The fanbase of Survivor has a tendency to look down on the pre-merge players each season. Some pre-mergers are called out for poor gameplay or crazy antics, while many others are lost to the annals of time, forgotten because they didn’t grace our TV screens for long enough.
Survivor: Cagayan‘s Brice Izyah, however, made sure that this was not the path he followed. The Purple Pants Badass himself, Izyah continued to be an active part of the Survivor community long after his torch was snuffed and he returned to regular life.
“I still have the attitude that I was excited to play, despite my early departure in the game, and I think that’s a testament to my longevity, to my personality, and to my positive spirit,” Izyah said in a recent interview with Inside Survivor.
In talking with Izyah, it’s clear that he is a fan first and a player second. His love for Survivor and the community just pours out of him. Izyah’s good friend and the winner of Survivor: Ghost Island, Wendell Holland, has been impressed with how Izyah has made a name for himself.
“(Brice) didn’t have the best edit, but he didn’t let that define him, and he didn’t let it discourage him,” Holland said.
Izyah has built a thriving platform around Survivor and himself; his chart-topping Purple Pants Podcast just hit its one-year anniversary, and his regular appearances on Rob Has a Podcast have become legendary in their own right.
“I’ve been able to watch him grow from someone with great ideas to someone who can make things happen,” Holland continued. “Just like Prince is synonymous with the color purple, Brice is synonymous with the color purple. He’s the new purple man.”
Izyah uses his platform to talk about injustices on Survivor and in the real world. Along with several other reality-tv personalities, the Cagayan alum launched a petition for anti-racism on Survivor, calling for better representation in front of and behind the camera. The petition cites a number of specific actions that CBS and Survivor producers should enact to represent BIPOC players better in future seasons.
“For me, it’s about improving the chances of the next black queer person to play Survivor. I want them to be highlighted, I want them to shine, I want them to have a fair shot to play the game, and I want them to be celebrated,” Izyah said. “It’s not calling CBS out, but calling them in to listen to our stories.”
Just this week, Izyah launched the 2021 edition of his popular Zaddy calendar, featuring the Zaddies of the Survivor community. This year, Izyah wants to be very clear about what a Zaddy is. “In order for me to call someone a Zaddy, you have to be an ally in some way, shape, or form,” Izyah explained. “If you aren’t an ally, you can’t be a Zaddy.”
“I actually had to pull some people from the calendar because they were not exemplifying or personifying what my view of a Zaddy is,” he continued. “Silence is complicit, and you have to speak up.”
Allies support their peers, specifically those that come from a marginalized community. Holland, for example, identifies as an ally of Izyah’s. “I’m such an ally of him because he is who he is, unapologetically,” Holland said.
Izyah and Holland spoke to the uniqueness of their relationship. Both expressed desires for deep connections between gay and straight men, specifically black men, to be highlighted in reality television.
“Many people gain an understanding of (marginalized) communities from TV shows,” Izyah said. “Being that Survivor is one of the best TV shows, and the oldest out there, I think it’s important that we have diversity and inclusion in front of the camera and behind the camera.”
Holland added: “I’m optimistic and hopeful that [Survivor/CBS] will make the right changes and that our stories will be told better going forward.”
The 2021 Zaddy calendar is now for sale on Izyah’s website. This year’s calendar features some of the allies of the anti-racism and inclusion movement happening in the reality-tv space, including Reed Kelly, Davie Rickenbacker, and Stephen Fishbach.