The Amazing Race
After graduation, Yalies go on to succeed in medicine, law, the financial sector and a wide range of other fields. And recently, a few Yale alumni have broken into an area with a less distinct Yale presence — reality TV.
Evan Lynyak ’17 and Henry Zhang ’17 — a couple dubbed “Team Yale” who started dating after working as partners in the Yale Debate Association — are competing on Season 30 of CBS’s “The Amazing Race.” And Seinne Fleming ’12 is one of 15 remaining contestants vying for the heart of Arie Luyendyk on this year’s rendition of “The Bachelor.”
“We never imagined that we would be able to do something like this,” Zhang said of his time on the set of the Amazing Race. “It felt almost unreal.”
The Amazing Race follows 11 teams around the world as they compete to win a $1 million dollar grand prize. This season, Lynyak and Zhang travelled to Iceland, Belgium, Morocco, France, Zimbabwe and the Czech Republic. Challenges this season included a “SkyClimb,” in which teams climbed a ladder hanging from a moving crane, and navigating the streets and rooftops of foreign cities.
The two were selected for the show after CBS reached out to the YDA seeking a Yale debate couple. They then had to navigate a series of interviews, physicals and psychological tests before earning spots on the show.
Fleming is not seeking a cash prize, but rather the heart of Arie Luyendyk, a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Nearly half of the 29 original contestants have been eliminated so far this season. Those remaining hope to receive the so-called “final rose” and, potentially, a marriage proposal from Luyendyk.
While ABC policy prevents Fleming from commenting on news stories unless she is eliminated, she has done well on the show so far. In a recent episode, she even received a “solo date” and a kiss from the Bachelor.
She reminisced fondly on the show about her time at Yale.
“It was interesting because I went to a really big public high school, but it was so different because the people you meet [at Yale] are from around the world,” she told Luyendyk just before their kiss. “You are kind of forced to grow up, and it was challenging at first, but I so appreciated it.”
Fleming graduated from Yale with a degree in economics and was a member of the Yale Black Women’s Coalition and the Yale Dramatic Association. After graduating, she returned to her home state of California, where she now works as an associate for Latitude Real Estate Investors.
It is not just alumni who have recently been featured on reality TV. Summer Wu ’18, Cam Ferguson ’18 and Nathan Nguyen GRD ’20 competed on the Chinese game show Geek Go in December. In the show, teams of students from various universities compete to answer questions about technology and science.
The episode, which aired on Christmas Eve, was about mind control and saw a Yale victory over Fudan University in Shanghai.
Wu told the News that she was surprised by how scripted the show was.
“I remember for the first question they asked, we wanted to answer yes, but the director told us we had to say no,” she said.
Wu added that the team’s answer buzzers were not connected to anything and that whichever team answered second was required to give a different answer from the first team, even if it did not believe the answer was correct. Wu and her teammates received medals for their victory, but she said that the medals were made of plastic and had to be returned to the show’s producers after filming ended.
Jeanine Dames, the director of the Office of Career Strategy, said she was impressed by the number of Yalies on TV.
“[It] speaks to the amazing versatility of our graduates and their various interests and strengths,” she said.
The Bachelor has been running for 22 seasons.
Niki Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorenzo Arvanitis | email@example.com