Hennessy Carolina, better known simply as Hennessy, has plenty of reasons to make herself known aside from being the younger sister of chart-topping rapper Cardi B. Fiery personalities run strong in the Almanzar family, and Hennessy’s can be witnessed in action on MTV’s latest competition reality series The Challenge: Champs Vs. Stars, which premieres Tuesday night (April 17) at 10 p.m. ET.
In the high-action show, celebrities go head-to-head with fan-favorite winners from past Challenge seasons. From episode to episode, both champs and stars must prove their mental and physical agility or risk getting the boot. Hennessy admits she was nervous to return to television after her days on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop. Lately, she’s been prioritizing her budding fashion design career over TV opportunities.
“I didn’t know anybody, so I was getting in a team with people I didn’t know,” Hennessy tells Billboard. “It was hard work and it was scary. But it was good.”
The celebrity lineup also includes former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell, hip-hop queen Lil Mama and — perhaps the most fitting for physical challenges — daughter of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan. Each star enters the show having selected a charity they wish to support. The further they get in the competition, the more money they earn for their charity of choice. Initially intimidated by the premise of The Challenge, the charity aspect is what drew Hennessy to compete.
“I really wasn’t sure about doing it,” she explains. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll do it for charity. If it’s for charity, I’ll do it.'”
Hennessy gave an ode to her hometown by choosing to donate to BronxWorks, an organization that provides health, economic and social assistance to families in need in her native New York borough.
“I chose BronxWorks because I’m from The Bronx, and I got raised in The Bronx, and I just know the struggle and how it is growing up in The Bronx,” Hennessy recalls. “I just did it for The Bronx. … I wanted to help the kids and everyone there, because there’s not a lot of opportunities out there.”
The forthcoming season of The Challenge marks the first in which the champs and stars can intermingle on the same team, rather than being restricted to teams of just champs or just stars. Even with the opportunity to have some champion power on her side, Hennessy says competing in the show’s tasks is grueling, and an extreme time commitment.
“[Filming] would be for like 10 to 14 hours a day, doing these challenges,” she details. “It was hard work, but I made the best of it.”
Viewers will have to tune in to MTV on Tuesday night to see how Hennessy measures up against her fellow stars and Challenge champs. Watch her in a teaser for the season below: