Thursday, June 10, 2021

INTERVIEW. Jason Brookstein is Survivor SA: Immunity Island's first man out: 'I was backed into a corner.'

by Thinus Ferreira

Jason Brookstein (27), an engineering draughtsman from Johannesburg became the first castaway in Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv 101) to be cast away from the Zamba tribe in the first episode when he appeared oblivious to - and got blindsided by - the alliances being created all around him.

You didn't stay long but what was your experience like?
Jason Brookstein: The experience was absolutely amazing. Nothing less. The way that I had pictured it in my mind - I'm a very visual and artistic person and I picture things - and the way I pictured it and imagined myself in the situation, and when I got there ... it was just the right feeling it was amazing. It was good and bad.

You said during the end credits that you maybe made a mistake in asking too much information too quickly. Can you elaborate on what you think you did wrong?
Jason Brookstein: Look, the situation that I was dealt with being the fire challenge and the immunity challenge - that is just one personality. I was backed into a corner, I had to fight the way I did. I think I fought a pretty good fight. In terms of information, I think information is definitely key and how you use that information is very important.

I would say that you need to be a very good judge of information - it's a different type of aspect and a different type of thinking when you're in the game because there are so many elements that are being thrown at you at the same time. 

When you get information there are so many things to consider. I would say that my mistake was - or if I had to change anything of my strategy - it would be to speak less and listen more. 

Did you see Renier do the finger-pointing behind your back meaning "we're voting for him" or did you really not notice that, and when you watched the episode, what did you make of this?
Jason Brookstein: I really didn't! I really didn't!

You know, thinking about it now, when I saw that moment I thought that Renier was actually standing a little bit weird. It was a very odd position to stand in. I mean, are you relaxing, are you scratching your head, are you not agreeing with me? But not once did I consider that that was going on. It's funny to see something like that. It's a very bad moment but it's content. I see it. 

It was his opportunity to get information. You don't understand the timeframes you're dealing with - the pace you're moving at. It's so fast. It's not him being a bad person or anything. That's how fast things are moving. Things are moving that fast a pace. 

That little moment - he jumped, he took it. Listen, I commend it, I respect it. I'm a fan of the game, I can take it. Well done.

Some of the castaways also remarked that people shouldn't set forward as a perceived "leader" too quickly. Yet you took charge building the shelter being an engineering draughtsman. Do you think it made you a bigger target?
Jason Brookstein: I was aware of that. I was aware of that.

I will say this. Look, so as you can see, we have a relatively young cast. Some people's backgrounds crossed somehow and whatnot. 

It's crazy how there were yoga people and there were people like Survivor fans, and doctors. It's crazy and fun. It was interesting, for me it was an eye-opener in terms of "Sho, we need to put social media down and actually look around to see what's happening around us."

I don't know Dino but I was aware of him. I know he's a superfan because I'm a superfan, and I know of him but I don't know him. 

So, my thinking was that I thought that he would know that I was the structural engineer and draughtsman. That's not the role that I wanted to play. Yes, I'm a rough person, I'm an outdoors type of person. I have a nursery. I'm in the bush - that's me.

I understand that that type of role would have been given to me just based on my appearance and I understand that. But if I said that I wasn't a structural engineering draughtsman, I was scared that Dino would call that out.

So I kind of had to take that role unwillingly, and Renier spotted that. 

Looking back, what did you notice that was interesting?
Jason Brookstein: It was amazing - I wasn't really aware of the way that I think, if that makes sense.

It's fun to see that side of you because you become more aware. It was very clear to me that my personality and the way that I think - I mean I'm an achiever. That's what I do. I can see why I was cast. To see that side in the working, I've never had that opportunity and it was quite cool, I won't lie. It was amazing.

It also looked as if you struggled in the team challenge with the swimming once you got back out of the water and to just take the few steps to the Zamba castaways. You crawled to the line. What happened there?
Jason Brookstein: Yes! Yes! I would like to talk about that!

I would like to talk about that. I would love to talk about that. So. In that Survivor SA episode, I would like M-Net viewers to pause as soon as I come out of the water. I come out with one shoe.

I didn't tie my shoes properly because it's foreign for me to swim with shoes on. I know it's not an excuse but this is why I was tired and why I looked so drained. So I jumped into the water, with this sensation of trying to keep this shoe on, and then, okay, you know what, toss the shoe.

I thought I can do it without the one shoe. I carry on, get out without the shoe, and it's like - there's resistance in the water with the shoe and then there's a lot of compensating physically. 

I'm not unfit but that was a whole lot and it was really draining. As soon as I got out of the water I was finished. That's just how brutal these games are. But it was crazy but that was my fault for not tying my shoes properly. It is what it is.

Were you scared to go and take part in Survivor SA during a Covid-19 pandemic and South Africa in lockdown and to go elsewhere in the country, instead of elsewhere in the world, and what was your mindset around being selected and then going to take part in this?
Jason Brookstein: Look, getting the opportunity to play this game is one crazy achievement that I will hold dear to my heart forever. 

This is an amazing journey and I encourage anyone to do that if you think you've got what it takes - I encourage it because it's really amazing. 

It's so tough and brutal and you sat in the rain at tribal council, but you probably also made new friends although some stabbed you in the back and you'll be back for the reunion episode. What do you take away from the whole experience?
Jason Brookstein: Look, from my point of view I'm a fan of the game.

I really do understand how the outcome happened the way it did, watching it. I'm not mad, although it is a lot to take in. I've been pushing for this journey for forever. 

Listen, that's just my personality and no matter what happens to me, I'm always going to come out on top. I think that's also a reason why they cast me because in case I was the first boot - which I was - and nobody wants to be first and it's traumatic.

Let me tell you, it's kak - a blindside also - how do you take it from there? You need to carry on. You can only expect great things from me now. It's not the last you're going to see from Jason Brookstein, let me tell you that.

Survivor SA: Immunity Island is on M-Net (DStv 101) on Thursdays at 19:30