On season two of TBS' King of the Nerds Xander Jeanneret is playing for keeps. He is a gaymer ( gay gamer ), vlogger, graphic designer and LARP enthusiast ( live action role-playing )but he also has a heart of gold. So what is a nice guy doing on a show that will test his good guy status? Windy City Times caught up with Jeanneret about maintaining his integrity, being "an open book" and that $100,000 grand prize.
Windy City Times: How did King of the Nerds find you?
Xander Jeanneret: I was initially contacted for season one through a gay gaming group in Los Angeles, and I didn't know anything about the show at the time.
WCT: Why did you reject them when they asked you to be on season one?
Xander Jeanneret: I rejected the offer because I thought it would just be a reality show that took advantage of nerdy people for a laugh, and I didn't want to be a part of something like that. Then, I saw season one, and fell in love with the show. I really felt that it was a celebration of what it is to be a nerd, and the challenges looked like fun! So, when season two came around, I made sure to reach out and see if they'd still have me, and apparently they were still interested!
WCT: What is the premise of the show?
Xander Jeanneret: King of the Nerds is a competition-reality show, a la Survivor. Eleven nerdy people are put together in a mansion ( called "Nerdvana" ) and tested on various aspects of what would be considered "nerdy." The show starts off as a team competition, and one nerd is eliminated each week. Once the numbers dwindle down, the teams are dissolved and it becomes an individual competition for the crown.
WCT: Did you coin the word "gaymer" and have you connected with other gaymers out there in the world?
Xander Jeanneret: I definitely did not coin the term "gaymer"it exists on many places on the Internet. It's yet another label that we can give to our sexual identity, but I feel that it allows us to express so much without having to explain anything. Any way that people can find each other and connect is great. I have connected with several gaymers out there in the world, in more than one sense.
WCT: How would you define the word "nerd," and why are you qualified to fit into that category?
Xander Jeanneret: Everyone has their own definition of what it means to be a "nerd" or a "geek." Personally, I believe that you can be a nerd about anything. For me, it takes on the connotations of being obsessed with something and having the unbridled passion to have it be a part of your life. This could be expressed in what you wear or what community you surround yourself with.
Traditionally, society has this checklist of things that are nerdy and a lot of my hobbies and interests coincide with that list. For instance, I love tabletop gamingespecially Dungeons and Dragonsvideo games, and consuming media based in science fiction or fantasy. But I don't just have an interest in these things; most of them are an important part of my life.
WCT: You consider yourself to be a nice guy and you want to prove that you can be that person and still win a competition. Did your nice guy attitude ever get tested?
Xander Jeanneret: For sure! We're in a super stressful environment, and each one of us had to be the "bad nerd" at one point or another. I mean, with $100,000 on the line, everyone's got to fly off the handle eventually! It was a trying exercise in inner peace to keep my cool at all times, but I'm proud of the game that I played.
WCT: Your personal motto is "to be an open book."
Xander Jeanneret: I think this is a fantastic platform to further the understanding that there are intellectual members of the LGBTQ community. While there are many more representations of gay people in today's media, I think that a gay person competing on a show like this proves that being gay is only one aspect of someone's personality. Personal identity comes in many forms, and I fully believe that you should be able to choose your label ( or lack thereof ) as easily as your socks. I identify as a gay man, yes, but also as a gamer, or a linguist. Any one of those labels are as important to defining me as my sexuality.
WCT: Are you ready for the positive and negative reactions that will come your way because you are so open?
Xander Jeanneret: Can anyone really be ready for that? I think that I'm confident enough in who I am that it would take an awful lot of negativity to bring me down.
Season two of King of the Nerds premieres Thursday, Jan. 23. Visit www.tbs.com/shows/king-of-the-nerds and follow Jeanneret on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Xanderrific .