Friday, July 6, 2007

A Reality Check With ... Joy McElveen (CBS's "Pirate Master")

Born and raised in West Columbia, S.C., Jocelyn "Joy" McElveen has always been a tomboy even though she has also competed in beauty pageants. Her mother raised her alone while also serving in the South Carolina Army National Guard during the Gulf War. At 19, she made history in South Carolina for being the first African-American to win the Miss Sun Fun USA crown. Her hobbies include basketball, singing, board games and motivational speaking at high schools and elementary schools. She describes herself as driven, vibrant and energetic. Despite her athletic background, her weakness in challenges got her cut adrift & she's here to talk to RealityCheckByGina about her time on "Pirate Master".

RC: What was it about “Pirate Master” that interested you?
Joy: I looked at is as an opportunity to live out your childhood fantasy. Growing up, I loved to be a pirate & when this show came about, and it was going to be created by Mark Burnett, I was like, “Wow, this is going to be an adventure!” When they first came to me, I was hesitant but then I though, “Why not?” You get to set sail, go on vacation, live like a pirate, and of course, the money – everybody wants that!

RC: Did you have a lot of experience on the water before coming on the show?
Joy: No, before coming onto the show, we knew there would be a lot of swimming. I swim in a pool but I knew I’d have to become more comfortable in the water. I tried to become one with the water. I was proud of myself for it, I did good!

RC: Did you train in other ways in preparation for “Pirate Master”?
Joy: Yes, I played basketball and that was 4 years ago. I kind of wish that I stayed with it because training with basketball helps build up endurance. I traded my basketball shoes in for high heels to model. I needed to get back on the treadmill & run. Looking back, I was training but now I wish I went running in the heels or climbed stadiums!

RC: The pirates have said many times that you are an athlete. What is your athletic background?
Joy: Besides basketball, my mom’s in the military. While in high school I did, junior ROTC. You go do basic training & I did what my mom got to do. I ran obstacle courses & did rope bridges, repelled, climbed towers. I’ve always had fight, determination, and a little daredevil in me. I can take everything I’ve done & apply it to the show. I wasn’t afraid to do anything. I might not have been the best but I wasn’t afraid of it.

RC: You said that the blue coat changes people, referring to the captain & his officers. How did you see greed take over?

Joy: There must be something in that blue coat, a curse or something, because when you put it on, you become something … I don’t want to say evil but … you become greedy and your whole mindset changes. You forget where you come from. I hate that! It would bother me because it was like, just a few minutes ago, you were one of us. Maybe you’re captain but you have to make sure your crew is happy too.

RC: You got some pretty harsh comments from your fellow male pirates regarding your weaknesses. How do you respond to that?

Joy: I prepared myself but when I heard the comments, they were harsh. What bothered me the most was that everything was centered around me asking for water. Never once did I stop. Even though I asked for water, I didn’t get it. I thought, “If it doesn’t kill me, it can only make me stronger.” I don’t hold grudges, I don’t lose sleep over it. I’m glad it’s over!

RC: You were very well-liked on the ship, which is more than we can say for some pirates. That had to make you feel good.
Joy: You know, it really did. Everyone came on for a different purpose and got different things out of it. I can walk away & say I don’t have any enemies. I am Joy, that’s what my mom named me. I’m glad America got to see that last night, what Jupiter said about me, that I have a personality and that I’m a good person. That’s my pirate family and they’re stuck with me for life now!

RC: Did you feel you could go all the way and win this thing?

Joy: My first mindset was like, “Yeah I can do this! I can be the Pirate Master!” and then when I got there, I really started to think deep in myself that I wasn’t sure about it. My whole objective was to stay true to myself & to be Pirate Master, you have to be someone you’re not. You have to lie, you have to manipulate, and that’s not me. I wasn’t gonna give up & fight to the very end. That’s what I did. I was proud of myself the way I left the ship.

RC: What are your goals now that you’re off the ship? Will you continue to pursue modeling?
Joy: It’s funny that you asked. I had a career before & I was doing well. This can only help me. I will be moving to L.A. this month with some doors opening up. As they say, when one doors closes, another one opens. I truly believe that

Pirate Master airs Thursdays on CBS!

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