The first new season of “Survivor” since May 2020 is finally in reach for enthusiastic audiences, and I, for one, could not be more excited! To get everyone as eager as I am for this 41st season of the flagship CBS island endurance competition, I had the opportunity to interview upcoming contestant Liana Wallace (MSB ’23), who happens to be a student at Georgetown University. As potentially the biggest “Survivor” fan on this side of the Potomac River, I am so thankful for the opportunity to talk to Wallace to hear some of her opinions on the show and to understand her motivations as a contestant.
My personal introduction to “Survivor” was through channel-surfing many years ago: I was intrigued by a group of people running around a sandy island while $1 million was at stake. By contrast, Wallace has a much deeper connection to the show. Wallace first encountered “Survivor” in her childhood, and she credits her mother for introducing her and ultimately encouraging her to go on the show.
Wallace’s proclivity for “surviving” goes all the way back to her childhood, when she would pretend to play the game with her older siblings, Andre and Jordan. She remembers that Andre would focus on defeating Jordan before her, and I personally hope she retains the same luck on the show.
“Thank God it wasn’t me that he always snuffed out — it always was Jordan. I guess I wasn’t threatening,” Wallace said.
In my opinion, Wallace has impeccable taste when it comes to her favorite players, and she clearly has a deep understanding of “Survivor” history, from 2005 to now. When asked who she admired, Wallace, who is Black, referenced “Survivor” legends who are also women of color, like Cirie Fields, Natalie Anderson and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Each of these women are definitely in my own top 10 players, and I think Wallace perfectly captured why they are among the greats. These women all made the top six on their respective seasons, and Diaz-Twine was the Sole Survivor of “Survivor: Pearl Islands.”
“I think it’s just really amazing just to see the confidence that they play with and the wit and the social game and all that kind of combined into one,” Wallace said. “Also, they’re all women of color, and they’re just incredibly impactful.”
I wouldn’t be shocked if, by the end of this season, Wallace has the exact same impact on fans as her favorite players did for her. Wallace’s preparation and her personal history as a longtime fan create the perfect recipe for a stellar contestant.
“Survivor” is making history this season as a part of CBS’ new commitment to cast BIPOC contestants in 50% of all reality competition roles. Wallace joins the legacy of women of color who came before her on “Survivor,” and she expressed gratitude for their efforts to diversify and improve the competition.
“All creds to the people of color that were on the show before to really push and to have a cast that would be more Black and Indigenous People of Color. Because I really think that ‘Survivor’ is a microcosm of the real world,” Wallace said.
In my opinion, Wallace has all the tools to win her the title of Sole Survivor. She has prepared both physically and mentally for the show — she said she has been both putting on some muscle and meditating. Further, Wallace has a great strategy of being unassuming, plus she is both a sociable and analytical person, so she should have no problem connecting with the other contestants.
“Survivor 41” kicks off Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. EDT. As her season begins, Wallace is grateful for the opportunity to challenge herself and pursue joy, and she encourages her fellow Hoyas to do the same.