An African American Woman Just Became the First Person to Survive 21 Days in Chiapas on Naked and Afraid
Braving relentless bugs, downpours, deadly elements, and losing a partner, the first Black woman to complete Naked and Afraid sits down to give us an inside look at her relationship with nature and the next adventure.
In an amazing first, Shanika has become the first NAKED AND AFRAID survivalist and Black woman to survive 21 days in the Chiapas rainforest after her partner tapped out on Day 11. Through this accomplishment, she hopes to inspire more diversity and representation in the nature-loving community.
How did you first get interested in nature and the outdoors?
I have always had a love of nature and remember from being a child in Jamaica how good I felt in nature, in the river and ocean. I grew up in Philadelphia, in the city. As a young adult, I went hiking and tried to spend as much time in nature as possible. This continues through the years. Seeking nature connection, studying ecovillages, permaculture, and going to gatherings. In 2017 I drove 12 hours with my children to attend a weeklong earth/primitive skills gathering called FireFly Gathering, in Asheville, NC. I found my tribe and connected to that community.
What do you love to do outdoors?
I love to just spend time in nature, with no agenda. From camping to meditation, swimming, and exploring nature, to learning skills, plants, and the land. I especially love ceremonies and plant medicine in nature.
Can you tell us about your favorite place in nature?
The most beautiful and pristine place I have ever visited was the Redwood forest of North Cali, seeing the Avenue of Giants (ancient sequoias tree) and feeling the energy there was unreal and amazing. It was like stepping back into a more ancient time, where humans didn’t exist and all there was, was the sacredness and beauty of nature.
What made you decide to take on the Naked and Afraid challenge?
I like adventure and living life to the fullest. I’m willing to try just about anything at least once. I also love nature and this was an exciting opportunity to do something amazing. When I was presented with the opportunity, I checked in spiritually for higher guidance. I knew this experience and challenge was meant to be a part of my life path.
How did your family and friends react when they heard you would be on Naked and Afraid?
My children are fans of the show, so they were excited. My family, especially my mother, was a little apprehensive. My friends were excited as they knew this was right up my alley. My friend's response: naked & in nature ... .that's definitely you.
What does it mean to be the first black woman to complete 21 days and the first person to complete 21 days in Chiapas on NAA?
It means everything to me, to have made history and to be an inspiration for others. My girls are super proud of me & I’m glad to be a living example to them & BIPOC girls everywhere. I’m also very proud of my strength and ability to persevere through this challenge. This might have been the most challenging 21 days of my life and I’m so glad I did it.
What advice do you have for black nature lovers who want to explore more?
I would tell them not to wait or delay their pursuit of nature connection. Find classes and workshops to expose you to different aspects of nature and learn all you can. Connect with others that have the same interest or those who are already active in nature. Just spend more time in nature, you will be transformed & experience deep healing.
What's next for you?
I am focusing on my life vision and mission, to build a global community & help transform the planet through regenerative living & higher consciousness. My vehicle to do this is through Starseed Landing Collective, an ecovillage & intentional community. I’m collaborating with my friends and working on raising the funds to make this happen. I welcome others who share this vision to join us HERE.
The ultimate test of human endurance – NAKED AND AFRAID bares down with plenty of firsts and danger-filled with adventures that neither the audience nor the survivalists will ever see coming.An all-new season of NAKED AND AFRAID premieres Sunday, February 27 at 8pm ET/PT on Discovery. Catch up on all the previous seasons on discovery+.