Survivor: Cook Islands – A Look at the Contestantsby David Bloomberg -- 08/28/2006
CBS announced last week that Survivor: Cook Islands would begin with four tribes divided by race: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians. Each tribe will have five members, and they will be mixed up as usual after what I would guess is two or three episodes. I’ve already discussed my thoughts on the racial groupings, so we won’t get into that further here. But let’s take a look at each contestant and I’ll give you my initial thoughts.
Adam Gentry: 28 years old, from San Diego but originally from Virginia. Adam is a copier salesman with a degree in marketing, and he was also a frat boy and former personal trainer. I have to say, I’m not really picking up good vibes on him. The salesman thing is good for Survivor, but the other stuff, not so much.
Becky Lee: Also 28, Becky is from Washington, D.C., though originally hails from Pittsburgh. She is an attorney who also plays tennis, flag football, and has taught kickboxing. So you don’t want to go against her either in the courtroom or out of it! Her volunteer work in developing countries should serve to help her, as she might not suffer as much culture shock as some of the others when they realize how little they have to work with.
Billy Garcia: 36 years old, from New York by way of Miami. Billy is a heavy metal guitarist and looks the part with his skull t-shirt and skull bandana. He is also a professional wrestler (under the name of Spanish Fly) and has had a wide range of jobs, including U.S. Marine. Billy looks to do well in anything strength-related, but I wonder how he will do in the social aspect of the game.
Brad Virata: 29, one of many contestants this time from L.A., but originally from Seattle. Brad is a fashion director and former model. Apparently, he thought the sign-up was for Project Runway rather than Survivor. Just kidding! Brad has a great deal of athletics in his background, so the physical aspects of Survivor shouldn’t be a huge deal for him.
Candice Woodcock: At 23, Candice is the youngest contestant this season (beating out Parvati by a couple months). She is from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a pre-med student at Georgetown. I like Candice already because, like me, she got a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT. (Ah, but did she also get a perfect score on the logic portion of the GRE?) Looking at her educational background, there is no doubt Candice has the brains for this game. And she also worked in a village in Kenya for a while, so, like Becky, she won’t be in for as much of a shock at the conditions contestants will face on the show.
Anh-Tuan “Cao Boi” Bui: His nickname is pronounced “Cowboy,” but you won’t confuse him with the former Big Brother contestant called the same thing. Cao Boi is 42, hails from Christianburg, Virginia, and is a nail salon manager. He was born in Vietnam and was a war refugee when he was 11. With his hiking and biking background, Cao Boi should do fine physically, even as one of the older players this time around.
Cecilia Mansilla: 29 years old, from Oakland, California – but originally from Arequipa, Peru. Cecilia is a technology risk consultant. No, I have no idea what that means. Maybe she makes sure computers don’t fall on people. Anyway, she works out regularly but doesn’t have the kind of physical activity in her background that a number of the other contestants have this time around. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this come up at some point.
Cristina Coria: A police officer from Los Angeles, Cristina is 35 years old and really is a survivor. She was once pinned up against her car by a drunk driver, and another time was shot in the arm by a suspected murderer! In fact, doctors first told her she might lose the arm, and then told her she would never have full use of it. But here she is, and she did indeed regain full use of her arm. As if all this wasn’t enough, her father, also a police officer, was killed when she was 12, and the murder remains unsolved. Frankly, she sounds more like a character on a cop show than a contestant on Survivor. Her determination means she will likely go far on the show, but I wonder if she’ll lie and backstab. I also wonder if people will be afraid to take her to the final two.
Jenny Guzon-Bae: 36 years old, from Lake Forest, Illinois. Jenny is a real estate agent who used to work in journalism. What a perfect combination for Survivor, where you always want to sell people on your schemes and also want to make sure you choose your words carefully!
Jessica Smith: 27 years old, from Chico, California. Jessica is a “performance artist.” What does that mean? According to the official bio, “she does various fire-related performances using hula hoops, poi, staff and batons… often times on stilts.” Are we sure she didn’t think she was applying for America’s Got Talent? Right off the bat, Jessica reminds me of Courtney from last season – both in the fire performing artist and hair. This is not a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Oh, she is also a roller derby girl, so she probably doesn’t have a problem throwing an elbow when necessary.
Jonathan Penner: A writer/producer/actor/director in L.A., formerly from New York, Jonathan is 44 years old. He’s acted, he’s directed, etc. What more is there to say about him? I can’t think of much.
J.P. Calderon: 30 years old, from Marina Del Rey, California. J.P. is a professional beach volleyball player, so getting sand in uncomfortable places won’t bother him. He’s also described as a good swimmer, which certainly will come in handy on Survivor. He also works with children, which could help him in dealing with some of his tribemates.
Nathan “Nate” Gonzalez: Another Los Angelino, Nate is 26 years old and works in retail sales. He also plays in various rock bands, so maybe he’ll hook up with Billy and create a hit album after all this is over.
Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth: 25 years old, from Venice, California, but originally born in Mexico. Ozzy is a waiter who enjoys a variety of surfer-dude type sports. But he also goes spear fishing in Panama, so he could be handy to have on the tribe if they win fishing gear. Indeed, he has spent a lot of time surviving alone in the wilderness, so he sounds like a good guy to have on your tribe no matter what!
Parvati Shallow: 23 years old (almost the youngest), recently from L.A. but originally from Atlanta and Florida. She has done a lot, including getting her degree in journalism, but left now is a waitress and a boxer. Though it says she boxes for “Perfect 10 Model Boxing,” so I’m not sure if it’s real boxing or more modeling. If her photo is any indication, she looks more like a model than somebody who has been hit in the face.
Rebecca Borman: 34 years old, from Laurelton, New York. Rebecca has been a make-up artist for about 15 years, and recently received an Emmy for Outstanding Make-Up on a Daytime Talk Show due to her work on The View. Guess who she does make-up for? Former Survivor Elisabeth! I’m sure that’s a coincidence.
Sekou Bunch: At 45, Sekou is the oldest contestant this time around. He hails from L.A., like so many others, but is originally from New York. He is a jazz musician who has played with numerous recording artists and appeared in several movies. Perhaps he’ll join Billy and Nathan – the Survivor: Cook Islands band is growing! Although jazz plus heavy metal should make an interesting mix.
Stephannie Favor: 35 years old, from Columbia, South Carolina. Stephannie has been in the armed forces and has a degree in business management. Now she’s going back to school to become a nurse. Hopefully, she won’t have to face what Cirie did last season and have a guy drop his drawers to show her his problem area.
Sundra Oakley: Oh look, somebody from L.A. That’s practically unheard of this time around. She’s 31 and originally from New York, and she’s an actress. What happened to real people on reality TV? Oh, wait, she’s currently a cocktail waitress, though she has had parts on a variety of shows. Her favorite sports include boxing, so maybe she’ll have a match against Parvati.
Yul Kwon: Last but not least is this 31-year-old management consultant from San Mateo, California (but originally from Flushing, New York). From his bio, Yul looks like a pretty damned smart guy. And he has worked in politics, so he’s certainly used to the idea of lying to people – that will help him on Survivor.
So there we have it – our 20 new contestants. This is just a brief overview of each of them. We’ll have our usual “Roundtable” prediction article as the premiere draws closer.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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