SEQUIM — Sequim native Richard Rogers has a passion for fishing and is a fan of survivalist shows, so it was only natural he was the perfect catch as a contestant in the new ABC television series “Castaways.”
Rogers was cast as one of 12 contestants in the show that premiered from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
It is a 10-part television series that airs at the same time each week.
“Castaways” features a handful of people who are plucked from their everyday lives to work to survive while stranded on remote islands in Indonesia.
The “Castaways” are separated from each other and the show is said to test the need for human companionship in dire circumstances.
“It’s as if you’re on vacation in Indonesia and take a snorkeling tour with 11 other strangers, and that boat capsizes, and (contestants) get washed ashore at different locations with a piece of luggage,” Rogers said.
While it is a survivalist show, Rogers said it is not a competition but more of a social experiment.
Contestants must survive with what they find on the island, including the washed-up luggage, scattered resources and abandoned structures.
The only way to get off the island is to persevere long enough to be rescued or to quit.
“None of the contestants are survivalists; we are all normal people,” Rogers said. “There’s no direction on what to do or how to do it.”
Rogers said his father managed and traveled to salmon hatcheries throughout Washington state while he was growing up. He landed in Sequim in sixth grade and attended school in Sequim through high school, eventually going on to Peninsula College for a few years.
Rogers started exploring Washington and found himself moving to different parts of the state once again.
He eventually returned to Sequim three years ago to be closer to Libby Rogers, his then girlfriend and now wife.
He said he was recruited for the show in the spring of 2017.
“I was kind of recruited based on a Facebook photo I posted holding up two halibut,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he’s always been passionate about survivalist shows and is a fan of shows such as “Alone” but was in the middle of planning his wedding with Libby when he was contacted by one of the creative producers.
“I told her this is the busiest summer of my life,” he said. “To add something like this to our plate was hard to even try to fathom.”
Nonetheless, Rogers agreed to be cast on the show and film crews came out to Sequim last year to film the family’s back story. In the show, the series flashes back to the lives of each contestant before they were stranded in Indonesia.
“My attitude going into the experience was I’m not going just to survive, I’m going to thrive,” he said. “I wanted to be successful and do the best I could at making a life there for as long as I would be there.”
Some of the most difficult aspects of the show, Rogers said, were not knowing what the experience was going to be like and being away from his family.
“The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was I was nervous for the unknown and I was scared to be away from my family for that long,” Rogers said.
“Having had my grandfather and family in the military, it was an opportunity for me to go through an experience to test what I am capable of doing and enduring,” he said. “And I was excited about that.”
Before the show, Rogers said he only had a couple of months to research the area of Indonesia and had no formal survivalist training other than his experience in fishing and hunting. He is an avid fisherman, he said, fishing for halibut in the spring and salmon in the summer and fall.
“I’ve always been a fan of ‘Alone’ and ‘Naked and Afraid,’ and having that as a foundation of what I watch helped me be creative in this experience to be able to put yourself in the mindset of a survival situation,” he said.
Home sweet home
Now that Rogers is back in his hometown of Sequim with Libby and their two children, Cadence, 12, and Jordan, 7, he said the experience made him appreciate his life and his family.
“It was an incredible experience,” he said. “The landscape and area was beautiful yet extremely rugged and unforgiving.”
“To have gone through an experience like that and come home, it teaches you to appreciate life, my family, my wife and all we have,” he said. “We’re blessed.”
Libby said it was difficult to be away from her husband and their children to be away from their father, but they did their best to be there for him from a distance.
“We supported him and held down the fort and did whatever we could to support him from afar,” Libby said.
“Just having a family and friend base and representing the Pacific Northwest was an opportunity we were all proud to be a part of,” Richard said.