In almost every interview we've done for this season of Beauty and the Geek, when the contestants were asked who they keep in touch with from the show, Nate Dern's name was at the top of the list. The 22-year-old Harvard student and front man for the Star Wars tribute band So Long Princess connected with all of his housemates, not just his showmance partner Jennylee. And he wowed everyone with his nice-guy ways in the season finale, when he talked all his cast mates into giving the show's prize to Scooter and Megan, rather than rewarding his partner Cecille for her selfish ways. For obvious reasons, Cecille wasn't really in the mood for interviews last week, so TVGuide.com had the Stormtrooper with a heart of gold all to ourselves.
TVGuide.com: Wow, Nate, we can't believe what you did in the finale. What was it like to watch yourself give up all that money?
Nate Dern: Once they revealed to us how the winners were going to be determined, I definitely figured that Megan and Scooter had a better shot than we did. I don't know how many people's minds I changed [after I talked to them]. I think I sort of told people what they knew was the right thing to do anyway. But I think I definitely sealed the deal. I made sure that we weren't going to win.
TVGuide.com: Do you think having the ousted teams vote was a fair way of determining the winner? You and Cecille were so strong throughout the competition.
Nate: Well, the show is about a transformation, and from the very beginning they described it as a social experiment rather than as a competition, even though there was that aspect of competing to it. I think it was fair. I was excited that it ended the way it did. Cecille said, "This is so unfair, I can't believe we're so unlucky." I felt like just the opposite, we were really lucky. How many times are people given a second chance to redeem themselves? She was given a chance to apologize to everyone and to make it right. I think it's unfortunate that she didn't take advantage of that chance. I'm glad it ended the way it did.
TVGuide.com: Have you talked to Scooter and Megan about giving you a third of their prize?
Nate: [Laughs] Scooter and I have spoken since the finale and we've exchanged congratulations. I think that I jokingly said that if he ever wants to buy me dinner, I'd let him. They deserve it.
TVGuide.com: What were you going to do with the money?
Nate: I've been trying to make comedic shorts, so I might have gotten my own video camera. The band could use a new amp for our guitarist, Isaac.
TVGuide.com: I totally enjoyed the performance by So Long Princess on the show. You guys have a little Dead Kennedys vibe going on.
Nate: Thank you so much! That's awesome that you say that. That's what we're going for, sort of punk, not great vocals, but we have fun anyway.
TVGuide.com: Are you guys getting more attention now that you've been on TV?
Nate: Yeah, we had 8,000 total plays on MySpace for the first two years of our existence, and then since the show started, we've gotten 40,000 plays.
TVGuide.com: Why did you want to do the show?
Nate: I was walking around campus last spring, handing out flyers for an upcoming show by the band, and two people came up to me who were advertising an open casting for the show. They said, "Hey, we think you would be great for this TV show." It took a second, and then I realized that they thought I was a geek. I thought just for the heck of it, I'd go to the first casting, just for fun. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden I was getting flown out to California.
TVGuide.com: Was there something you felt that you needed to change about yourself? Did you change?
Nate: The main thing that happened for me was it made me reevaluate my priorities. I'd always taken being my own person and going to the beat of my own drum seriously. But I realized that dressing differently just for the sake of being different — maybe my priorities were mixed up a little bit. Since the show, I've been trying to focus on being myself in ways that actually matter more. It's definitely been a huge experience. I think I'll look back and remember my life as before Beauty and the Geek and then after Beauty and the Geek.
TVGuide.com: Were you scared that you were going to have to conform?
Nate: That's definitely something I was thinking about. Especially around the makeover episode, 'cause cutting the beard, that's one thing. Hair grows back. But wearing the really expensive clothing, that's something in particular that I had prided myself on not doing, so I felt a bit like a sellout or something. I think that there's a compromise. I don't need to wear three different types of plaid, but I also don't have to wear designer clothes. I've been trying to dress in a way so that if an old lady needed help, she wouldn't be afraid to ask me.
TVGuide.com: And are you using deodorant now?
Nate: I can see my stick of deodorant now! I have a stick. I gotta be honest with you: It's still not an everyday thing. But it's now a possibility at least.
TVGuide.com: I know you've told a million people about this already, but let's talk about you and Jennylee. Are you guys still talking?
Nate: Yeah. We talk a few times a week.
TVGuide.com: Is there any future there, or are you completely geographically challenged?
Nate: I think we're just trying to stay close and keep being a part of each other's lives. She'll always have a really special place in my heart. But for now we're just in different places, and I'm finishing school and don't know what I'm doing with my life, so I'm not quite ready to move to California or anything like that.
TVGuide.com: Have you been seeing anyone else since then?
Nate: No. I'm single at the moment.
TVGuide.com: How did you handle Ceci? I think you have a future in diplomacy.
Nate: During the show, my approach was to try to be a positive partner. I figured she had enough other people in the house that she was at ends with, she didn't need me also berating her. In retrospect, I don't really like confrontation, but I think another lesson I can learn from the show is that there's a time when you need to step up and point out when you see something that isn't right.
TVGuide.com: Erin was suggesting that maybe Ceci would learn something after she got home. Do you think she will?
Nate: I think Erin had a really good point. I hope that eventually Cecille will take something away from it. Unfortunately, I think Cecille felt like she was being attacked at the end. She had 15 people telling her, "You're in the wrong here." I think it's a natural reaction for people to get defensive. I think she has remained that way, to an extent.
TVGuide.com: What's it been like being on campus while the show's airing?
Nate: To be honest, it really hasn't changed my day-to-day life.
TVGuide.com: You Harvard kids don't watch TV?
Nate: No, I guess not. The day before the show started, someone from Season 2 sent me a message online that was like, "Hey, man, get ready. Your life's gonna be crazy. People are going to recognize you wherever you go." And then it didn't change at all. I've only been recognized two or three times in the last seven weeks. I get a lot of messages online, but besides that it hasn't changed my life, really.
TVGuide.com: What are you going to do after you graduate?
Nate: Actually, I got a scholarship to go to Cambridge University in the U.K. I'm going to do a one-year masters program there. My particular program is in the geography department, and it's called "Human Society and Development." It's about immigration and resource management. After that I'm going to be working for two years for Teach for America.
TVGuide.com: And in the meantime, where can we watch some of these comedy shorts you've been making?
Nate: NateDern.com will direct you there. And there's more on the way.