'Survivor' Season 36: Meet the Cast of 'Ghost Island'

9:00 AM 1/31/2018

by Josh Wigler

Twenty new castaways will battle old mistakes in the latest season of the CBS reality franchise.

Courtesy of CBS

"Survivors ready? Go!"

Jeff Probst's famous catchphrase is about to be uttered again, as twenty new castaways hit the beach of Fiji for the latest iteration of Survivor, the landmark reality franchise fast approaching its 40th season. For now, we're up to season 36, and it's one that's built on the bones of bad decisions made in seasons past: Survivor: Ghost Island, in which players will be surrounded in the show's extensive lore at all times.

Throughout the season, the new contestants will contend with the titular Ghost Island, a mysterious place that's covered in remnants of Survivor history, and a place that offers the opportunity to seize cursed relics from the past and use them toward future purposes. Can the players "reverse the curse" on an immunity idol that was previously played poorly? That's one of the many questions Ghost Island puts forth, but certainly not the only one.

While Survivor's own history is at the heart of the new season, the people actually battling it out for the latest million dollar prize are brand new to the game — at least in terms of playing the game. For the most part, these players are all fans of the show, some of them having watched since the very beginning of the series, others having recently completed deep dives into the archives.

Below, meet the cast of Ghost Island, and stay tuned to THR.com/Survivor in the weeks ahead for even more information about each new castaway. 

Listen to the first episode of First One Out: Ghost Zero, our preseason podcast series, for more about Ghost Island, the players, and the start of an unlikely adventure:

  • The Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The Naviti tribe, wearing purple, includes the following castaways:

    • Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, 42 years old)
    • Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, 26 years old)
    • Chelsea Townsend (EMT and Professional Cheerleader, 24 years old)
    • Chris Noble (Professional Model, 27 years old)
    • Desiree Afuye (Student, 21 years old)
    • Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, 38 years old)
    • Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, 31 years old)
    • Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, 29 years old)
    • Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, 22 years old)
    • Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, 33 years old)

  • Angela Perkins

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 42-year-old army veteran, a self-proclaimed "American badass," enters Ghost Island as the oldest player in the game. Select highlights from Angela's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: Retirement from the U.S. Army. I served over 21 years in the Army and I was an Army officer captain. I served in the transportation unit and in a psychological Operations Battalion as an executive officer and I was the ONLY female officer in the organization, yet still chosen to be second in command. I have been to several countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Dubai, France, Bratislava, Slovakia, Italy and Germany. I was put in the MOST unusual and extreme situations and conditions and survived better than most. I was in isolated conditions where life’s bare necessities were limited. While deployed to Iraq in 2003-2004, I went months with only taking bottle water showers. The supply lines were compromised so often I was forced to make a decision to either wash with my daily bottled water or consume it.  I jumped from several different Military aircrafts and did drown-proofing that consisted of water survival. While deployed to Afghanistan, I was put in situations that required me to influence the local “elders” (leaders) of our U.S. missions in their country while at the same time earning their trust. This posed a huge issue because one, I am a FEMALE (and their beliefs with females are VERY different than ours) and two, I was an American.  However, I was able to gain the trust of the local people as well as many elders.

    Inspiration in Life: My son.  He has been braver than he believes, stronger than he seems and smarter than he thinks.  I have never met a more amazing person than him.

    Pet Peeves: My pet peeves are laziness or unmotivated people when they have the ability and or resources to be and do so much more, and when someone expects someone else to pull their weight.  One that believes things are “RIGHTS versus Privileges.” Also, unorganized people or things, close-minded individuals and people who think you “owe” them something.

    3 Words to Describe You: Spontaneous, courageous and determined.

  • Bradley Kleihege

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    Originally from Michigan and currently living in Los Angeles, Bradley is a 26-year-old law student and super fan who was nearly cast on season 28, Survivor: Cagayan. Select highlights from Bradley's CBS bio:

    Inspiration in Life: I don’t have a particular source of inspiration in life because I don’t believe in emulating or worshipping anyone. I think that everyone has positive traits to draw from as well as less desirable aspects.

    Pet Peeves:  Stupid people and people who think they know everything.

    3 Words to Describe You:   Ambitious, impatient and astute.

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? First, a notebook and pen to organize my thoughts and strategy. Second, my retainers because I have had my braces off for over a decade but am still too scared to try not wearing them.  What if my pearly whites started moving around? And finally, a bottle of rum because no self-respecting sailor would be caught on a remote island without rum.

    SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like: I am passionate, competitive and neurotic like Spencer. Also, I have the same penchant as him for making people feel irrelevant and that is something I will have to be very careful not to do during the game.

  • Chelsea Townsend

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    An EMT and professional cheerleader living in Los Angeles by way of Utah, the 24-year-old Chelsea could have easily qualified for Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. Select highlights from Chelsea's CBS bio:

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? A mattress to get a good night’s rest, a toothbrush because I can’t imagine not brushing my teeth for more than a day, and definitely food because nobody likes starving. 

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Parvati. I think I could use my charm to build relationships, and I think I have the competitive spirit and wit she had.

    Reason for Being on SurvivorIt is the experience of a lifetime. You get to push yourself to your absolute limits and challenge yourself in a unique way. I believe I will learn a lot about myself and become a stronger person physically and mentally. The money would of course be helpful as well. I am looking to attend graduate school in the near future and it would be nice to not have any student loans after school.

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor: I have the traits needed to make me successful.  I am a hard worker who is extremely driven to reach my goals. I am agile and athletic from a background in dance and gymnastics. I am personable and get along well with people of all backgrounds and ages. I am a competitor and love a good challenge. 

  • Chris Noble

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    A professional model originally from Florida and currently living in New York, the 27-year-old wants to evolve the game strategically and... romantically? Select highlights from Chris' CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: My greatest accomplishment was being on a 5th Avenue Versace billboard! It was by no means the end all and be all of where I want to be in life, but it was a major accomplishment. To me it was an accumulation of everything I’ve worked hard for finally getting justified. It was a huge symbol of perseverance and it was gratifying. I rely on my own self-motivation and have accomplished stuff that was difficult and took legit perseverance, but winning Survivor will top all that.  

    Inspiration in Life: My ma is my hero. But it wasn’t always so. Growing up, my mom and I didn’t have the best relationship. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 27 and had me at 34. God bless her. A lot of side-effects of MS don’t just affect the body, but the brain as well, such as depression. So as a kid, I couldn’t handle or understand what was going on. I look back at my childhood and most memories of my mom and I were difficult. She would have seizures during my baseball games, at my school where she tutored, and the side effects of all the medications made it difficult to have a normal relationship with her. When I was 12, my parents split and the next couple years were even tougher as her disease progressed.  If it wasn’t for my father telling me I needed to rise above the past and grow up, I would have continued to struggle. When I was told she had two months to live I decided to become a man at 17, and our past struggles brought us even closer. Through the years, our relationship grew, and our love and respect for each other brought our relationship to all-time highs. None of this would be possible if she hadn’t beat the odds for almost 10 years now. I will always idolize her perseverance, her grit and her faith in God. She is the greatest hero anyone can have and I live through her. She never quit or gave in when she was told she had two months to live, so why should I ever quit or give in when life “gets hard?” Want to talk about a Survivor?  That’s my mom.

    Pet Peeves:  My pet peeves are certain characteristics of people. If you are lazy and also a liar, I won’t like you. In fact, it angers me when people act lazy and try to manipulate everyone around them and ruin everything. Now, those pet peeves are going to be alive and well in the land of Survivor. Good thing I know how to dish it right back. I have been around people like that my whole life and I know how to deal with it. So yeah, my title of Most Dramatic, in the face of a bunch of liars will be, shall we say… interesting.

    3 Words to Describe You:   Ambitious, charismatic and charming.

  • Desiree Afuye

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The Brooklyn-based 21-year-old was a lapsed Survivor fan, and is now ready to charge into Ghost Island with her eyes fearlessly on the prize. Select highlights from Desiree's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: Getting a place and back on my feet after being homeless. Freshman year when school ended, I didn’t have anywhere to go. My parents were in Nigeria and both my brothers were in the U.S. but not much older than me so they couldn’t help. This resulted in me being homeless for 1-2 months.

    Inspiration in Life: Beyoncé. She works so hard and is constantly topping herself. She literally sets the standard for every performer and artist and continues to raise the bar. She had Adele and Kanye West on stage defending her when she didn’t win an award. Who else can do that? She is one of the few super humans to walk this earth.

    Hobbies: Traveling, debating and binging on YouTube videos.

    Pet Peeves: Complaining.

    3 Words to Describe You: Unbreakable, driven and real.  

  • Domenick Abbate

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 38-year-old construction worker from Long Island plans to play like the legendary Tony Vlachos — except he's actually a construction worker. He has a few other players in mind he hopes to channel. Select highlights from Domenick's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: My greatest personal accomplishment came when my first daughter was born in 2008. Before her birth I was very overweight, smoked cigarettes, dabbled quite a bit at the craps table and would most likely be sitting down at the poker table on any given day. I recall a specific moment when my daughter was about a year old and she wanted me to take her outside on the swings.  It was chilly that day so I had to dress warm. While putting on my shoes, I recall panting from being out of breath from the simple act of tying my own shoes. It was at that moment that I knew I had to make a change so that I would be around a long time for her and my other children that were soon to come. In the last seven years, I quit smoking, dropped 65 pounds and even though I can still occasionally be found in a poker room, I have dramatically prioritized where my income goes and where most of my money is spent, which is primarily bills and workout clothes for my wife.

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: I know you are looking for one, but I am going to split this in three. Mostly Cirie, because I think she is masterfully empathetic with other players.  She has an amazing ability to disable people. I hope I can do what she has done in the game. Second is Cochran. He wins in the emotional intelligence category that allows him to morph into whatever he needs to at the time. He also understands the importance of stroking other people’s egos when he needs to. This is something I hope I am capable of doing. And finally Rob Mariano, for the simple fact that we both come from Italian families with a background in construction. But more importantly, he sees the game big picture which is critical and I hope I can maintain.

    Reason for Being on Survivor: Obviously this is the opportunity of a lifetime to play this game, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a forced break from real life. And I don’t mean that I am happy to leave my family or my job, but this game will force me to be away from my life for a set period of time which I hope will open my eyes to what’s important when I get home. Oh yeah, and that money is mine!

    Why You Think You’ll “Survive” Survivor: I grew up in a house with eight siblings. Lack of food, clothes and showers are something I’m accustomed to. This game should be a walk in the park.

  • Kellyn Bechtold

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 31-year-old career counselor, residing in Colorado by way of Indiana, enters Survivor with a catchphrase: "Empathy is my superpower." Select highlights from Kellyn's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:  My ever-evolving career. From being a waitress in Indiana, working at a plant nursery in Florida, to a receptionist at a crematory, and eventually working in career services and business consulting with a dual MBA and Master of Public Health. 

    Inspiration in LifeMy parents. My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. My mom tutors incarcerated women, volunteers on Election Day and contributes to our local community in a loving, selfless way.

    Hobbies: Travel – I love meeting new people in new places, yoga and meditation and gambling. 

    Pet Peeves: Ignorance and unwillingness to try and walk in other people’s shoes and being interrupted by a man.

    3 Words to Describe You: Empathetic, effervescent and excitable. 

  • Morgan Ricke

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 29-year-old marine animal trainer from Florida thinks she can apply her work with killer whales to the killer game of Survivor. Select highlights from Morgan's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: Accomplishing my childhood dream of becoming a killer whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando!

    Inspiration in Life: My parents. They have been married for 32 years and have raised five successful, happy, and healthy children. They have stuck by each other’s side through all the ups and downs over the years and have never given up on one another! 

    Hobbies:  Sleeping, cheering for the South Carolina Gamecocks, and binge watching true crime documentaries.

    Pet Peeves: Feet, cold weather, and a shortage of ketchup.

    3 Words to Describe You: Bubbly, stubborn, and determined. 

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? Lip balm, I’m addicted, a space heater to keep me warm, and a super comfy pair of sweatpants. 

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Kelley Wentworth – she was strategic, strong, sneaky and a fighter. She wasn’t afraid to make big moves. She played her own game and didn’t hide in anyone’s shadow. 

  • Sebastian Noel

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    A fishing guide from Satellite Beach in Florida, the 22-year-old Sebastian is what happens when you gene-splice Ozzy Lusth and Captain Jack Sparrow. Select highlights from Sebastian's CBS bio:

    Inspiration in Life: Bob Marley – that man knew how to live life.  He understood what living meant and inspired people to love the life you live and live the life you love. I smile just thinking about that beautiful human.

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? A waterproof camera - life is an adventure. I’m in love with memories. I really enjoy capturing every twist and turn this beautiful life has to offer. A Hawaiian sling - I am a waterman, so being in the water, hunting for food is where I feel the most at home. True peace for my soul. A big bowl of gummy candy - I am absolutely addicted to candy, especially gummys. I can catch the meat, but I can’t catch the candy.

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Tyson. He knew how to play the game through laughter, creativity, and good times. A true free spirit.

    Reason for Being on Survivor I’ve been waiting my entire life for an opportunity to show the world the many skills I have to offer. I feel like this is my calling. Also, almost everyone I know literally asks me all the time, “Seb, why are you not on Survivor?” I just feel like it’s my time to shine. 

  • Wendell Holland

    Naviti Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    A 33-year-old furniture company owner from Philadelphia, Wendell is the official pre-game winner pick of executive producer and host Jeff Probst. Select highlights from Wendell's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: I left a comfortable job in the legal field to pursue my dreams. 

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: I think I’d play the game like Jeremy Collins because I’ll always keep my heart in the right place, but I’ll still be a serious competitor and threat. 

    Reason for Being on Survivor: I’ve been a big fan for a while, and I’ve always wanted to push myself to the limits and see if I can really survive. Oh yeah, I’m playing for the million bucks, too. That would really help things. 

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor:  I’m good with people and likable. I’m very diplomatic and can connect with people from different walks of life. I’m also not the biggest and strongest looking person, though I can compete with the best of them. That will get me past the first few votes.  Then, my athleticism and skill at puzzles will help me win challenges when it becomes an individual game. Finally, my persuasive skills in front of a jury will win me the million. Boom. 

     

  • The Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The Malolo tribe, wearing orange, includes the following castaways:

    • Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, 41 years old)
    • Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, 26 years old)
    • Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, 22 years old)
    • James Lim (Business Analyst, 24 years old)
    • Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, 23 years old)
    • Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, 29 years old)
    • Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, 24 years old)
    • Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, 18 years old)
    • Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, 26 years old)
    • Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, 34 years old)

  • Brendan Shapiro

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    A 41-year-old husband and father of two, Brendan was almost cast on Survivor during its fourth season — and 15 years later, he's finally getting his shot at the title. Select highlights from Brendan's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: I am not afraid to take risks and make big changes. During the recession, I left a well-paying, but unsatisfying desk job, risking everything I owned to start my own business. After more than a dozen years and at 40 years old, I sold the business to pursue another lifelong interest to become a teacher.

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? A picture of my wife and kids to keep me tethered to reality, a football to throw on the beach, and bacon jerky because it’s delicious and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.   

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Jeremy Collins and Tom Westman because I understand people and know how to unite them behind a common goal. Also, I am pretty athletic for an old guy. 

    Reason for Being on SurvivorTo win.

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor: I’m strong, fast, tough and good with my hands. I can read a room. I know how to make people feel comfortable and secure. My tribe mates will want to keep me around.

  • Donathan Hurley

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 26-year-old caretaker and longtime super fan from Eastern Kentucky is not Jonathan, nor is he Donovan; he's Donathan. Select highlights from Donathan's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: I was a part of a national and state level winning dance team. I danced in the hip-hop routine. I am proud of being openly gay and dancing in front of thousands in this area. My goal is always to try to change the opinions of others when it comes to the LGBTQ community and through dancing, I was able to open the arms of many. There will never be another me when it comes to those years and for that impact, I feel very accomplished. Being the only guy to hold a national championship among the basketball, football and baseball guys – yeah, that felt really nice!

    Inspiration in Life: My hero is my grandmother, Deloris Bentley. Always has been, always will be. My grandmother had seven children between the years of 1960 – 1968, with my mom being the youngest. She raised them all with very limited food, no power until 1975, no bathrooms, only out houses – all while dealing with the day-to-day struggles of having an alcoholic as a husband. Over the years, things got better for her. She raised her children, divorced and re-married (twice), and ended up being very independent-minded, and open-minded! In 2006, she had a brain aneurism. She flew out to have emergency surgery and you know what saved her that time? Her blood was so thick from smoking three packs a day for so many years, that the aneurism was sealed shut. After her surgery, she was up the next morning eating on some ice. Now if that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is! She has always been the glue in our family. She is such a hero in my eyes because of all the sacrifices, determination and selflessness she has expressed and shown all her life!  Many people are probably picking celebrities and all that jazz, but my little ‘ole Maw Maw is my hero.

    Hobbies: Discovering new music on Spotify, vinyl record collecting, binge watching SURVIVOR on CBS All Access and photography of nature and portraits.

    Pet Peeves: People who think they know it all, people who are disrespectful toward others for no reason, people who judge the book by its cover (people have treated me that way my entire life), people that say “literally” without it being literal, people who aren’t straight forward when they need to be and finally, getting my name wrong. It is D-o-n-a-t-h-a-n, not Jonathan or Donovan.

  • Jacob Derwin

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 22-year-old Survivor blogger turned player, hailing from Long Island, is also an aspiring singer-songwriter. Select highlights from Jacob's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame: Nothing feels better than hearing your own music for the millionth time and still enjoy it. And even better, when other people hear your music for the first time and it makes them cry. You can’t fake those kinds of responses. It’s the best.  Cheesy? Maybe. True? You bet, man.

    Inspiration in Life: I have a few but I suppose Robin Williams is the most well-known one. When I was a little kid, The Genie from “Aladdin” was my entire sense of humor. That wild, a-hundred-jokes-a-minute pacing, all the voices and wackiness completely dazzled me. As I got older, I got to appreciate all his other amazing roles and unabashedly nutty stand-up routines. I’m often told I’m too loud. I blame that entirely on Robin Williams.

    Hobbies: Songwriting and performing those songs, telling stories - be that on stage or just to friends - and cooking with my mom. Shut up, it makes me happy. Also, I listen to a ton of podcasts, attend as many concerts as I possibly can, and spend a great deal of time panicking over current political events.

    Reason for Being on SurvivorI’ve been dreaming of doing this for well over a decade. At this point, above all else, it’s to prove I can do what I’ve been saying I could do since I was a kid: win Survivor. Part pride, part sticking it to the kids who tortured me growing up. It’s a “what have you accomplished?” kind of thing. I promise I’m not usually so vengeful!

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor:  This sounds stupid, but I’m really easy to talk to. I want to set up my situation so everyone knows they can come to me to chat and get support despite any problems they’re having personally or socially in the game. I’m a teddy bear, y’know? On top of that, I’m not a weakling. I can haul firewood and follow instructions when it comes to building shelters. I know how to make fire and untie knots and all that.

  • James Lim

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 24-year-old financial analyst is an Ivy League track star whose IQ is so high, according to Probst, that "it's a squiggle!" Select highlights from James' CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:I am a U.S. Presidential Scholar selected by President Obama’s commission, and interned for his White House administration. In college, I was a walk-on sprinter for Harvard Track and Field and, as a senior, was elected team captain by my teammates, becoming the first Asian American captain in program history.

    Inspiration in Life: My grandfather came from a rural village in Korea, survived the Korean War, put himself through the best college in the country, and eventually became a successful businessman.  He came from nothing to overcome tremendous odds and so much adversity and always exemplified love for family along the way. He passed away a couple of years ago but remains an inspiration in everything I do.

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Yul Kwon. Our backgrounds are uncannily similar as Korean American management consultants, and I plan to follow his example in being cool, calm, and collected throughout the game. Yul’s Survivor journey contributed greatly to the positive representation of Asian Americans on TV, and I hope to do the same. 

    Reason for Being on SurvivorSurvivor is an adventure like no other. Everything it presents—the wilderness, the challenges, the fellow castaways from all cross-sections of America—will be a chance for me to break out of the bubble I’ve been a part of for most of my life and push myself physically, emotionally, and mentally like never before. I’ll embrace the challenge and have fun along the way.

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor: There is no magic formula to winning Survivor. However, there are qualities that will help players get far. I believe I have most of them—I am team-oriented, athletic, outgoing, and tenacious. I will focus on being a helpful, likable asset to those around me, and on the down low strategically pave my path to the very end.

  • Jenna Bowman

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    Originally from Michigan and now living in California, the 23-year-old advertising account executive feels she can come across as unfriendly, but insists she's "secretly a softy." Select highlights from Jenna's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:  I think I feel the most accomplished when I make someone’s day. It’s important to maintain relationships with family and friends by going above and beyond for them. When you see someone cry happy tears from what you did, it’s extremely rewarding. I think it’s important to not only maintain healthy relationships with friends and family but also to make a difference in a total stranger’s life. I don’t care what type of person you are, seeing someone better off because of something you did changes you for the better. Pay it forward people - even the smallest gesture can make a large impact!

    Inspiration in Life: My hero is Shailene Woodley because she uses her platform to make a difference. Her participation in Standing Rock protests is inspiring. I’d say my daily hopes and dreams are inspired by all of the unique creatures, cultures and nature that surrounds us on this planet.

    Reason for Being on Survivor Because why the hell not? Literally can’t think of a single reason why anyone would say no to an experience of a lifetime. Life is too short to not say YES.  

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor:  I have been able to manifest anything and everything I’ve ever wanted in my life - it’s pretty cool. Not to brag, but I say I want something and I always get it. So hopefully by saying “I’ll Survive,” I will win or at least come out of the experience with nothing but a profound appreciation of what I just accomplished. 

  • Laurel Johnson

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    Twenty-nine years old and originally hailing from Philadelphia, this division one athlete and 'Survivor' super fan was almost originally cast on season 33, Millennials vs. Gen X. Select highlights from Laurel's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:  My college volleyball team winning our division championship. It’s one thing to compete at the highest level, but it’s another to win and be the best at it. 

    Inspiration in Life: My parents - for their dedication, support, and all the values they instilled in me.

    Hobbies: Watching Survivor, playing beach volleyball and the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.

    Pet Peeves: Incompetence, indecisiveness and open-mouth chewers.

    3 Words to Describe You: Driven, focused and calculated. 

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor:  I’m a triple threat to win this game - I’m a former college athlete, an Ivy League graduate, and I know the game better than anyone else out there. I’m a superfan who knows better than to let the game pass me by and I will always fight for every single inch. 

  • Libby Vincek

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 24-year-old Texan only started watching Survivor once she was in the casting mix, but she swears by her rigorous research process. Select highlights from Libby's CBS bio:

    Inspiration in Life: Elisabeth Filarski-Hasselbeck. I began to look up to Elisabeth when I first saw her on SURVIVOR when I was 9 years old. Even at a young age, I looked up to her not only because of her outer beauty, but her noticeably beautiful heart and work ethic. I continued to follow her in all aspects of life, from standing up for her beliefs to working with people who stand on her same side. I am a strong believer in my faith and when it comes to politics, let’s just say I’m a true southern girl. She is a badass blonde, but shows that her faith and family come first. To be able to balance all of that like she does makes her a hero and a mentor to me.

    Hobbies: Working out (boxing, running, weights), traveling and cooking.

    Pet Peeves: When people don’t put away simple belongings, loud chewing and slow walkers.

    3 Words to Describe You: Adventurous, strong and outgoing.

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? My Bible – because my faith is everything, a baseball hat and a huge bag of my family’s smokehouse Turkey Jerky. 

  • Michael Yerger

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The Los Angeles based model and real estate agent is the youngest player of the season at 18 — but he doesn't plan on letting anyone in on the truth. Select highlights from Michael's CBS bio:

    Pet Peeves:  Incompetent drivers, negativity and rain/cold. 

    3 Words to Describe You:  Energetic, slick and resilient.

    If You Could Have 3 Things on the Island What Would They Be and Why? Hot sauce, boomerang, skittles.

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: Malcolm Freberg — I’d be inwardly strategic and aggressive but outwardly friendly and easy-going.

    Reason for Being on Survivor: To become the youngest sole survivor ever. 

    Why You Think You’ll "Survive" Survivor:  Because I’m a people person. I’ve always preferred to spend my time around others over being alone. I feel as though I can relate to those of all ages from all walks of life in some way in order to form common ground.

  • Stephanie Gonzalez

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The 26-year-old hailing from Floriday by way of Puerto Rico is not only one of two Stephanies in the game, but is also one of two Stephanies on her tribe. Select highlights from Stephanie Gonzalez' CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:  I was promoted to Senior Surgery Technician after only one year of long hours and sleepless nights of on call emergency surgeries.  Meanwhile I was taking care of 14 foaling babies (horses) at home in exchange for rent. 

    Inspiration in Life: Not to be the cliché but my mother, reasons being I would not be here if she decided to abort (which was highly recommended by her doctors due to health issues when pregnant with me), Thanks for rebelling Mom! I am grateful for the woman she is and instilling in me the fighter I’ve become.  She recently overcame skin cancer with a smile on her face. She’s had to work hard and reconstruct her life after some health issues and losing close family members. She is a genuinely kind, graceful woman with fire in her heart. She works with handicapped children which has been a dream of hers. She reminds me I have a bigger purpose in life. I’ve always really appreciated her strong support in my way of thinking and encouraged me to keep being an extraordinary human being. In other words having a strong personality and being weird is cool in her book. That normal is boring and with that, normal woman rarely go down in history. To always do everything in life wholeheartedly. It’s an “all or nothing” kind of life in my mom’s eyes. I couldn’t agree more with that woman.  

    Reason for Being on Survivor One million dollars is a huge motivating factor for me. The bragging right of forever being a Legendary Sole Survivor and being 1 of 16 women to win will be nothing short of amazing, but a million dollars is life changing!  It would give me the freedom to be able to have a home and not continue to move from crappy apartment to crappy apartment. It would allow me to pursue investing and financial growth which I can turn into my lifelong goal of living a philanthropic life.

    Why You Think You’ll “Survive” Survivor: Because of my hell-bent determination and strong will to win. I put my heart into everything I do. I wanted to go to school, so I worked three jobs to pay for it, along with 1,000 hours of internships to graduate. In business I wanted to help my brother, and we grew the business from one store to three stores. I know in my heart that I can win. I welcome all challenges with open arms and can read people really well.  Socially it’ll be fun to test waters on how diverse I can be in order to really connect with people. After all, I have to cater to peoples’ personalities so they’ll feel comfortable doing what I need. Once my heart is set I will stop at nothing until I’ve achieved my goal even through blood, sweat, and tears. I’ve studied Survivor well enough to understand how to manipulate the numbers, play idols how they should be played and hustle the social game. I will go into this with focus, agility, and perseverance.

  • Stephanie Johnson

    Malolo Tribe

    Courtesy of CBS

    The second Stephanie of the season is a yoga instructor, a travel writer, a single mother of two, and a longtime fan of Survivor with no designs on pulling any punches. Select highlights from Stephanie Johnson's CBS bio:

    Personal Claim to Fame:  Ironman. I’m most proud of not just the finish line at the event but the dedication to the training as a working single mom that went behind it. It made me a better human and changed my kids and my life. My racing is always a family affair and I couldn’t do it without my two little cheerleaders.  Also, I’ve done a lot of solo traveling.  I’ve been to 24 countries and six continents. Backpacking and trekking solo is a massive passion of mine and feeds my wanderlust soul. It is adventurous and crazy at times but it’s shaped me more than anything else in life. 

    Inspiration in Life: Bob Scott. 87 years old. He is my angel.  I met him the week of my divorce and two weeks after his wife passed away. I like to think his angel wife brought us together. He taught me to swim shortly after we met because he wanted me to be a “happy and fit mom” for my boys. He helped me learn to ride a triathlon bike. He introduced me to the world of triathlon, which changed my world. He competed alongside me at my first half Ironman and full Ironman and still competes to this day.  Bob taught me the sport is about fun, fitness, and friends and that to do this for life and be just like him, I had to keep this mentality. We still train together each week as well as compete alongside each other.

    Survivor Contestant You Are Most Like: A combo of Parvati for her heart and inner strength, Tyson for his sarcasm, Ozzy for his love of adventure, Courtney for her sass and Mama C for being a strong and fierce mom.

    Why You Think You’ll “Survive” Survivor: Because every day for the past 10 years, I have looked at a sticker on my mirror – “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay. Survivor.” I never once have stopped believing that this dream would come true. I can have all the strategy in the world and I will! But if I have learned anything from watching the show, participating in endurance events, raising children, working in a fast paced finance position, studying in an ashram, being an entrepreneur or all my other adventures is that nothing turns out like you expect. I am really good at adapting to circumstances, to people and to unlikely situations. Plan A quickly becomes Plan C and it doesn’t shake me up. I can endure pain both mental and physical with a smile on my face. Adaptation. A sense of humor. Dreaming Big. That embodies who I am and why I will win!

  • Jeff Probst

    Host, Executive Producer and Showrunner

    Courtesy of CBS

    "Massively important," Probst tells THR about the cast, when asked how important it was to fill the season with as many fans of the show as possible. "It was really the only criteria, that they had to be super fans, or they have a really good knowledge of the game. They don't have to be super fans. But that was fun. It's who I prefer. I prefer people who know how to play Survivor. I'm not one of the people who thinks it's interesting to have somebody who doesn't get the game. It does makes for interesting gameplay, so sometimes we'll do that, but personally, I would rather play with players every season. That would be my choice."

    For more from Probst and more about Ghost Island, read our extensive preview piece telling you everything you need to know about the next season of the show.

    What are your thoughts on the Survivor: Ghost Island cast? Let us know in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor all season long for continuing coverage.

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