CBS' Survivor is back for its 45th season, beginning Wednesday, September 27.
The reality TV series looking for who can outwit, outlast, and outplay their opponent has been ongoing since 2000.
Hosted by Jeff Probst, Survivor Season 45 is getting 90-minute episodes thanks to the 146-day Writers Guild of America strike which delayed many upcoming scripted shows for the network. This season was filmed on the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji.
Before the games begin, get to know the 18 castaways set to begin their journey to become the Sole Survivor and win the grand prize of $1 million.
Every Survivor Season 45 Castaway
Austin Li Coon
This 26-year-old is a graduate student who lives in Chicago, IL and is originally from San Jose, CA. Austin begins the show on the Reba Tribe and told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that he's going to "be channeling that Naruto energy" in order to win.
In the first episode, Austin was an asset during the physical challenges and also stumbled upon a rare clue to an immunity idol.
Brandon “Brando” Meyer
Brando is tied for the youngest castaway on Survivor Season 45 and is on the Belo Tribe. Originally from Oak Park, CA, he currently works as a Software Developer in Seattle, WA.
Brando was a strong contributor to the team challenge, which Belo got first in during the first episode.
The other Brandon of Survivor Season 45 is on the Lulu Tribe. This 26-year-old is a content producer from Sicklerville, NJ, and rocks flowing curling hair.
When asked by EW why he'd win, he said he feels like Charlie from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
"I feel like Charlie — I got the golden ticket, I'm at the chocolate factory, and I plan on being the last one standing. Game on."
Brandon struggled more than any other contestant during Episode 1. Physically it appears like he's not ready to succeed at the draining challenges. He has a major upward battle ahead of him if he wants a chance at winning.
After suffering a concussion on Survivor 44, which forced Bruce to leave the competition, the 46-year-old is back to redeem himself this season. He is the only returning Survivor castaway from a previous season.
This member of the Belo Tribe works as an insurance agent in Warwick, RI, and told EW "that Survivor is [his] life:"
"This is something that I need a chance to play. I lost that chance and now have it back. The construct of this game is a microcosm of our everyday life. I want to be a part of 'Survivor' because 'Survivor' is my life."
As a returning character, Bruce quickly began bossing his tribe around, despite saying he wasn't going to. A target was quickly put on Bruce's back moving forward.
Originally from Havana, Cuba, Dee now is an entrepreneur in Miami, FL. This 26-year-old member of the Reba Tribe's deception seems to already be a strength as she never told her parents she didn't receive her Bachelor's degree due to a failed class.
This graduate student in Philadelphia, PA is a part of the Reba Tribe and is one of the youngest contestants this season.
Originally from Birmingham, MI, Drew referred to himself as "a potent speaker" when asked how he could win:
"I am very personable and authentic. I'm also a good strategist and a potent speaker. My hope is these attributes counterbalance for a weak physical game and help me clinch the title."
Drew explained in Episode 1 that the two polarizing sides of his personality will help him succeed this season.
Emily is a 28-year-old Investment Analyst who currently resides in Laurel, MD but is originally from McKinney.
As a member of the Lulu Tribe, McKinney told EW she's not like many other castaways, saying, "I'm out of shape, don't really like the outdoors, and people can find me off-putting."
Another member of the Lulu Tribe, Hannah is a 33-year-old therapist who currently lives in Baltimore, MD.
She told EW that Survivor is her favorite show and she "want[s] to push [herself] as much as [she] can — physically, mentally, and emotionally."
Hannah couldn't handle the elements and removed herself from the show during the first tribal council.
Janani “J. Maya” Krishnan-Jha
J. Maya joins Survivor 45 as part of the Reba Tribe. This California girl is a 24-year-old singer from San Francisco who now lives in Los Angeles.
She turned down an offer from Harvard Law School in order to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. J. Maya said that risky decision "reminds [her] a lot of what [her] fellow castaways and [her] will do."
J. Maya shared her confidence in the Reba Tribe during Episode 1, which succeeded in both team challenges.
This 26-year-old Massachusetts native is a working attorney in Boston. Jake is a member of the Belo Tribe and called Survivor "a celebration of everything I've been able to accomplish in my life:"
"I graduated law school while working two jobs, and I forged a healthier lifestyle, losing 80 lbs. in the process."
Jake was a asset in Episode 1 to the Belo Tribe, but may have cost himself some trust among his peers after revealing that he's a lawyer.
The oldest castaway on Survivor 45 is Julie, a member of the Reba Tribe. The 49-year-old is an estate attorney from Brentwood, TN.
She said she wants to "inspire and motivate other women in their 40s" by winning Survivor:
"I want to win it to inspire and motivate other women in their 40s and older; it's never too late to start something new or go after a dream. I want to inspire them to be their own hero."
Julie came ready to play in Episode 1, lying about her career, saying behind the scenes, "Who wants to give $1 million to an attorney?"
The only Canadian in Survivor 45 is Kaleb, a member of the Lulu Tribe. The 29-year-old works in software sales and operates remotely, having lived in 28 different countries.
Kaleb joked to EW that he used to laugh "with [his] mom at the pathetic, crying Survivors on TV." He added that the prize money "goes even further in Canada:"
"She'd always say she couldn't wait to watch me out there, so it'll be meaningful to close that chapter. Also, $1 million USD goes even further in Canada."
Based on Episode 1, Kaleb is a clear leader of the Lulu Tribe, not only with strong relationships with his team but also as a strong physical presence in the challenges.
Katurah is a Civil Rights Attorney part of the Belo Tribe. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY but is originally from St. Louis, MO.
She said that she wanted to join Survivor 45 because she firmly "believe[s] that doing things that scare the crap outta you is truly living:"
"[I joined] to remind myself of the power that the brave and multidimensional woman inside of me holds. And also because I firmly believe that doing things that scare the crap outta you is truly living."
In a bold (yet strategic) move, Katurah decided to lie about what she does for a living in order to not be targeted as someone who is overly strategic.
This member of the Belo Tribe is a Critical Care Nurse in New York City, New York. Kellie is a 30-year-old originally from Weston, CT who told EW she's a "chameleon:"
"I'm a chameleon, I can bro out with jocks, nerd out with nerds, be besties with the girls. There's no one I can't bond with! I think I will surprise people."
Kellie appears to be a savvy and adaptive player based on Episode 1. She got along with Kendra and saw value in their potential alliance, despite being "super different people."
Kendra is a 31-year-old bartender from Haverhill, MA who now lives in Steamboat Springs, CO. She's a member of the Belo Tribe on Survivor 45 and said "Survivor checks all the boxes for me as far as an adventure goes:"
"I love to challenge myself and put myself in situations to grow as a person. Survivor checks all the boxes for me as far as an adventure goes and then some!"
Kendra has a big personality and could be the type of contestant to draw a variety of allies through her charm and outgoingness.
Sabiyah is a 28-year-old truck driver originally from Locust Grove, GA but now resides in Jacksonville, NC. She described herself to EW as "resilient, vibrant, proud."
This member of the Lulu Tribe said it's her "destiny to be the Sole Survivor:"
"I have been preparing unconsciously for this show my whole life. It is my destiny to be the Sole Survivor."
As a US military veteran, Sabiyah seems fit for a long run on this season of Survivor, already with a key alliance with Kaleb.
Taking what he knows from the classroom to Fiji in Survivor 45, Sean is a 35-year-old school principal from Lawrence, New Jersey.
Currently living in Provo-Orem, Utah, this member of the Lulu Tribe said he "can read people's emotions, empathize with others, connect with anyone, and make people feel comfortable with [him]:"
"These skills will help me to build alliances naturally and easily. I'm ready to claim the $1 million now."
Based on Episode 1, Sean isn't afraid of showing his emotions, which if kept under control, can help him form solid allies going forward.
Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup
Sifu is a 30-year-old member of the Reba Tribe. From O'Fallon, IL, he is a gym owner who may thrive under the tough physical challenges of Survivor 45.
He told EW he has been "a martial artist [his] whole life" when asked about a life experience that has helped him prepare for Survivor:
"Being a martial artist my whole life. [I] started Yang-style tai chi when I was six. It's taught me so much about mental toughness."
There's a chance Sifu doesn't last long on Survivor 45, despite his physical strengths. In Episode 1 he was caught hunting for secrets by himself and may have put a target on his back.