Now that the world knows who won a whopping $4.56 million on “Squid Game: The Challenge,” Surrey resident Darylle Johnson is keen to talk about her time on the British reality-competition show.
The popular Netflix series, based on the South Korean drama “Squid Game,” was filmed in London last January, nearly a year ago.
Crowned champion on Wednesday, Dec. 6, American contestant Mai Whelan, 55, pockets the biggest cash prize in reality-TV history.
She was player #273.
“It was definitely fun,” Johnson told the Now-Leader in a phone call Thursday, Dec. 7.
“The chances of winning the $4.56 million was obviously not high because there’s a lot of contestants, but just the opportunity to be on the show – I mean, it was the number-one show on Netflix in 73 countries in the first week with over 20 million views, I think, just huge.”
To become a contestant she endured six months of interviews with show producers.
“Most reality shows have 10 to 20 contestants, so the process of picking all 456 was pretty crazy,” Johnson noted.
“At the time I was digital nomading, primarily in Mexico, and somebody posted the casting video on social media. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy.’ I’d never really thought about being on a reality show before, but that sounded fun, so I applied. I guess I kind of stuck out with my strange lifestyle of nomading around Mexico, and I’m board game designer and business strategist. I stood out to them in that sense.”
Before Johnson was eliminated in the third episode, she was a lieutenant in a life-size version of the Battleship board game.
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She says it’s been a strange few weeks of having people ask questions about her time on “Squid Game: The Challenge,” a 10-episode series that debuted in November.
“They’ve been like, ‘How are you feeling, how are you doing?’ My friends aren’t confused, but they keep thinking I just did the show, because it’s new for them and everybody else,” explained Johnson, a 2004 North Surrey Secondary grad.
“But it’s all been very present in my life over the past year, and we weren’t allowed to know what happened after we left, so I found out who won like everyone else.”
“There’s this thing called astronaut syndrome, where an astronaut goes into space and they see the world from such a different perspective, such a crazy new experience for them, and then they come back down to real life,” she added. “It makes me feel like I need to have that high again, to have that crazy experience again after being back to normal now. It’s a strange feeling.”
So, would she do another reality-TV game show?
“Oh, hell yeah, but probably one with more strategy because I feel this one involved a lot of luck,” Johnson said.
“Personally I grew up a very, very shy person with a lot of anxiety, and it’s been a journey of doing the things that feel uncomfortable in order to break through that. I would just encourage people, whether it be for this show or something else in their life, to take the step and just do whatever the thing is, even if they’re fearful of it. That’s kind of the underlying message that I would put out there.”