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MET Student a Contestant on CBS Hit Show Survivor

New season premieres tonight on CBS


Lyrsa Torres has watched the CBS megahit reality show Survivor since it first premiered in 2000. Now she’s competing in the new season for a chance at $1 million. The show premieres tonight with a special 90-minute episode.

In Survivor’s prior 36 (yes, 36) seasons, teams of castaways were determined by things like gender, age, and show alumni status, but for this season’s show, titled Survivor: David vs. Goliath, contestants are divided into tribes made up of people coming from privilege (the “Goliaths”) and those who have battled their way through life to prove themselves (the “Davids”).

“I always wanted to be part of this amazing show,” says gastronomy student Torres (MET’19), a member of team David. “I had the David mind-set. It will be fun, and if something happens, it’s great.”

Last September, Torres skipped a planned trip to Italy so she could attend a casting call for the show, but she really didn’t expect to hear back. Two months later though, during a meeting with Mary Beaudry, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of anthropology and archaeology, who teaches in the gastronomy program, Torres got a call with a Los Angeles area code on her cellphone. She let it go to voice mail. It turned out to be someone from the Survivor casting team. After she returned the call, she says, “I ran in and told Mary and we both started jumping up and down.”

Members of Team David have overcome all manner of adversity, and Torres is no exception—she says she was bullied all her life for her small size. “I was really tiny, with buckteeth and a lazy eye,” she says. “Kids were cruel, but my mom was like, ‘Don’t forget you are beautiful, smart, and funny.’” Things improved as she got older, and today her friends rush to defend her if someone picks on her on the Survivor message boards.

To prepare physically, the 4’11’’ Torres (“I’m a tiny nugget,” she says) spent four months kickboxing, sometimes twice a day, and swimming at FitRec to increase her endurance. Born and raised in San Juan, P.R., she admits she is deathly afraid of lizards and frogs. To make her get used to reptiles and be less fearful around them, her girlfriend forced her to go into Petco. On the show, Torres says, “if you show weakness it doesn’t help you. I started showering only a few times a week and sleeping on the floor to get used to sleeping in uncomfortable places.”

She says her understanding of food has definitely been an advantage thus far in the competition. She is especially interested in history, culture, and archaeology and has combined her love of all three to do a deep dive into historical cookbooks, which researchers often use to trace a culture’s relationship to food through certain recipes and to study how tastes change over time.

“The knowledge I have with cooking techniques, knowing which fruits and roots and which fish and crabs are safe, has been great for the game,” Torres says. What’s more, her previous undergrad studies in anthropology helped because she knows how to study people. “People tell me everything, things that really I honestly don’t want to know. I think I can use that info to my advantage.”

If she were to win the $1 million prize, Torres says, she’d use the money to pay off her school loans and help her parents, whose house was destroyed by Hurricane Maria last year.

Show host Jeff Probst identified Torres as one of this season’s contestants to watch in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I think [it is] going to be…a rough ride out of the gate,” he said. “But she’s the kind of person that if she can get in with an alliance, I think she’s going to have a huge audience rooting for her.”

Survivor: David vs. Goliath premieres tonight, Wednesday, September 26, at 8 pm (7  Central) on CBS.

Amy Laskowski, Senior Writer at Boston University Marketing & Communications editorial department
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

One Comment on MET Student a Contestant on CBS Hit Show Survivor

  • Natalie on 09.26.2018 at 9:08 am


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