When news came out that Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George (formerly of SWV) was going to be on “Survivor: Tocantins,” everyone wanted to know what possessed her to do it.
Taj told us the opportunity to try out for the show presented itself through a friend of hers. “I was recruited; they were looking for an NFL wife,” Taj told S2S. “I think what they were really looking to cast was a really prissy, girly, high-maintenance NFL wife. That is so not me.”
Even though Taj wasn’t exactly what CBS was looking for, they still brought her out for the full audition process. When the network offered her a spot on Survivor, Taj jumped at the chance.
‘The reason I’m doing it is because I just think it’s an adventure. It’s so different from anything else I’ve ever done,” said Taj. “I’ve done just about anything and everything I could possibly say I wanted to do in life. And when this opportunity came up, I was thinking ‘why not?’ I mean I really don’t have anything to lose.”
Before heading off to the Brazilian highlands, Taj (a Brooklyn native) had to learn how to fish and start fires. However, the greatest challenge for her was getting comfortable with water.
“It’s not so much that I didn’t know how to [swim]…I had a very, very sick fear of water, “ said Taj. “So what I had to was—literally—learn how to get over my fear of the water and just go out there and swim. I did that by jumping into 13 feet of water every day and just learning how to tread.”
Taj also had to prepare for all the heat in the highlands. She told us her husband. Eddie George, helped her out with that by doing what is called a sweat. That’s where a bunch of people get together and build a tent over a ditch that’s been filled with heated rocks. Water is poured over the rocks and the steam causes anyone in the tent to sweat.
“During that whole process you sit in there, you pray and you kind of focus on things out side of the heat,” Taj told us.
We can’t tell you what happened on the show because Taj couldn’t talk about it. What we can tell you is that Taj eventually got used to being up in the highlands without all the comforts of home. She was even there long enough that she began to think of the Tocantins as home!
“They say it takes 30 days to break a habit. I guess it takes 30 days to really get used to something because after a while it became home. That was home,” Taj told S2S.
The real shocker is that she actually began to miss the Tocantins when she left. Taj told us that she sometimes wants to go back and visit.
Even though Taj began to miss the highlands, she missed her family more—and they missed her! The first thing she did when she got home was hug her son. He was so happy to have his mommy back that he didn’t want to let go.
“He was going through separation anxiety. He just would not leave my side,” Taj recalls. “I had to ride in the back seat with him, I had to sleep in his bed with him. We did everything together because he was so paranoid that every time I headed towards the door I wasn’t coming back.”
Speaking of comebacks, SWV is set to make one of their own! “We have definitely decided to try and go back into the studio and put some more songs together and put out another project,” Taj revealed.
It’s going to be a while before we hear the next SWV single because the ladies have just started looking through music.
For now, you can catch Taj on “Survivor: Tocantins” Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.
– Sonya Eskridge
"Survivor: Tocantins" photo by Monty Brinton/CBS