The Reality TV Guru

Meet the California Girls of Expedition Impossible: Brittany Smith, Natalie Smith and Christina Chin (All photos courtesy of ABC)

Evan Derrick, Entertainment Editor and Mark Traas, Reality TV Guru blog writer for Beliefnet interview the California Girls after their recent adventures in ABC’s Expedition Impossible. Joining us for this interview are Christina, Natalie and Brittany of the California Girls team.

Mark: Hello to the California Girls team! Just to let you know, you have a lot of fans from around the world and I’ve got some questions for you from some of the readers who have been following you. So, without further ado, I’ll ask some of those questions.

California Girls: Great!

Mark: This one comes from Max in Indiana and he asks the question of whether you found the expedition more physically challenging or more mentally challenging during the course?

Christina: So definitely for me it was physically challenging. I think – if I’m honest – I bet Natalie and Brittany could have run the entire course but just no matter what, or they could have definitely run more if it wasn’t for me. But overall, the reason why it’s so mentally challenging is just the fact that it’s nonstop and you never really have a chance to like restore yourself because when you got into base camp you have to make shelter and you might come in at 11:00 at night and it’s pitch dark and then you have to start back at five in the morning again.

And so there’s a mental – even though it’s physically draining – the mental side of it is just constantly like looking to your teammates for encouragement because it’s one of the situations that you normally would never want to find yourself in, but maybe willingly put yourself through to that extreme. So I would say more mentally challenging just because of how nonstop it is.

Mark: Okay, five in the morning! That sounds like pretty early. Is it still dark when you wake up at that hour?

Christina: Yes. You’re definitely awake for the sunrise, like you get up before dark and then you start packing your bag and like the sun’s starting to rise.

Mark: Okay, a follow up question from Starshine in UK. Given what you know now about what the expedition was like and what you’ve gone through, is there anything that you would have done differently about your preparation before the expedition that might have made it easier for you?

Christina: Yeah, okay great. So what I would have done differently is the endurance because I consider myself very athletic, but this was you’re basically running a half marathon every day with a forty pound backpack and so imagine doing that. Like the most I had run prior to the expedition is possibly like three miles just like in a general workout and not with a backpack. So it’s very doable for anyone to finish but it just might take you like five times longer than a person who’s used to running marathons, right.

It’s one of those things – like anyone, if you have the will and desire you can finish this course, but you’re not going to be prepared for the process. So definitely it’s for one to get going and finish if possible. I would say start running a half marathon with a backpack because there’s no way you’re going to even come close to finishing with the rest of the team.

Natalie: And you know, even like on a flat surface, like running through the rough, you need to go like running through the mountains and rocks.

Christina: Right. Because I mean I can’t predict, but when I came back my feet were destroyed. Like I couldn’t run for at least six weeks so.

Mark: Well some of us can’t even run a half marathon without a backpack! So…

California Girls: (Laughing.)

Mark: Okay, another question from Starshine in UK. One thing we viewers noticed was how much the teams were working together and how well they cooperated together. What was your take on that? How do you feel about how supportive the teams were of each other?

Natalie: Yeah, the teams really seemed to bond. Like, once you finished the day, you had to start making food and set up your camp and so you have a time to really bond with each other. So cooking food and hanging out around a campfire, you just have this real respect for people who are coming in and finishing because they just survived the course like you did. And we all joked around like, “Congratulations, you survived!” Like, literally we were out there not sure, like getting through the day sometimes was questionable. But just knowing what you went through and everybody else having to go through that just increased the level of respect and love for one another because they went through that.

Brittany: And I just want to say in your own team basically you rely on each other so much throughout the whole process each day, surviving and getting through it just brings you guys closer together. And because honestly, like I’ve said it before, there’s no way I could have done that without Christina and Natalie. Like, you have to rely on your teammates so much just to get you through the hard times and there’s a lot of hard times out there.

Mark: That kind of leads into another question from Michel in Canada. He asks did interact with the teams and are you interacting with the other teams after the expedition? Like, have you become friends as a result of this experience?

Christina: Uh-huh, yes. I mean I think one of the biggest complaints we hear from people is they wish they saw more around the camp because they’re like, do you guys get along? We’re like yeah, actually. Every night we make dinner with people. We like cook rice together. One night, someone made like a chicken soup. I don’t even know how they made chicken soup but, so yeah, that was like one of those things like there was one night we finished really late and someone had made dinner and they let us have their dinner. And so definitely there was a lot that people don’t get to see. But we all hung out at camp and celebrated a girl’s birthday from one of the Kansas teams. We celebrated her birthday, so…

Brittany: And we’re all still friends like now even when we’re all back at home and we’re obviously all in different states but we all keep in contact like via Facebook. There are parties and they’re hosted by dual teams and one of the girls got engaged and she invited the cast to go to her wedding.

Christina: Mm-hmm yeah we’re excited. We’re like, I’ve never been to a wedding in Kansas, so… I’ve never been in Kansas!

Evan: Well it’s not like California!

California Girls: (Laughing.)

Mark: Speaking of geography, there’s another question I was asked. What was your favorite memory coming out of your time spent in Morocco? What sticks with you in terms of your favorite memories?

Brittany: I think, well, one of my favorite memories is that we got to camp at a different spot each night. So wherever we finished the race that day, that’s where we were going to be sleeping. And so I just enjoyed all the different diversity and I remember one of the nights we stopped on an island. And so we like woke up in the middle of this island and it was just like a tranquil view that you can’t really have anywhere else. And so that’s one of my favorite memories.

Mark: Just a question I have. How much did you actually mix with the people in Morocco? Without your being from that culture, what was your memory of the people?

Natalie: We didn’t honestly get to talk to many of the locals. We were out in the wilderness a lot. There was one episode where we get a ride through a Suk, like an outdoor open air market. But we literally did that. We were able to talk to – we had drivers they gave us – and they were local from there because they didn’t want us driving with their different laws and driving customs there and so we were able to really get in touch with the driver assigned per team for that car.

And our driver’s name was Komo and he got to share about his family, about his faith, about growing up in Morocco, his job and the movie industry. And he was really a comforting soul in the midst of that chaos because we’d go to this whole day and if we had the opportunity, get in the car to just kind of calm us down. He’d be like, “Oh, girls, girls, girls! What are we doing?” And so we kind of joked that he was our dad.

Brittany: Can I say something too? So I guess it kind of goes along with another favorite memory but as far as the locals go, we would be traveling like Natalie said we weren’t in the city so we were out basically traveling through villages and with the Berber people and literally traveling through their villages. And so sometimes we’d be running through them. We’d be on a horse riding through there and they would always be out in front of their houses and their doors sitting like on their front porches or whatever it was just like cheering everybody like, “Oh!” and we’d be like, “Hello!” because they speak French out there. So we’d like communicate very minutely with them but that was always exciting any time we were going through a village they’d be out there cheering us on.

Christina: Yeah there was like an episode – I think it was three or, no, maybe it was two – and like the water challenge and we were in last place. And all the people they’re like, “You girls are in last place. Go, go, go!” And we’re like, “We know, we know!” So it was really cute because they would just sit out there and watch all the teams compete. So that was really cute.

Mark: Well it’s almost like you did have a half a crowd on either side of the road cheering you on in a half marathon with a backpack on your back, hmm?

California Girls: (Laughing.) Yeah, exactly!

Mark: I’ve got a question for Natalie. We’re from Beliefnet and we have a number of members who engage in interfaith discussions and discussions about faith. And I noticed on Natalie’s bio on the ABC site that one material possession that she could not do without was the Bible. I’m just curious whether, Natalie, you brought your Bible along with you and whether you drew any inspiration from having it with you?

Natalie: Well, we all met at a group {that’s} a Christian organization. They’re a part of campus crusade for Christ. And I put that on my interview piece because like I brought my Bible. Actually, I brought just the New Testament because it was a little lighter and then I brought that to Morocco and we were there our first week doing training and then we basically couldn’t take items with us that weren’t on the packing list. And so during the expedition we were very limited to what we could bring.

So because I didn’t have the Bible with me at that time I had to find my strength through the things and Christina and Brittany and I would go into almost little mini Bible studies during the trip in the car or walking if we ever had a little bit of downtime. Or we’d pray before an event sometimes or just being in nature a lot of it. God speaks to you through nature and if you kind of play your own mental iPod in your head of a worship song as you’re going through this and you see this waterfall going over. And that’s just how God talked to you that day.

Mark: Okay! Well that’s all the questions I have from a number of readers who have been following you. Just to let you know that you do have a large number of fans out there who have been watching you and writing about you and commenting about you. And collectively, I think we’d like to say congratulations for doing as well as you did. It looked challenging out there and you were the only remaining all-female team left in the race up to the time that you went out. So congratulations for an excellent effort! And I’ll pass the questions over to Evan, here at Beliefnet.

California Girls: Thank you!

Evan: Thank you guys so much for your time. I do have one more question. Do you guys feel any pressure being believers and knowing that you were being filmed and that that was going to be in front of a national audience? Did you feel any pressure in anything you said or did in how that might be represented?

Natalie: I’d definitely say we felt pressure. But it’s not like oh, my gosh, I have to watch everything that I say and I do because, I mean, we are supposed to be the light of the earth and people are supposed to look at us like differently and to ask questions like oh, they’re different. Like, why don’t they cuss and do all these things that we do? And so I think it’s part of your natural life testament to people, just being that way I guess. And so I guess yes we did feel pressure of “Hey, you know, let’s stand out. Let’s be different from everybody else” and I think that’s a good thing and I think we did that.

Christina: Well… and I think also we definitely weren’t the only believers in terms of the cast. Like, we got along really well with the Country Boys and we had, like, great conversations with them. And I remember one of the talks that we had with Nick from the Country Boys was when he was just kind of lamenting about how AJ had treated Kari on the race and expedition. And it was just really kind of comforting to hear his perspective on it of being like, I wouldn’t talk to my sister that way on the show and I think it’s things like that – where you really maybe it’s not what you say but how you treat each other out there.

And that was really kind of brought to light, because I think when you’re in that stressful situation, you kind of expect each other to not be at your best. But like, I think it’s like it forces you to when you know it’s like those moments when you really have to kind of like really make a conscious effort to like go above and beyond even though you really don’t want to at that time.

But like the things for me on the expedition were like beyond what anyone should ever have to do for a friend in her life. But definitely like it’s like one of those things where it tests like what you’re made of and what kind of character do you have and it’s all out for the world to see.

Evan: Well thank you guys so much. We really appreciate your time.

California Girls: Yeah, thank you!

Don’t forget to catch the final episode of Expedition Impossible on Thursday night, August 25 at 9/8c on ABC! You can view all of the episodes online at ABC’s Expedition Impossible web site.

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