Exclusive Video Interview: Survive the Raft’s Nate Boyer on Hosting the Social Experiment

Nate BoyerThe new reality series Survive the Raft, which is hosted by Nate Boyer, follows nine contestant from a variety of diverse backgrounds as they set sail and live together on the Acali II for twenty-one days. With each challenge they win, the team earns money that goes towards a group pot that will be divided among the contestants who remain at the end of the journey. At the end of each episode, the crew is given the option to continue with the same group or switch out one of the contestants for someone new. A social experiment, the show will test whether personal gain will ruin their chance to split the prize as they are tempted along the way. Will the good of the group outweigh what’s good for one?

Boyer recently spoke with SciFi Vision about the series, why it’s unique, and why he chose to be a part of the experiment.

Watch the full interview or read the transcript below.

SCIFI VISION:   To start, for people who haven't seen it, can you talk about why this is different than all the other survival shows that are on television?

Yeah, what makes Survive the Raft different is the fact that it's not a game, it's more of a social experiment, and it's based off an original social experiment from fifty years ago that was conducted by an anthropologist named Santiago Genovés. So, 1973, very divisive times, much like today, and this is around towards the end of the Vietnam War and Watergate and Roe versus Wade and this time when the country was felt like it was being very much pulled apart. Santiago put ten people on a raft from very different backgrounds: different race, religion, politics, all kinds of beliefs, and they floated from the Canary Islands and Spain to Mexico, across the Atlantic Ocean. It took 101 days. He wanted to see when these people put aside their differences and worked together towards a common goal, you know, can they have that humility and put first and foremost, survival, at the forefront? So, that experiment went haywire. There were so many different things that occurred. There was a near mutiny. But at the end of the day, they did; they survived. They made it. They made the trip; they found a way. So, we wanted to recreate that, because, once again, we live in these divisive times. And while yes, we want to make something entertaining, and we have these challenges, and there's money at stake and all these other things, there's so much more at stake, I think, within these people, because we also hand picked a very different, diverse group of folks and put them on this raft. It’s very close quarters, and they're out there in the Pearl Islands and Panama on the Pacific Ocean for twenty-one days, and they can't escape one another. There's nowhere to run; there's nowhere to hide. Can they work together to survive this trip? And of course, we're throwing in all these different curveballs left and right and these challenges for them to conduct, but we also give them quite a bit of autonomy and freedom to choose the way that they run their raft, run their crew, and try to get through this experience. 

You're generally an actor; you haven't done anything like this before, as far as I know. So, what made you decide that you wanted to host a show?

Yeah, so, I was in the military for about ten years, and I spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan and all these other places, and then I played football. I played college football at the University of Texas; it was with the Seahawks for a little bit. And I'll tell you what, the locker room in football and the team room in the military [are] very diverse places, people from all walks of life, and you’ve got to kind of put aside your differences and work together, once again, towards a common goal. So, that was very familiar when it came to this show. When football ended, and I was out of the military, I was so interested in storytelling, and I wanted to be a part of that. So, I had opportunities, and I worked very hard for these opportunities, but I got to work on some shows as an actor, and then I had the opportunity to host a show for NFL network that was sort of like more of a Anthony Bourdain style series where we were hearing different people's perspectives about life in their football cities and all that. Then, this came about and this opportunity with Discovery Channel and this series that I really think could help open people's minds and kind of change some perspectives and challenge our own beliefs and our own feelings about how we can work together with other people from different walks of life. So, for me, it was the interest in the premise itself, the recreating the social experiment. Also, I love challenges; I love competition. I'm a very competitive person. So, that element of it absolutely is there, but then there was just this message behind it too that I think is really important for our country and our world, that we don't all have to see eye to eye on everything. We just have to respect one another, be willing to listen to somebody else's opinion, and kind of put aside those differences. And it's not easy, as you'll see with the show. It is not easy. I mean, there is controversy. 

Yeah, and some of them are trying too, it just doesn't always go as they expect it to.

Exactly. I mean, I'm the same way. I mean, I would like to think that I'm a very open minded person, and I accept everybody's opinions and all that, but it's hard. You hear things sometimes, and it triggers you, because it's like, “That is very different than what I feel like, how can you feel that way?” And then you learn about their experiences and why they think this way, and sometimes you just gotta let go of what you hold so dear and understand that that's because of your experiences and what you went through, and that's why you feel so strongly about it. But it doesn't make it easy. We're also like, “We want to be heard. We want people to understand who we are and where we're coming from,” and that's what you get to see come to life throughout this show. Because these people are passionate, and they care. They don't have a ton in common, except for the fact that…just like everybody, they want to belong. We want to be part of something great, and we're competitive. We want to win. We want to like, get through it. We want to survive. Just to see that all unfold, I think it's so important for the viewers, the audience. I think it's a great opportunity for us to learn a bit about ourselves, but also to be just absolutely entertained.

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