Playing 'Survivor' changed my life.

Discussion in 'Television and Web Series' started by OckyDub, Dec 6, 2021.

  1. OckyDub

    OckyDub is a Verified MemberOckyDub I gave the Loc'ness monstah about $3.50
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    Playing 'Survivor' changed my life. Now, I hope to change the game by getting more Black people on the show.

    [​IMG]

    Reality shows have always piqued my interest, even though I've often struggled to find cast members to relate to.

    The first reality show I can remember being seriously invested in was "The Real World: New York" on MTV. The season I remember best featured the usual premise — seven strangers living in a house — but this time, the cast included two African American houseguests.

    I enjoyed that season a lot, but I felt disappointed the more I watched reality shows and saw casts lacking in diversity, with few people I could relate to.

    Eventually, I discovered "Survivor" in church when the pastor announced that a member of our congregation, JoAnna Ward, would be on the next season of the show.

    Ward didn't last as long as I'd hoped, but the stories that the series portrayed were enough to not only make me a "Survivor" fan but also inspire me to someday be on the show myself.

    I got to live out my dream. Now, I hope to encourage more Black players to try to get on the show.

    After finishing my master's degree, I began working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a health communication specialist. While there, I came across a "Survivor" casting-call announcement.

    The next day, I skipped work to travel to the safari park where the auditions were held.

    The line was long, and I wasn't too surprised to be one of the only people of color there. I don't think "Survivor" was marketed in spaces of color the way it was on mainstream media, which feels predominantly occupied by a white populous.

    In that crowd, I also felt that being the only Black man there would increase my chances of being cast. It did not.

    For my audition, I spoke into a camera for about a minute — not enough time for whoever was watching to get the true essence of Davie Armstrong Rickenbacker.

    After bombing my live audition, I made a tape because I was serious about being on the show. I gathered a few of my friends and shot footage of me partying, working, being an outdoorsman, and spending time with my then-girlfriend.

    The next day, I was asked to fly to Los Angeles for a series of interviews where I'd finally have the ears of casting directors.

    I got them laughing and even had a few tearjerker moments. By the time I left, I was confident that there was no way I wouldn't be chosen.

    But then I got the call that I wouldn't be on the next season of "Survivor."

    I was distraught. My main thought was, "What more interesting Black guy do they have out there?" (I didn't know at the time, but rumor has it that the "more interesting" Black guy was a former "Survivor" player's son, which made sense.)

    It never occurred to me that CBS might cast multiple Black men on a season of "Survivor." After all, it used to be a pretty rare occurrence, seen in about seven of the 36 seasons before my own.

    Months went by, and I began to fall into a depression because I had made it that far only to be rejected. Then I got a call from one of the leading casting directors for the show, who told me I wouldn't be chosen for season 38, but there was a chance I could be on season 37.

    The call ended, and after about 30 minutes of me on the edge of tears, she called back and told me to pack my bags for the 2018 season.

    I feel honored that I could live out my dream on national television and have my experience be received so well by millions of viewers.

    In 2020, CBS committed to having 50% of the casts on its unscripted shows be people of color, and I want to keep pushing for even more. Now, I also play recruiter for the show, hoping to inspire and encourage more Black players to compete.

    I don't receive a paycheck or get a leg up on returning to the series someday. My real reward is gratitude and seeing someone I influenced to apply become a household name that I can root for at home.

    It's an initiative I'll keep pushing, whether I'm using my "Survivor" airtime to wish for more Black people to watch the show, working with fellow former castaways to create petitions focused on anti-racism actions, or using my Twitter to encourage more Black people to apply to the series.

    My love for reality television has come full circle. I went from wishing for more representation on reality shows to being a part of that representation to helping foster even more of it.

    CBS didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

    In 2020, CBS committed to having 50% of the casts on its unscripted shows be people of color, and I want to keep pushing for even more. Now, I also play recruiter for the show, hoping to inspire and encourage more Black players to compete.

    I don't receive a paycheck or get a leg up on returning to the series someday. My real reward is gratitude and seeing someone I influenced to apply become a household name that I can root for at home.

    It's an initiative I'll keep pushing, whether I'm using my "Survivor" airtime to wish for more Black people to watch the show, working with fellow former castaways to create petitions focused on anti-racism actions, or using my Twitter to encourage more Black people to apply to the series.

    My love for reality television has come full circle. I went from wishing for more representation on reality shows to being a part of that representation to helping foster even more of it.

    CBS didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

    Playing 'Survivor' changed my life. Now, I hope to change the game by getting more Black people on the show.
     
  2. Nick Delmacy

    Nick Delmacy is a Verified MemberNick Delmacy Da Architect
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    I actually saw his season and I gotta say that by the end of the season, Davie def won me over. Didn't hurt that he was easy on the eyes too.

    Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 1.06.01 PM.jpg
     
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