Reality show hopefuls convene at casino to convince they can "outwit, outplay, outlast"
Mohegan — Hundreds of prospective "Survivor" contestants on Wednesday flocked to a tribal casino in the hopes of someday attending a tribal council. They would then hope to avoid the snuffing of their torch — and snuffing of their dreams — upon hearing the fateful words "The tribe has spoken."
They got audition advice from six contestants who collectively have been eliminated 11 times on the reality TV show.
Cirie Fields, a fan favorite and four-time contestant, offered the wisdom, "Speak to the camera as if you're speaking to your best girlfriend, boyfriend, mom, dad (or) brother after a whole bottle of wine."
On Wednesday afternoon, CBS affiliate WFSB hosted a casting call at Mohegan Sun for "Survivor," the 17-year-old show now in its 35th season. On the series, contestants spend up to 39 days in an isolated location — usually a tropical island — competing in physical and mental challenges for the title of "Sole Survivor" and $1 million.
The audition involved making a pitch to one of three video cameras set up at The Shops at Mohegan Sun.
One person auditioning was Jared Fields, the 19-year-old son of Cirie Fields and a resident of Norwalk.
He "told them about (how) I think it's in my blood to be a Survivor auditonee" and that he wants to "avenge my mother's game," Jared Fields recounted to The Day afterward.
Would he want to be on the show with her at the same time? No, because they're so close that he would hate to have to vote her off, or the other way around.
But he added, "Spoiler: If she wins, I win."
Wednesday was the fourth time that Heather Glazewski, a grad school student from West Hartford, auditioned for "Survivor" at Mohegan Sun.
"I love the strategy," she said of the show. "I watch it like people watch sports events. I yell at the TV like, 'Why would you do that?'"
Glazewski, 28, aspires to be "cunning" like Parvati Shallow, who placed sixth, first and second, respectively, in three "Survivor" seasons.
While some hopefuls have seen every episode, Dion Maffucci doesn't even watch the show. He decided to audition at the urging of his father, who he thinks is usually right.
"My dad told me that my personality and look would do very well on the show," said Maffucci, who was sporting a fedora atop his dreadlocked hair, and a multicolored sweater. He added of his personality, "I'm not reserved. If someone doesn't like me, I don't care, because there's five other people that do."
Maffucci feels he would flourish in the tropical setting of the show, describing himself as "just a crazy wild jungle boy anyway." The 28-year-old has lived in Guam and now resides in Hawaii. He came to Mohegan Sun from Maine, where he has recently been doing welding on submarines for the Navy.
An hour into the auditions was a Q&A with six former "Survivor" contestants: Cirie Fields, Joe Anglim, Joe Mena, Carolyn Rivera, Sierra Dawn Thomas and Rodney Lavoie.
Mena, from Tolland, participated in the season that is currently airing, titled "Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers." He was the 11th person voted off the island out of 18 contestants.
Greg Thomas, creative services director at WFSB, said the station started holding "Survivor" casting calls at Mohegan Sun in 2008 or 2009 and is allowed to hold one per year.
Thomas said 468 people auditioned on Wednesday; this includes both those who get in line hours ahead of time and those who just happen by the casting call.
"Survivor" aspirants can also apply by sending in a video. According to the casting website, applications are now open for season 37 and 38, which will be taped between March and July of 2018. Season 36 will premiere on Feb. 28.
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