[Q&A] with Katie Doyle Cooley

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I’m quite the fan of reality television, due to my recent dedicated blog post. So much, that I am actually one of three admins for a Facebook group, called “Challenge Fans”. Yes, I am that nerdy — It’s an open forum group where members can discuss MTV’s The Challenge and it’s affiliated shows (Road Rules, The Real World, and AYTO). The group was started in Aug ’16 and already has almost 6,000 members. It’s currently the largest and most active group, specifically dedicated to that show. Besides monitoring for assholes and porn links, I’ve also stepped up as the one admin who reaches out to past cast members. I started doing this in the second week of January — we now have almost fifty past cast-members in the group and I’ve gotten to do over a dozen Q&A’s with some of them as well. It’s been fun and extremely interesting, to say the least!

I wanted to share this Q&A, that I did with Katie Cooley, with you all. 
Most viewers know her as Katie Doyle, the small and feisty chick from Road Rules: The Quest (2001). She was loud and fun, but never was very athletic — a lot of female viewers looked to her and said “that would be me”. At least I always did! She did, however, actually win one season (The Inferno) of The Challenge. Needless to say, she’s one of my favorite competitors — so it was very nostalgic and exciting, for me! The fact that she is one of my favorites is not the only reason that I was excited about this Q&A. I’ve followed Katie, on social media, for some time now and I’ve noticed that she has quite the eye for interior design! Check out her Q&A, below, to see what all she’s been up to since her last Challenge appearance, in 2010:

Q]: What is your favorite memory from your original season, MTV’s Road Rules: The Quest?
A]: That was by far my favorite show. The experience was unique and new for all of us and we were so excited! It wasn’t about strategy, sabotage, betrayal or deceit. We genuinely liked each other and wanted to succeed as a group and win the handsome reward without sacrificing any more cast mates. I loved the mission of us breaking into a castle in Spain. Who gets to do that? And afterwards we were so happy, we went out on the town to celebrate. We would find cool restaurants and sip wine outside and just talk. Road Rules was just a cool show, maybe not as fun to watch (I preferred Real World back then) but definitely more fun to be a cast member on!

Q]: Which season of The Challenge was your favorite and why?
A]: Gauntlet 2 was my favorite. I was actually “real life” friends with everyone on my team and it was the only show I was never sent into an elimination round! I had a lot of fun on that show and felt more relaxed because I knew I was pretty safe. I made it to the end, but we lost (not because of me! Ha). So I looked at it as an extended vacation with my friends and came home with some free swag and a little cash. Other than that, The Inferno is a favorite although I had the opposite experience. My team desperately tried to send me home every challenge but were unsuccessful — but we did win that season. And I helped figure out the puzzle that gave us the lead to win. Overall, I’m not athletic and pretty much did suck at the shows. I never cared as much as the others did and could care less if someone could run faster or eat worms quicker. I generally played a mental game and the producers would laugh because I would predict the moves these transparent idiots made before they made them. Haha.

Q]: Could you give us a little bit more insight into what all you’ve been up to, since your last appearance on the show?
A]: Since my last show, I moved from Chicago to Kentucky to finish my bachelors degree. I graduated from the University of Kentucky and am a Finance Manager for a media production company. Since I also love decorating and all houses, I’m also a licensed real estate agent. This year, I’ll continue working on my CMA to gain expertise and professional advancement.

I also married my sweet husband 3 years ago and we have a 1.5 year old beautiful baby girl. We bought a house a few years ago that we are actually putting on the market this spring because we are building our custom dream home! I am beyond excited about picking out every single detail and design element.

Design and decor are a passion of mine and the company I work for actually hired me to design our 14,000+ sq foot office space. It was a huge undertaking as we renovated an entire building and I chose each detail, handled the project management and hired all the contractors. I’m also considering starting my own online design business later this year.

Overall, I’m good with numbers and decorating — not eating bugs or leaping off cliffs. Haha. I enjoyed my 20’s, having crazy experiences, but I’m most proud of my family and the life I’ve built since I have left the reality tv world. I’m grateful for my opportunities but I prefer earning my income the old fashioned way-with respect, dignity and credentials.

Q]: What was it that kept you coming back to film The Challenge? And what ultimately made you decide against it?
A]: I went on them initially because they were fun, I was in an exotic location and everything was on MTV’s dime. We used to have a lot more freedom — access to phones, computers, books and music. We could leave the house at free will and actually experience the culture around us, but they took that away and then it was…nothing. You sit in some giant house with 30 people and have absolutely nothing to do. That breeds drama and resentment. People are so unbelievably bored, they start arguing or picking on each other. At that point, you wish there were two challenges a day just to speed the show along. And the food was disgusting and never enough for everyone in the house, not the good stuff anyway. And it was repetitive at that point. Same cast members, same challenges, same concept (Oh! But with a “twist”!) and the same winners. But that’s not the reason I really stopped, that’s just when they stopped being fun.

Truthfully, I wasn’t happy with the direction my life was going and I associated some of it with being on those shows. Finishing school was important to me, but I kept dropping out to do a challenge. Why? So I could inevitably embarrass myself on tv again? So people could say awful things about me and I make some half-assed attempt to redeem myself, only to do it all over again? No thanks. I started to care less and less and started to see (some-not all) other cast members as pathetic, as it became obvious these shows define them and give them some false sense of self worth. Then I wondered if people perceived me that way.

In my experience, on reality tv you have to develop a thick skin to handle the heavy criticism from your peers and even viewers. After 2 shows a year for a decade, I think I became hardened emotionally. My parents hated (the shows) and said I turned an experience into a lifestyle. They felt I was rewarded for bad behavior (drinking, fighting). Slowly, I did start to care and felt embarrassed over past shows and how I acted. I decided it was just time to move on from that chapter and to work hard for the lifestyle and reputation I ultimately wanted. I was turning 30 and frankly, it was time to grow up.

Q]: Who do you think is the next up and coming “Top Vet” on The Challenge?
A]: Top vet? I don’t know. I DVR’d the last challenge but skimmed through most of it. I was bored because it’s the same shit. Johnny Bananas screws someone over and wins? Shocking.

Q]: Which cast-mates do you still keep in touch with? 
A]: I keep up with several people via social media but not many in person. Steve, from my Road Rules made a visit last month to say hi and I’m a bridesmaid in Trishelle’s wedding in March. I talk to her the most. I kept in close contact with Diem before she passed and I chat with Tori and Jillian from time to time about life and kids. I’m excited to see Adam (from my RR) at Trishelle’s wedding though! Fortunately most of my friends from the shows have moved on in life too and are married, have children and successful careers.

Q]: You mentioned that HGTV and Bravo were some of your new favorite networks. What are a few shows, from each network, that you enjoy?
A]: Fixer Upper on HGTV and on Bravo I like Vanderpump Rules for all the ridiculous catty behavior (never said I stopped watching trashy tv! Haha) and Real Housewives of OC and Beverly Hills. But I like scripted tv too -This is Us, Timeless, The Affair, The OA…that is when I actually get time to watch tv!

Where to find Katie — on Social Media:
Twitter: KatieCooley26
Instagram: katiecooley26

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