Monday, December 29, 2014

A Look Back and What's Next for Survivor's Missy Payne & Baylor Wilson

Survivor is a reality TV show that pits city dwellers against country farmers, old against young - and in the just completed 29th season - Mothers against daughters. Dallas' Missy Payne and her daughter, Baylor Wilson, were contestants on this season of "Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water". Missy grew up in Highland Park and still resides in The Bubble. She has coached the Highland Park 8th grade and freshman cheerleading squads at HP Middle School, was the Cheerleading and Dance Team Coach/ Choreographer at ESD and is currently the owner of Express Cheer, a competitive cheerleading gym. Her daughter, Baylor, attended HPISD for a time but embraced "her artsy side" at Booker T. Washington. She is currently a student at Belmont University in Nashville where she hopes to be the next country/pop music sensation (Watch out Taylor Swift).

Baylor and Missy at the Survivor Finale on
Dec. 18. Photo credit: FayesVision / WENN
If you watched this season of Survivor, you know that one of the most dramatic moments of the show occurred when Missy incurred a Level III ankle sprain in a late-season Reward Challenge. She resisted Jeff Probst's insinuations that she might want to leave the game and plowed ahead despite considerable pain (and no drugs). Her perseverance paid off, getting her to the final three where she ended up coming in third place.

Baylor did almost as well, hanging on until the final five before getting voted out. I met up with the duo at DRIP on Lovers Lane the day after Christmas (just 8 days after the finale) to see how they were adjusting to their new "normal" life after 30+ days of living in the jungles of Nicaragua.

The motto of the game in Survivor is "Outwit. Outlast. Outplay." What Survivor reminds us of is that often, it’s doesn’t matter how great your strategy is or how physically strong you are, but how well you can get along with your tribe that keeps you in the game. Social skills are crucial to your success in life. Whether you are a student in a college fraternity or an employee in an office, how you can get along in a group will determine if you end up President or just a member of the team. Learning how to interact, engage and endear yourself to others can pay off big. Pair that skill with a solid education and the world’s your oyster.

Baylor Wilson, Cynthia Smoot & Missy Payne
Interview at DRIP on December 26, 2014
Missy is talking that philosophy to heart and turning her years of being a Mom and a Coach into a new venture called Cheer 4 Your Life.  C4YL is giving Payne the opportunity to use her interpersonal skills as a "life coach" and among her offerings, she is offering a workshop for girls called “Survival Skills” which teaches individualism, healthy boundary setting, the benefits of serving others and helps to build self-esteem. She is also working on a book that will chronicle her Survivor adventure. The working title is "Talking With God For 40 Days". Her dream is to host a TV talk show talking to kids and helping to coach them through the issues they are going through.

As for Baylor, she is (smartly) using her social media base to keep the buzz going and focusing on creating engaging new content, which for her means writing and recording new music and videos. The singer/songwriter feels her style is country with an alternative rock edge and says if you had to compare her to who is on today's market it would be "Kacey Musgrave's songwriting and Sheryl Crow's artistry and voice."

I had to ask the pair about their favorite hot spots and what it was they loved about Dallas.

What are your favorite Dallas dining spots?
  1. Houston's for the Artichoke Dip. "I know it's not called that anymore (It's Hillstone)," says Missy, "but that's what we still call it. It was the first place we went when we got back to town after Survivor." 
  2. Sushi at Shinsei 
  3. Anything at Mi Cocina
  4. Company Cafe "It's good food and it's right off the Katy Trail!" exclaimed Baylor.

What local boutiques do you hit when you need a little retail therapy?
  1. Gypsy Wagon
  2. Pinto Ranch "They sold us the most rocking' boots of our lives," Missy says, "which we wore in the finale show." (See photo above) 
  3. Cotton Island for clothing
  4. For the best candles in town these girls love Sample House for the price and variety of options

When you have out-of-town guests, where do you take them to show them what Dallas is all about?
  1. "The top of the ball!" exclaimed Missy. "You can see everything up there. And there's a great restaurant" That would be Wolfgang 360. 
  2. Stars or Dallas Cowboys game is Baylor's choice "I'm a sports girl," she shrugged.
  3. Ice-skating at Galleria. They both nod their heads in unison.

What's your favorite Dallas festival or event?
  1. State Fair (they both agree)
  2. Turkey Trot (Missy is a runner so this is her pick)

Baylor & Missy with Cucina staff at a Survivor Watch party
photo c/o Cucina Neighborhood Italian restaurant 

How was it to watch it with friends and family and not be able to tell them what was really happening?

"We had weekly watching gatherings at Cucina Neighborhood Italian restaurant in Preston Center and they started with a huge bang - about 75 people showed up for the premier. Then week to week it grew as the momentum picked up, and the longer I lasted in the game," says Missy. "After each episode there would be an unofficial Q&A, where everyone would listen intently to my answers about that particular show. I knew the outcome beforehand, but I didn’t know which edits would be shown, so I felt a lot of anticipation and sometimes anxiety. Since we had signed a contract with a $5 million dollar lawsuit behind it… it wasn’t too difficult for me to keep my mouth shut."

What is it that makes Dallas a great place to live, work and raise a family?

"I've been a lot of places," muses Missy, "and although it's not very beautiful here - I mean there are no mountains or oceans - I think Dallas is very safe. It's easy access to get to a lot of places. It's a central hub and I think the people here are super nice in comparison to other cities."

You can connect with the pair on social media via the following channels:

Missy Payne

Baylor Wilson

header photo: courtesy of CBS