Exclusive: Shamar Thomas talks about 'Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/07/2013
Shamar Thomas was medically evacuated from Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites due to an eye injury during Wednesday night's fourth episode of the CBS reality series' 26th edition.
Shamar, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran from Brooklyn, NY, was a controversial figure in his Gota "Fans" tribe, as he was often criticized for being lazy, demanding and even "a big baby." He also considered quitting the game at one point.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Shamar talked about his Survivor experience and relationships with the other castaways.
Reality TV World: So I guess the first thing I need to ask you is how things turned out with your eye, what happened after you left the game?
Shamar Thomas: My eye went really, really well and I'm thankful that I have my sight.
Reality TV World: What were you diagnosed with? Can you elaborate a little bit more on that?
Shamar Thomas: I wasn't -- I just had some scar tissue in my eye that won't [go] away but it was so minute that, you know, it wasn't necessary for surgery. I actually got emergency surgery on my finger where I have permanent scars and permanent disfiguration to my finger, so that took the longest time as far as rehabbing my finger and getting the feeling back in my finger.
Reality TV World: What was the issue with your finger? I don't think we saw that on the show?
Shamar Thomas: Yeah, I had a piece of bamboo go through my finger. If you look at Episodes 3 and 4, you can see how I'm holding my hand and there was actually a bandage around my finger -- my right ring finger -- and it took three months and it's permanently scarred and permanently disfigured. So I guess I'm a real survivor, so I'm happy about that man. I'm just thankful for the opportunity.
Reality TV World: Do you think your editing on the show was accurate or not -- because obviously you didn't come across great on TV.
Shamar Thomas: Yeah, what I did was what I did, but you know, what I wanted people to see was that I never went to anybody and started an argument. I never approached anybody about anything that they really did, you know what I'm saying? So I think that it was great TV and like I said, I can't complain about getting so much air time.
I wish it would've been in a better light just because of the positivity that I do in the community. Survivor's a great game and I'm just happy to be on the show and be even thought of and even remembered, so a lot of other people didn't have that opportunity. There's some people that you still don't even know their names to this day. So I'm just thankful for the opportunity.
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Reality TV World: A lot of viewers have noted that there have been plenty of other big guys on Survivor that didn't need to spend 19 hours a day in the shelter -- how do you respond to that? What was going on with you out there?
Shamar Thomas: Well the reason why I spent a lot of time in the shelter was because -- I don't know about those other big guys -- but dehydration was a big thing for me.
And a lot of the other players, they were climbing rocks and going on trips, and I just felt like because the "Favorites" had a very, very strong tribe, and I knew that my social game wasn't really working for me as much as I hoped, I knew that I had to do well in challenges no matter what the social aspect was. So I had to conserve my energy.
Like I said, when I went to the challenges, I gave them my all. And so, that's all I could've hoped for. I hoped that my challenge strength, which is what kept me in the game, would bring me a lot further. And so, that's what I was concentrating on, just maintaining my strength. Because if I would have really bombed these challenges, with my social game, I would've been gone. I would've been the first one out.
Reality TV World: Part of your storyline there was that you said you were going to quit the show but then said you had changed your mind and were going to stick around out of loyalty to your tribe and your tribemates. And then people were shown being critical of that and saying it was like you thought you were a hero or deserved some type of credit for not quitting and staying in the game just like everyone else. How do you respond to that criticism?
Shamar Thomas: I mean, I wasn't necessarily -- how I respond to the criticism is that it's a game and only the people that have been out there can really understand. But like I said, my finger was hurting so bad that it was demoralizing me, because that meant I couldn't pull, I couldn't climb as much as I could.
Reality TV World: But didn't you say that only happened in the third or fourth episode?
Shamar Thomas: I won't tell what time it happened, but it happened (laughs) at a critical time. I can't get into that but it really affected me mentally and I had to -- it was very difficult.
That's where the anger came in, like, "Damn, I'm not even going to be strong in challenges, how would I really survive?" And when you're out there surviving, you don't have anything to do but time to think. So that's all I kept thinking about, was, "Damn, I'm doomed. I'm done. I'm done, I'm done."
And so, that's where I was. I was easily convinced to stay because I'm not a quitter, but it was just like, "Oh man, what am I really going to do at this point? How am I really going to show and prove?"
And I was really going through a lot of pain, and because I am a Marine and what I've been through, a lot of people don't want to -- I can't show weakness and I couldn't possibly have been hurt because of my size and who I am as a person. So, that was a little hard to deal with, like, "Damn."
Reality TV World: This season is all about fans of the show, but you didn't really seem that familiar with the show based upon some of the statements you had made out there. Can you talk a little bit about how familiar you were with the show and how you were cast on the show?
Shamar Thomas: I mean, I'm very familiar with Survivor. I was a Survivor fan for a long time and like I said, Survivor is a game where you don't understand the game until you get out there. And I just didn't have a lot in common with a lot of the other players, and so, that put me at a disadvantage.
And, you know, that's why I took the challenges so seriously, because I didn't really have a lot in common with those people. So, that's what it was.