Great Falls When Great Falls native Davina Friedlander got a chance to spend three days in Hawaii, it wasn’t exactly how she envisioned it. Instead of relaxing on a beach, sipping a drink and soaking up some rays, she fought hard to make it across the desolate, uninhabited sections of Lanai.
Friedlander was part of the pilot episode of TNT’s “72 Hours,” a competition where three teams of three people, equipped only with a bottle of water and a GPS tracker, try to make their way across the wilderness to reach a briefcase containing $100,000. She got her opportunity when a friend went to a casting call and was asked if she knew anybody who was into extreme sports and the outdoors.
As a self-proclaimed “total tree-hugger hippie” who says she would like to one day live in a tree house in Hawaii, Friedlander jumped at the opportunity.
“When we were preparing, I told the producers that my one goal was not to be the weakest link. There were people on the show with a lot of skills, survival and otherwise, so I think they were a little skeptical,” she said. “But I knew I was never going to quit, that I would keep going as much as possible.”
AFTER FLYING TO HAWAII, the group took a ferry to Lanai, where they got their first glimpses of what awaited them. “It definitely wasn’t the type of paradise one thinks of when you hear Hawaii. Half of the island is uninhabitable, and that’s where we were,” she said. “There were ridges, deserts, thorny patches, forests, it was pretty wild.”
Her first glimpse of the island came as she and her team were hanging from a harness from a helicopter and dropped off on the beach. “That was really scary, because I have a slight fear of heights,” she said. “But the view was absolutely breathtaking, and I kept telling myself that this was the kind of experience you could never buy.”
She was teamed up with two men, Jordan and Jason, to race against two other teams. Teams could only hike for 12 hours per day, and there were three supply drops they had to make it to. To call for food and extra water meant an hour penalty.
“It’s not uncommon for me to go until 5 p.m. before eating, so the lack of food didn’t effect me as much as it did others,” she said. “But being so dehydrated was a different story. And we didn’t get much sleep. We had these crinkly emergency blankets that made noise every time someone moved, and it was windy and freezing.”
Friedlander and her teammate Jason were able to get along fairly well during the process, but their other teammate Jordan got on both their nerves early.
“I knew I wanted our team to have positive interactions, because I figured working together was going to be how we’d win,” she said. “It was a lot more difficult than I’d have liked though. We butted heads with Jordan a lot.”
Their team spent much of the first two days in second place before, unbeknownst to them, they took first place close to the final supply drop. But then Jordan decided he’d had enough, and quit the contest, causing the group to forfeit.
“Once he quit, I just exploded. The show is edited obviously, so when I watched the actual show, even [though] they showed me swearing and screaming and yelling, I think they still made me look calmer than I was,” she said. “That was tough to swallow, he just quit on us. We even told him early on in the contest if he was going to quit, that he should do it early, so we didn’t have to go through it,” she said.
“I’ve spoken to Jason a few times since the show was filmed 15 months ago, and a few other people, but not Jordan. He hasn’t even apologized.”
She said it took her a while to get over her anger, especially knowing how much the money would have helped. But she also says she wishes she had been a bit more level headed when it all went down.
FRIEDLANDER was born in Africa, and moved to Great Falls in second grade, where she lived through her high school years. She moved to Arizona for college, and then California, where she is a caterer and valet, while also trying to make it as a comedienne and actress. Her IMDB page lists 20 different credits, mostly horror movies, as well as a few TV shows.
“I definitely have the acting bug, and I love getting onstage to do stand up comedy,” she said. “Overall, the show was a great experience, I made some close friends, even if the end result was disappointing. If they decide to bring people back for a second season of, I would definitely be up for doing it again. It was an amazing experience, and definitely qualifies as the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”