(CBS) – survivor 41 The vibe is going down and Shantel Smith is officially the fourth member of this season’s jury.
CBS’ Matt Weiss spoke to Shantel about his experience on the island, his bond with Ricard, and competing with multiple sclerosis.
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MW- Hello Shan! It’s only been a few days since your elimination episode. I always feel bad talking to people when their game gets cut short, but I’m extra sorry you had to dwell on this over Thanksgiving.
SS- Thanks! All I kept thinking was that as I ate the stuffing, I felt like I got an interview on a Monday. just really magnified everything [laughs],
MW- Of course, your time on the island didn’t last as long as you had hoped, but when you think about visiting the island in the first place, how was that moment for you?
SS- Oh my gosh, I guess there’s nothing like it. First of all, I’m wet because I was just in the water and I’m like, oh, there’s no laundry, I’m going to get wet all day [laughs], Then I meet Brad, Ed, Davey, Sarah, Ricard, all these guys I watched pregame but couldn’t talk to.
How lovely everyone was, how great everyone was, it was beautiful. I mean, the sun hitting the beach and Fiji is beautiful. It was nothing like that. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
MW- And then you get caught up in the Ua tribe and you all start getting selected one by one. What was it like to see the tribe coming out in such numbers?
SS- We started on such a high right because we won the first challenge. We were doing well and suddenly we start coming out one by one. I’m reading Tea Leaves and I feel like I have to stay on my A game.
I just knew I had to turn my little honey off to get through this. I knew I had to be strategically strong and socially smart, but it’s too hard. It’s game though and someone has to go and you don’t want it to be you.
MW- You’ll always have to see for yourself but at least you feel like you’ll have some time to build with your native tribe even though you didn’t have that luxury…
SS- My god, yes. It’s so funny because the other tribes had so much time to actually bond and be together, you’d think they’d be the stronger force and be really tight-lipped. Oddly enough, Ricard and I were probably the strongest pair of all because we had to stick around.
I mean, I used to go to the tribal every single day. I was there every single day and it was awful. I was working my little tail just trying to get by.
MW- You mentioned the record and there is no bitterness in your voice so the credit goes to you [laughs], You tried to pat him on the back and he threw you under the bus. Walk me through that blindness from your perspective.
SS- I mean, we are what we are, right? At the end of the day I wanted to protect her. I stayed with that boy for 19 days. I was locked into this all-black alliance that, you know, fell. But I was locked into it all and I just believed in it and never in a million years thought they would go against it.
So my dream was for the record and I would eventually be there, he was my husband on that island. You know what I mean? That was my wish of grace, I love that 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 been able to take my foot off the pedal. I’d go straight to the end and I’d win the game; I feel like this in my heart.
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Both him and I, our resumes were piled up. He took the best step and I congratulate him, there is no love lost. There was no sense of bitterness and when I came out of the well like everyone else, she was trying to hit people’s backs but I was honest. There was no bad blood.
MW- With a little change, you are someone who has struggled with multiple sclerosis and you have decided to heal yourself. Survivor And did an incredible job. Can you talk about that experience going on the show with your situation?
SS- yeah i mean i was scared [laughs], I was diagnosed in 2018 and lost my right eye sight, my legs were getting a little numb. I was diagnosed with MS after lots and lots of tests. I had a great neurologist who was super aggressive so I was put on chemotherapy; I did eight rounds. It was tough but now I am in remission, I am plant based and I eat well.
The pregame that no one saw was that I was too scared to actually go and play Survivor I almost couldn’t even get on the plane. Before I took off from there I told my family that I’m not doing this, there’s no way, I’m not going to risk my body, I’m in remission.
But I prayed about it and I felt like God had released me. My congregation, my pastor, released me to go to pursue my dreams.
Your life doesn’t end because you have a diagnosis. Whatever it is, it just starts. I really didn’t want to live my life in fear. I went up there and I panicked. I was thinking I was going to be medically taken out, it would be very embarrassing if I flared up.
But, I went over there and during pregame Jeff told me you can cry now but when you leave there you’re Wonder Woman, it’s your show, you own it. I took that and I just woke up there and I felt like I was going to play like I was a rock star and I was going to own it.
I did just that! I will say I don’t know if it was around water or some kind of electromagnetic field, climate, wind, eating less, living a minimal life, but my body being around nature can heal in a lot of ways Gaya. and stuff. I really believe in wellness and wholeness and plant based eating and all that.
It was terrible but you know I was a rockstar! I want everyone with MS to know that a diagnosis is not the end of your dreams. I believe that even though modern science has not fully explored it. I believe there is a way to live well and be happy and live a wonderful life with Mix Therapy.
To all those with disabilities, I am just for you and I hope that regardless of color or gender or ethnicity, I hope you can see yourself playing the game in me and know that you are a complete can live life.
MW- God bless and congratulations on the discount! So with all that said, one last question before I let you go, would you do it again if you were called to return?
SS- Oh my god, if Jeff calls me oh yes! i’ll go back but i’ll be scared again [laughs],
MW- [Laughs] Thank you so much Shan for the time today, nice to talk to you and best of luck moving forward!
SS- Thanks a lot. take care!
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Tune in for a new episode of survivor 41 Available to stream Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS or with Paramount+. Check your local listing for more information.