Lifestyle

New ‘Survivor’ season stars La Jolla real-estate agent

Star treatment awaits some buyers in the market for a La Jolla home — whether they realize it or not. The 37th season of “Survivor” (subtitled “David vs. Goliath”) stars Kara Kay, a Realtor in the Bird Rock office of Canter Brokerage. In fact, after one episode, Kay has emerged as a breakout star.

“A real-estate agent isn’t just someone you choose from on TV,” Kay told the Light in her brokerage office. “If they choose me, it will be from my credibility from the past.”

She added, smiling brightly: “Hopefully.”

The Light chatted with Kay, who was raised in Carlsbad and now lives in Pacific Beach, shortly before the big premiere. As a stipulation for CBS to approve the interview, the Light agreed not to ask about the results of the competition — which wrapped taping in Fiji in the spring, leaving only the live finale whose air date has not been announced.

“There are so many things to think about,” Kay said about physically and mentally preparing for the challenge. “If you think about it, it’s outwit, outplay and outlast. I ran on the sand and did yoga. But there’s no way to prepare for a crazy challenge out there. So a lot of it was watching past seasons and how past players played, socially, just because I know that was going to be a strong point for me — connecting to people, creating alliances.”

Kara Kay, foreground and left, competes in a 'Survivor: David vs. Goliath' challenge.
Kara Kay, foreground and left, competes in a 'Survivor: David vs. Goliath' challenge. COURTESY CBS

A CBS publicist eavesdropped on the interview via speakerphone, to ensure that no questions about the game were asked. (She politely stopped the interview twice for veering too close.)

Every “Survivor” contestant signs an NDA promising not to reveal anything about the season publicly or privately — not even to friends, family or spouses. The Light asked if Kay’s loved ones respect those restrictions, or if they demand that she spill.

“No,” Kay said. “My friends and family are very respectful, and they are super supportive and just can’t wait to see it unfold.”Kay, born Kara Knooihuizen 30 years ago, received a B.A. in public relations from San Diego State University and studied international politics at Oxford. But there was always a performing side to her. She cheered San Diego’s former NFL team on as a Chargers Girl from 2011 to 2014.

Kara Kay was raised in Carlsbad and lives in Pacific Beach.
Kara Kay was raised in Carlsbad and lives in Pacific Beach. COURTESY ROBERT VOETS / CBS

“I danced my entire life, so it was like the pinnacle of my dance career and I was super excited to perform on a big level for the city,” Kay said, adding that she had no inkling that the Chargers would leave San Diego before she left the Chargers.

“They were like, ‘Oh, Kara’s gone? Now we have to go!’” she said. “Just kidding. I still have love for them. It sucks, but I still have love for them.”Kay said it was never her goal to be on reality TV. She got recruited, she said, by someone who works for CBS.

“So if you want to put me in a category, I was technically a recruit, but then everyone applies,” she said. “And it’s a really long audition process. It starts with a video application and then L.A. finals week and, when I got the call, I was super excited. It was unlike any feeling I’ve had before, and I’ve had some pretty exciting opportunities.”

Kay said she is a super fan of the show.

“I just love the ins and outs of the game,” she said. “It’s super intricate and it just seemed like something I wanted to do because it’s so outside of what my normal life is.”

That normal life includes selling, according to her own real-estate internet bio, a total of more than $239 million in residential La Jolla real estate.

“I’ve been in real estate five-and-a-half years now, and I’ve been a top producer for two years in a row going on three,” Kay said. “I love the day-to-day hustle. I like to move around and make each day a little bit different. I like the negotiations, I like how aggressive I can be. I like that I get to help people find their home.”Wherever “Survivor” takes her professionally, she said, “real estate’s for sure in my future.”The same may not be true of living in Pacific Beach, however.

“It’s where I call home until I can afford to live in La Jolla,” Kay said, laughing. “That’s why I went on ‘Survivor!’”

WHEN TO WATCH: “Survivor: David vs. Goliath” airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS-TV.

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