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How This Massachusetts Local Became A Contestant On 'Survivor'

Dianna Carney
Photo byCBS on YouTubeCBS on YouTube / Photo Edit by Dianna Carney

(MASSACHUSETTS) If you're a fan of reality television and are from Massachusetts, then you might just recognize someone on your screen tonight! Jake O'Kane, a Boston resident originally from Hanson, is one of the eighteen contestants on the upcoming 45th season of Survivor. With a diverse background as a lawyer, bartender, and theater teacher, Jake brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the game.
Photo byCBS on YouTube / Photo Edit by Dianna Carney

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jake, who explained to me that his love for Survivor dates back to his high school days when he first started watching the competition show. “It’s such a timeless show, and it was always something I said, I wanna be on that.”. As soon as Jake turned 18, he submitted his first audition tape to CBS, showcasing his enthusiasm and determination to become a Survivor contestant. While he attended Westfield State University throughout his undergraduate years, Jake sent in another few audition tapes, but it wasn't until he made a big change during law school that he heard back from CBS.

"I was always a big kid, so when I was in law school I decided I was gonna lose weight, and I ended up losing about 80 lbs total." Once he graduated from the New England School of Law, Jake decided to once again apply for his favorite TV show. "When I was studying for the bar (exam) all I did was study and work out. As soon as I was done with (the exam) I applied for Survivor. I was in the best shape of my life to go do it." When Jake first got the call that CBS was interested in casting him, he wasn't even sure if he had passed the bar exam yet. "Right before I started my big boy lawyer job, I got the call, and everything kind of took off from there."

As a theater enthusiast since middle school, Jake has acted in numerous plays and musicals, even becoming the president of the drama club during his time at Whitman-Hanson High School. "When I was at Westfield I directed American Idiot and acted in a bunch of shows and musicals. After law school, I was like I need to get back into it." This led him to reconnect with his old theater teacher, Laurie Healey the owner of Dance Dimensions in Abington, who Jake explained was looking to revive the theater company portion of the dance studio. "I was like awesome, let me help out! So I started co-directing shows there along with Samantha Healey." Jake explained how theater and law complement each other, allowing him to effectively communicate and make compelling arguments, "I wanna use these skills when I go out and play the game.”

Even though season 45 of Survivor has not premiered yet, Jake explained that his hometown of Hanson’s tight-knit community has already shown a tremendous amount of support. People have approached his mother in the grocery store, expressing their excitement for his participation in the show, "Hanson’s a wicked small town so it’s been big news.”

When asked how Survivor changed him as a person, Jake gave an honest response, explaining:

"Survivor really pushes you, it really breaks you down, and in a way, it shows you who you are, actually, it tells you who you are. I think that’s the one of the really beautiful things about the show. We’re going about our daily lives, we have our phones and our loved ones, we have a certain sense of security, every step we make in life, and Survivors like ‘yeah, we’re taking that away. Who are you? Who are you at your core?’ And that’s what Survivor kinda shows you, and that’s really cool. And that’s why I think that’s one of the reasons the show has been on forever."

Survivor's 45th season will premiere on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at 8/7c on CBS and Paramount+. Be sure to watch and witness Jake O'Kane's journey unfold!
Photo byCBS on YouTube / Photo Edit by Dianna Carney

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