MTV’s long-running reality series The Challenge returned on Tuesday, July 18 — and this time, the show is bigger and better than ever for its milestone 30th season. How so? Well, not only is the biggest cash prize ever (a whopping one million dollars) being awarded to the winner, but some of the most celebrated faces in the history of the show have come back to compete on the aptly-titled Challenge XXX: Dirty 30.
While we’re excited to see vets such as Chris “CT” Tamburello and Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio grace our small screens again, we’d be lying if we said we’re not particularly intrigued by the return of standout contestant Aneesa Ferreira. In case you’re unfamiliar with the always outspoken 35-year-old, Life & Style has rounded up five facts you should probably know about her.
She started her reality TV career on The Real World.
Aneesa made her television debut on MTV’s The Real World: Chicago in 2002, and was one of the first black lesbians to appear on the series. She was known for her liberal views, her epic arguments with her conservative roommate Tonya Cooley, and, of course, her penchant for walking around the house naked.
However, Aneesa’s most memorable Real World moment came when her birthday party was cut short on Sept. 11, 2001, as the housemates watched the 9/11 terrorist attacks play out on television.
She has made the most appearances by a female contestant in the history of The Challenge.
Aneesa’s appearance on Dirty 30 marks her 12th appearance on The Challenge — meaning she’s beat every other female contestant’s number in the history of the show. The brunette beauty — who has actually never won a Challenge — began her journey on 2003's Battle of the Sexes.
She was part of the first-ever same-sex pairing on The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.
Aneesa, who proudly introduced herself as a lesbian when she entered The Real World: Chicago house in 2001, made history in 2012 when she and her ex-girlfriend Rachel Robinson became the first-ever gay couple to compete on Battle of the Exes.
“I told Rachel, ‘We’re going to have a lot of people in our corner.’ I’m like, ‘It’s going to be a whole feminist movement,’” she told After Ellen at the time. “I think that’s gonna be awesome, I kind of love that idea. [Being the first gay couple is] really empowering actually. Like, everyone kind of looked at it like it was a bad thing but I was like, ‘No, this is awesome.’ Because I couldn’t have picked a better partner if I wanted to. She’s awesome.”
She is of Jewish and African descent.
Aneesa is the daughter of an interracial marriage between her West-Indian father and her Jewish-American mother. On 2015’s The Challenge: Battle of the Bloodlines, she competed alongside her cousin Rianna. On one episode, Aneesa joked that they were nervous to be “hanging off a cliff” during one obstacle because of their Jewish heritage. "We're Jewish, we get nervous about everything,” she quipped.
She identifies as queer and is a passionate LGBTQ advocate.
When Aneesa first met her Real World: Chicago housemates, she wasted no time letting them know that she was “gay, black, and Jewish.” The equal rights activist — who now identifies as queer — has always been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.
“I don’t care what you look like. Whether you like girls or guys, you’re beautiful, you don’t have to answer to anyone. People need to know that it’s not important who you sleep with or who you love. You shouldn’t be hated for either of those,” she said during a 2012 speaking engagement at South Carolina’s Furman University. “I never said that I’m a man-hating lesbian wearing rainbows saying, ‘Watch your wife, I’m going to take her.’ Now I identify as queer. I like what I like. I’m so comfortable with who Aneesa is right now that I don’t need to label it.”
The Challenge XXX: Dirty 30 airs on MTV Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.