Cincy Chic: How did the opportunity to be on Survivor came about?
Michelle Yi: Im always on the hunt for new experiences and adventures. So, it all started when me and my sister applied to be on CBSs Amazing Race. Interview, after interview, before I knew it, I found myself on Survivor instead! It was certainly a much more challenging experience than I had first anticipated, but well worth it!
Cincy Chic: You were a fashion design at the University of Cincinnati before the Survivor gig came about. Did you have to put that on hold to go out to Fiji?
Yi: In order to make it out to Fiji, I had to take a travel quarter from school. It was a fair bit of paperwork and catching up, but UCs co-op department has been wonderful in assisting me, to assure I still get to graduate in June!
Cincy Chic: Did you do anything special in your try-out video to catch their eye?
Yi: Honestly, in my video, I didnt do anything particularly exciting. Just sat down in front of my little digital camera on the video setting, and spent two minutes talking about myself. Thats the best recommendation I can give. Just be yourself, be excited and tell them why youve got what it takes!
Cincy Chic: Before the Survivor gig, what was the most difficult thing you had done?
Yi: Oh gosh… Id say its probably something to do with climbing. I ironically have a fear of falling, so Im really pushing myself every time I go to Red River Gorge. And there was one time, when I worked in jewelry, that we were held up at gunpoint. But in those situations, I think your choices are obvious.
Cincy Chic: What was the most difficult thing you faced in your time with Survivor?
Yi: Without a doubt, it was the first seven days without water. Youd have a hard time convincing me I wasnt dead already. No, Im being dramatic. But really. I was amazed at what my body could go through!
Cincy Chic: Did you get along with teammates off-screen?
Yi: Absolutely. Many of them I just adore, and whod have thought wed never meet without this crazy experience!
Cincy Chic: Tell us some juice that we won't get from watching the show?
Yi: Actually, I think that most shocking part for me was how real it is! You really dont brush your teeth, and your gums hurt, and youre just filthy. Its a wonder how everyone else still manages to look so glamorous on TV!
Cincy Chic: Your athleticism earned you the nicknames "Ninja" and "Monkey" …where'd you get those skills, girlfriend?
Yi: Its all from rock climbing! Im still a little kid, running everywhere, climbing all over whatever I can get my paws on. I love being active. I lift weights, do yoga, bike around… Whatever I can. Its certainly not my attachment for Skyline and Graeters that earned me that handle.
Cincy Chic: What would you have done with all the money, had you won?
Yi: After a vacation for the family? Id love to start my own clothing line. Something in activewear. Well, I think people can be on the lookout for that anyway.
Cincy Chic: Aside from any money, what was the best part about the experience?
Yi: The money pales in comparison to just the game itself! Thirty-nine days in Fiji, meeting some incredible personalities. And Ive got a very competitive spirit, so Im all about the challenges.
Cincy Chic: What was the worst?
Yi: The dehydration was without a doubt the worst. It wipes you out in everyway: mental clarity, physical prowess and your nerves become so hyper-sensitive.
Cincy Chic: Any lessons you learned on Survivor that you'll take throughout your life?
Yi: Just keep your head up. Always. Things in the game – and in life – can turn at the drop of a hat. Know what youre working with, and make it happen.
Cincy Chic: Now that you've been thrust into the public eye, is it difficult to come back to life in Cincinnati?
Yi: Cincinnati is such a wonderful city, and was very welcoming to come back to. The people here have been so supportive, and it makes all the difference. I love to know that people are proud of me, so theres nothing difficult about that!
Cincy Chic: Where's your favorite hang out spot in Cincy?
Yi: I spend a good portion of my nights training at Climb Time in Blue Ash. One can always find me there. Otherwise, I feel like every other day Im eating at either Arthurs or Lemongrass in Hyde Park. Im always about the food. Especially these days!
Cincy Chic: What are you going to do now? Any goals/adventures planned that you hope to survive in the near future?
Yi: I graduate in June. Id love to take some time climbing around the States. And then after that, its the big brave world of Fashion.
Cincy Chic: What would you like to say to those Cincinnati women out there afraid to put a little adventure into their life?
Yi: Follow your passions, and fear nothing. Ambition has no risk. So just go for it, but dont lose your head on the way. Friends and family can help you through amazing feats. Take advantage of it!