She even quit her career of almost 10 years!
A brand new season of Survivor is kicking off, and you can watch Toronto local Erika Casupanan compete for the prize.
Premiering September 22, the 41st season is described as the "most dangerous" in the reality show's history. Eighteen contestants are marooned on an island in Fiji and must use their mental and physical strength to overcome challenges and be dubbed the Sole Survivor.
With a million dollar prize hanging overhead, the stakes are high, but going in, Casupanan says she trusted that she had "enough going for [her] to be successful on the show."
She filled Narcity in on what inspired her to join Survivor and how she prepared for it.
What was the audition process like?
Casupanan first started watching Survivor after the death of her grandfather, and says it became an escape for her.
"Through watching the show and seeing all of these people overcome all of these crazy circumstances, I got a lot of strength [...] and I was always so inspired," the 32-year-old explained.
"I decided that I had the chance to learn more about myself, and I think that I have a really stronger and renewed sense of self coming back."
"I set up a camera in my apartment. I explained why I thought I would be good on the show, and I ended up getting a callback and going through the casting process."
How did you prepare for the show?
The show was supposed to be filmed during 2020, but was postponed. Leading up to the original film date, Casupanan says she was "rigid" about how she would prepare.
"I was doing swimming lessons, I was going weightlifting I was going to another gym for my cardio, I was listening to podcasts about game theory, I was rewatching all these seasons of survivor [...], only to find out a few days before that [...] things needed to be delayed."
"Because of COVID, I learned a lot more about how to deal with things without having total control. And my preparation this time around was like, 'you know what, I don't need to go to like four gyms in one day.'"
"It was more so just trusting in my abilities and trusting in myself that I [...] have enough going for me to be successful on the show."
Before going to Fiji, she even left her PR career of almost 10 years to start with a "clean slate".
"I think it's really easy to get wrapped up in who you think you are based on what you do for work," she says. "I was able to go to Fiji and really figure out like, 'who am I without all of that stuff that doesn't matter?'"
What intimidated you the most about being on the show?
Casupanan considers herself to be in good shape, but at 5 feet tall, she worried that her height might be a setback.
"Being the way that the game normally works, I was really worried about how I would be received by my tribe, being of smaller stature."
"If you lined me up with all the other cast members, it's very clear that I'm the shortest. I knew that I had to figure out what my game plan would be to get through the beginning stages of the game."
Despite her concerns, Casupanan says she has a "stronger and renewed sense of self coming back."
"I'm honestly just a normal person who lives in an apartment in Toronto, and somehow I was able to make it through, and I really encourage other Canadians to do it too."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.