Jonna Mannion is back for season 3 of The Challenge: All Stars! After making the final in season 1 and winning the whole thing in season 2, Jonna decided to give it another go. “I got the call for season 3 as I was in the airport coming home from the final, winning season 2,” Jonna told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “I was like, ‘Wait, let me get home to my babies, let me see my husband, let me get my life together, I’ll call you back.’ But this is the first time ever that they’ve filmed a whole other show before the previous show aired. So I kind of saw it as an advantage. I knew people there would know that I won, but they wouldn’t see how everything unfolded and how it happened.”
It also helped that Jonna saw some familiar names on the cast list this time. Going into season 1, Jonna said she only knew two other people on the cast — Jemmye Carroll and Nehemiah Clark. This time, though, she recognized more faces. “At first, I didn’t even consider myself as part of All Stars,” Jonna admitted. “I feel like Real World: Cancun, when I started, was right at the cusp of being OG to the new generation. So when I saw the season 3 cast, where they had people from All Stars that I’d done two seasons with and then some familiar names that I’ve done flagship shows with, I thought it was really cool. I looked at the list and was like, ‘I can’t not seize this opportunity.'”
Jonna said she also wanted to prove that she didn’t just “skate” to the final in seasons one and two. “People are saying ‘you have to earn it’ and all these things,” Jonna revealed. “So [after winning] it took away the fear of going into elimination and possible going home. I played a great political and social game in seasons 1 and 2, but in season 3, I want to basically shut people up who are saying that I skated to the end. That was something that was important to me — to not be afraid of going into elimination. It was an inner fear to overcome. My elimination record is not great. But for season 3, I just took it as this being my chance. And in season 3 there’s an incentive to going on, but we don’t know exactly what it is the whole time.”
See more of our interview with Jonna below:
On her impressive social game: When I did the flagship shows before, I didn’t realize how intricate this all was. I didn’t realize there was a political game and a social game. I learned that it’s very calculated. I feel like there are people in the house that say their social game is on point and they talk to people and do all the things to help their game, but that’s not the case with me. I just genuinely care about every person there. I know it sounds crazy, but honestly, I feel like I’m the house mom sometimes. I just want to make sure everyone’s getting what they need. So I think some people use the whole social game as game play, but for me, it just comes naturally to just be myself.
On getting into physical shape for the show: For season 1, I was a replacement for someone. They called me two weeks before. I was like, ‘WHAT? Do you realize my mom of two life right now? This isn’t even real!’ But I went into that and I was still breastfeeding until a week before they called me. I had tried formula to see if my baby would sleep longer or if he was having issues with what I was eating, but had I not done that in that moment, I would have been like, ‘Oh no, I’m breastfeeding, I can’t go.’ So, physically, I was not anywhere near ready for anything that was happening.
So I left season 1 on a high. I didn’t know how the ratings would be, but I knew, given the opportunity again, I wanted to be ready. I was home for a day and the next day I started doing CrossFit and OrangeTheory. I started running every other day. I was like, ‘I’m just going to train.’ The other benefit was that I could get rid of some of the baby weight and get myself feeling better and back to being me. So I trained really hard from season 1 to 2. I worked out every single day.
On leaving her kids to film the show: The major difference from my flagship shows to now is that now I have a family and full support system. My family loves me so much and they want to see me succeed and will do whatever it takes. Before season 1, my husband had gotten furloughed from his job and got a second job working nights to make ends meet. When they called me about the show, I kind of said it as a joke, but my mother-in-law was super supportive. She was like, ‘You need to do this, I’ll help with the kids.’ My family gathered around me and were like, ‘We got the kids, you go.'” With my son, at the moment, I was like, ‘I cannot leave my baby.’ It was really hard for me. I was still breastfeeding! And there was the guilt of missing his first year of life and all those things. But I now look at it like…I feel like it’d be way harder to leave now. Now he knows me and doesn’t want to let me out of his sight!