Official CBS Island of the Idols bio excerpts (September 9, 2019):
"Pet peeves: When people are flaky and do not follow through with their promises. When people don't understand that the middle seat passenger has rights to both armrests. When people tell me, "Wow! Your English is really good!" and follow with, "Where did you learn English?" When people dismiss and/or invalidate my lived experience as a person of color.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? It might seem a bit trivial, but I am most proud of buying my mother a new and modern refrigerator for Mother's Day in 2017. She and my father were not able to afford new appliances and had been using the same old refrigerator for 12 years, so it was really meaningful for me to buy her something she really wanted and needed.
Who or what is your inspiration in life? Like so many children of refugees, I am here today because of my parents' sacrifices. My father's journey was especially harrowing. He, Txooj Zeb Muas, is my hero and quite literally, a true survivor. Faced with unknown odds, he risked everything to have a chance at living. At 16 years old, my father and his two cousins ran from the mountains of Laos—through jungles laced with landmines and buzzing with bullets from communist Viet Cong and Pathet Lao followers—to refugee camps in Thailand in an attempt to escape ethnic genocide of the Hmong and Mien people who were abandoned after being recruited for guerilla warfare. After miraculously making it across the Mekong River and into the camps, he was relocated to Montana with nothing more than the clothes on his back. Despite the struggles of being forced into a totally foreign country with no immediate family members, he has never given up on living life to its fullest potential. I have had the privilege of growing up without the fears of being exposed to Agent Orange, ethnic persecution, and displacement because of his resilience, his perseverance, his defiance, and his traumatic experiences.
What's one thing we wouldn't know from seeing a photo of you? In 2015, after years of experiencing erratic and frightening out-of-body panic-attack-like episodes, my grandmother's Shaman Master declared that I was, and am, the next shaman to rise in our family!
Which Survivor contestant are you most like? Vince is Vince. Survivor ain't never had anyone like me before, haha. IF I had to choose, I'd say a mix of Shii Ann Huang, because she didn't let nobody mess with her. The Shii Devil, Cirie Fields, because she's humble, analytical, strategic, and inspirational, and Natalie Anderson, because she was loyal, innovative, and an overall boss!
What's your primary motivation for being on Survivor? Honestly, I am here to show minority young folk and people across the world that they matter, that their stories and narratives are important, and that they should never doubt their existence regardless of what others say. Survivor has been an integral part of my life. It showed me that a kid from Merced could dream of traveling abroad, take big risks, and be more than another statistic. I hope that winning the title of "Sole Survivor" inspires other kids to challenge the oppressive systems and institutions that seek to keep them down!
Why do you think you'll "survive" Survivor? I have accumulated grit from the challenges that I've faced throughout my life and have always been able to gain the trust and confidence of others. I believe I can use my unassuming image and 209 vernacular to fool others into believing that I am not an immediate threat. However, I'd say I'm pretty crafty and will be able to use my smarts to create plans and execute votes that will eliminate anyone I feel is a threat to my game (if you're not with me, you're dead to me). I also understand how to deal with big egos and personal quirks and can use my social skills to build confidence among all characters. Lastly, I've got quite a mouth and can smack the Jury with an award-winning final Tribal Council speech to guarantee my win."