9:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Desiree Afuye
Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR's Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show's shooting location on Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 20 new castaways battling it out for the million-dollar prize.
Click here to make sure you're all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series "First One Out: Ghost Zero," an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season, and Wigler's exclusive overnight stay on Ghost Island.
Desiree Afuye, a 21-year-old student living in Brooklyn, New York, describes herself as a lapsed Survivor fan. After finding herself in the casting mix for Ghost Island, she immediately set off to catch up on the show, and started kicking herself for spending so much time away from the program in the first place. Now, she's up to speed and ready for action. The gloves are off, as Desiree makes plainly clear in our interview.
"Desiree is a definite threat to win the game," executive producer and host Jeff Probst tells THR. "I don't think I appreciated that as much in casting as some other people did, but the more I talked to her, the more I realized it. She's super young but does not come across that way. She's super bright but you might not guess it. She's athletically gifted, which you might know from looking at her. But those are some very great skills, and she's playing with a lot of people in her age range that she could do really well with. She would be a delightful winner. I think people are going to like her."
Hear more from Desiree and the other players in our preseason podcast series First One Out: Ghost Zero, and read on for highlights from our interview.
Desiree's first day in the game, if everything goes perfectly:
"If the day goes perfect, everybody is all smiles. The shelter gets built right away. I'm not playing any games. I don't want to be stuck in the rain. The shelter gets built. We also find some food. We have food for a few days. That would be cool! That would be a good Survivor life for me. A good house and good food."
Desiree's plan if she finds an immunity idol:
"I'm going to be looking. I'm going to be searching. I'm going to be high and low, OK? I'm going to get my hands on this idol, not only to play it for me, but I also think I could use it strategically to play it on someone else and get them to trust me. If I play an idol on someone else, they will really trust me — and then I've got a friend. Friends are good. I need a friend, because I need a vote. I need that."
How Desiree views the art of the blindside:
"I'm so excited to get into the scheming. It's so fascinating to me. You have to be smart. You have to think two steps ahead. I really love that. I'm ready to dive into that and get my hands dirty. I'm ready."
That's Desiree in her own words. But what do the other castaways think about her? Over the course of our interviews out on Fiji, the Ghost Island castmembers were presented with pictures of their competitors, and asked to establish their preseason thoughts. With that said, here's what they think about Desiree.
Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "I think she's cool, man. In my notes, I call her Amber Rose, because she has the low blond haircut. She's cool."
Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): "She has really cool outfits. I love her wardrobe. She's very intense-looking, though. I think I would probably align with her, because competitionwise, she would be good for me."
Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): "She seems cool. She seems very laid-back. Maybe she's not studying people as much as she should. I want to surround myself with people who are hyperaware. My theory is if you get the smart people, you say, 'Let's not go after each other on day seven. Let's go after each other on day 33. Let's take it almost all the way to the end, and then let's do battle.' You don't want everyone to be super hyperaware and seem like they're bright. But she looks cool. She looks like someone you could stand to be on a beach with for a period of time."
Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "I like her a lot. We sat next to each other on the plane, actually. I looked over at one point and she was listening to the new Solange record, and I was like, 'I was supposed to see her this summer before I came out here!' Her look reminds me of some of the people I worked with at a college radio station. She seems sweet, too. I feel like she has this 'bad bitch' thing going on, but I see her talking to the handlers and she has this sweet, lovely, wonderful energy coming off of her."
Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): "I like her! I hope we can work together. I feel like we're vibing a little bit. She gives me smiles when we walk by."
James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): "She has a cool swimsuit that has both straps on one shoulder. At first I thought she was wearing it the wrong way, but she's wearing it the right way! She seems very composed. She probably works in a professional capacity — probably a white-collar job. She seems to have her shit together, which would be a good thing, because it means less drama and controversy and less panicking. Today and yesterday, she's opening up a bit more, but at the beginning she seemed to have a wall up and was in her own world."
Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): "She's kept very much to herself. We've all had to keep to ourselves, but I don't see her interacting much with the staff at Ponderosa. I wonder if she's introverted and could use a friend."
Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): "She's quiet. Once again, she's very observant. I think she's probably slow to warm up. She's just now starting to smile and give nonverbal cues. She's definitely a slow to roll type of person."
Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "She's one of those ones I told you about, where I've had a hard time getting her to smile or even look back at me. That concerns me a little bit. It makes me think she's made her mind about me one way or the other. Once we can start talking, I'll do my best to bring her in."
Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "I haven't gotten a good read on her yet. She's very independent and keeps to herself. I have to talk to her to figure out what her story is."
Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): "To be honest, I haven't gotten a good feeling from her. Maybe it's just that she doesn't want anything to do with me, but she seems a little bitchy, to be honest."
Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): "She's so quiet. She's hard to read. She's not very engaging. I don't know if it's that she's more introverted or she's bitchy. I'm not really sure yet. I don't have a good read on her because she doesn't engage."
Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): "I'm having a little tough time with her. She's not giving me anything. I'm trying, and nothing. Head's always down. I don't know. When they don't have any movement at all? To me, it's either an arrogance or it's fear. With her, I think it's more fear."
Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): "She's another one that seems like she's quiet, which could be completely wrong. She's always off by herself, doing her own thing. You never know, though. Once you meet people, it can be a whole new ballgame."
Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): "She is easily intimidated. I tried to make a little eye connection with her. I've been smiling at her a lot. She didn't really give much until a couple of days in, and then she started smiling with me. I did something where I dropped something — I don't really remember — and she kind of giggled. I think she's going to be one of those people who are outcast at first, but that's a vote and number my way that I can take under my wing."
Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): "I don't know what to think about her yet. She's a free spirit among free spirits. She's definitely got an artistic vibe to her, which is good for me! I'm artistic, too, and my mom's an artist. She teaches yoga. Art is very big in our family. I could definitely work with her."
Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "I love her. I love diversity. I'm not around any African-Americans or anything like that [at home], so I definitely would love to get to know her. I want to broaden my horizons."
Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): "She's really intriguing to me. I think she might be from New York. There might be an island culture to her as well, whether that's Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica. I grew up in the Florida Keys and with me living in New York now, I think there might be a connection. Part of me even feels she could be in the fashion industry. With me being a model, I could even relate with her on that. The only thing is, because she's from New York… the thing I know about New Yorkers is they will fuck you the minute they can. I will approach with caution, maybe use her for the time being, but I'll definitely know to watch out for a blindside from her."
Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): "I feel like she might be somebody who is going to surprise us. She's very focused. She doesn't care about anyone else around her right now. I think she's getting into the game. If I had to make a big move, it would be something where I would surprisingly align with her, because it would be so unexpected. We already seem so opposite."
Keep up with all of our preseason interviews:
• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland
What's your read on Desiree? Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more interviews with the Survivor: Ghost Island cast.