleeping with guys.  When they found out that wasn't true, they changed their minds and said that it was because I was "too well known" to be effective on campus. I honestly think that BYU made a rash judgment, and has been scrambling to justify itself.  It's a shame they didn't have the courage to just expel me to begin with.  It's pretty pathetic that instead they have been giving me the run around for years, all the while planting false hope but having no real intention of honoring their terms for clearing the suspension.  However, I don't hate BYU.  I still think it's a great school in many ways.”


Although The Real World cost this twenty-four year old her academic future at BYU, it also gave her an instant celebrity status that offered her the ability to champion the causes that are so dear to her. Following her work on The Real World, Julie was inducted into President Bush’s Points Of Light intensive training course which prepared her to serve as a role model and spokesperson on topics affecting young people today. Julie has crisscrossed the globe speaking on topics such as her focus on high moral standards, her stance against drugs and alcohol and her commitment to sexual abstinence before marriage. She often partners with Syrus, another The Real World alumnus, and other young people such as Columbine survivor Richard Hoover and teen activist Billy Hallowell to offer young adults positive role models and positive messages.


“I have a platform now and I really want to take advantage of that.” Julie admits.  “The more that kids see that there are musicians, actors and models that have a decency to them, the more they will start to make them their role models. Then we won’t need people like Brittany Spears running around ripping their clothes off all the time.”


Julie also tries to break down the myths surrounding reality television and reminds people that although they call it reality, these types of programs couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead, reality television is a producers attempt to create a product that is most palatable to consumers.


“What they portray to be real is definitely not a depiction of real life. Because the media is so saturated with immorality, kids get the impression that that is what everybody is like. The entertainment industry is just out to shock and they’ll portray whatever is the most shocking.”


“What we need to do as a society is to turn that filth off. Quit accepting it and have the courage to hit the power button or change the channel when something comes on that we don’t like and do not endorse it. If we don’t watch it and only support programming that is uplifting and of a high quality then that is what the producers will make.”


Although Julie has parleyed her fame into a wonderful career and appeared on numerous talk shows and in a myriad of major publications, this not is where Julie finds her ultimate joy. For Julie happiness is rooted in the things that she holds most dear: a strong character, love of fellow man and a deep relationship with Christ.


“You need to really get outside of yourself and be a loving person that stands for good and has Christ in their countenance and really makes a difference.” Julie explains. “It is what I am striving for every day. It is more important than any kind of monetary success or fame. Even if my family died in a plane crash tomorrow and I lost all my friends, the thing that would keep me happy and give me joy would be knowing that I have a relationship with God and that I can walk with Him everyday. That is what gives me my ultimate joy.”


So what has living in the real world taught Julie?


“Never forget your worth. Don’t ever question your value. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior unless you give them consent.’ You have so much power in your actions."


"Try to learn how to love and control your thoughts because of the old adage: ‘You thoughts become your deeds and your deeds become your character.’”


What does the future hold for Julie? If she has anything to do with it, the future will be much more of the same with a lot more opportunities added into the mix.


“I’m considering a lot of other things,” Julie states.  “. I want to continue lecturing.  I have been working with an organization called Path-U-Find speaking on different topics.  I love music and so hopefully I’ll be able to pursue my music as well. I would also like to get married and have a family.”


If you talk to Julie Stoffer for any length of time, you begin to realize that reality isn’t something that is captured on film and portrayed on the small or big screen. Reality is about living a life that is defined by a truth more real than anything that man could ever create. That truth is only found in Jesus Christ and not in a house on a street somewhere in New Orleans or any other city for that matter.



 For more information on Julie, please visit her website at Planet Julie