Cory Williams has always been up for a challenge, however, the Hilmar High grad and former Turlocker didn’t know his love for adventure would eventually find him “Naked and Afraid.”
On Sunday, the world will be able to watch Williams, an original YouTuber, and pro surfer Anastasia Ashley try to survive in the jungles of Belize in the Discovery Channel’s popular reality show that takes two strangers and leaves them naked and stranded on a desert island.
Williams is no stranger to sharing his life through video (however, he’s usually wearing clothes). He founded the online music and video production company, SMP Films, in 1999 after he graduated high school. The name stands for Simple Minded People. When YouTube was founded over a decade ago, Williams shared his amateur stunts and unique perspective on life as Mr. Safety.
Since then, he’s been involved in a number of television projects and continues to be an avid video blogger. For the past three years, Williams has produced and starred in the YouTube show LiveEachDay, where he’s shared his adventures living with his wife Kristen — and recently, 1-year-old daughter Chell —in Eagle River, Alaska.
Williams also found time to turn his 2007 viral hit YouTube video “The Mean Kitty Song” into a children’s book. For more information about the book about Williams’ real feisty cat, visit http://kck.st/2u2IXRE.
The Journal reached out to Williams to chat with him about his adventures in Belize, “Naked and Afraid:”
Q. How did you get involved in appearing on "Naked and Afraid?"
A. Discovery Channel asked me to be a part of the show so that I could share my experiences with the world. I was there to show how things are from a different perspective. People know who I am from all of the things that I've shared over the years, so they know what kind of person I am going out there. Through me, people got to see the behind the scenes of “Naked and Afraid.”
Q. What were you most "afraid" of before filming the show?
A. I wasn't afraid of anything really. The only thing I was afraid of was letting myself or my family down, but I did really well out there considering the fact that I'm not a survivalist. I have a lot of respect for people who do the show and it takes a lot of guts just to sign up for something like this.
Q. What was the hardest part about filming once you started doing it?
A. The lack of food, cold temperatures and no sleep were extremely hard, but what made it worse were the bugs. There was a mass hatching of a microscopic flies that burrows into your skin and lays eggs. They were relentless! They bit anywhere and everywhere, nowhere was off-limits! Imagine trying to sleep while these bugs are biting the back of your eyelids. I still have scars from the experience.
Q. What skills did you have that helped while filming the show?
A. Making primitive fire is something that I'm very good at but out there, things are different. It's extremely humid, wet and almost all of the materials were foreign to me. The skill that help me the most was simply my positive attitude. Positivity got me through it for sure! My knowledge of water purification helped as well. Without that, I wouldn't have made it as far as I did.
Q. Would you ever do a show like this in the future?
A. Yes! I am a man who lives for experience and anything that can give me an experience that I can talk about when I am 90 is a good experience as long as it doesn't hurt me (permanently) or anyone else. “Naked and Afraid XL” however, I would probably pass on that. Forty days away from my family is just too much.