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Name (Age): Mari Takahashi (31)
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA via San Francisco, CA
Occupation: Professional Gamer
Hobbies: Video games, rock climbing, and traveling
Pet Peeves: Stagnation and laziness
Three Words to Describe You: Courageous, adaptable, and calculating
NOTE: Usually I get a good thirty minutes with each contestant before the game starts. However, this season I had to get through all 20 players in only two-and-a-half hours. So, these pieces will be short and hopefully sweet.
Gordon Holmes: You are a YouTube gamer and I am an old man.
Mari Takahashi: (Laughs)
Holmes: So, explain to me what exactly that is.
Takahashi: I play video games at home. I yell at my screen, get angry, have fun. And apparently people like to watch that on the internet. It’s a strange new career that is available to millennials apparently.
Holmes: I like to play “Excitebike.” How do I get someone to pay me to do that?
Takahashi: There’s actually a lot of retro gamers out there.
Holmes: Sign me up!
Holmes: You’re also proficient in ballet.
Holmes: I know what that is.
Takahashi: (Laughs) I’d hope so.
Holmes: I imagine that would come in handy during all of those post-merge balancing challenges.
Takahashi: Yeah. I’ve trained for 27 years. It’s going to be one giant secret that I’ve done that. I’m just going to get really “lucky” in those challenges.
Holmes: “Survivor” has evolved into a game where deceit almost can’t be avoided. What is your approach?
Takahashi: I’ll approach this like I do any game, pretty much without emotions. My objective is winning, but I also want to have fun. You can call it manipulation, you can call it all of these things that have a negative connotation, but at the same time; is strategy something that has a negative connotation? They’re just words. It’s just playing the game. And I think I have a huge advantage because I don’t get too emotional over these things. We all know what we’re signing up for.
Holmes: But you do get emotional playing video games.
Takahashi: I hate losing. I’m not getting emotional because somebody took a headshot on me or beat me. I’m emotional because I didn’t win. I think there’s a difference in getting emotional when someone lies to you and taking it for what it is, a game.
Holmes: Do you get emotional when people lie to you?
Takahashi: No. Especially in this setting. It’s part of the game.
Holmes: How well do you deal with hunger?
Takahashi: Ballerina, 27 years. No problem. (Laughs)
Holmes: Good point. How about sleep deprivation.
Takahashi: Video games. I don’t sleep.
Holmes: Dude, you are perfect for this.
Takahashi: I know! I think I’ve been priming for this my entire life. And I had no idea until now.
Holmes: I know “Survivor” casting has been looking for a ballerina gamer for years.
Takahashi: (Laughs) They didn’t dig deep enough.
Holmes: How well do you do in the heat?
Takahashi: Very well. I’m actually like a chihuahua. I’m cold anywhere unless it’s 100 degrees.
Holmes: Does paranoia get to you? People running off into the woods, maybe talking about you?
Takahashi: I don’t know. We’ll see, man.
Holmes: What’s your stance on flirting?
Takahashi: I don’t know. I like to throw the little sister/big sister trope in more than spreading my legs.
Holmes: I think you and I have very different definitions of flirting.
Holmes: Have you seen any of the other players around?
Takahashi: Yeah, I’ve seen a few of them.
Holmes: What are your early thoughts on them?
Takahashi: I like to keep a notebook of notes. And I’ve seen some familiar faces and some new ones. I’ve seen an equal number of men and women. Nobody seems too giant and muscular. Judging a book by its cover, I’ve seen some people where I’m like, “That guy must work in tech.”
Holmes: If there is a twist, any guesses as to what it could be?
Takahashi: I think it could be Millennials vs. Generation X or Baby Boomers. But, I haven’t seen any old people. Or, maybe because I’m a gamer it will be tech people vs. traditional jobs vs. corporate. I think my profession and my age has something to do with this casting.
Holmes: I shouldn’t tell you this, but everyone there is a video game playing ballerina.
Takahashi: Damnit! I thought I was the only one.
Holmes: If you could align with any past player, who would it be and why?
Takahashi: Boston Rob. He’s fun, he’s smart. And I like to watch villains play. Boston Rob walks the line and I like that. He’s very human.
Holmes: Could there be some villainous blood in you?
Takahashi: I don’t know. I’ll weigh the situation when I get there.
Holmes: OK, we’re short on time, so I’ve prepared a lighting round. Cats or dogs?
Holmes: Beer or wine?
Takahashi: Neither, whisky.
Holmes: Superman or Batman?
Takahashi: Neither! Arrow.
Holmes: Meat or vegetables?
Holmes: Republican or Democrat?
Takahashi: Gahhhh…somewhere in the middle.
Holmes: Books or TV?
Takahashi: Video games.
Holmes: You are bad at this.
Holmes: One or the other, Mari!
Takahashi: I don’t like going by the rules. Sorry.
Holmes: Swimming or sunbathing?
Holmes: Many casual friends or one good friend?
Takahashi: One good friend.
Holmes: A nice car or a nice home?
Takahashi: A nice home.
Holmes: Smart or funny?
Holmes: I know this one; Parvati or Boston Rob?
Takahashi: Boston Rob.
Holmes: A big vacation or a big TV?
Takahashi: Big vacation.
Holmes: Working alone or working with a team?
Holmes: Dragons or unicorns?
Takahashi: Dragon unicorns.
Holmes: Whoa. Careful planning or fly by the seat of your pants?
Takahashi: Gosh…let’s go with careful planning for right now.
Holmes: Jeff Probst or Ryan Seacrest?
Takahashi: (Laughs) Jeff Probst.
Holmes: And a special bonus one just for you; Mario or Luigi?
Takahashi: (Laughs) Mario.
Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X,” Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 8pm ET.