Survivor has been one of the most popular TV reality shows for years. Millions of people have dreamt of being a contestant on the competitive series with only a select number of people being chosen each season. One of those who did try out and make the cut, is Zeke Smith. Twenty-year old Zeke lives in Brooklyn, NY and his experience being on Survivor wasn’t all he thought it would be in the end when it was revealed during one tribal council ceremony that he is transgender. Zeke played the game in back-to-back episodes, and as hard as the game was, and one of his biggest challenges of his life, it wasn’t until one of his cast mates revealed that he was transgender that he realized how easy of a challenge the game was in comparison to having to face his tribe and the public about his real life challenge – his struggles with his identity. Keep reading to learn more about Zeke Smith. Here are 10 things you didn’t know.
1. Pet peeves
Like everyone, Zeke has some pet peeves and he’s revealed what gets under his skin. Zeke gets annoyed with people who chew with their mouth open. He also has a pet peeve against people who aren’t coordinated in their dress; primarily people who wear black shoes with brown belts. Kids who don’t listen to their mothers and sniffling also annoy him – pretty average pet peeves, he thinks.
2. He’s a millennial….or is he?
Yes, Zeke is one of the millennials we’ve been hearing about, however, according to him, he does not really think of himself as a millennial. He claims to be just an old soul and has never even given the term much thought, he just prefers to have old-school thinking and ways about the world and our country.
3. Great debater
Zeke was on the debate team in high school and did so well that his senior year he was awarded for being one of the top 16 debaters. Apparently that was one of his highlights of his life because although he was given a plaque for his accomplishments, he claims things had been downhill since then.
4. Hollywood idol
Once during an interview, Smith was asked who he looked up to; who was his inspiration? Interestingly enough, his reply was Joan Rivers. She is who he said he admires, but why? Apparently it’s simply because she made Helen Keller jokes up into her 80’s.
5. Why did he want to be on Survivor?
Smith claims he had always wanted to be on the show, since day one the show aired and he watched the life-changing experience happen to 20 contestants. He says that he had always dreamt of being on a secluded beach and running around in his unwashed underwear, as well as he also dreamt of Jeff Probst awarding him with the $1 Million dollar reward for all of his manipulative and scheming ways. Although his hopes were high, Smith was voted off on the 33rd day, and did return for the following season.
6. What was his strategy to win?
He claimed he could get along with anyone, that people fascinated him and he would rather try to find out more about them and their differences, as opposed to being judgmental for them. He had hoped to use his people skills to carry him through to the end of the game, but his tactics only got him so far before he was voted off.
7. Revealing he was transgender changed his life
Smith had planned to keep his transgender secret to himself and not let it out of the bag during his appearances on the show. Unfortunately that didn’t happen when it was revealed he was transgender by another cast mate and he had to come clean. This didn’t affect his fellow cast mates, however, and instead, they were accepting of his newly revealed identity. He even had another team player reveal his identity to him while on the show, which he feels good that he could make a difference in someone else’s life.
8. Went to Harvard
Smith was recruited to Harvard. He did go but he did not debate there. While there he studied religion and focused on Biblical interpretation. After school he tried to decide what he wanted to do with his schooling and after considerable thought, he bypassed the religious route and got into finance where he is still working today.
9. Is trained in, and loves improv
Smith loves comedy and is trained in both stand-up and improv. He loves improv because it makes you have to think on your feet. He says that improv makes it possible to give convincing and spontaneous answers to questions anybody may bring up. He was relying on his comedy training to help him through Survivor, saying that his ability to be funny would help him. After all, people respond better to something that’s funny, as opposed to something that is sad.
10. Did a different kind of body transformation to prepare for Survivor
Before Smith went on the show, he knew he had to get into better physical shape if he wanted to have at type of chance of getting through the physical challenges and surviving any time on the island, so he went on a weight loss plan. He worked out to get stronger; dropped 30 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle. He said he was in wicked good shape the show but still did not anticipate he would do terrific in the challenges. Although he said he didn’t think he would suck either.