Beautiful People 2020: David Genat On Why He Doesn't Use Instagram Filters
The Survivor star opens up about his family.
David Genat is used to being judged on his looks. The professional model, 40, was quickly coined the ‘villain’ during his first season on Channel 10’s Australian Survivor, but when he returned for a back-to-back stint on Australian Survivor: All Stars he proved to not only be an unstoppable strategic threat but a family man who was playing to give wife Pearl and kids – sons Winston and Hugo, and daughter Rei – a better life.
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Beyond the game, he launched the #towelchallenge with fellow contestant Lee Carseldine to raise money for the Stroke Foundation after Carseldine lost his mum to a stroke while filming.
Now, Genat talks to WHO editor Stacey Hicks about being crowned the sole survivor and why there’s more to him than meets the eye...
We saw a softer side to you this season. How was the audience reaction this time round?
The response has been amazing, I didn’t really get to develop that side of my story the first time – because I was blindsided! – but the second time around it’s been great. And as a fan of the show, I was obviously playing for my family, but I was trying to play for fans as well and deliver for them, and so to win was a dream come true. I always held strong to the belief that I was going to play the game my way no matter what.
Playing two seasons back to back was a huge undertaking…
It’s a big commitment if you’re going to play Survivor. My wife is so amazing and she’s so supportive, she hasn’t once said to me that she regrets it, she’s never given me any static about being away. I’m in an industry where I am away a lot but when I’m away I’m able to make calls and talk and text, so this is a whole different ball game.
So to roll the dice on that much time away, which is not just 50 days it’s the month before and there’s a couple of weeks after, and the mental space that Survivor takes up…she’s had to purely be my emotional support base because of dealing with the game, so it was committing my family to Survivor as well as myself just to make a better life for them. Her giving me a chance to win that money and to make a new career and next stage for myself was an amazing opportunity.
Photographed for Who by Chantel Concei
What are your hopes for your daughter growing up in what can be a superficial world at times?
We want her to be accepted for who she is no matter how she pans out. We want her to be herself and not feel the weight of conventional beauty standards. And look, I’m coming from the modelling business, I’ve been judged on the way I look for 20 years but … I think people are really craving for realness. I try to steer away from using any filters on social media so I can come across as real as possible.
Tell me about how the Towel Challenge started.
Mario Testino, an amazing photographer and a good friend of mine, had taken a photo of me - he has a towel series and I had posted that photo which was on his Instagram - and John Eastoe thought it was really funny and did his own version of that. I thought it was really hilarious and once I posted it, it got an insane amount of traction online so as a joke I started calling people out to do the challenge as a fun thing. And as that was going and taking off I thought it would be nice if there was some kind of good cause behind this.
So as things were developing with Lee’s mum, I talked to him just to see what he thought, because it was kind of a weird thing to do because we wanted to raise money for The Stroke Foundation but we also wanted to be honouring Lee’s mum.
She had such a lovely sense of humour so we just though this could be a really good idea to challenge people and raise some money for The Stroke Foundation at the same time.
Photographed for Who by Chantel Concei
What’s the craziest fan experience you’ve had so far?
I was having dinner with some of the Survivor guys in Melbourne and someone showed up [to the restaurant] wearing a t-shirt with my face on it, so that was kind of incredible. I signed it and whole nine yards. The fans have just been so great and so lovely.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to stay in television, but COVID-19 has definitely derailed a lot of stuff, but the most important thing is people staying safe and listening to the social isolation rules at the moment. I’m very excited for what the next year holds but we’ve just got to get through this together and see what life holds on the other side.
For more inspirational stories, pick up a copy of Who's Most Beautiful People 2020 Issue, out now.