13: Fear is Real is the newest reality chiller on the CW Network. 13 contestants are dumped in the Louisiana bayou and perform "rituals" (a.k.a. challenges) to stay in the game. Losers are sent to the "execution ceremony" (a.k.a. another challenge) and the loser is "killed off." Why would these 13 people endure spiders, snakes, scorpions, gators, rats, maggots, haunted forts, and being buried alive? For a chance at $66,666 of course. One of the contestants, Leah, made it out alive – but barely. She wouldn't reveal the winner, but she did speak with us this week about how she was accidentally cast for the show, in-fighting amongst contestants, and her biggest fears. I guess FEARnet isn't as scary as the bayou.
Why did you want to be on 13: Fear is Real?
I didn't, actually. My sister went to the audition – I was her chauffeur. It was at a bar, and I had a couple drinks while she auditioned. We were getting ready to leave, and one of the casting directors asked me to audition, too. They asked me a few questions, then told me they wanted me to come back! I didn't even want to do it! My sister was mad at me for a week – but she got over it.
Were you scared going in?
I never liked scary movies, and I've never really, really thought about being on a reality show before. They didn't tell us anything about the show, just that we were going to go through challenges that would be kind of scary. I figured they couldn't be that bad, until I got there. I thought, "What did I sign up for?"
They didn't tell you that you would be in the middle of the bayou?
No. I didn't even know I was going to New Orleans until I was at the airport. They gave us our confirmation numbers at midnight the night before we left. My whole family thought I was going to California. I get to the airport, type in my confirmation number, and all the flight info popped up – New Orleans. I thought I was going to Hollywood!
Wow, that's a big surprise.
Everything about it was a big surprise. When I got off the plane, they said I could make one phone call. I called my mom and said, "Mom, I'm safe. I can't tell you where I am, but I am safe." Then they took my phone and that was it. I didn't talk to anyone for three weeks.
In between rituals, how did you guys pass the time?
It was so new to all of us. Half of us were from California, and the other half were from the East Coast. We were all mostly from big cities, and here we are, stuck in this little cabin in the swamp, with nothing to do. Most of the time we sat around and bullcrapped with each other, and suffered through bug bites. I had poison ivy, sumac, and oak – all on top of each other.
I was the only girl there from Philadelphia. One of the girls, Kelly, liked to call me a potty mouth. She didn't like me too much, so a lot of time was spent finding ways to bother each other. I would say, "Fucking shit," and she would say, "Leah! You can't just say freaking?" Um, no, I can't! Kelly and Laura would kind of go back and forth between hanging out with the guys and the girls, whereas me, Erica, and Melyssa stuck together. I didn't set out to make it my job to call them out on it, but I'm pretty crude, so I would say things like, "How does your ass feel from riding the fence?" A couple times, I got in trouble because Kelly got so upset she wanted to leave!
Do you keep in contact with any of the contestants?
I still speak to Melyssa at least once a week. I try to keep in touch with Erica over email, but we are both so busy. I keep in contact with Ryan, too. I don't ever speak to Kelly. Just recently, she put up an interview on YouTube where she again called me a potty mouth, and said she didn't like me.
Do you have anything you want to counter with?
This is going to come off really mean, but I'd like to say, "You're so Christian, but you like to make out with anyone and everyone who walks by." I don't know where it is in the Bible that says you can't have a potty mouth, but you can make out with everyone.
What is your biggest fear?
I'm deathly afraid of sharks, and open bodies of water. I don't do cruises – I am afraid that something in the ocean will eat me. My other biggest fear is Freddy Kreuger. When I was younger, my big brother had Freddy's blade glove, and would hide under my bed. He would wait until I fall asleep, then reach out and tap the side of the bed and wake me. I won't even say his name three times in a row because I swear he is real. I'm also really, really afraid of contracting AIDS. I am not afraid of people with it, I am just afraid of getting it. That's why I don't sleep around! I don't even make out with a lot of people.
I know, I'm crazy! When I ended up on this show, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. All of 13, I was really that scared. My biggest fear on the show was that I would get there, and Freddy, Jason, and Michael were going to chase me around the woods for three days.
Did the show help you conquer any of your fears?
When I got back, I realized I could sleep without my TV on. I had gotten used to sleeping in darkness. But about a month ago I went to the movies and saw a trailer for The Unborn. That scared me so much I have gone back to sleeping with the TV on.
Which was the hardest ritual for you?
The one in the boat, where we had to hold the snakes [two contestants are put in a sinking rowboat and must use a bucket covered in snakes to bail out the water]. I'm not scared of snakes – I've been around them a lot. But we were surrounded by crocodiles, and our boat was sinking, so I was in a state of panic. What they don't show on TV is that we sat out in those boats, blindfolded, [waiting for the ritual to start] for about an hour. That was the scariest part because I didn't know what they were going to do to us. Were they going to tip the boat and make us swim for it? If they did, I would have had a heart attack. The thing that got me through it – this sounds so mean – was that my partner, Steffinnie, was so scared that if I didn't control her, we would never make it through. There was no way I was going to sit in that boat while it sank. I told Stef to get her shit together and start scooping water, while I held the snakes. We got through it, and no one thought we would.
Was there any point that you actually thought you were going to die for real?
Yeah, the first night we were there. No one gave us any direction. They put us on the bus, dropped us off in the woods and said, "Just walk. You'll figure it out." When we found the cabin and figured out that was where we were staying, I could have died right there. Nothing was happening, so I decided it was a good time to go to the bathroom. We weren't supposed to talk to the producers, but I asked him anyway if it was an okay time to go use the bathroom. I told him I would pee right there if anything was going to start! He told me it was okay, so I went out to the Porta-Potty in the middle of the woods. Suddenly all the lights from camp and the Porta-Potty go out. I freaked out and started screaming for someone to come get me. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see… something. I was so scared that I just started running – and I ran right into a tree. I really thought there was some crazy person – who had nothing to do with the show – was coming to kill me. No one believed me, but I had a knot on my head and busted my lip open because I thought someone was chasing me!
There was another time that we were dealing with scorpions, and all I could think was, "This can't be safe. What if one of these things stings me?" But I was never afraid that the producers were going to kill me – though I thought I might end up killing myself [on accident].
Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?
That is a hard question. Meeting new people was worth it – I would do it again in a heartbeat. But sitting in the swamps, holding spiders and maggots… I just don't know. We went crazy because we never knew when we would do things, and what we would have to do. When the show was over, we had to do a "debriefing," where we all went to see a psychologist. Everyone – even the guys – broke down crying at least once. As crazy as it sounds, we wanted to go back to the woods, back to the old fort, because we didn't know how to function anymore in the real world. But I think I probably would do it again. It was such an experience.