The newest castmate on MTV’s Jersey Shore is besties with Snooki. In fact, that’s how Deena Nicole Cortese, 23-year-old former waitress from New Egypt, N.J., says she landed a spot on the reality TV sensation’s third season, currently filming in Seaside Heights, N.J. Read on for her thoughts on the show’s impact on the Jersey shore economy, the tentative nickname her roommates have cooked up for her, and her subliminal effort to introduce “down for the get down” into the national lexicon.The rumors are true:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get on the show? Was there an audition?
DEENA NICOLE CORTESE: Well, me and Nicole [“Snooki” Polizzi] have been friends for, like, two years now, and, you know, she needed a partner in crime, like, you know, on the show with her. She said she’s bored sometimes, and she was like, “You’re down on the shore all the time,” which I am, because I live 20 minutes from it. So I was like, “Yo, girl, I’m totally down to come with you. I’ll pack my bags. Let’s do this.”
So did she put you in touch with MTV?
She invited me.
And MTV said, “Come on board?”
Yup. They wanted her to have a partner in crime. [Giggles.]
How did you and Snooki first meet?
I met her through one of my good guy friends, and he was her boyfriend at the time.
You just hit it off right away?
It was like heaven meeting Snooki. She’s like my twin. We’re like two peas in a pod. [Giggles.] We’re both just, like, little fireballs, Energizer bunnies, you know? We’re just to party and ready to have a good time.
When did you hear she was going to be on this new MTV show Jersey Shore?
Um, like, last year, ’cause, like, me and her always talk. So I know from the beginning she was going to be on it.
Did it sound like something you would want to get involved with back when you first heard about it?
Um, when I heard about it, yeah, I was like, Whoa, that’s, like, such a good time. ’Cause, like, I mean, that’s like my life, you know? So when [Snooki] invited me [on the show], I was, like, so suped. “Yeah, I’m down for the get down! Let’s do this!”
I assume Snooki is your roommate in the house.
Do you have a nickname?
[Disappointedly] Deena Nicole, as of now. But my roommates, they’re thinking of some good stuff for me. [Laughs]
Are there any contenders yet?
What do you mean?
Have they thought up any nicknames yet?
Yeah, they call me “The Holiday.” [Laughs]
Do you like that one?
Yeah, it’s fine. I enjoy it. I’m like a walking holiday, so.
So how well have you gotten along with the other castmates?
Since the first day I moved in, I just meshed well with all of them. It was, like, meant to be. Everybody’s awesome, everybody is just like me, and we’re just having a good time.
Have there been any typical Jersey Shore fights or hook-ups yet?
Not yet. We’ll have to see. [Laughs]
You just said the show is like your life, so do you feel like it gives a bad name to New Jersey, or to Italian people?
I don’t think it gives a bad name to New Jersey at all. I think it promotes the Jersey shore, and it’s giving a lot of money to the Jersey shore. Because before, you know, this show came out, Seaside was like the last place people wanted to be. And I think now that, you know, it’s so huge, like, Seaside is getting so much money out of it. The economy is booming. It is such a good thing for Seaside.
Before you were on the show, what did you do for a living?
Before I was on the show, I was waitressing, and I also have my dental assisting license.
Where were you waitressing?
Were you also working in a dental office?
No. I was just waitressing.
You said you lived about 20 minutes from the Jersey shore?
Yeah, I live in New Egypt, N.J.. It’s about, like, 28 minutes from Belmar, and 35 minutes from Seaside.
Even though Season 3 isn’t airing yet, have you found that people have started to recognize you?
I mean, I don’t know what goes on on the outside, just because we’re filming and I have no connection with anything. So I have no idea what’s going on outside of this.
Will you stick around past season 3? Is there a contract?
Absolutely, and I am, you know, down for the get down. I’m rolling with the punches.
Uh, so does the contract involve anything beyond season 3?
Um, I don’t think, I’m not going to say anything on that.
OK. Snooki has said that she doesn’t know if she’d last much longer than the third season. If she were to leave, would you want to stay?
Um, absolutely, just because, like, every roommate, I’ve fallen in love with already. I’m enjoying everything. Basically, I’m enjoying the time I have with everyone I’m living with.
What’s been your favorite experience so far on the show?
Just meeting everybody. Just enjoying the shore with new people, you know? It’s different. Usually, I’m just with my girlfriends, and now I’m with a whole bunch of different people, and we all have such strong personalities that, like, we just have such a good time.