‘Survivor’s’ Jeff Probst Reveals How to Get Cast on the Show

Jeff Probst attends the premiere of CBS' "Survivor" 40th season

Getty Jeff Probst attends the premiere of CBS' "Survivor" 40th season

Longtime Survivor host Jeff Probst recently opened up his Cameo account for the holidays and some fans who bought video messages have been putting snippets of them online. In one of them, Probst breaks down how to get cast on the show in terms of what they look for. He has two big pieces of advice.


If At First You Don’t Succeed, Apply, Apply Again

The first big piece of advice from Probst is that if you don’t get cast the first (or second, or third) time you apply, don’t give up. Here’s why.

“Here’s the deal. A couple things happen [with the casting/audition process] — 1) We miss good people all the time, 2) The type of person or what we’re looking for in a person can shift over time, and 3) People change and they become a little more aware of what it is you need to be on Survivor, or just because of life experience they become more appropriate for Survivor because something shifted in their life.”

So, if you applied a long time ago, maybe take another swing at it. And don’t be dissuaded if you think you’re too old — Survivor casts older people all the time.


Be Yourself, But Be Entertaining

Jeff Probst on casting "Survivor" – EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORGFull interview at emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/jeff-probst2013-09-17T22:33:17Z

Ultimately, Survivor needs to be able to craft stories around its contestants. They don’t all have to be outrageous, larger-than-life characters, but they need to be genuine and entertaining.

“We’re really just looking for people who know who they are and have the ability to tell that story in an entertaining way,” said Probst. “It doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian, I just mean the difference between somebody talking about a bag of potato chips and you can’t stop listening, and then somebody can describe the most traumatic, dramatic thing and you’re bored out of your mind. It’s just the ability to tell a story, when somebody can grab you and say, ‘Listen to what I got to say.’ That’s the kind of person that ends up on Survivor.”

He also added that they don’t actually care how well they think someone will do on the show. That’s not the show’s concern because, in the end, there is only one winner.

“Most everybody’s going to get voted out — it’s just a matter of when,” said Probst. “Sometimes it happens to great people early, sometimes great people make it to the end, sometimes vice versa. But we just look for people who want to be vulnerable, are willing to let us inside so that we can see their journey because the secret to Survivor, I think, is that we see ourselves through the others.”

That being said, Probst has said in a previous interview with the Emmy organization that the show does look for “archetypes” — “who’s gonna be the mentor, who’s gonna be the father figure, who’s gonna be the mother figure, who’s the young hero, who’s the villain, who’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing, all of those types we cast.”

So, if you know who are you and can promote yourself as a type, that might give you a leg up.

There is no word yet on when Survivor will be back on the air. There is talk about the production team filming three seasons this spring so that they can air one in the summer of 2021, one in the fall, and then one in the spring of 2022.

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