Exclusive: Shamir Arzeno talks 'The Amazing Race' -- "The power of editing definitely augments reality"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/26/2017
The Amazing Race eliminated Shamir Arzeno and Sara Fowler during Season 29's double broadcast last Thursday night on CBS.
Shamir, a 28-year-old Wall Street banker from Jersey City, NJ, and Sara, a 27-year-old luxury realtor from St. John, Virgin Islands, paired up on the first day of the Race when they were total strangers. They became the fourth team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they finished the fourth leg in Tanzania in last place out of the eight remaining couples.
"I'm proud of her. I'm proud of the Race we ran. I'm really sad because, you know, I pictured myself winning the whole thing," Shamir said in his final words.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World via email, Shamir talked about his The Amazing Race experience. Below is what he had to say.
Reality TV World: How far behind Brooke Camhi and Scott Flanary were Sara and yourself when you got eliminated?
Shamir Arzeno: It was really close from what I heard somewhere between 15-20 minutes.
Reality TV World: What do you think was your downfall in your last leg on the Race? Was it searching for the three doors? How much time did you spend wandering around?
Shamir Arzeno: Communication was definitely our downfall, we are both type A individuals so it was difficult for either to relinquish the need to lead. We found the first two doors in an hour and the third we actually knocked on a few times.
Stone town is like a maze and after a while all of the streets blurred and started to look alike. Throw in the extreme heat and dehydration, it was a recipe for disaster. We ran around for hours. After about 2.5 hours, I started telling her to switch Detours. You see in Episode 4 I kept saying, "Let's switch."
Reality TV World: How long did it take you two to find the key and the correct chest at the Detour you completed?
Shamir Arzeno: Once we got to the treasure chest challenge I quickly lifted almost all of the chest and found the key and unlocked the clue within 30 minutes or so.
Reality TV World: Did Sara and yourself hammer out a plan or strategy for Roadblocks? Did you two discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and if so, what were they?
Shamir Arzeno: We knew that there was a limit to the amount of Roadblocks we could each do and decided to alternate. Strengths we felt we had many but we both had a common weakness which was building things, which was our downfall.
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Reality TV World: The season so far made it look like you lost your temper a lot and didn't have much patience for Sara or a couple of the tasks. Could you talk about that a little bit? Do you think the show's editing portrayed you to look worse than you really behaved?
Shamir Arzeno: The show and the power of editing definitely augment reality. I work in a fast paced environment where everything is due yesterday and I can be a bit impatient at times. I do feel that they played that up a bit to create drama. I think all of the teams had some degree of tension since we didn't know each other.
Reality TV World: Was it hard watching the episodes back on TV? Do you have any regrets or wish you had handled anything differently?
Shamir Arzeno: Maybe been a little less sweaty lol no in all seriousness, I regret none of it. It was the experience of a lifetime. Seeing the way it was edited did help me grow over the last year and I have tried to be more patient and understanding towards others.
Reality TV World: You sought medical treatment during the task when you had to wash a skyscraper window in a harness. Sara told the cameras at the time your injury wasn't serious and she was very frustrated, but that's all viewers learned about that. Were you okay? Was the injury worse than Sara made it out to be?
Shamir Arzeno: The injury was in fact serious. The doctor in the ambulance informed me that I could have permanent damage if I continued. Now, 500k is a lot of money, but one day, having a family is invaluable. I was in the worst pain of my life and they edited to seem like just minutes. We were there for hours and I rappelled down that building numerous times.
Even through all of the pain and facing one of the scariest moments of my life, I never quit. I didn't quit because that's not who I am, I didn't quit because I thought about my family, and I didn't quit because I was thinking about my partner. They edited to show seem like it was no big deal but in fact it was and had I thrown in the towel, the Race would have been over for the both of us.
Reality TV World: If you were able to choose your partner based on only first impressions after that first suitcase challenge, whom do you think you would've picked as your teammate and why?
Shamir Arzeno: I wanted to pick a woman since I knew statistically male/female teams fare better. In hindsight, if I would've picked a guy. it would've been [previously-eliminated Racer Seth Tyler] since he was the first one back and proved to be a strong competitor, although we probably would've been U-Turned all three times.
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship now with Sara? Did you two maintain a friendship? And looking back, how might you two have improved your dynamic?
Shamir Arzeno: I could have definitely been more patient. We are friends now, as are the entire cast. I feel really fortunate to have gained 21 new friends from such diverse backgrounds.
Reality TV World: Which team/s did you view as the biggest threats this early on, and did you start thinking about possible alliances while you were still in the Race?
Shamir Arzeno: Seth and [Olive Beauregard] I felt were the biggest competition early on and we did form an alliance with them.
Reality TV World: What are your thoughts on the rivalry between Matt Ladley and Redmond Ramos and Ashton Theiss and Vanck Zhu? Do you think Matt and Redmond are racing a little too dirty or do you commend them for it?
Shamir Arzeno: It's all a game and we're all friends now.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race and was this your first time applying?
Shamir Arzeno: I had applied a few times and they reached out to me and asked for an audition tape. My best friend Mike Bruno is a photographer, so I called in a favor and spend the whole day filming the tape. It turned out great and a couple weeks later was flown out to LA for finals week!
Check back with Reality TV World soon for Sara's exclusive The Amazing Race interview with Reality TV World.