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I’m Going to Be on SURVIVOR!


Sorry, I didn’t mean to trick you.

But I am going to be on SURVIVOR.


You know, probably.

Because I tried out to be a contestant on SURVIVOR.


This time auditions were held just 20 minutes away, right outside of Rochester, New York.

{So, of course, I’m thinking this is mine. Because, seriously, why would CBS come to Rochester to hold a casting call if they weren’t there to get me, right?}

I assume there would be thousands of people camped out, waiting for registration, which was scheduled to begin at 11 AM.

In anticipation of looooong lines, I get up early, eat a healthy breakfast, gather up a the necessary provisions – snacks and water — fill up my gas tank, and make the easy drive to Victor. I assume parking will be difficult, so I wear my sneakers. I’m prepared to go the distance.

You can imagine my surprise when I see the short line of people ahead of me.

Like ridiculously short.

The line at 9:30 AM. Super short.

Pulling into the lot, I learn I’ve arrived early enough to be able to park in the lot adjacent to the filming location. When they count us out, I’m #67, one of my favorite numbers.

{You know, ‘cuz I was born in 1967. Confirmation that the Universe is working for me.}

I go to the back of the line where I meet a couple that had driven in from Little Falls, New York (about four hours away), a pharmacy technician named Mindy, a prison guard named CJ , a flaky millennial who has never seen a single a episode of the show before, and some dude who has tried out about 17 times.

“When I have to go to the bathroom, will you guys save my place?” the bearded millennial asks.

We quickly form an alliance and agree to help each other out.

There isn’t much to tell.

The lines get longer.

By noon, there are probably a thousand people waiting to audition. Maybe more.

I wait 2 and ½ hours before being moved into a garage, where I wait some more. There is a nice breeze and a cardboard cutout of Jeff Probst.

Eventually, I make it inside where I hand in my release waiver, stating I allow CBS to use my likeness on social media – or for whatever purpose they like. I provide my phone number and email address.

After that, we go back outside to another area of the garage and, after another wait, we walk back inside. Some of us stand; some of us sit in blue office chairs.

This is the first moment where I start to think about what I will say. I know I have just ONE minute to make my pitch. There is no panel. Just me and a twenty-something wearing trendy thick black glasses.

This is a summary of what I believe I said. Obviously, I was nowhere near this clear or succinct. I did my best to stand in front of the camera and smile and laugh and act natural.

In August of 1999, I saw a trailer for a new show called SURVIVOR, and I was immediately interested: a show like that was right up my alley – physical competition paired with emotional challenges and a social game? Sign me up.

Then I looked down at my ankles, which were super puffy because I was super pregnant (due to deliver any day), and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to participate for a long time. I promised myself that if the show was still on the air when my kid graduated from high school, I was going to try out again.

So here we are, nearly 18 years later. I’ve never missed an episode and I’m making good on my promise. A lot has happened in my life over the last 4 years. I’ve bounced back after a brain injury, which occurred after I was incorrectly weaned off a prescription medication. There’s more to tell, of course – and you’ll have to call me back to Los Angeles if you want to learn more. Suffice it to say I’m funny, flirty, and fit. As a former teacher, I’m a good communicator, which wins me points with adults and makes me relate easily to a younger generation. As far as I’m concerned, you guys came to Rochester to get me. Here I am, pick me.

Trendy black glasses holds up his hand, indicating I have 5 seconds left.

And I break out into a little dance.

{Cuz, you know, I do that.}

Before I leave, an older gentleman tells me that I’ll only receive a phone call if the producers are interested in bringing me out to Los Angeles.

{So you know, any day.}

What did you do yesterday? Or… what show would you like to be on if you didn’t have real life responsibilities?



11 thoughts on “I’m Going to Be on SURVIVOR!

  1. I can’t imagine wanting to be on a show like that, but since you do want to, I hope you make it.

    Your experience reminded me of a time about 8 years ago when I decided to try out for a local TV show featuring Country & Western singers. It’s the show that started Leann Rimes in her career.

    When I got there I was something like #105, and most of the one ahead of me were extremely cute 12-14 year old girls. They let them sing 2 songs each and picked all the singers they needed before my turn came up, and most of the ones they picked were the young girls. When they finally called me number, they let me sing half of my 1st song and then told me they were running out of time. Thanks. Good-bye.

  2. I’m sure you nailed it with your easy breezy comfort in front of a camera/trendy black glasses guy. I’ve never watched Survivor but if you want it, I want it for you, Renee!

  3. Gosh! Reading your exciting blog I got all dizzy and happy. What a day you had. Good Luck and I hope your dreams come true.

  4. What would I do, if not for real life responsibilities? What are the things that pull at my heart strings–the strings that aren’t attached to family and neighborly responsibilities? Sometimes I think I would fly to South Central LA to learn from a revolutionary, Thandisizwe Chimurenga. I would learn to be braver, to better stand up for those threatened by the xenophobic direction in which the US is moving. Or I would move to Ireland, to dig deeper into my Druid roots and the archeological dig unearthing pre-Christian life on the islands into the transitioning period to Christianity. I am pained at what early Celts, Druids were forced to give up or integrate into their own spiritual lives–so many connections between worship practices prior to Christian missioning. Or I might move to Miami or others spots in the world to care for abandoned and injured animals. I would be a baby bat or other mammal cuddled. I might even plunge myself deeply into the world of visual arts, in which I have only dabbled. I’d move from being the practical grandparent to the one who opens up different, unseen worlds to my grandchildren. I could continue digging up my yard, planting perennials, rocks, and wood, until grass is non-existent except for the ornamentals I love. I’d by an old barn or build one with old lumber. I’d create a small living space in it and use the rest to weave, to house stray and infirm cats and dogs. I’d include a kitchen built to my specs and bake bread and chocolate cakes. This is what I would do and even more, if not for real life responsibilities….

  5. As always.. inspiring! Really nd truly hope they pick you ! Nothing like rooting for a hometown gal.. though to be honest I have never watched an episode but will for you! Thank you for sharing.

  6. I think that you were great. YOu just have a knack for all kinds of things making you likeable and interesting. Thin of all the things you could teach your teammates On downtime! Praying for that phone call From Survivor to you. I just thought, you should of brought the self portrait of you! that would have sealed the deal.

  7. How exciting! I was once a big fan of survivor but haven’t seen it in a couple years. I will definitely watch again if you are chosen. Keep us posted and good luck.

  8. I lift up you and all your hopes and dreams, for Survivor or anything else you want. If this is it, then this is what I want for you. If you like it, then hun I love it.

    Why do you like it? I could not begin too understand, honestly? Why?

    If I could do something else? It wouldn’t be a television show, no I am afraid I cannot think of a single one. But if I didn’t have to rebuild my financial and emotional life all over again, if I won just a small part of the lottery and could start with a cushion, I think I would do a few things just for the love of it:
    1. Open a Real Estate business, buying homes, flipping them and keeping some for rental properties for women who wouldn’t be able to buy their own homes through traditional means.

    2. Return to school for my Ph.D in Social Anthropology

    3. Open a neighborhood bar and restaurant for grown folks, where the music is live but not in your face, the drinks are properly poured with no odd names and the food prepared like we had growing up. Maybe I would have a poetry night and a comedy night thrown in there too. I assure you what I would have is a dress code and a manners code.

    Those are just some of the things I would do, if life didn’t stare me in the face every single damnable day. But you my dear I am going to life as high as possible.

  9. You really are inspiring. I’ve read your recovery blog and it gives me hope that I too, may be where you are now. My family LOVES Survivor and I seriously feel you would be the perfect contestant. Good luck!

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