There’s nothing more relaxing than a weeks-long, tropical island getaway—unless you have to scrounge for food and shelter, of course. “Survivor” contestants have been jetting off to remote locations since 2000, and while the surroundings are typically gorgeous, their living conditions are less so. Do you have what it takes to, well, survive?
In this guide, you’ll learn what it takes to become a castaway on the reality competition series. From understanding the casting process to creating an exceptional application video, here are all the tools you need to outshine the competition.
- What is “Survivor” about?
- Who is in the cast of “Survivor”?
- Who is the casting director for “Survivor”?
- How does the casting process work for “Survivor”?
- Where is “Survivor” filmed?
- How to find “Survivor” casting calls and auditions
- The best tips for landing a spot on “Survivor”
- When does filming for “Survivor” Season 47 start?
Each season, “Survivor” maroons 16-20 contestants in a remote location, separated into two or three tribes. Contestants must form alliances and work to “survive” challenges presented along the way. Reward Challenges force contestants to compete against one another for items that make the experience more bearable, like food and shelter, while Immunity Challenges provide opportunities to avoid elimination that week. Those who are not immune must endure Tribal Council, a ritual that puts each contestant’s fate in the hands of their fellow players. Each person anonymously submits a vote for the person they want to see go home, with the majority’s choice being “voted off the island.” The evicted contestant sees their torch snuffed out, as host and showrunner Jeff Probst recites his signature line, “The tribe has spoken.” The remaining players return to camp, continuing on their journey to become the Sole Survivor.
Season 45 debuts on CBS on Sept. 27 with 17 new castaways—and one returning contestant—ready to conquer the elements (alongside Probst, of course):
- Austin Li Coon, 26, grad student
- Dee Valladares, 26, entrepreneur
- Brandon Donlon, 26, content producer
- Emily Flippen, 28, investment analyst
- Brandon “Brando” Meyer, 23, software developer
- Hannah Rose, 33, therapist
- Bruce Perreault, 47, insurance agent
- Janani “J” Krishnan-Jha, 24, singer
- Drew Basile, 23, grad student
- Julie Alley, 49, estate attorney
- Jake O’Kane, 26, attorney
- Katurah Topps, 35, civil rights attorney
- Kaleb Gebrewold, 29, software sales rep
- Kellie Nalbandian, 30, critical care nurse
- Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup, 30, gym owner
- Kendra McQuarrie, 31, bartender
- Sean Edwards, 35, school principal
- Sabiyah Broderick, 28, truck driver
Fans will recall that Perreault only “survived” for 12 hours of Season 44 before suffering a concussion in the first challenge. During an episode of “On Fire with Jeff Probst: The Official Survivor Podcast” the host presented Perreault with an open invite to join a future season—and he’s taking Probst up on it for Season 45!
Jesse Tannenbaum is the primary casting director for “Survivor.” Tannenbaum took over the position from Lynne Spiegel Spillman, who cast the show from 2001 to 2019.
If you want to impress Tannenbaum’s team, create an audition video that highlights your unique qualities. According to the CD, many applicants submit TikTok videos or 15-second clips that simply do not resonate. “If you’re going to take the effort to fill out this application, do it right,” Tannenbaum encouraged. “We want to get to know who you are. We want to hear about your life. We want to see your facial expressions when you tell a story. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for authenticity. We’re looking to find people that we will basically become emotionally invested in.”
Jodi Wincheski, who competed on CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” first joined the “Survivor” casting team under Spillman. Now, with Tannenbaum at the helm, Wincheski told Reality Blurred the process has “changed a lot over the years,” specifying “we only do fans now; we don’t really recruit.”
“Survivor” hopefuls must apply online or through the show’s open casting calls. From there, the CDs contact people they like, and help their favorites “develop a great pitch video.”
“We pitch them to our team first. Each casting producer picks their best people and pitches them at a pitch meeting, which means that the entire team watches your people’s videos,” Wincheski said. “We all vote, so everybody has to agree: ‘Yeah, they’re great. Let’s put them through.’ ”
Tannenbaum, of course, makes the final decision on who will be screened via Zoom by Probst and executive producer Matt Van Wagenen. Ultimately, Wincheski noted, “they really just want people who really know the show and are going to be good strategists…[rather] than finding somebody and then having them cram and become a fan.”
“I think [Survivor has] just gone more strategic, and they just want people that can be strategic and know how to play.” she added. “We just scour through and try to get more and more people to apply, and really try to be out there to get people that are fans to apply. It’s just better television when you have people that really know the show.”
In the beginning, “Survivor” filmed all across the globe, with seasons set in far flung locations from Malaysia to Guatemala to Australia to Samoa. But since Season 33, the show has filmed in Mamanuca Islands, Fiji, with host Jeff Probst telling Entertainment Weekly he hopes the show sets up shop there “forever.”
“Fiji offers us everything that we want,” he shared. “Incredibly beautiful water that you can see down 30 feet, beaches that are amazing, a government that is working with us, local labor that loves to say ‘Bula!' every day because they're just happy you're here. And our crew has never been as happy. We actually have decent accommodations to do this show out in the jungle. It's a win-win-win.”
For all things casting, you will want to start with the series’ website, where you can begin your application or seek out upcoming open casting calls. The How To Apply tab will guide you through every step of the process. This tutorial from Tannenbaum provides tips on how to create a video that shines:
Make sure you check out the Frequently Asked Questions section to ensure you meet the show’s eligibility requirements.
As the “Survivor” casting website says, the powers that be simply want hopefuls to be themselves—and Probst couldn’t agree more.
“Our only intention is to get to know who they really are,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly. “It's one of the things I try to stress to people who are applying to be on ‘Survivor.’ You don't have to be anything other than who you are. It sounds so simple but it's the absolute truth. You do not need an emotional underdog story, you do not need to be the funniest person in the room, you don't need to have a college degree, you don't need to be anything other than you.”
He added, “Putting on a front doesn't work anyway, as our process is designed to sniff out anyone who isn't being authentic.”
Similarly, Tannenbaum advises “Survivor” hopefuls: “Do not make a script. No scripts whatsoever.”
“You don’t want to memorize what you’re going to say [because] you’re going to sound like a robot. Once again, I’m going to say this word over and over again: authenticity is what we look for,” he continued. “You want to just kind of be yourself. Be unfiltered. Be uncensored. Unapologetically yourself. If you curse, you curse. It’s OK. This is not a boardroom meeting. This is not a job interview. I need to see what you look like behind closed doors when you’re with your best friend, or your husband, or your wife, or you’re just having fun and laughing and telling a story, because that’s what we look for, as well—great storytellers.”
Malcolm Freberg, who competed on three iterations of the series, explained to Insider, “It's not about what you're saying at all. It's about how you're saying it.” And Andrea Boehlke, another three-timer, told applicants to portray “a heightened version of yourself and definitely lean into your personality, your quirks, and what makes you unique.”
Stephen Fishbach, a two-time “Survivor” alum, even created his own tip sheet, which specifically emphasizes the importance of storytelling. “If you can tell a great story about how the different aspects of your life perfectly translate to making you a great ‘Survivor’ contestant, that’s awesome. That also shows that you know the game,” he wrote.
“That doesn’t mean lie about who you are,” he added. “Try to show the casting team that you’re full of boundless energy, and therefore will be an awesome screen presence and a joy to watch. Be a badass.”
Season 45 debuts on Sept. 27 and Season 46 already wrapped production, with a projected premiere date of February or March 2024. Meanwhile, Season 47 is currently casting, with filming set to commence between May and July 2024.