‘Survivor 41’ Winner Erika Casupanan Opens Up About Diversity in Entertainment

by Jacklyn Krol

Survivor 41 winner Erika Casupanan spoke out about diversity in television.

CBS recently pledged “at least 50% of their casts consist of people of color” for their series. The new initiative is part of their growing diversity promise.

 In an interview with Hot On The Street, the first Canadian Survivor winner spoke about the pledge.

“I think more conversations about diversity, more on-screen storytelling about diverse people, is something that for sure should continue,” she began.

She noted that there should also be diversity behind the camera with workers who are able to tell an accurate story.

“So making sure that it’s not just diverse talent and then, let’s say, very uniform people behind the camera trying to tell that story. But figuring out how we can make sure that there’s also the people who are making the decisions — in terms of how something is edited or how something is produced or distributed — that also understand the story that diverse talent is telling,” she said.

‘Survivor 41’ and ‘Big Brother’ Comparisons

Former Survivor contestant Shan Smith spoke out about the comparisons between Big Brother and Survivor.

Big Brother 23 crowned their first-ever Black winner, Xavier Prather. Survivor 41 crowned its first Canadian winner, Erika Casupanan. Smith said that there were lessons learned on both seasons.

In an interview with Rob Had A Podcast, she discussed how the network has been committed to more diversity.

“The strategy of the [Big Brother] Cookout was very similar to that of the [Survivor] ‘camp-out,’” she began. “Each of the contestants locked on to a fellow contestant to serve as their friend, companion, and ally. She had her rock, Ricard Foye while Danny McCray had Syd Segal. Evvie Jagoda had Liana and Deshawn had Heather Aldret.

“So basically, all we have to do is keep our people close and then just kind of go down that. So we just talked about that as being strategy,” she continued. “But we didn’t push it as much as I think the Cookout did. [Ours] wasn’t as marketed as their strategy, that’s fine.”

She said that it was “moving” to see how Cookout was executed in terms of strategy. The final contestants were all Black people, which meant a lot to viewers and contestants alike.

“It was just such a beautiful moment,” she added. “And it was hard, too, because I knew where Survivor was going and I knew how Survivor ended…our whole thing gets cannibalized, and it just felt like I had worked so hard for nothing, and it was hard. It was really, really frustrating.”