Natalie Anderson explains why she had to leave The Challenge: Double Agents
The challenge is no stranger to competitors dropping out early. Medical disqualifications, physical fights, and family emergencies are the most common reasons why players leave the MTV series without being eliminated. But in this week's episode of The Challenge: Double Agents, Natalie Anderson was "no longer cleared for sequel" due to "a personal matter". No other explanation was given as to why the survivor champion, who was the only player to have earned a golden skull by winning an elimination, was on the right track to compete in the final.
Until now. Anderson spoke to EW to share her story in the hopes that she can help others who may be going through something similar. "I found out I was pregnant when I was out there," she reveals. "Although I had to leave the show, this was a new journey for me with my boyfriend Devin [Perez] and I was 100 percent comfortable moving forward with him on that decision. But in the end it wasn't my decision I had one Miscarriage. "
While the producers of MTV and The Challenge respected their decision to keep this information a secret on the show, Anderson stands ready to catch up on the experience. "I think it's a good ending and a great way for me to get this whole thing over with. It's very therapeutic," she says. "I've talked to a few friends since I've been through this and it's more common than not and people just don't want to talk about it because it's like a bad stigma. And for me I've never been ashamed and never felt for I'm sorry for what happened. I just asked Devin for help and we did it together. "
That's why she wants to publish her story so that her fans and everyone watching will know what happened and how she did it. "I don't want women to suffer. I know people who have suffered for so long and tried to let go of this. I just hope I can help everyone with this story," says Anderson. "And also to help me just talk about it and share my story because it helps me too. If I can help just a few fans and women out there, it's a win-win situation."
Below, Anderson breaks down the timeline to find out that she was pregnant on the show, how she dealt with the realization that she had to leave, whether she'll be back for a future season of The Challenge, and more.
WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT: You have been in a great position to win this season. Your early exit was shocking, especially since the episode doesn't really explain why you had to leave. What happened?
NATALIE ANDERSON: The episode is really respectful of why I left. There are no clues and the reason is that it was a very personal moment. At the time when I couldn't even really process what was going on, all I knew was that I had to leave. It was very difficult to say goodbye and leave an opportunity that I knew I would have been really good at. I've been in a relationship for about a year and a half now and I still never thought I could be pregnant just because I worked really hard and was under so much stress before I left. Even when I found out I was pregnant, I just said, "How did my body do this?" It's crazy. I've been training ridiculously hard. The timeline is that I had already gone to film and was already pregnant. When I got home I was eight weeks pregnant so I was pregnant the entire time we were filming.
At the time I got a family call and obviously I called Nadiya [my twin sister] and I was joking about how late I was on my period and she was joking around saying she was trying to get pregnant. We had this very open conversation that sparked production so I could do a pregnancy test. Right now, I didn't even think in my wildest dreams that I could be pregnant. Obviously that was a little naive of me. [Laughs] But I found out I was pregnant and it was really weird because I couldn't handle it like a normal person. I felt happy, sad, disappointed in myself, really, really angry that I had to leave something that I was really good at and it all happened so quickly. I spoke to Devin for maybe five minutes. He freaked out. In the end, I knew I had to go and I knew it was coming, but I was still in such shock and denial that I had to go at that point. You will subsequently find that my face is just as surprised as everyone else because I feel like it wasn't even real to me at the time. It was really, really hard, but at the same time I had to do it and it was best for me to just come home and be with Devin and the people I love.
That must have been such a difficult decision at the moment. Why did you want to share your story now?
My fans, fans of Survivor, and the people who have followed me on all of the shows owe me an explanation because they have always been very proud of me - not just as a physical player, but also just emotionally and emotionally as mental strength, and I want to be honest with them. Some of those fans have followed me to Amazing Race and I want to show them that I am strong, but there is also a part of me that is really vulnerable and people can go through tough things and be okay. It is therapeutic to talk about because it puts an end to this journey, and it is a win to me if I agree to it. So I'm not just doing this for myself, but also for everyone who believed in me.
How are you doing now that you've had some time and distance from the show and your exit?
It was weird because when I was out there I didn't really feel anything, and when I came back ... I have a completely different personality in different situations so I have this masculine personality who is super strong and always in control . super focused like nothing can distract me, which are all positive qualities. And then I also have this feminine personality, which is much more free and flowing. And I think when I got back my feminine side could digest being pregnant and hugging everything, hugging my body, hugging everything it had been through. And [the miscarriage] was another loss I went through. I felt like I had just lost $ 500,000 and lost this opportunity to compete, which is just as important to me as the money. But I went through that and had to take on this new journey that was suddenly taken away from me, and that was even more difficult.
It happened really suddenly, there was nothing I did wrong; If anything, I was even crazier when I was on The Challenge and when I got back I was doing my normal routine. I was not in control of anything and the biggest lesson for me and what I want to say to anyone who hears this and who has gone through some type of loss is that when you are going through difficult things don't be hard on yourself. The journey is hard enough so the only thing you have to be kind to yourself is. In this way I have survived many losses in my life and a.k.a. Lost $ 2 million. [Laughs] You can't control things that are happening to you. The only thing is to always go forward. I'm super proud of where I am right now. After we found out what had happened, Devin and I went to Tulum a month later and just celebrated all of the things we need to be thankful for. I know the MTV following is even younger than the CBS following, and I'm sure there are a lot of new fans who have been through this, and I'm just very glad I can make it through and over and put an end to this chapter of my life.
Does ending this chapter apply to The Challenge? Are you interested in another season in the future?
I knew MTV was going to knock just because of my exit. And when I went out for this season I was in the headspace of like one and done, I'm going out there, I'm going to win that money, and I'm going to retire from The Challenge because that's all I really want to be: win . [Laughs] I told MTV and myself, to be honest, I'm just giving myself my final episode to go over it all and then check how I feel returning to this show because it's very mentally stressful and physically. So I don't have to make that decision until after I've seen my episode, depending on how I feel and where I am then in my life. So TBD, not decided yet.
I hope you come back because this season you have really won as strongly as the only player with a golden skull. It's hard to imagine that if you try again you could come back and not get that victory.
Yes, and that was part of my journey when I came to terms with leaving knowing that if I stayed, I would obviously be in the final. There was no way anyone was going to take my skull away or get my skull, so I knew the finale was basically guaranteed. And then when I won the finals, I knew that if I had to face a physical challenge with a partner and do what they do in those finals, it was probably my money. [Laughs] So it was really hard to leave because it doesn't look like, "Oh, I might have won." I basically thought, "Yes, I would have won." [Laughs] This is the draw to come back. I'm just really good at the platform The Challenge offers. So we'll see what happens.
After experiencing the indoor life, the politics of the game, the daily challenges and the elimination, what surprised you the most about what it was actually like to take part in the challenge?
They call it politicking and I don't know if it's politicking or if it's just people ... it's weird because these alliances at The Challenge, some of which are 15 years in the making, are very hard to believe that a new person could change some of those long friendship-slash alliances. The biggest surprise was how difficult it was to live in this house. It could have something to do with being eight weeks pregnant and stuck in a house that slept on a bunk bed. 30 other people were crazy and loud all 24 hours a day. [Laughs] I love the elimination platform, I love the aspect of the shedding and how they made the crater this season with the black sand and lights. It reminds me of immunity issues with Survivor.
What did you learn from your time on the show and did you have to leave early?
Every time I've done a show there is always a big takeout, and sometimes the big takeout is a million dollars [laughs] and sometimes the big takeout is a life lesson. This season my takeaway was never taken for granted. Being in this situation and coming out and being healthy after losing pregnancy is something I am really grateful for. I was pregnant out there and I was able to keep up. I am grateful for my health and strong body and boyfriend and for being able to return to a life that I am so happy with. Even though I couldn't win the money and celebrate pregnancy and have a baby, I am still happy with myself and my life.
Did you meet anyone you stayed in touch with this season?
It's so strange, but even though Aneesa [Ferreira] and I were on opposite sides of alliances, I really did bond with her. Even though she tried to vote me out right away! [Laughs] She's like big sister, she knows all the answers. I was kind of hinting to her that I might be pregnant and saying my period was late and all and I kept in touch with her about this whole thing when it happened. I asked her if I should share my journey and she told me, "Girl, you should own your story." She knows that I am strong and she knew that I can do that and help other people. And I stayed in touch with Theresa [Jones] a little, and Wes [Bergmann] checked me out because he knew I had left by chance. He contacted me and asked if everything was okay and we've been in touch ever since.
Is there anything else you wanted to share about your experience?
I've practiced a lot of letting go of things and moving through some really tough emotional things. And I've practiced a lot of being honest with myself about what happened, like taking responsibility for getting pregnant before I left and it was up to me, but at the same time being kind to myself and saying That you can't be hard on yourself It's hard enough. I just want anyone who's been through something like this to be able to let go of really any kind of loss in a way that they can live their life. I've done this before. Even after Survivor, it was so hard for me to find my way around that the $ 2 million was right there and I was doing things that didn't allow me to win that money. But at the same time, if I were unkind to myself, I would never get around it. And now I've come around it so I could talk about the show and watch the show and joke about it. I practiced that through it too, although it was a different kind of loss. But you are stronger than you think and your body is amazing and nothing your body does is betrayal. You have to love the body that you are in and I am so proud of my body that it is resilient and goes through everything it did and still serves me.
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