QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
Name: James Lim
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Current residence: New York, New York
Occupation: Business Analyst
Gordon Holmes: You were the captain of the Harvard Track and Field team.
James Lim: Yes.
Holmes: Immediately that little tidbit tells me that this dude is smart and athletic. Are you going to keep that under wraps?
Holmes: Yeah in the game. I mean, in real life I’d tell everybody. I’d have it tattooed on my forehead.
Lim: (Laughs) No way. It’s a big source of pride and it was a defining aspect of my college career. But, there’s no way I’m telling anyone out here. I went to Harvard, so they’ll think I’m a big strategic threat, because everyone who went to Harvard is a strategic threat. That’s not the case.
Holmes: Cochran ruined that for everybody.
Lim: Yes, he did. And as for the track, I will say that I ran track in college, but the whole captain thing? They don’t need to know about it. I’ll let someone else be the captain of my tribe and I’ll just follow that person around.
Holmes: And you won’t tell them about Harvard?
Holmes: As far as letting someone else be the captain, are you capable of hanging out and taking the back seat?
Lim: Absolutely, I don’t really think I’m a natural-born leader. For Harvard track, it was more of a function of me being dedicated to my sport and my teammates and showing that through actions and words. That earned the respect of my teammates. So, despite me being one of the slower guys on the team, they voted me as their captain my senior year. So, if someone else has to take the reins, let them. I don’t want to be the guy that’s out there as a vulnerable target.
Holmes: So, we meet on day one. We shake hands, I say, “Pleased to meet you, my name is Gordon and I’m a writer.”
Lim: I’m James and I’m a track coach.
Holmes: And you have the level of track knowledge to pull that off? What if there are other track stars out here?
Holmes: So if someone says, “Oh do you guys run the WD-40 in the 401K” you’d be able to speak to it?
Holmes: I don’t know track terms.
Lim: (Laughs) I can talk about track for hours. And it’s going to be part of my strategy, it’s one of my passions. And, my Head Coach at Harvard is a die-hard “Survivor” fan. It’s kind of a tribute to him.
Holmes: If you’re out first, he’s going to be livid. He’ll make you run laps.
Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Lim: CBS thought I was interesting enough.
Holmes: That is how it tends to work.
Lim: And I appreciate that. As a person, I do have a unique background. I try to give everything that comes my way 100%. And that attitude makes a good season of “Survivor.” It’ll be interesting to see me react with all of these people who have interesting backgrounds.
Holmes: Some people come out here with boundaries as far as ethical behavior?
Lim: My boundary does include lying, blindsiding…I’ll probably stay away from the level that Russell Hantz or Tony Vlachos went to. I will not swear on my parents. I know “Survivor” requires lying, not a single person has won this game by being so loyal and straight up with everyone. But, I want to do it in a manner that’s always respectful of their game. I’m blindsiding you so I can advance. Even if I get blindsided, I hope to move past it and think, “This person did what they had to do.” Hopefully at the end of the game I’ll have made 19 new lifelong friends.
Holmes: Any boundaries as far as flirting?
Lim: That’s not going to be a focal point of my game. I’m not the kind of guy that flirts with everyone. I know it’s part of the game. Parvati is a master of that. And there are some girls this season who are attractive. They might try to use it as one of their cards to play. I get it. I’ll be responsive, but I won’t fall for it to the point that I’m blinded. It’s easier said than done.
Holmes: Anyone back home who’ll be upset if they see you flirting on CBS?
Lim: No, I’m single.
Holmes: Any guesses for twists or themes?
Lim: As a baseline, I’m not the biggest fan of twists. All these vote steals and jury vote-off takes away from the pure game strategy that “Survivor” started with. But, it’s the reality that I have to deal with. If I had to guess…31 had a vote steal, 32 had a jury vote off, 33 had a reward steal, and 34 had another vote steal and a legacy advantage. So, probably another legacy advantage.
Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would prefer.
Holmes: Align with a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter?
Lim: Hillary supporter because I am one. I interned for President Obama in college. And, I’m a registered democrat. Nothing against Trump supporters. I want to keep politics out of this. This is “Survivor,” it’s a good sacred game. I’m here to get away from the Washington drama for 39 days.
Holmes: I envy you for that. Would you rather have a steal a vote or an eliminate a juror advantage?
Lim: If I have the feeling that I can make the final three, then the juror vote becomes so powerful. But, it only becomes useful if you make it to the final three, otherwise it’s useless. The game vote and the jury vote are so different and the jury vote is so powerful, that I’ll go with jury.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Lim: That’s a good question. Being a Korean American means a lot to me. And me being a first-generation American, I don’t want anyone to mess with that part. So, I’ll align with a sexist.
Holmes: Voted out first or right before final Tribal?
Lim: Definitely before final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Lim: (Laughs) Very good question. That’s easy, a tax cheat won “Survivor.” So, a tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and decide who to take along?
Lim: I’ve seen over and over, being in that position doesn’t help you. Whoever is left out wants to murder you. But, I want to win the reward and go on it with my dad. I think…I’d rather lose…and be picked.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Lim: An idol hunter…poses a risk to everyone else. But a food stealer as far as camp life, people don’t want to live with that person. I’ll say idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Lim: A novice is better because then I get to set the direction.
Holmes: A dance challenge or a karaoke challenge?
Lim: I’m mediocre at best at both. I’ll say dancing.
Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Lim: This guy is well put together, mature-ish, professional-ish. It’s something I picked up on the job. I have a professional job, and it’s important to put off a good impression so they trust the advice that you give them. But when the producers in LA first met me, they thought I was 30 because I put off that vibe. I think that’s a good first impression. That way, people are more inclined to work with you because I seem to have my (expletive deleted) together.
Holmes: Do you have any problems relating to people your age?
Lim: That’s an interesting point. In my real life, no. But that’s because I’m friends with people from a similar background. The people I mingle with are part of a small bubble, the northeast school and then my white-collar job. I do really want to take this opportunity to see if I can relate to 19 other people that have gathered here from all of these crazy backgrounds. Can I build a bond with them? I’ll have to venture beyond my bubble.
NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed James a picture of each of the competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.
Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes