ADDISON – Addison residents who caught the premiere of the latest season of “Survivor” on Feb. 26 may have recognized former Miss Addison Alexis Maxwell among the castaway contestants.
“We watched it as a family since season one,” the 21-year-old Northwestern student said.
Her father Ron, the biggest “Survivor” fan of the family, convinced her to apply with him for a spot on the show. In the spirit of fun, Alexis Maxwell put together her audition tape in a day. As she continued through the selection process, she couldn’t believe she might actually be cast.
When she finally was chosen as one of 18 contestants for “Survivor: Cagayan,” the show’s 28th season, Maxwell decided to play not only for herself, but her dad, who wasn’t cast on the show.
“I feel like it put even more pressure on me,” she said.
The pair got to work strategizing and analyzing former seasons before Maxwell took off last summer for filming in the Philippines. This season, players are divided into three teams: brawn, brains and beauty.
Armed with a big personality, big appetite for adventure, and big hair, Alexis was cast as a member of the Beauty Tribe.
“I don’t care what I look like at all,” said Maxwell, who rarely wears makeup to class.
She thinks the label was an interesting choice because beauty is so subjective, but she also wanted to use the label to her advantage. With a double major in learning and organizational change and psychology, Maxwell anticipated people would underestimate her other skills since she’d enter the game defined by her looks.
“’Survivor’ is just all about the social game,” Maxwell said.
While she was crowned Miss Addison in 2009, she had never before competed in a pageant.
“That was the only time I did something like that, and I was doing it for a scholarship,” Maxwell said.
She prepared, she played, and now she has to watch the whole game on national television.
“It’s definitely exciting and nerve-racking,” said Maxwell, who refused to watch recordings of her high school theater performances during her Addison Trail High School days because she was too critical of herself.
Even while castaway on an island with 17 competitors in situations meant to test her, Maxwell stayed mindful of the cameras.
“I thought about future employers,” she said. “I thought about my little cousins that were all going to see.”
Maxwell is still interested to see how everyone reacts to the show since she said the show brought out both the fun-loving side of her personality she usually reserves for her friends and her business side she usually leaves at work or class.
Despite her tribe title, Maxwell wouldn’t call herself a beauty queen. She played her fair share of sports in high school, but after giving them up in college, she wouldn’t have put herself in the Brawn Tribe. She was open to the other, though.
“I think definitely I would feel comfortable being labeled as a brain,” she said.
At 21, Maxwell is also one of the youngest players this season. She considered the age difference when she first met her competition, but wasn’t too intimidated.
In a season preview, “Survivor” host Jeff Probst calls Maxwell a “dark horse” in the game, citing her age as a possible setback, but the smarts behind her pretty smile as an asset.
Find out if Maxwell psychs out her competition on “Survivor: Cagayan” at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.