Jersey Shore is undoubtedly a cultural phenomenon. Since the MTV hit's December 2009 premiere, the people of America and Complex alike have been enthralled with the overly-tanned guidos and guidettes, welcoming terms like "grenade," "smush," and "GTL" into our everyday vernacular, and even teaching ourselves how to fist-pump like the best of them. Or was that just us?
The initial concept of the show, which concludes its fourth season tonight at 10pm EST, was simple: Throw eight hard-partying twenty-somethings together in a beach house at the Jersey shore and let them go crazy. What resulted were more than just your average Real World-esque antics, and, as a result, the audience took to the cast members and, being the celebrity-obsessed culture we are, began taking an interest in them as individuals.
One of Jersey Shore's most polarizing fist-pumpers is Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola. Immediately after she began what has evolved into TV's most tumultous on/off relationship with fellow cast-member Ronnie, it seemed like people couldn't stop putting in their two cents about the state of their affairs. #TeamSammi and #TeamRonnie hashtags trend on Twitter every Thursday night, dividing more people than political parties. Hey, if it trends on Twitter, you know you've made it in the world.
Complex recently had a chat with Sammi about the fourth season's now-infamous trip to Italy, how she handles criticism, and if she'd ever consider pursuing a career in Hollywood.
Written by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)
Complex: First off, you just released a perfume,. Tell us about that.
Sammi Giancola: I’m so excited, I just released my new product. It’s called Dangerous—it’s dangerously sweet just like me. You can get it at [the official website] or at Mandee’s, and it’s something I’m really, really excited and proud of.
Was it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Yeah, of course. I love perfume, and this is one product and item that I felt like I wanted to fully represent to the tee, to one-hundred-percent. It was up to my liking, it was something that I really liked. I liked the smell of it, it was awesome, so I wanted to put my name on it.
Did you help come up with the name and the scent, or is it just an endorsement-type deal?
Me and my good friend Paul, we decided to do a perfume together, and we came up with the name and the scent and everything, and it all just worked out in the perfect way.
Well done. Now, onto everyone's favorite reality show. We’ve been watching this past season of Jersey Shore, and it’s very entertaining. What’s the one thing you think you took away from this past season in Italy?
I think just new friendships I took away. I became friends with the girls, and I never really had that before, so that was something that appreciated. I mean, one of my best friends is Deena in the house; I had a girlfriend that I was really close with, so I think overall just being cool with the girls was something that was cool.
Your relationship with Ron is obviously a big part of the show, and we’ve seen its progression from day one. This last season, a lot seemed to center around you and Ron trying to find a calmer, more peaceful state with one another. Would you say that’s been maintained since Italy?
Well, I think in Italy, which was cool, was like the whole relationship got a little bit different than the whole fighting. We kind of matured, so in Italy, overall, the experience was awesome for me.
I’m sure having a relationship on camera is especially tough.
I’ve maintained a relationship since day one, so for me that’s something that I was accustomed to. But it is difficult having a relationship, being on camera. I don’t think anyone understands really what goes on.
Do you ever go and watch the past episodes, and think, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that."
Of course there’s things that I’m like, “Oh, man I dislike that part,” or, “Wow, I didn’t know that happened,” but I don’t regret anything. I learn from everything, and I just grow and move on from each episode.
What do you think of everything that’s been going on with Mike and Nicole in this past season?
I think that’s just the way Mike is. He’s kind of the troublemaker, he’s the manipulator, and his next victim was Nicole, and the poor thing… They kind of had a rough time in Italy.
So none of you guys were really surprised?
It’s Mike. It’s the way he is. So, you know, it was just his his next victim, his next victim was Nicole and he moved on to her, and he started causing problems and issue, and it’s just because that’s just the way he is.
We didn’t get to see a lot of the locals this season, save for the ones who tried picking fights in the clubs. How did the people of Italy take to you all?
For me, the locals were really, really nice. I had no problems with any of the locals. The waiters there were awesome, the Italians like helped us out when we needed it, they were really, really nice to me.
So you guys didn’t meet any hostility from people?
Yeah, there was last week’s episode in the club. There was some hostility from the Italian clubbers, but, I mean, it’s just like anywhere in the U.S., There’s some people that aren’t always positive towards us, and in Italy, the same thing goes.
What's the most shocking thing that happened this past season, in your opinion?
I don’t know! There’s a lot of shocking things that happened… I don’t know what’s my number one shocking event.
Nothing that just made you think, “Oh my God, I can’t even believe this is happening right now”?
I think, like, Deena making out with a girl, or Nicole hooking up with Vinny... That was like a really shocking thing to me. That’s really it.
Did you guys go directly from shooting in Italy to shooting in Jersey for the next season?
We went straight from Italy to Seaside, like directly there. So we, going into Seaside, couldn’t wait to get home and we’ve obviously been with each other for a while, so being in Seaside we’re extremely comfortable with each other.
So it wasn’t difficult not having any time between seasons?
It was a little bit difficult, but we made it work.
Does the drama on the show create itself?
It kind of creates itself. We have no TV, we have no computers, have no cell phones, we have no communication with the outside world, so we’re forced to bond with each other, and of course problems are going to arise and people are going to talk. We’re living with seven other roommates, so it’s a house full of drama.
You guys don’t even have any access to the Internet?
No, it's crazy.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave filming and get access to those things back?
You know what, it’s kind of crazy, I kind of like not having a cell phone sometimes. In a way, it’s difficult, but I get so used to not having it, that when I get home I’m like, “Oh, I don’t even want to deal with my cell phone anymore.”
Jersey Shore is such a phenomenon, but it has also received a lot of criticism for a few different reasons; even the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has been very vocal in speaking out against it . How do you respond to all that criticism?
You know what, I don’t even pay attention to it, because we’re all just individuals, we’re all just living our lives, we just so happen to be on a show called Jersey Shore. I’m from Jersey, I live at the Jersey shore, and I have gotten a house at the Shore with roommates before and partied and done the same thing, so I think everybody lives their lives in their own ways. And it’s sad that people have to criticize us for representing Jersey when we’re primarily just representing ourselves.
So you’d rented a house with friends at the Jersey shore before the show, then. How would you say it compared?
It was kind of like the same thing. I lived in a house with roommates, we partied hard, we had a good time together, and that’s just the way it was, so it was kind of like the same thing.
I’m secure in myself. People can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and if I feel a certain way, that’s how I feel.
Since you guys have been doing this now for two years now, how has the vibe between everyone changed?
I think now that we’re so comfortable with each other, that we really know what can get underneath people’s skins and how to adapt to people, so I think we’re just really used to people now in the house.
Who would you say that you’re closest with at the moment?
Deena, my BFF in the house is Deena. I love her, she’s fabulous.
We didn’t get to see a lot of that this past season.
I wish you guys would have, because we actually did so much together. We would prank the guys, we would tour around Italy, we did everything together. They don’t really show that, but we really did become good friends in Italy.
What kind of pranks did you pull on the guys?
Oh my God, we pulled so many prank, like with water balloons, you put things in their shoes and in their beds. We did it all.
Did they ever prank you guys back?
Oh yeah. They would always prank us back, but primarily Deena, for some reason. They would always prank Deena back, poor thing.
Do you read the gossip in the tabloids and on blogs?
Truthfully, I try not to pay attention to any of that because, half of it is just full of crap and the other half isn’t important to me.
People seem to be very opinionated about your relationship with Ron. It must be pretty tough when everyone’s saying, “These two people shouldn’t be together.”
I don’t really care what anybody has to say about me. What’s really cool is, I’m secure in myself. So people can have opinions, they can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and if I feel a certain way, that’s how I feel.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have no idea where I’m going to be in five years. Hopefully still doing Jersey Shore, being happy and successful, and doing something that I love. That’s all that matters.
You recently had a small part in the new Three Stooges movie.
Yeah, that was so cool. That was an amazing experience.
Would you ever want to go into acting?
Doing that gave me a little taste of the whole acting element, and I loved it, so you never know what’s in the future. Maybe I’ll try to become an actress, or try out acting.
Would you ever move to LA for that purpose?
No, I’d never leave Jersey! I love my East Coast.
On the show, you guys have gone to Miami and then Italy. Where else would you want the show to take you guys?
I would love to travel anywhere! To another country… Anywhere that’s fun, that has a cool vibe. I would love to go somewhere else.
There’s no one place?
I wanted to go to Italy, and I was able to go there, so that was like my number one place that I really wanted to go to. Maybe Greece, I would love to go to Greece or somewhere cool.
Hopefully this won’t really be applicable for a while, but do you have any firm idea what you might want to do post-Jersey Shore?
Maybe become a business entrepreneur. I’m starting with a product like the perfume, and some other things, but right now I’m just focusing on the perfume and you never know what could happen in the future.
What other products do you want to back?
I love fashion, I love anything that I like designing, so if I come up with something that I enjoy, then I’ll come out with it.
Lastly, what can we expect from the next season?
You can expect a lot. It’s going to be a different feel because we are going home from Italy to Seaside. We all are much more comfortable with each other, but it should be…a little less dramatic than it usually is.
Written by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)