There are moments that mark our lives forever. For Yamil Arocho Miranda, one of those moments came at the age of 13, sitting in front of the television. His family had just moved and they didn’t have any furniture, so the floor of the empty house had to serve as a seat. They ate pizza and watched the first episode of an American show that had just premiered.
A group of strangers was placed in an isolated place, where food, fire and shelter had to be provided. Contestants competed in challenges to test their physical abilities and mental abilities while being gradually eliminated from the game until only one remained: the winner of a $1 million grand prize, the sole survivor.
“This show is spectacular”, Yamil thought, “someday i would love to be able to go outr”. Today, at 36 years old, he has become the first Puerto Rican residing on the island to participate in the famous “Survivor” program, which is broadcast by CBS on Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m.
From the outset, Yam Yam, the nickname with which he identifies himself, knows that it is important not to be carried away by appearances. “I’m much stronger than I seem“, said.
Regarding his participation in this program, one of the things that he would like to convey is that same love that he has felt for more than two decades for “Survivor”. “What I want is to energize people and for them to experience everything I love about this program, because it is a program that I have been watching for 22 years.”
The support of close people has been crucial in this process. “I have a team of super cool, young people that I love very much. They are my support, my family, and we have experienced many things, from María to the pandemic, all those issues that Puerto Rico has had to suffer together, ”she said.
Yam Yam is also part of a cast that is unique in the show’s history in terms of representation.
For the first time in the history of the show, one third of cast is considered queerof the 18, six people are queer. It is also the first time that two Puerto Ricans have competed together, Heidi (Lagares-Greenblatt) who is from Pittsburgh, but grew up in Ponce,” he explained.
Her husband, in particular, has been an oak tree she has been able to hold on to during difficult times. In fact, they got married in the midst of one of the biggest crises the world has experienced in recent memory.
“My husband is Mexican, his name is Karim Saenz. We met in Mexico just before the pandemic and we got married during the pandemic, when there were no vaccines or anything yet,” he said. They had a small, outdoor wedding, and they hope to be able to redo it soon and be able to share with all the loved ones they couldn’t have the first time.
Her husband’s help extended directly to his participation in “Survivor”, since he is a clothing designer. “All the clothes that I wear in the show were designed by him, created by him. Truly, the support of my mother, my family, my husband and my co-workers and friends has been super important to me on this journey.”
Regarding what he wanted his country to take away from his participation, he said that a sense of fair representation. “Here is Yam Yam, the Puerto Rican, giving it his all, and I hope to have your support and I hope that you experience it as I did and that you see that anyone in Puerto Rico can do it”.