CBS ‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Says This is the Secret to Getting on the Show

It’s hard to believe Survivor has been on television for nearly 20 years — and it’s even harder to imagine Jeff Probst, the beloved host, is still just as excited about the show now as he was when it first began. Survivor is the ultimate reality competition show involving contestants fighting to outlast their opponents by not being voted off the island. They also have to win the favor of the voted-out castaways, too, as the losers are the ones who ultimately decide who wins the $1 million prize. It’s a concept that never gets old and seemingly continues to thrive over the years as the gameplay gets more complex.

It’s not easy to get on the show, but Survivor hopefuls can either send in an audition tape or go to an open casting call to get noticed. As for what the casting directors (and Jeff Probst) look for, we have the answers here.

Jeff and the casting directors say flashy videos don’t matter — it’s all about being yourself

Jeff Probst extinguishes Reem Daly's torch at Tribal Council
Jeff Probst extinguishes Reem Daly’s torch at Tribal Council | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

For those looking to make an audition tape for the show, they may worry that they have to have some serious video editing experience to make their video noticeable. Thankfully, Jeff and the casting directors can verify that’s not the case. It sounds obvious, but they want those applying to the show to demonstrate who they really are — and that means no gimmicks or fake portrayals.

Fansided shared a video of Jeff and the directors explaining what they look for in a potential contestant. “When you’re putting your tape together, here’s what we’re looking for,” Jeff starts. “We’re just looking for you to be compelling.” And when the casting directors started talking to the camera about what they specifically want, one director added, “We want authentic, genuine people, no skits, no gimmicks.” Another said, “We just want to know who you are to the core. … Just talk to us and let us know who you are.”

Jeff also looks for a compelling story about why contestants should be on the show

Jeff Probst awards Domenick Abbate and Chelsea Townsend with the Immunity Necklaces
Jeff Probst awards Domenick Abbate and Chelsea Townsend with the Immunity Necklaces | CBS via Getty Images

At the end of the day, Survivor is in the business of making money. And while they want authenticity in the contestants, they also want strong personalities and compelling stories to help lead the character arcs on the show. As Jeff told Global News, “It’s hard to get on Survivor. We’re super picky, we’re looking for really compelling people and interesting stories.”

For fans who are looking to construct a video to send to the casting directors, Jeff also recommends that they add footage of what a normal day in their lives looks like. “Tell us about your life. What’s a day in your life look like and why do you want to do Survivor? Maybe the answer is ‘Because I want to get away from the kids.'” the host added. And of course, for those who apply and don’t get invited to meet with the directors in person, Jeff and the team encourage them to keep trying since every season they’re looking for something a little different.

Don’t ever say others in your life have doubted your ability to win the show

Jeff Probst watches Aubry Bracco and Elisabeth Markham compete
Jeff Probst watches Aubry Bracco and Elisabeth Markham compete | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

For Survivor hopefuls making videos or attending open casting calls, there are a few recommendations as to what not to say, too. The Hollywood Reporter notes casting director Lynne Spillman says you need to have absolute confidence you can win the show. “Don’t be shy or quiet or say that other people tell you that you could never win,” the publication notes Lynne said. Additionally, you shouldn’t talk about your failures in life, either. “People make the mistake all the time of saying they’d be perfect because they just got out of school, and they don’t have a job, or they got laid off, so the timing is perfect,” Lynne said. “And they highlight all the negatives about them or the failures as opposed to showing us why they would be successful at a game that’s socially challenging ….”

Additionally, the casting director noted that those who want to play the game should be able to explain how they already apply the gameplay to their real life. “We need to know that can win and that you won’t quit,” she added. And for anyone who watches Survivor, they know Jeff Probst can’t stand quitters, either.

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