Latasha “Tasha” Fox is a likeable person.
She got that reaffirmed tenfold recently as she was voted in as a fan favorite for her second stint on the hit CBS television show “Survivor.”
Season 31 of the reality show is tagged “Survivor Cambodia — Second Chance.” It’s an all-star cast of previous contestants, voted on by fans based on who they wanted to see get a second chance at $1 million. The premiere airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.
Fox, 39, now of St. Louis but originally from Alton, is one of those getting a second chance. Fox previously competed on season 28, “Survivor Cagayan — Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty.” She advanced to the final six that season and spent 33 days on the island.
She’s more determined and equally humbled this time around due to the fan vote.
“Playing Survivor the first time was unbelievable,” Fox said. “The process is very arduous, so to even be considered to play is just a feat in itself, so the second time it was even more sweet because the fans wanted to see me back. They voted and put me back in the game.”
As a super fan of the show, watching every season religiously, Fox was giddy to play alongside participants from the past — like Kelly Wigglesworth from “Survivor: Borneo,” the very first season.
“I played it cool; I wasn’t too starstruck,” Fox said, chuckling. “It was just hard to believe that I got to meet Kelly and any other Survivors. As a fan of the show I’ve watched every season, so to just be in the same company as the people that got selected is really an honor. It’s being considered a fan favorite.”
Fox said she learned a ton from her first appearance and plans to be more serious this time. She called this tour a “business trip.”
She said cultivating trusting relationships with fellow cast members is crucial. Alliances are everything and she wants her castmates to trust her every step of the way.
“I want them to know every day I have their back; they’re No. 1,” she said. “Even if they aren’t No.1, I’m going to make them feel like they are.”
The other thing Fox wants to do is not be such a physical threat. In Cagayan she got in a position where she had to win a series of immunity challenges because her back was against the wall. She doesn’t want to have that target this time.
“The only thing I could do to stay in the game was win challenges,” Fox said. “I was hoping circumstances would be better the second time where I didn’t have to rely as much on my physical game and put that unnecessary target on my back.”
There were new challenges in Cambodia. Fox said the weather extremes were brutal and put mental and physical strain on all the players’ bodies and minds much more than what she experienced in Cagayan.
“When I played in the Philippines it was wet season, but we weren’t right in the heart of it,” she said. “It rained quite a bit toward the end of the season, but nothing that I felt was unbearable. Cambodia, completely different story. It was wet season during the game and it poured. Not only did it pour, it was cold. At least in the Philippines it was more of a warm rain. In Cambodia there would be high winds, heavy downpours to the point where nothing was dry for several days. There were extremes in the weather conditions too, so in the morning it would be really hot, around 100 to 120 degrees, but then at night the temperature would significantly drop and it would rain. It was freezing and that in itself kind of messes with your mind and makes you not as focused.”
She said throw in the experienced cast members, who she described as “fierce,” and it made for a grueling competition.
A 1995 graduate of Alton High, where she was a cheerleader and competed in track and field, Fox credits her background in Alton as a huge benefit on “Survivor.” AHS has a hodgepodge of students with varying backgrounds, just like the cast of “Survivor.” Her mother, father, older brother and younger sister still reside in the Alton-Godfrey area.
“I am a product of Alton,” Fox said. “I went to Alton High School, I grew up in the Alton school system and one thing I love about Alton that I remember growing up — I didn’t recognize it then — but it’s such a great place to grow up because of the diversity. You hear the news and these stories of racial tensions and separations, but in Alton I just remember having friends of all different races and backgrounds. That stuff didn’t matter. What mattered was the person.
“In ‘Survivor’ you meet people from all over and the people that do well are those that can quickly adapt and make friends and socialize. Growing up in Alton made me that type of person because I didn’t see differences.”
She added, “I appreciate all my friends and family and Alton. I’m just a product of my environment.”