After a Reality TV Marathon for the Last Decade, He’s Up for a New Challenge Brody Jenner
Written By: Erik Hale Brody Jenner
Photographed By: Joe Magnani and Jared Schlachet
Styled By: Claudia Alvarado
Grooming By: Heather Balaam
Reality television exploded in the early 2000s and Brody Jenner was at the epicenter of it all. Starring on Princes of Malibu and being casted on The Hills and Keeping Up with the Kardashians made “Brody” a household name and his face recognizable to an entire generation overnight. With an extended family that is covered by media as if they were American royalty, an A-list group of friends, his father’s notable transition, an engagement, and a DJing career; the last decade of Jenner’s life has been chronicled in thousands of publications, broadcast across millions of TV sets and even more phones. With the advent of social media and over 3 million followers there still must be so much we don’t know. We met up with Brody this July 4th weekend to ride dirt bikes, listen to music, discuss his family, his friends and his ambitions. Brody Jenner
Question: Tell me what it means to have grown up in Malibu—the area is often associated with the ultra-rich and massive beach houses. What is the culture really like there?
Brody Jenner: That’s funny actually, I think that’s a misconception of what a lot of people think about Malibu. I mean, I had family with money so I was very fortunate in that aspect, but all my friends growing up didn’t necessarily have that—my best friends and a lot of people in Malibu lived in trailer parks; my two best friends lived right down the street from me, like literally in a barn stall and my other friend lives in a small apartment. People think that it’s just a bunch of rich people living in Malibu, but the truth is that a lot of these people just have their vacation homes here, and they’re never even there. Growing up more privileged, it was cool to be able to share with my two best friends who didn’t really have a lot of money and access to motorcycles and cool toys. Like I was able to take them on their first plane ride ever. It was really cool to be able to see both sides: I was able to see what it’s like to grow up with money, but I also got to see what it was like to grow up with no money—it was really good for my character and taught me to be grateful for what I had.
Q: What is your perfect day? Brody Jenner
BJ: The perfect day would be good surf (laughs). Basically the ideal would be to wake up and let the dogs out, feed them, get in the car, go surf all morning with my friends if there are good waves. After that, go hang and have some lunch, go hang with the dogs, maybe go for another surf—the perfect day would be to surf as many possible times as I can in one day without my legs or my arms falling off (laughing hard).
Q: If we were at a grocery store in Malibu, would we see you walking down the aisles grocery shopping? Brody Jenner
BJ: Hell yeah. Hell yeah. As long as it’s the one at the end of Malibu. I like to go to the more organic one. Hey Babe, (yelling to his fiancé, Kaitlynn) what is the name of that organic store we always go to? (“Vintage, ” Kaitlynn answers.) Vintage, I try to stay away from the GMO stuff as much as possible.
Q: In general, do you like being out in public or would you prefer being at home with friends?
BJ: I’d much rather be at home, chillin’ with my friends, staying in Malibu—I try to as much as possible. When I was doing The Hills and stuff like that, for business it’s good to be out places and do red carpets and things like that if you have something to promote. If you have a show that’s on TV that you want people to watch you kind of have to go to these red carpet events. You have to go to these places where the paparazzi are and stuff. But for me personally, if I have nothing to promote, I’m just a super homebody, chill in Malibu, hang with my friends and stay out of the limelight.
Q: What is one thing you do every day? Brody Jenner
BJ: Open the fridge—I definitely do that every day for sure (laughs). Brody Jenner
Q: Snapchat or Instagram: which do you prefer? Brody Jenner
BJ: It was Instagram, but now I’m all about Snapchat, I used to make fun of Snapchat but now I’m just absolutely hooked. I feel like it shows a little bit more of people’s creativity and personality.
Q: On social media do you ever interact with your fans and respond to them? Brody Jenner
BJ: Yeah, sometimes. I like to write back to the ones who are asking real questions. But I try not to reply to the negative ones. Brody Jenner
Q: You come from a big family. Growing up was it hard to stand out with all of those people around? What about now? Brody Jenner
BJ: Not at all. We have a big family, but I really only lived with my immediate family. I lived with my brother Brandon, my mom, and my step dad, David. So it really wasn’t that difficult to stand out or do your own thing. But it was always really fun to get together with everyone because we didn’t see each other that much. And same with the Kardashians, I never saw them growing up.
Q: How is your older brother, Brandon, influential to you?
BJ: Brandon has been the best big brother anyone could ever ask for. He is one of the most patient, kind and gentle human beings ever. He taught me how to ride my first bike, to swim, and how to ride a motorcycle. He was always so patient. He was a really, really, incredible older brother to grow up with. I kind of always wanted to do everything he did, you know, like “little brother syndrome.” And he was always cool enough to not only include me in everything but to be patient with me and teach me things. I couldn’t ask for a better big brother. Brody Jenner
Q: How has your close circle of friends been responsible for who you are now?
BJ: Very (chuckles)—for the good and the bad (laughing hard now). Growing up, my friends always kept me in check and kept me grounded, especially when I was out in Hollywood, which was good. But my friends are a little crazy, I think you know; a few of these guys, they didn’t always teach me the most responsible things sometimes (laughs), but sometimes you just gotta learn the hard way. But they are definitely a big part of my life. Brody Jenner
Q: You were there when reality television exploded; you were apart of it. So, how similar is the on-camera Brody to the guy I’m interviewing now?
BJ: I would say a lot of what you saw on The Hills was me, especially in the beginning, but then a lot of it was played up. I had to pretend. Like, I’m a lot more boring (laughs) when I’m not on reality television, because in real life I’m a little bit more quiet and kind of relaxed. You know, they’re constantly trying to find storylines on these reality shows, so you just kind of have to constantly move, and I think the real difference is my real life is a little more relaxed and more chill than what you see on the show. Brody Jenner
Q: Would you ever do a reality show again? If so, would you do anything different?
BJ: At this stage, I’m trying to stay away from the whole reality show thing right now—I’ve spent over a decade doing reality stuff. And even if it’s not completely scripted reality, or whatever people like to call it, I’m just trying to change it up a bit. I’m just interested in doing things a bit more challenging, you know “scripted” things where I am not playing myself or supposedly playing myself. I don’t think I would go back into reality at this point, but if the right project came along, and if it was something I was proud of, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it. Brody Jenner
Q: Do you watch gossip shows or TMZ?
Q: How do you react to negative gossip? Brody Jenner
BJ: Well, it’s happened before. I’ve had negative things written about me and things that weren’t true, but I think the moment you try to explain yourself or try to correct the situation, you actually just end up bringing more attention to it. Sometimes it can bum you out. Basically the main thing is you have to be able to laugh at yourself, that is the main thing, especially in this business. You just have to be able to look at the garbage that is written about you and just laugh it off and have a sense of humor about it. And realize that there are much more important things in life to worry about than gossip.
Q: You confided in me the other day that you and Spencer Pratt had a pretty sneaky way of making it onto The Hills. Can you tell me about that?
BJ: (laughs) Well, Spencer and I did a show for Fox called The Princes of Malibu, which we created and executive produced. But it was a short-lived show because there were some family issues happening at the time. And the executive producer we hired to do the show started working on The Hills. And he really liked Spencer and I and felt we were good on camera. And that show was a lot more scripted. So, we were able to do a lot more of the setting up scenarios, coming up with ideas, and being able to act them out as if they are real, but it’s actually all fabricated. So, when The Hills came out, like no bullshit here, the executive producer called Spencer and I and was like “Dude, I need you guys on this show.” He would tell us where they were filming the show, like if the girls were going to a club that night, so Spencer and I would just gear up with the little bit of money we made from The Princes of Malibu and get a table right next to these girls and act like we were ballers (even though we were pretty much broke) and buy all these bottles of champagne, so the girls would look at us like, “Who are these guys buying all of these bottles?” Then Spencer and Heidi Montag started seeing each other off screen. And sure enough, Heidi was like, “Hey, I’m doing this show, would you ever be opposed to filming?” But Spencer definitely knew what was going on [and agreed]. So, he started filming with Heidi. And then Lauren had just broken up with her boyfriend, so Spencer was like, “Hey man, I need a wingman.” So we went on a paintballing date. And then the rest is history. Spencer is really smart in that sense. A lot of people thought he was crazy or out of his mind, but really he was acting all that out. He was so good at making up all of these things. A lot of people said this guy [Spencer] was such an asshole, such a dog, but really he was just trying to make really cool, funny and interesting television.
Q: From that show, do you still keep in contact with anyone? Are you friends, friendly or frenemies?
BJ: I don’t really talk to them much. We’re all just creating our own lives now: Kristin has kids now; Lauren’s married; I’m engaged. We are all just living our separate lives, but when we see each other, it’s totally friendly.
Q: Who do you reach out to when you need life advice?
BJ: My brother and my mom.
BJ: Yeah, I bet you there’s a ton of that stuff in that book that she hasn’t told me. I mean, she has some incredible stories. Like between being the only girl to live with Elvis (besides Priscilla) for five years, to what happened with her and my dad, Bruce, to when she found out about him being transgender. There’s just a lot of information that she’s written in that book that I’m really excited to read.
Q: What face did you make when your dad told you about wanting to make the transgender transition?
BJ: Realistically, like, I smiled. I was actually really happy. Because my mom had told me what was going on before he had told me. I kind of had an idea something was going on. And my mom and I were on my boat on our way to Catalina, I was about 27 years old I think, and she said, “You want to know one of the reasons, one of the main reasons your dad and I got divorced?” And I just said, “Mom, I already know. He told me.” He had given me some BS version. It was interesting, Caitlin (who was Bruce at the time) would always give me these very vague reasons as to why they divorced. But she basically told me, “I don’t know how I am going to tell you this but your father is transgender.” I didn’t really know what that meant and I was confused but it explained a lot of things about him. I remember drinking a lot of wine with her that night. (laughs hard) And you know, it almost made me forgive him for a lot of things because he was going through a lot of issues himself. And all the blame I put on him for being a shitty father and not being there all the time, I realized he had his own issues he was battling with at the time. So, if anything, I kind of forgave him for a lot of stuff when she told me. She tried to work through it with him, tried to go to counseling, but at some point they said, listen, this isn’t something you can fix. She married Bruce Jenner the Olympic athlete, man. They tried to work through it but ultimately in the end it was just really tough for my mom. So, when he finally told me, I had known for a couple of years. I was really happy. Really happy for him and for her, just to get it off her chest and I know that she had been carrying around that weight for 60 something years and for her to do that was a big relief. I just smiled.
Q: What do you call her now? Brody Jenner
BJ: Dad. Brody Jenner
Q: Could you beat Caitlin in a foot race? Brody Jenner
BJ: Now? Hell yeah (laughs hard), with those old ass knees. (laughs) In his prime, hell no. But now, hell yeah. Brody Jenner
Q: You recently got engaged. Tell me about that. Brody Jenner
BJ: Well, Kaitlynn and I have been together for almost three years. And we had been to Nihiwatu, Indonesia the year before and we were going again and I just felt that it was the right time to [propose]. I mean it was such an incredible place and we don’t get out there that often. I didn’t really have a plan, but figured when I got there I’d figure it out. I ended up taking her for a little sunset walk on the beach, and had “Will you marry me” written in the sand. She saw it and I got down on one knee, and luckily she said yes. Brody Jenner
BJ: Because she is my best friend. Brody Jenner
Q: How big is the rock? Brody Jenner
BJ: I don’t know, it is a little over 4 carats I think, something like that. Brody Jenner
Q: Have you set a date yet? Brody Jenner
BJ: (Laughing and clapping, and Kaitlynn laughing from the background) We have not set a date yet. One step at a time but I’m sure we will in the near future. Brody Jenner
BJ: Family first and stay true to yourself. Brody Jenner
Q: You’ve been DJing all over the world for the past four years. So, what music moves you?
BJ: Oh man, I love all kinds of music. I’m super open when it comes to music. Brody Jenner
Q: What are you looking to accomplish as a musician? Brody Jenner
BJ: I’d say the one thing I want to accomplish with my partner Adam is for people to actually hear our music and be able to learn more about us and what we’re like through it. Brody Jenner
BJ: Yeah, sometimes, for sure. He’s incredibly, incredibly talented—that’s undeniable. He does some crazy things in public, and he’s so smart, that sometimes I wonder if it’s on purpose.
Q: Where do you stand with the Kardashian side of the family? Brody Jenner
BJ: Where we stand now is basically where we always have been. When we were really little, I think we spent more time together, but then there became this weird discord between Kris and my mother, and Bruce and my mother—the parents just didn’t get along that well for a good portion of our lives. He began raising the Kardashian kids and was devoting all of his time into raising them. So, we didn’t really have that much of a relationship with them maybe past the age maybe four years old, five years old. Maybe holidays, a Christmas card here and there, but very minimal. There was a period that I didn’t see my dad for like five years and I wouldn’t see him once. But as we got older and started doing reality television, I started to see Kim out more. And it was the producers who asked us to come on Keeping Up with the Kardashians; they wanted us apart of it. It wasn’t us going, “Please, please, please let us be on the Kardashians.” It was them going, “Please, please, please will you guys come on the Kardashians?” At some point we were like whatever, we can go on. And that was really fun, being able to film with them and actually getting to know my extended family better. But then toward the end, some weird politics came into play—I don’t even know where it came from, whether it was the producers or what, but it didn’t exactly help things between the family. But now, I love all of them to death—I love every single one of them. I have no ill-will toward any of them and totally still consider them my family, but we just don’t talk anymore. They’re busy, we’re busy. I see my little sisters occasionally [Kendall and Kylie Jenner], they know big brother is always here, but they got their hands full right now, they’re busy. Brody Jenner
Q: It seems like you’re pretty happy with where you are in life right now, but sounds like growing up there was some friction between various family members on and off. If you could go back, would you change any of it? Brody Jenner
BJ: No, I think it worked out perfectly. I had a great father growing up, David Foster, who I literally consider my father—he was incredible. You know, if Bruce had been in my life more, then I wouldn’t have been able to share that amazing time with David. So, I wouldn’t take it back for the world. And all of those things only make a person stronger; it really carved me to be the man I am today.
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