Laughing and Crying with Andrew Jenks

At age 19, Andrew Jenks moved into an assisted living facility in Florida in order to capture "the meaning of life" from its elderly residents. What started as a simple, low-budget documentary turned into an international hit, Andrew Jenks, Room 335.

Since then, he’s lived the life of a 96-year-old, an NFL Cheerleader, a rapper and a homeless person--among many others--on his MTV show World of Jenks. He brought Ali a copy of his new book, My Adventures As a Young Filmmaker, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at Jenks’ childhood, his early success, and his most meaningful projects.

Ali asked him which of his many experiences affected him the most, emotionally. He told her about one night when he was filming in the nursing home, and the power went out. Many of the senior citizens were frightened and confused. “Some of them had dementia, they didn’t know where they were walking, they were peeing in their bed, they didn’t have proper oxygen,” Jenks remembered. “The next day, I couldn’t handle it. I walked out to the car and just kinda started bawling.”

But the experience that’s taught him the most was one he had on his show World of Jenks. He followed a young woman coping with two types of cancer. “When you live with someone who’s 25 and has had cancer for four years, and has some ability not to be self-pitying, you really look at life in a different way.

Jenks also had some more lighthearted stories about his time filming in an assisted living facility—mostly involving how randy seniors can get. To hear about how ‘the ladies on the third floor’ flirted with him, and the one older gentleman who hit on his mom, take a look at the video.