ROCKVILLE – Two years after she auditioned to be a contestant on one of her favorite television shows, Julia Carter is appearing on the new season of “Survivor,” which began airing Feb. 20 on CBS.
It’s been six months since the former-Bethesda resident appeared on the set of “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” as a castaway on an island with not enough food or supplies, but because the show’s 38th season is just beginning its run, her lips are sealed as to how she did.
What the 25-year-old medical student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she now resides, will say is that she loved being involved, and would “150 percent, yes” recommend it to anyone interested.
“I’ve been watching the show since I was younger. I’ve always been a fan,” she said.
Because the show originally aired after her father died, she said the show “helped me ‘survive’ my own challenges.” Her weekly routine was to watch the show and try to imagine the personal, mental and physical challenges each contestant experienced.
To become one of the 18 contestants, Carter submitted a two-minute tape of herself. Not long after that, she also went to an open casting call.
“I didn’t hear anything back for two years,” said Carter, who lived in Bethesda from June 2017 to August 2018,
Then suddenly she received a call asking if she was still interested.
While Carter said she would not describe herself as the super-physical type, and admitted she hates going to the gym, she does enjoy walking, hiking, kayaking, running, dancing and going to museums.
“I can find fun in anything,” she said.
Running is one of the few things Carter does that allows her to step out of her busy life. “It frees my mind up.”
She described her diet as healthy. Her favorite foods are Italian and Thai, she said, adding, “I love to eat. Luckily, I am not a picky eater.” That means if the only food she could find while on the island was some weird crustacean or insect, she would be chewing away.
“I’d be open to it,” she said.
Before arriving on the island, Carter thought about the kind of contestant she wanted to be.
“I am kind of a subtle Type A person,” the former medical assistant said, adding that she enjoys being dominant and in charge, but in a subtle way.
Despite all her thinking ahead, once filming started, things were quite different.
When she started, she did not know the show’s theme nor any of her fellow tribe members.
“You don’t know a thing until you step on that island,” said Carter.
Also, she noted, the television show only lasts one hour. She was on the island, trying to survive, 24-hours a day.
“We are out there with limited resources, with limited food and the blistering heat,” she said. “It was quite the experience.”
Being in the medical field was helpful but not because she cured anyone, she said.
“I told my teammates, ‘I am not a doctor yet,’” she said.
But her medical training has taught her how to get people to trust that she is doing what is in their best interest and that they should believe in her, she said.
While Carter would never turn away the $1-million prize – and plans to use some of it to pay off her student loans should she survive — she wasn’t in it for the money, she said.
“Being a fan of the show, I want to be the full survivor. One-million dollars is an added bonus.”
Besides the glory of achieving her dream, Carter also hoped her appearance would “break stereotypes,” she said. If she was the last woman standing, Carter “would not be the most physically fit” contestant.
She also wanted to win to show that a minority woman could succeed.
“There have not been a lot of people who look like me” on the show, she said.
In her CBS biography, Carter called her mom her “inspiration” and said her proudest moment was being “the first in her family to graduate college and pave the way for my younger sister and family members.”
Her pet peeves, according to her bio, are “being ignored, loud chewing and when people document EVERYTHING on social media.”
For now, while she watches along with friends and family without letting them know how she fared, all Carter will say is, “Wow. I really did that, and I’m now able to see it on TV.”
“Survivor: Edge of Extinction” airs from 8:00-9:00PM, ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.