CBS announced the cast for Survivor: Philippines today, and it includes a familiar name: Lisa Whelchel, who played big-haired Blair on The Facts of Life. In CBS' publicity material, Whelchel, now 49, is listed as "Former TV Teen Star," but she is also a Christian author and speaker.
Whelchel is a native Texan, born in Littlefield and, according to a 2001 Star-Telegram profile, raised in Lake Worth. She also attended Liberty Christian Academy in Haltom City, and now lists her residence as Dallas (her website lists a "Lisa Whelchel Office" in Flower Mound). The profile mentioned that she is a big fan of Survivor, which was more or less in its infancy in 2001.
The FAQ section of her website already includes the question "Was it fun fullfilling your longtime desire to be a contestant on Survivor''? Whelchel's answer:
I dont think "fun is the word I would use to describe my experience. Those days on the island were the hardest thing Ive ever done in my life. It pushed me to my extreme limits physically, mentally, spiritually, and especially, emotionally. Im so very grateful for the opportunity and Im so glad I did it but I think its like childbirth. I may need to put a few years behind me and some perspective in front of me before I would ever consider doing it again.
Sounds dramatic. Here's an extended promo, in which Whelchel appears early. Survivor: Philippines premieres at 7 p.m. Central Sept. 19 on KTVT/Channel 11.