Wantagh’s Jenna Compono, who starred in MTV’s “Real World: Ex-Plosion” in 2014, will be appearing in her fifth season of the spinoff competition “The Challenge” when its 30th season, “The Challenge XXX: Dirty 30,” premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. And the girl next door may be pleading the Fifth as she promises to play as down and dirty as the mud wrestler next door.
“This season I learned that ‘The Challenge’ is set up to be dirty, so if I don’t play dirty, I’m going to get played,” Compono, 24, says of the season that shot earlier this year in Colombia, with 15 men and 15 women in grueling physical stunts and mental trials for a $1 million prize, the series’ biggest. “I have to play like everyone else is playing. I can’t get walked all over. You’re going to see a different side of me, that’s for sure.”
The side we’ve seen so far in the “Challenge” seasons subtitled “Battle of the Exes II” (2014-15), “Battle of the Bloodlines” (2015-16), “Rivals III” (2016) and “Invasion of the Champions” (2017) has been that of the good girl with problematic boyfriends and the occasional dark edge. She surprisingly lashed out at her teammate and cousin Brianna Julig on “Bloodlines,” for instance, though the flare-up blew over and the two took third place.
Compono and Jay Mitchell reached third place the season before, and she and Vince Gliatta were the runners-up on “Rivals III.”
One of six siblings — “three boys and three girls, just like ‘The Brady Bunch’!” she says — Compono assesses her on-screen appeal as, “I’m relatable, and people want to see good competitors, which I think I am.” The Wantagh High School graduate, who was born in Merrick and as a youth moved to Wantagh with parents John and Joanne, also said, “I’m pretty funny, I’m pretty witty, I just kind of get along with everyone. In the beginning I was super shy, getting cheated on [by boyfriends] every two seconds. Now I’ve grown, and people can see me stand up for myself and get past the guy drama.”
Compono, a sometime model who nannies and does secretarial work while living at home, is completing a criminal justice associate degree at Nassau Community College.
But perhaps most important, guys, “I am single, single, single. Just having a good time. I haven’t been single in a while, so it’s nice.”