Survivor contestant from Heartland prepares for premiere


On September 27, a new season of Survivor premieres on CBS, but for people in Cape Girardeau, one contestant might look a little familiar.

Jessica Johnston grew up in Cape Girardeau, where her parents still live.

She talked to KFVS reporter Sherae Honeycutt about her journey from the Heartland to Survivor.

Johnston said she will never forget the day when “Survivor Producer” popped up on her cell phone.

“He was like, you made it, and I just went crazy. It’s just awesome, you know – It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Johnston said.

Johnston signed up for The Amazing Race a while back, but instead was asked to join season 35 of Survivor.

“Thousands of people want this, and life led me to it, and I’m just honored,” Johnston said.

The nurse grew up in Cape Girardeau, but lives in Louisville now.

This season’s theme is Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. The show was filmed in Fiji last spring for a little over a month.

Johnston is part of the “Healer” tribe.

“I think being a nurse practitioner fits perfectly for the healer tribe, because we do a lot of healing. We love on patients. We provide comfort,” Johnston said.

Johnston graduated Cape Central High School in 2005.

Her senior party theme, believe it or not, Survivor.

“We had this huge billboard with the Survivor logo on it, and my classmates signed it,” Johnston said.

They brought it back out for her 10-year class reunion.

“It was just really special. Looking back it’s hysterical. I never thought 10 years later I would be playing the game survivor for real,” Johnston said.

Jessica’s mom, Vickie will be cheering her on at home.

“I know there were some hard times there. They don’t get a lot to eat. They use a lot of energy. So, she made some good friends I think when she was there. Overall it was the best experience that she’d had in her life,” said Vickie Johnston.

Jessica agrees, but is still nervous about next week’s premiere.

“You don’t have a clue what you said. What you did. You kinda lose focus of all of that in the game playing, so there’s an aspect of vulnerability I’m nervous about, but I think people that know me know my heart, and will support decisions I made on the show,” Johnston said.

She is headed to Los Angeles for premiere night, but plans to Facetime with her parents during the show.

Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers premieres on September 27 at 7 p.m. on KFVS.

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