Ronnie may not be one of the more conspicuous members of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” but that’s all about to change now that he’s embarked on a new journey in L.A. Still heavily interested in being a part of the “Jersey Shore” family for as long as it runs, he’s now turning his focus to pursuing an acting career and growing his side projects, which include Ron-Ron Juice and his Jersey Laundry T-shirt line.
Already a reality TV star on the highly popular show, he has a guest appearance as himself in the upcoming The Three Stooges movie and is on a mission to expand his acting horizons. Now a full-time Angeleno, Ronnie (born Ronald Ortiz-Magro, Jr.) is soaking up the West Coast lifestyle and enjoying riding around town in his droptop BMW 6-Series, which was unfortunatley in the shop getting worked on. We caught up with Ronnie at LA’s Roadstarr Motorsports as he was testing out a couple of hot whips, including the Audi R8 and Ferrari California, as he provided us the rundown on everything “Ron Ron” and shared that infectious laugh of his.
What wheels are you pushing?
I have the BMW 6-Series that’s white with red interior. I like white for my cars since it pops. Black is too hard to keep clean you have to wash it every day and it’s a pain. Charcoal is a good color, too. I had a car that color and I didn’t have to wash it as much. But I got the new 6-Series when no one else had it; got it, like, the first month that it came out. Wanted it to be convertible, too. At the point I’m at right now, my cars don’t need a top ’cause I’m into droptops. That’s what’s up! In Cali, you can’t have a top on your car. I bought the convertible first and then moved to California, did it backward, you know?
What did you think of the Ferrari California and Audi R8 from Roadstarr?
The Ferrari is insane. There’s so much horsepower under the hood that you don’t realize how much when you’re driving it. I got to test drive the Audi R8 and it was sick...really dope. The handling was ridiculous. Those Pirellis really give great traction.
Out of the two, which did you like more?
Definitely the Audi. The Ferrari isn’t an everyday car and that’s what I need. I can’t be driving around in a Ferrari ’cause it draws too much attention. I’m considering buying the Audi for my next car. It’s really not as expensive as I thought it would be, which is really surprising.
So what was your first ride?
My first car was a ’86 Honda Civic and then I got a ’92 Accord, and I really went through a lot with that car; it went to Hell and back. I had a rope tying down the hood and duck tape on the bumper. It was all messed up, but it was still good to me and got me from point A to B.
“It all happened one 4th of July weekend when I was approached by some girl who told me how I fit the criteria for some show they were creating. So pretty much I looked like a douche bag.”
What’s your ultimate dream car?
I gotta go with the Lamborghini Gallardo. It would be a crazy bright orange color with black interior and black rims…that’s what’s up!
Who has the best car game from the guys on “Jersey Shore?”
That has to be Mike. He has a Ferrari and Lamborghini. That’s cool and all, but really, I’d rather have a nice house than a nice whip. I’m not totally into cars, but can appreciate a fine ride.
What prompted your big move to L.A.?
Been in L.A. for about six months now. What motivated the move was that I wanted to get more into acting, and the West Coast has more opportunities for me to do that. But I’ve always wanted to live in California. I love the weather and the lifestyle. I’m young and wanted to try it out. I wanted to be able to say I’ve lived there and liked it rather than say that I’ve never lived there and don’t know what it’s like to be there. It’s really laid back here. But what I miss most about the East Coast is my friends and family. It’s my comfort zone. But they say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. So I want to see if I can make it in L.A. I do have a couple of friends here, but it’s not like the friends in New York that I grew up with and have been friends with them for, like, 15 years.
What’s your favorite part about L.A. so far?
The weather is great, the women are beautiful, so I’m loving it all! It’s like all the beautiful women are funneled through L.A. It hardly ever rains and it’s practically sunny every day. It’s amazing, but I’m still breaking myself in. I’d love a “Jersey Shore” out here!
So how did you end up on the show?
It all happened one 4th of July weekend when I was approached by some girl who told me how I fit the criteria for some show they were creating. So pretty much I looked like a douche bag [laughs]. She asked for my number and next thing I know, I’m going in for a video interview. I then got the call to be on the show and they told me to quit my job.
I was working in real estate at my grandfather’s and father’s company. It was terrible; no one wants to sit behind a desk all day. I’m still investing in real estate, though, to make more money. But the day they told me I got on the show was the day I was supposed to take the NY correctional officer test, so I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. But after I got that part in The Three Stooges movie, I realized I liked acting, which is what I’m going to try now.
“I didn’t want to hook up with anybody in the house and would actually make fun of Mike and Pauly for hooking up with Sam and Jenni the first season. But when I got into a relationship with Sam, I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was.”
Was your family supportive about your decision to quit your job and be on the show?
In the beginning, my father and grandfather weren’t so sure about it and thought I’d be wasting my career. But I’m blessed ’cause they still support whatever decisions I make. They’ll support me whether I’m making a mistake or not. But they won’t let me fall to the point where the mistake will hurt me too much.
Did you go in with intentions to hook up with a housemate?
I didn’t want to hook up with anybody in the house and would actually make fun of Mike and Pauly for hooking up with Sam and Jenni the first season. But when I got into a relationship with Sam, I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was. I didn’t expect it to go on for so many seasons. With her it’s great because I have a friend for the rest of my life, as I do with everyone in the house. I do wish they showed me and Sam having more good times and not fighting as much. It’s weird how it works out. They show us more when we are fighting than when we don’t. The worst season was the third one after we came back to the Shore from Miami because they were just showing everything I had done there while we were still living in the house [laughs]. That was like a really long episode of Jerry Springer, the guido version.
So is all that drama real or scripted?
“Jersey” is real to the core. Everything is not produced like other shows. It’s straight what you see is what you get. The things we do are that crazy…really.
Each person has a different role in the house, so what’s yours?
I think I have the big brother thing going on in the house. I’m very protective and look out for everybody in the house like they’re my brothers and sisters. But the guys love it when I’m wilding out. Like Pauly said, they love single Ronnie because I’m more crazy and the guys enjoy that.
Do you have any expectations going into each season?
Now that I’ve done a few seasons, there are no expectations. Now it’s just about going in and having a good time and not being involved in any drama. I don’t want to stress myself out and want to look back to this time and see that I enjoyed it. I’ve definitely enjoyed the ride a bit more after the first couple of seasons, though.
What was filming in Italy like?
When we went there, we all realized how close we really are because we only had each other in Italy. We got through everything and had a great time. We actually came back closer, so it was pretty amazing. I couldn’t wait to come back and do my usual routine, though. I couldn’t find a protein shake over there for my life. It was all about pasta, pizza and wine, so you can’t really stay fresh eating that all the time. What I really missed most while I was out there was my barber. Vinny was cutting my hair and he did a terrible job. He was more of a butcher than a barber [laughs].
Are there roommates that still annoy you?
It used to be Mike, but we fought and got it out of the way. We all get along now. Ever since him and the wall got that beef out back in Italy, things have been cool. We all stay in contact with each other no matter if the cameras are on or off. We’re all family now even if it’s super dysfunctional at times. It’s funny ’cause we’re a lot closer outside of the house than when we’re filming since we don’t get on each others’ nerves. Pauly and Vinny came down a while back and hung out with me here and things got a bit crazy [laughs].
A lot of the other members like Snooki, Mike and Pauly are more prominent in the news. Will we be hearing more about Ronnie now?
I’ve been doing more press lately. I figured this was going to last for a little bit and didn’t want to burn myself out or saturate the market too much. You always want to leave people curious to what you’re doing and not be out, so much to where everyone is turning the page when you’re the topic.
When you first found out you made it on the show, did you think it would be as popular as it is now?
Nobody ever thought the show would be this big. I thought it was going to be a one-time thing. I totally didn’t expect it to grow to be the phenomenon it is now. It’s almost like we define an era. It’s funny because after we wrapped up the first season, Vinny and I would call each other up and be like, “Is the show even going to air? What channel will it be on?” We didn’t know anything about the show in the beginning. All we knew is that we had to drop what we were doing in our lives to live in a house with strangers. But I think it’s so successful because people can relate to us. Older people who watch are saying how they used to do what we do when they were younger. Then the younger kids are watching and saying how they want to do things we’re doing on the show when they get older. It’s amazing how many fans we have.
Speaking of fans, what’s your craziest fan experience?
I had a dude cry over me once. That was awkward. I usually get girls who hyperventilate and shake when they get nervous around me, but when I saw a dude doing it, I thought that was other stuff right there. I didn’t even know what to do with that. I was like “SECURITY!” [laughs].
How has the show helped shape your life?
I feel like being on “Jersey Shore” gave me direction. Before I didn’t know where I was going or what I really wanted to do with my life. Now I know I want to be an actor. And the show has allowed me to do so many things and opened so many doors. It was the stepping stone to some amazing opportunities, especially acting. I’d rather be an actor because I’ll get more privacy. With reality TV, everything is out in the open, and I finally want some privacy. It’ll also be fun to be someone else for a change.
As you pursue acting, how are you changing people’s perception in order for them to take you seriously as an actor?
With “Jersey Shore,” I’m totally myself so people know that I can have a good time. But at the same time, it sucks ’cause sometimes they don’t take you seriously. But acting has changed a lot. I mean, there are singers and rappers who are actors now.
How’s that career move been panning out for you?
Acting is really something you have to take serious. You literally have to place everything else on hold in your life if you really want to make it in the industry. You only have one chance at it sometimes. I was able to do The Three Stooges, but I’m still looking around for stuff. I’ve actually turned down one or two roles. Since it’s harder for us to break through, I want to make sure it’s something that I want to do. I’d rather have one big role than three really small roles.
What kind of roles or characters are you looking to land?
Honestly, it’s what the script is about. It could be a comedy and you play the stupidest role, but it can totally help blow you up. It could also not be a great role, but you can have amazing actors around you that will make the role that much better. It’s really about the script and people around you rather than the character for me.
Besides acting, what other projects are you working on?
I’m pushing my Ron-Ron Juice that I make on the show, which will be coming out in stores as a frozen premixed drink. Then there’s my T-shirt line Jersey Laundry that I’m revamping right now. I always stay fresh with a new T-shirt so I decided to try doing something in the clothing industry. Danny from the ShoreStore.com is helping me out with that. I learned that you can make a lot of money selling T-shirts while working there. It’s an easy business if you have the right connections and do it the right way. I’d also like to maybe branch out and have some fitness wear that’s separate from Jersey Laundry.
So what’s in Ron-Ron Juice?
Ron-Ron Juice’s recipe is a secret. If I tell you, I’d have to kill you [laughs]. No one in the house really knows what’s in it. I make it on the low when no one is around (technically, at least). It’s the drink you drink when you want things to get weird and creepy and wake up asking yourself what you did the night before. I feel that way every night, which is why I drink so much [laughs].
What are your pet peeves?
Always getting asked about if I’m still with Sam or not and how much can I bench. Why do people want to know that?!
How much longer will you be a part “Jersey Shore?”
I’ll always continue to do the show. It was what gave me all these wonderful opportunities, and if it wasn’t for the show, I’d probably still be behind a desk somewhere. I’ll never turn down another season. I can do this forever.