Filmmaker, MTV icon Jenks welcomes students to his world

A popular show on MTV didn’t just land in Andrew Jenks’ lap.

Instead, through hard work, not taking no for an answer and “faking it until he made it,” the 25-year-old filmmaker has learned to adapt to situations so he can document the lives of young people.

Through storytelling, Jenks kept the audience laughing on Wednesday night as he shared his journey to MTV stardom.

“I’ve always loved telling stories of the underdog,” Jenks said. “I feel like the show is representing young people who don’t have a voice on a platform, which is MTV.”

He said his MTV show, “World of Jenks,” is a chance for him to tell these stories that cover a wide range of issues.

“That’s the cool part for me — experiencing so many lifestyles,” he said.

At age 19, Jenks began his filmmaking career when he decided to live in a nursing home in Florida for a summer. The documentary, titled “Andrew Jenks, Room 335,” followed the lives of residents, and eventually caught the attention of HBO and was made into a movie.

“I came back (from the nursing home) and was just really passionate and dedicated,” Jenks said.

He said that he is inspired by the people he films and hopes the young people in the show inspire the audience.

“I want students to benefit by seeing young people who don’t have a whole lot and are able to do anything they can imagine,” he said.

One student at the lecture was Rachael Drake, a political science freshman, who came to listen to Jenks because she likes the show.

“I thought he told good stories that make people think,” Drake said.

She liked his message of working hard and not taking no for an answer.

She also said it was interesting to learn how people are chosen for the show, and how the show affected Jenks.

Jill Baranowski, the director of engaging issues for the Student Activities Board, also said that she enjoyed hearing Jenks speak and that she was very entertained.

She said she likes his message that working hard leads to success, which applies to college-age students, especially as they approach graduation.

Part of Jenks’ hard work was showing he was willing to be in an uncomfortable situation and be vulnerable.

“I take that request I’m asking them and that bond (we have) seriously,” he said.

From following baseball manager Bobby Valentine in Japan, to being slapped by rapper Maino, to living with houseless teenager Heavy D, Jenks said he has been in some scary situations where he has had to learn the “ability to adapt and understand a culture.”

By meeting these people, he said he learned not to have self pity and has gained a sense a selflessness.

When talking about his most difficult story, Jenks said he couldn’t point out just one.

“All of (the situations) are tricky because you move in and are embedded in this person’s life for days … it’s like a roller coaster,” Jenks said.