At 19, Andrew Jenks, star of MTV's newest documentary series "World of Jenks," wanted to know what it would be like to live in a nursing home. So, he packed up his bags, grabbed a few friends and moved in, capturing the entire experience along the way on film.
The resulting documentary, "Room 335," earned him tons of recognition and would serve as the basis for his new show, which premieres on Sunday, right after the 2010 Video Music Awards.
In the series, Jenks immerses himself into the lives of a variety of people. "I move into all these different subcultures in America and try to get an understanding of what is really going on," said Jenks, who started making documentaries as a child living abroad in order to capture the culture around him.
So far, his latest project has had him sleeping on the streets and partying with rap star [artist id="1595900"]Maino[/artist]. "You know, we've done everything from living with a homeless girl in San Francisco to living with an animal rescuer in Miami, to living with a high school football star in West Texas," said Jenks, who spends about a week with each individual. "I've been able to move into all different sorts of weird, funny, interesting, dynamic, unique situations and really experience them firsthand, and been able to capture them with our cameras."
Of course, the experience hasn't been without its challenges. Jenks has put his life on the line more than once while filming the show (he said going undercover with an animal rescuer was particularly risky) and has been attacked by bystanders who don't appreciate being filmed.
"When we moved into the streets of San Francisco, we thought the homeless kids might kind of be into it," said Jenks. "But they hated it. They hated us. They didn't want people filming them."
His subjects, however, such as a young autistic man who was initially cautious of letting Jenks into his life, have generally warmed to him rather quickly. "I think with a lot of the subjects, it's a matter of showing that I sincerely care, and I do," said Jenks, adding that he keeps in touch with the people he films. "I want to get to know who you are and what you stand for."
Jenks will be at the VMAs on Sunday, but said his mind will be elsewhere. "I think I'll be kind of jittery and waiting for the episode to air," he said.
Watch "World of Jenks" Sunday night at 11 p.m. ET, right after the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. The party starts with MTV News' VMA Pre-Show at 8 p.m., followed by the main event at 9 p.m. ET.