Rupert '01 on 'Naked and Afraid'

By Dan O'Brien
March 21, 2014

Eva Rupert ’01 has done a lot of things in her adult life: tattoo artist, art teacher, bartender, car mechanic, nonprofit founder, and survivalist instructor.

Recently, her last set of skills has definitely come in handy.

On Sunday, March 23, at 9:00 pm EST (8:00 pm Central), Rupert will be featured on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, a reality show in which Rupert and her survival partner, Jeff from Idaho, are dropped into the wilderness of Madagascar—with no clothes or food—for 21 days.

Eva

Eva Rupert '01 is on the March 23 episode of Naked and Afraid. (Courtesy Photo)

“The biggest part is the mental conditioning,” Rupert told Emerson Today. “You have to be in a place where you’re focused, and that comes from practice. It’s maybe 25 percent physical and 75 percent mental.”

Now in its second season, Naked and Afraid uses two contestants, a man and a woman, who are brought to a remote area with nothing but a satchel with a diary, camera, and a map. Together—and naked—the two must survive some of the most extreme environments.

“We’re stronger and can dig deeper than we often realize,” Rupert said.

Rupert, who majored in Visual and Media Arts, was first exposed to wilderness-related hobbies about 10 years ago when she took up indoor rock climbing while living in New York City.

Eva Rupert

Eva Rupert '01 (Courtesy Photo)

“One of my friends was teaching at a summer camp. She needed people who could teach rock climbing,” Rupert said. “I said, ‘I can totally do that.’ I could get out of the city in the summertime. It will be fun.”

But once Rupert was there, watching the campers practice survival skills, “everything just kind of made sense,” she said. “It was a moment that took your breath away. It resonated with me in untold ways.”

She partook in countless outdoor activities and built up her survival skills in the years to come.

“We spend so much of our lives insulated,” Rupert said. “[The show displays] what happens when you take that away and strip yourself down to the core being.

“It’s truth. It’s simplicity. And it’s the most focused and clearest way to live,” she said.

Rupert, a native of Bethel, Connecticut, who now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, said she didn’t do any immediate preparation for the show.

“The preparation was my 10-plus years of being in the outdoors,” she said. “It was really putting myself over and over again in bizarre, uncomfortable situations. It’s a lot of practice, a lot of trial-and-error.”

Rupert said she’s “really proud” of herself because “there are very few people who can do what I did.”

“There are very few people who can do what I did.”

She wasn’t intimidated by having a camera crew around 24/7, mostly because of her film experience at Emerson.

“It’s fun and exciting. I love the entertainment industry,” said Rupert, who has worked in film. “It’s so familiar to me because of my Emerson experience.”

Rupert oversees the nonprofit organization Tiny Bikes, Big Change, in which participants organize rides on small motorcycles to raise money for charities. She’s also working on a second organization, Four Directions Journeys, which will offer outdoor experiences that promote female empowerment.

“The one thing I keep coming back to…is that I hope everyone in their lifetime has the opportunity—not necessarily to do Naked and Afraid—but their Mount Everest, or their greatest challenge,” Rupert said. “I hope everybody has a chance to come face to face with themselves.”

You can follow Rupert on Twitter.

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