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Thursday, May 23, 2024

UC Davis alumni to appear in ABC reality show

On June 23, ABC will broadcast the premiere of its new summer series “Expedition Impossible,” which will feature 13 teams of three competing in a race across the Kingdom of Morocco. Each week they will face vast deserts, mountain ranges, and rivers and find shelter in the exotic wilderness, with the prize of $50,000 and a new Ford Explorer for each winning teammate waiting across the finish line.

Among those 13 teams are the “California Girls,” consisting of three UC Davis graduates, Brittany Smith, Natalie Smith and Christina Chin. The Aggie was fortunate enough to sit down with Christina Chin, 24, to hear about her experience and get a preview of what to expect from the show before it airs later this month.

How does it feel to be on national TV representing UC Davis?

It’s so funny, because I watch “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor” and would never be on that show in a million years, but there’s nothing cooler to me than to be watching “The Bachelorette” and see previews for [“Expedition Impossible”]. That’s pretty baller, to see a show you love to watch, and then a commercial for your show. I’m so proud to represent Davis, because it’s one of those UCs where I was really proud to go to, but I know a lot of people give us a hard time for, say, not becoming Division 1 until recently. I like the idea of raising the profile of Davis, and that’s why I’m so proud to do it. For me, it was about having a personal experience with my teammates, who all graduated from Davis and had a great time at Davis, but at the same time I really wanted to be a part of putting Davis on the map.

How did you meet your teammates Brittany and Natalie?

Brittany and I played golf in high school, and although we went to different high schools, we always saw each other on the junior golf circuit. Natalie and I met at Davis through a group called Athletes in Action, a Christian group on campus.

How did you hear about the opportunity of this casting call?

In 2009, I went to an open casting call for “The Amazing Race” with one of my childhood best friends. We got a callback the next week and they flew us out to L.A., where we did the casting call there and met with the network and everything, and then got casted for the show. But then my teammate got pregnant, and there went my dream of being on “The Amazing Race.” But then the girl who found us called me and told us she was doing a casting for Mark Burnett [the executive producer]’s new show and said, “Would you be interested in doing this?” That’s when I called Natalie and Brittany and asked if they wanted to do it. I knew I wanted girls that were athletic, and I knew that they’d get casted. They’re both outgoing, both athletic and both UC Davis graduates.

What does it take to get cast? Just big personalities and unique characters?

If you’re in a room with your teammates with all the producers in front of you, they want to see that you can interact with each other, talk back and forth, and basically demonstrate that you can narrate, because that’s essentially what you’re going to do. You’re going to go through this crazy experience and then do hour-long interviews that will narrate the entire show. So that’s what they look for.

How is the show structured? Does somebody get eliminated every week?

There’s 13 teams, and sometimes you had one-day elimination days or two-day elimination days, where you’d trek for two days and then the last team to arrive gets eliminated.

What were the living conditions like?

In the first night we slept in the Sahara desert and had to make a shelter out of like, rugs. There were scorpions. [We were] 100 percent roughing it. I cried the day I ran out of face wipes. We looked like crap. Before we went, I actually YouTubed videos on how to use the bathroom in the wilderness, because I had never done it before. But then you got there and always felt so sick you don’t even have the time to think about how to go to the bathroom, you just … go.

That’s crazy. Was it worth it?

What you realize is that there are places that you cannot get to by car or by public transportation. We saw the most beautiful sunrises. You kind of had to be like Huckleberry Finn and just sail wherever. And there were mornings where we’d be in so much pain that we would actually get mad at the producers and told them, if you make us keep doing stuff like this, nobody’s going to be alive by the end of the Expedition. You’re not going to have any contestants because everyone’s getting injured and sick … they actually started changing the course to make it a little bit easier, because they were worried that they wouldn’t have enough teams.

What did you think of Morocco and the people there?

Morocco was absolutely beautiful. Although there were times when we were literally running through rivers of poo. But in general, it was really cool. There’s this saying in Morocco among this Berber tribe – they go for this really long trek through the Sahara in the winter – and they have this saying that goes, “Choose your companions before you choose your road.” That’s what the whole premise of the show was – Did you choose your companions wisely?

What else are you looking forward to now that the taping is over?

I think so much of it is just taking your experience with the Expedition into your own personal life. You don’t create so many limits for yourself because you did something that stretched you beyond anything you’ve done before. I’m starting this website called Monday Mantras. I’m going to interview entrepreneurs and learn their mantras and how they started their businesses. That’s what I’m excited about, how the show opens your mind and gets you to go after what you want to do because like, why aren’t you?

You must feel so invincible.

I didn’t even want to do this show because I didn’t want to go to the bathroom outside! And the fact that I would take such a small fear and go and do something like this. Honestly, there’s nothing more exciting than racing across the country with your friends. It’s crazy, and a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. I think the biggest thing is that you don’t need a TV show to do something like this. If you choose the right people in your life, you can do anything.

Tune into the premiere of “Expedition Impossible” on June 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

LANI CHAN can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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