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Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio Worked to Shed Persona Created on ‘The Challenge’ for New Talk Show: I’ve ‘Let My Guard Down’ (Exclusive)

He’s had enough potassium! Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio created a name for himself after 20 seasons of The Challenge and seven wins. Now, he’s focused on perfecting his role as a host — and it’s taken work to change that over-the-top character.

Related: 'The Challenge' Top Winners: Where Are They Now?

“It’s definitely taken some time to take the persona that I created on reality television and really kind of change it and fine-tune it to becoming a host,” the reality star, who’s hosting the upcoming talk show Celebrity Sleepover, said on the Wednesday, March 31, episode of the “Watch With Us” podcast. “I’ve had to go from being the center of attention, the loudest one in the room and the one that absorbs all the oxygen to being, like, the costar. [I learned] to listen and to not always talk and to be interested and not interesting, which has been difficult for me, but it’s cool.”

Johnny Bananas Shed The Challenge Persona for Celebrity Sleepover
E-Studios Photography

The 1st Look host, 38, originally created his extravagant personality as a “suit of armor,” in order to succeed in The Challenge‘s stressful environment.

Related: 'The Challenge' by the Numbers: Most Wins, Most Money and More

“You’re in a lion’s den and everybody there is trying to get a leg up on you constantly. They’re always trying to figure out how to strategically get rid of you. I almost created this really in your face, loud, over-the-top, sarcastic, personality as a way to keep people at a distance,” the Real World alum explained. “So, if they’re interacting with this larger-than-life, in your face, loud, boisterous personality version of myself, they’re not getting to me because the person that I really am — believe it or not, despite what you may see on TV — is actually pretty sensitive! I have emotions too. I have a heart, despite what a lot of people may think. … With 1st Look and now, Celebrity Sleepover, the point is to get the most authentic, version of the guests that you’re having. You can’t do that by always being a jokester, always cracking jokes or always being sarcastic.”

Although it has been a journey for the MTV personality to make those changes, he’s enjoyed the challenge.

Related: Relive The Challenge's Best Moments of All Time

“I’ve been able to show a much more vulnerable, sensitive, different version of myself than on reality TV,” he said. “It’s been weird being able to let my guard down and being OK with being that version of myself — the version that my family knows, my girlfriend [Morgan Willett] knows, close friends of mine that I’ve known forever know.”

For more, watch the exclusive interview above and listen to the full interview on the “Watch With Us” podcast for free.

Celebrity Sleepover premieres on Saturday, April 3, after Saturday Night Live.

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