The longtime-running reality show Survivor revealed the newest contestants to participate in the upcoming 45th season. In late September, the show will premiere and 18 “castaways” will compete for the $1 million prize on a remote Fiji island.
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The new Survivor cast is a diverse group coming from all walks of life and a wide range of professions. There are a few lawyers, a truck driver, a singer, some grad students, salesmen, a school principal, and even a returning contestant.
Check out the entire Survivor season 45 cast below.
Julie Alley, a 49-year-old estate attorney from Brentwood, Tennessee, described herself as a “divorced single mom” who “needed a hero so she became one.”
While raising her kids and teaching art classes during the day, she attended law school at night and passed the bar on her first try. She’s been a practicing attorney for five years.
She said she was inspired to compete in Survivor after watching Survivor Second Chance Cambodia.
Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup
Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup, a 30-year-old gym owner from O’Fallon, Illinois, described himself as not just a small business owner but also a musician and entrepreneur.
He explained growing up he got into tai chi and competed in martial arts competitions and is now a world champion at “push hands,” an event where you try to knock your opponent off balance without striking him or her.
Alsup said he was adopted, so a couple of years ago he did an Ancestry DNA test and found an entirely new side of his family. On Survivor, he said: “I’m out here pushing myself to be the best me and do everything possible to get to that W-I-N.”
Drew Basile, a 23-year-old grad student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, described himself as underestimated. “They look at me, they’re going to see Napoleon Dynamite, the Nutty Professor, they are going to see a guy that lives at the library,” he said.
He’s a trivia national champion and competitive Scrabble player who was inspired by some of the “mathlete to millionaire” contestants who previously competed on Survivor.
“I’m smart and I want people to know what my strengths are, because I want to telegraph that I am someone reliable that you can work with,” he said and added that he’s competing on Survivor to test himself and validate himself.
Sabiyah Broderick, a 28-year-old truck driver from Jacksonville, North Carolina, described herself as “so happy” to be a contestant on Survivor.
“I’m a little bit of everything. Truck driver, Marine, from the south. I’m the perfect hodgepodge where I can find something to connect to everyone that I talk to,” she said.
Two years ago, she became a truck driver after leaving the Marine Corps. She thinks those experiences will give her an edge because she’s had to “sleep outside for weeks at a time” and maintain a high level of physical fitness.
“Survivor takes it to a whole other level where it’s not only my body versus your body, but my mind versus your mind. It’s like the Olympics of everything,” she said.
Austin Li Coon
Austin Li Coon, a 26-year-old grad student from Chicago, Illinois, described himself as looking for his “Amber,” a Survivor winner who married another contestant. He called the show “the ultimate competition” and compared it to competing in volleyball in the Junior Olympics.
With his muscles and long hair on display, he said his strategy for winning the show is to act as “Woo-ey” as possible, meaning as carefree and entertaining as the past contestant Yung Woo Hwang, but turn out to be like two-time Survivor champ Tony Vlachos.
Brandon Donlon, a 26-year-old content producer from Sicklerville, New Jersey, described himself as “not sure” how he’ll contribute to the tribe. “I hope I have something. Your guess is as good as mine,” he said and added that he’s not very outdoorsy but hopes competing will help reshape him into the person he wants to be.
He said the hardest part of competing on the show will be controlling his anxiety. “My girlfriend supplied me with my strategy,” he said, describing it simply as “be yourself and make people laugh and you’ll be fine.”
Donlon said he had been sending in audition tapes for Survivor before he was even old enough to compete. “I made it my goal the last 15 years to get on this island,” he said.
Sean Edwards, a 35-year-old elementary school principal from Provo-Orem, Utah, described himself as a “proud gay man” after trying to live a “faithful Mormon straight lifestyle.”
“Being gay in a very conservative environment has taught me grit (and) mental tenacity,” he said. “Those are the attributes that you need to have on Survivor to be successful.”
Emily Flippen, a 28-year-old investment analyst from Laurel, Maryland, described herself as “really scared of bugs” and a person who sweats, gets sunburned easily, and hates the sand. “I could just keep going,” she said.
She said her experience as an investment analyst has taught her how to separate her “short-term” emotions from her “long-term goals.” She added that people have told her that her personality is very similar to “Chaos” Kass McQuillen from Survivor seasons 21 and 28, who does inspire her.
“I’m an outspoken, more aggressive female,” she said. “I get irritated when I’m surrounded by people who think that they’re better than me, but I’ll slowly chip away at people and they’ll start to see me for who I really am.”
During season 45, Flippen hopes to break her cycle of complacency and become a “more interesting, more lived person.”
Kaleb Gebrewold, a 29-year-old software salesman from Vancouver, described himself as a “black Huckleberry Finn. I’m always just kind of figuring it out.”
In the past, he became a lifeguard without ever having swim lessons and started a painting business without ever having painted before. “I’ve never been qualified for anything anyway, so why wouldn’t I come here and win Survivor as well?” he asked.
He said he wants to give off “golden retriever energy” so people don’t realize that “this dog was raised by wolves.” He added: “One of the things I love is great villains. I’m watching Batman and I’m rooting for the Joker.”
Janani Krishnan-Jha, a 24-year-old singer who goes by the stage name J. Maya from Los Angeles, described herself as someone who would “love to make some friends” on Survivor.
She said a couple of years ago she took the biggest risk of her life when she decided to give up Harvard Law School for a chance to pursue her dream as an artist.
“A lot of people call my music ‘nerd pop’ because I write about a lot of the stuff that I’m interested in like crossword puzzles, Greek mythology, [and] literature,” she said.
Brandon “Brando” Meyer
Brandon “Brando” Meyer, a 23-year-old software developer from Seattle, Washington, described himself as a detail-oriented person who developed a love for the show after seeing Asian-Americans compete, but also the people who faced their fears.
He said one of his goals appearing on Survivor is to “have that Survivor pizza. Detroit style in Detroit. New York style in New York. And of course Survivor pizza on Survivor.”
Kendra McQuarrie, a 31-year-old bartender from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, described her strategy for the show as “winging it.”
“I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for 12 years,” she said. “I literally talk to people and make them think I like them and they give me their money and I don’t like them.”
She added that her work experience and “big personality” prepared her for the show and that her social game was going to be “so good.”
After traveling, living out of a van, backpacking multiple countries, and “chasing the next adventure,” competing on Survivor will be “another portal to follow my path and my inspiration.”
Kellie Nalbandian, a 30-year-old critical care nurse from New York City, described herself as “adaptable, rational, and emotionally intelligent under tons of stress and chaos.”
“People want to underestimate nurses and think that we’re just wiping butts. Fine, but that’s to their peril and I’m hoping to exploit that,” she said.
She added that she hopes to become the first lesbian to win the show. “I absolutely intend to be the first,” she said.
Jake O’Kane, a 26-year-old attorney from Boston, Massachusetts, described himself as having that “notorious Irish whisper.” He explained that he’s not only a lawyer but also a bartender and teacher. “I don’t entrench myself entirely in one world,” he said.
“Survivor is a lifelong dream of mine,” he said. “It’s something that I wouldn’t have always been able to do, but now, over the past couple of years, I’ve worked on myself really hard becoming healthier and really taking care of myself, and I’m at the best point in my life to play this game.”
Bruce Perreault, a 47-year-old insurance agent from West Warwick, Rhode Island, described himself as “back.” He’s a former Survivor season 44 contestant who lost after 12 minutes of air time because of a head injury.
“For the 12 hours that I was there, I was the father figure. I need to not be ‘dad,’” he said. “Dad’s the one who puts down the rules and all that other stuff. Your uncle is who you go talk to when you want to have a conversation about how dumb your dad is being.”
Perreault said he won’t let his past or fear dictate his performance on the show.
Hannah Rose, a 33-year-old therapist from Baltimore City, Maryland, described herself as someone who “may or may not be platonically in love with” the show’s host, Jeff Probst.
She explained that ever since she started watching Survivor she’s been fascinated with it from a psychological standpoint.
“I don’t want to play like the last two therapists on the show . . . I don’t want to underestimate any of the people around me just because I got my master’s in counseling.”
She said her experience getting sober has helped prepare her for the show. “It’s just the tools for how to deal with life,” she said. “Let go of the things out of my control but absolutely control the things that are.”
Katurah Topps, a 35-year-old civil rights attorney from Brooklyn, New York, described her loyalty as “unrelenting” and “illogical.”
She explained that her work at the top civil rights law firm in the country has taken up so much of her life that she really hasn’t had much time for an adventure. “And that’s what led me to Survivor,” she said.
As a black, queer woman, she said she always has to adapt and survive in different situations and social settings. “I was watching Survivor and realizing, ‘I could do that on the show,’” she said.
She called her appearance a chance to “do something for myself and just really show myself what I’m made of.”
Dee Valladares, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Miami, described herself as someone who thrives in the unknown. “I’ve always been someone who signs up for things that scare me,” she said.
As an immigrant who was born in Cuba, she said, “I have grit. I started working at like 14 and I’ve been hustling my entire life.” In 2019, she started a backpack business that’s been going strong ever since.
“I want to be a Latina female winner on Survivor,” she said.
The 90-minute premiere of season 45 of Survivor will air Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, on CBS.