MTV’s ‘The Real World’ is a groundbreaking reality TV series that has captured the lives and experiences of diverse strangers living together in different cities. Season 17, set in Key West, Florida, was no exception, offering viewers a glimpse into the lives and interpersonal relationships of seven unique individuals. Premiering on February 28, 2006, ‘The Real World: Key West’ continued the show’s legacy, following the success of ‘The Real World: Miami’ and taking place in the South Atlantic States region of the country,
Created by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, ‘The Real World’ has left an indelible mark on reality TV history, paving the way for countless similar shows. While the show has always been known for its raw, unfiltered look at the lives of its participants, what happened to the cast members after the cameras stopped rolling is just as intriguing. Read on to find the answers.
Where is Zach Mann Now?
Zach Mann, a communications graduate of Lewis and Clark College, hails from a Jewish background. Once battling weight issues, Zach underwent a remarkable transformation into a self-assured, dynamic individual. In the 16 years following his reality TV stint, he has firmly established himself as a prolific film producer, director, and photographer. Notable credits include ‘Low Low,’ which earned accolades like Best Director at the Boston International Film Festival and secured distribution by Gravitas Ventures and Spotlight Pictures. His short film ‘Birthday Boy’ was acquired by HBO in 2017 and bore the mark of executive producer Jean-Marc Valle.
Zach currently resides in Los Angeles and serves as Co-President of Halfway Crooks Entertainment alongside partner Nick Richey. He is also known for producing digital content for renowned brands like AT&T, Pizza Hut, and more while continuing to develop an array of feature films and TV series. Since January 2022, he has held the role of Chief Marketing Officer at Chubby Cat Inc., a science-based cannabis cultivation and genetics company. Alongside his professional achievements, he is happily married to Kailey Mann and has a furry companion.
Where is Jose Tapia (The Don) Now?
Known as “The Don” among his friends, Jose Tapia had a challenging upbringing in Brooklyn, New York, surrounded by drugs, violence, and a less-than-ideal crowd. His journey on ‘The Real World: Key West’ was a timely escape from this environment. In the years following the season, Jose transitioned into the world of real estate brokerage and became the owner of multiple rental properties. He also dabbled in film, contributing to projects such as ‘The Fighter’ in 2008 and two shorts titled ‘T-Rex, Jellybean, Princess’ and ‘Two Simple Men.’
On the personal front, Jose Tapia has been happily married to the love of his life, Merissa Lynn, since July 7, 2017. Merissa is a makeup artist by profession. Jose and Merissa are owners of Havana Springs Wedding and Event Venue that spans 50 acres. The couple are proud parents to two adorable sons – Crew and Rush. They welcomed the latter in 2021. Together, the lovely family resides on their vintage-themed resort in Havana in Gadsden County.
Where is Paula Meronek Now?
Paula Meronek, originally from Meriden, Connecticut, was 23 when she appeared on ‘The Real World: Key West.’ She had a corporate job during the day but led a party-filled nightlife. Paula faced personal challenges, including an abusive ex-boyfriend and body image issues, which were explored in the season. However, she faced a legal issue during the airing of ‘The Real World: Key West’ when she was arrested for a physical altercation with her then-boyfriend. Fortunately, the charges were dropped, and Paula managed to turn her life around. After her stint on ‘The Real World,’ Paula’s life took several positive turns. She married her partner, Jack Beckert, in April 2014, and they became parents to three children.
Paula also became a prominent figure on MTV’s ‘The Challenge,’ participating in 10 seasons and winning two of them. In December 2015, she gave birth to a girl named Athena Rose Beckert. Notably, Paula Meronek celebrated seven years of sobriety in November 2020, a remarkable achievement. Paula currently resides in New Jersey with her family and works as the regional office manager at Power Home Remodeling Group, where she has been employed for six years. She is actively involved in the company’s foundation, Power The Cure, which supports pediatric cancer research.
Where is Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio Now?
Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, who was 22 years old during the season, made quite an impact on ‘The Real World: Key West.’ During the season, he playfully flirted with cast member Svetlana and had a memorable moment when he jokingly removed Janelle’s bikini top, later apologizing for his actions. However, Johnny Bananas’ true claim to fame came through his participation in MTV’s ‘The Challenge.’ He became a stalwart of the competition, appearing in a staggering 20 seasons and winning seven of them. His competitive spirit and strategic gameplay earned him a reputation as one of the most decorated and infamous contestants in the show’s history.
Beyond ‘The Challenge,’ Johnny Bananas ventured into acting, with roles in films like ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ and ‘Scream: Killer Party.’ He also expanded his hosting career, taking on roles in NBC’s ‘Celebrity Sleepover’ and ‘1st Look,’ where he travels and explores new experiences. He had a high-profile relationship with ‘Big Brother: Over the Top’ contestant Morgan Willett, but the couple split in September 2021. Before this, he also dated Olympic champion Hannah Teter.
Where is Janelle Casanave Now?
Janelle Casanave, aged 23 during her time on ‘The Real World: Key West,’ was described by friends as ‘independent.’ Before pursuing a career as a makeup artist, she had been accepted to the University of San Francisco School of Law. Janelle’s journey didn’t end with ‘The Real World.’ She made multiple appearances on subsequent reality shows, including ‘The Challenge’ and ‘The Challenge: All Stars.’ Notably, she emerged as the winner of ‘The Inferno 3’ during the 14th season of ‘The Challenge’ in 2007.
In her personal life, Janelle’s path took a different direction. She got married to Kinji Green on June 15, 2015, and they now have two children. She also pursued a career as a surgical nurse and a sex education educator. Additionally, she authored the book ‘Serval and the Beautiful Dark,’ showcasing her talents beyond the world of reality TV.
Where is Tyler Duckworth Now?
Tyler Duckworth, a gay gymnastics and figure skating enthusiast, had dreams of becoming a world-class swimmer until a devastating accident nearly took away his ability to walk. During his time on ‘The Real World: Key West,’ he admitted to feeling closest to fellow cast member Jose.
Following his stint on ‘The Real World,’ Tyler found a place in MTV’s ‘The Challenge.’ His story of resilience and determination resonated with viewers, making him a memorable and admired figure in the reality TV world. He also took on a different career path, working as a special events consultant at the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation in California while remaining a dedicated fitness enthusiast. He is currently a Byzantine Historical Scholar and working as an Account Supervisor at Sodexo.
Where is Svetlana Shusterman Now?
Svetlana Shusterman, a pre-med student at Temple University, was known as the ‘crazy Russian chick’ on ‘The Real World: Key West.’ Her journey on the season was marked by her struggle to balance her family’s expectations with her desire to experience life to the fullest. Her 21st birthday was even featured on MTV’s ‘My Super Sweet 16.’
After leaving ‘The Real World,’ Svetlana faced both drama and controversy in her life. She encountered legal troubles, including an arrest for disorderly conduct, and filed a restraining order against musician Brandon Boyd for stalking. In 2008, she dropped out of Temple University. She was also a featured artist for Visual Renegade, a group in Venice Beach, California. Her journey beyond reality TV has been marked by its ups and downs, showcasing the complexity of life beyond the spotlight.