Liberty native to appear on seventh ‘Survivor’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

LIBERTY &045;&045; A 22-year-old Amite County native and licensed mortician is Mississippi’s first contestant on the CBS reality TV show &uot;Survivor.&uot;

Darrah Johnson, a 1999 graduate of Amite School Center, is one of 16 contestants &045;&045; eight men and eight women &045;&045; who competed for the $1 million prize on the show’s latest series, filmed this summer in Panama’s Pearl Islands.

The network introduced &uot;Survivor&uot;’s most recent castaways on its &uot;Early Show&uot; Thursday, and the new series premier will air on Sept. 18. But even Darrah’s family doesn’t know how she fared yet.

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&uot;We don’t know anything about how she did. When she came back, she said she couldn’t talk to anybody about it. But we’re all excited about it,&uot; said a family member, who requested anonymity.

Darrah, who now lives in Ridgeland, has changed her telephone number to an unpublished listing.

At ASC, Darrah was a popular student and athlete. As a senior, she was voted homecoming queen and played on a state championship fast-pitch softball team. She was also a cheerleading captain and a Beta Club member.

&uot;She was a good student and a super athlete. I just can’t think of anything bad to say about Darrah,&uot; said Clay Campbell, Darrah’s former coach and math teacher at ASC.

Campbell said Darrah’s interest in &uot;Survivor&uot; seems only natural.

&uot;That’s something that she would do.

She always said she wanted to be a mortician, and that’s a little different. So her making it on Survivor doesn’t surprise me,&uot; he said.

After ASC, Darrah attended Southwest Community College in Summit and Holmes Community College in Goodman. She earned an associate of arts in funeral services before passing her National Board of Funeral Service exam to become a certified mortician.

Tanya Forman, a longtime friend and former classmate of Darrah’s at ASC, was thrilled by Thursday’s news.

&uot;I haven’t talked to her since last Christmas. I had no idea … I’ll be taping it every night,&uot; she said.

And for Forman, growing up in a small town like Liberty makes the news about Darrah seem even bigger.

&uot;It’s not so surprising that she made it on the show. But coming from a small town, it just seems like no one ever gets to do things like this,&uot; she said.

Forman believes Darrah’s competitive nature and outgoing personality will give her an advantage over other contestants.

&uot;She was always a go-getter. She liked to take part in things. I would think she will be good team member to have … I can promise you she’s going to do pretty good,&uot; she said.

According to a CBS biography, Darrah is single and enjoys riding four-wheelers, working out and hunting. In addition to mortuary science, she previously worked as a

salesperson, a waitress and a fitness trainer.