(CBS) – Survivor 41 is on its way and Shantel Smith is officially the fourth jury member this season.
CBS’s Matt Weiss spoke to Shantel about her experience on the island, her bond with Ricard, and the multiple sclerosis competition.
CONTINUE READING: Sydney Segal says it is an “honor for America” to see her compete in Survivor 41
MW- Hello Shan! It has been a few days since your elimination episode. I always feel bad talking to people when their game is stopped, but I’m especially sorry you had to roast about it over Thanksgiving.
SS- Thanks very much! I’ve been thinking about it all the time while I eat stuffing, I’m like I’m having job interviews one Monday. I just stretched everything right [laughs].
MW- Of course, your time on the island wasn’t as long as you hoped it would be, but when you think back to coming to the island in the first place, how was that moment for you?
SS- Oh my god I don’t think there’s anything like it. First of all, I’m soaking wet from just being in the water thinking, oh there is no laundry, I’ll be wet all day [laughs]. Then I meet Brad, Ed, Davey, Sarah, Ricard, all these people that I saw before the game but couldn’t speak to.
Everyone was so cute, everyone is so great, it was beautiful. I mean, the sun hits the beach and Fiji is beautiful. There was nothing like it. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life.
MW- And then you will be sorted into the Ua trunk and will all be picked up one after the other. What was it like to watch the trunk get knocked out in such a number?
SS- We started so far to the right because we won the first challenge. We were fine and suddenly we are picked up one by one. I read the tea leaves and I have to stick to my A game.
I just knew I had to work off my little Hiney just to get through. I knew I had to be strategically strong and socially smart, but it’s so hard. However, this is the game and someone has to go and you just don’t want it to be you.
MW- You always have to take care of yourself, but at least you think you have some time to build with your original tribe, but you didn’t have that luxury …
SS- Gosh yeah It’s so fun because the other tribes had all of the time to really build relationships and stay together, you think they are the strong force and really close. Oddly enough, Ricard and I were probably the closest couple of them all because we had to stay.
I mean, I went to Tribal every day. I’ve been there every day and it was just awful. I worked off my little dick just to get through.
MW- You mentioned Ricard and there is no bitterness in your voice so credit should be given for that [laughs]. You tried to hold your back and he threw you under the bus. Accompany me through this blind side from your perspective.
SS- I mean we are who we are, right? At the end of the day, I wanted to protect him. I was with this boy for 19 days. I was locked into this all black alliance that you know crashed. But I was caught up in it and I just believed in it and never thought in a million years that they would act against it.
So it was my dream that Ricard and I would be there in the end, he was my husband on this island. You know what I mean? He was the will to my mercy, I love this boy, I love him. He made the best move of the season in my opinion because if he hadn’t got me out, I wouldn’t have taken my foot off the pedal. I would have gone straight to the end and won the game; I feel so in my heart
CONTINUE READING: Evvie Jagoda says her pre-merger survivor game “went better than I ever imagined”
Both he and I, our résumés were stacked. He made the best move and I give him great praise, no love is lost there. There’s not a bit of bitterness in there and when I went out everyone was fine, she tried to set a goal for people but I was honest. There was no bad blood at all.
MW- Change gears a bit, you are someone who has battled multiple sclerosis and you decided to get through survivor and do an incredible job. Can you speak to your situation about the experience of going on the show?
SS- Yeah, I mean, I was scared [laughs]. I was diagnosed in 2018 and I lost sight in my right eye and my legs went a little numb. I was diagnosed with MS after many, many tests. I had a great neurologist who was super aggressive so I got chemotherapy; I did eight laps. That was tough, but I’m in remission now, I’m plant-based and I eat well.
What no one saw before the game was that I was actually so scared of playing Survivor that I almost didn’t even get on the plane. Before flying there I told my family that I am not doing this, there is no way I will not put my body at risk, I am in remission.
But I prayed about it and felt that God set me free. My church, my pastor set me free to pursue my dreams.
Your life doesn’t end because you have a diagnosis. If anything, it just starts. I really didn’t want to live my life in fear. I went up there and was scared. I thought I was going to be medically evacuated, this will be so embarrassing when I have a flare-up.
But I went out and during the pregame Jeff said to me you can cry now but when you get out of there you are Wonder Woman, this is your show, it is yours. I took this and just got up there and I thought I was going to play like I was a rock star and I’m going to own this.
That’s exactly what I did! I’ll say I don’t know if it was near the water or some kind of electromagnetic field, the climate, the air, eating less, living minimalistically, but my body healed in many ways out there in nature. and stuff. I really believe in wellness and wholeness and plant-based nutrition and all of that.
It was terrifying, but you know I was a rock star! I want everyone with MS to know that the diagnosis is not the end of your dreams. I think even if modern science hasn’t fully figured it all out yet. I believe that by mixing therapies there is a way to live well and still be happy and have wonderful lives.
For everyone who is disabled, I am only there for you and I hope, regardless of skin color, gender or ethnicity, I hope you can see yourself in me when I play the game and know that you have a full life can lead.
MW- God’s blessings and congratulations on the release! So after all that has been said, one last question before I let you go: if someone called you back, would you do it again?
SS- Oh my god if Jeff calls me, oh yeah! I would go again, but I would be scared again [laughs].
MW- [Laughs] Thank you Shan for the time today, it has been a pleasure to speak to you and all the best for the future!
SS- Thank you very much. Take care of yourself!
MORE NEWS: Naseer Muttalif says he played “like there’s no tomorrow” on “Survivor 41”
Tune in for a new episode of Survivor 41 Wednesday Nights at 8:00 PM ET / PT on CBS or to stream on Paramount +. Please refer to your local listings for more information.