NAKED AND AFRAID diggie roberts

“I’ll take surviving in South Africa for 21 days over surviving in the Cameron marsh for 21 days, any day,” said Derrick “Diggie” Roberts.

During his interview, Derrick "Diggie" Roberts was asked whether he was sure he knew what he was getting into if he was selected to be on Discovery Channel's "Naked and Afraid."

"Are you sure you know what you're getting into?" the Cameron native responded.

The show that will reveal just what he meant by that response will air Sunday, April 5, at 7 p.m.

"Naked and Afraid" makes "Survivor" look like a beauty pageant," the 41-year-old Roberts said.

Each "Naked and Afraid" episode chronicles survival among strangers who meet for the first time and endure 21 days in a perilous setting without clothing, food, shelter or water.

Roberts promises those who know him won't be surprised by what they see on the screen. He's a smack talker and he claims it.

"I'm blunt. I make inappropriate remarks. I joke. I clown. The first time you meet me is exactly like the last time you see me. You love me or you hate me. But I'm consistent."

Roberts was dropped in the parched South African savanna with three others for this special two-hour tribe episode.

"I'll take surviving in South Africa for 21 days over surviving in the Cameron marsh for 21 days, any day," he said.

He and his female partner will join with the other team after 10 days. Each team member gets to select a survival tool. Roberts chose his recurve bow and arrows handmade by Kyle Griffin of Westlake.

In the preview, he introduces himself as a "wild child, gator hunting coon-ass who's going to survive and do it Cajun style. He said he was surprised coon-ass wasn't' cut. He must have gotten the message across to producers that it's not a slur, especially if the person using it to describe himself is one. Don't worry that his role will advance any negative stereotype. The show delves into the subject, including Roberts' IQ. It's 137.

"I have always been inquisitive and rebuilt my first short wave broadcast radio when I was six years old," he said.

His aunt gave him the nickname, "Diggie," when he was two because he was digging into everything and taking things apart. Roberts hunted alligators for the first time when he was in grade school. He's hunted with his brothers and cousins.

"My parrain (godfather), Terrell Boudoin, got me started," he said.

He is a former Air Force F-15 crew chief, and currently he works construction at the Venture Global LNG and Kiewit Calcasieu Pass LNG export facility.

Roberts lost weight on the show, but can't reveal how much.

"It was drastic," he said.

He was advised to stop working out and put on 15 pounds of fat before filming in August 2019. Viewers will see bug eating, which he says is a part of other societies, so no big deal. Finding water was a major challenge, but Roberts would not divulge whether he threw in the towel before the 21-day mark or not.

"You'll have to watch," he said.

Roberts family naked and afraid cameron resident

Derrick “Diggie” Roberts with sons Avery, 19, and Ashlon, 12, and wife Jamie Jones Roberts.

 

He has been married for 20 years to Jamie Jones Roberts, last year's Iowa Middle School Teacher of the Year. They have two sons, Avery, 19 and Ashlon, 12. The family made the decision – together – for him to be on the show.

"My wife and I decided there would be no spooning," he said.

Team members have cuddled for warmth on other episodes.

"I've been naked and I've been afraid, but I've never been naked and scared at the same time," he said. "Really, there's no time for that. You're just worried about surviving."

Roberts said he was compensated for being on the program, but the amount was close to the same wages he would have received if he had been working at his current job.

"I did it for the challenge, and to raise awareness," he said. "My oldest son is bi-polar."

The message to his son and everyone else is, no matter the adversity, the support of family and friends and persistence are vital.

"There should be no more stigma associated with bi-polar disorder or any other mental illness than with diabetes or other diseases," Roberts said.

He and his wife are active in the National Alliance of Mental Health and proceeds from autographed Naked and Afraid posters will benefit NAMI.

The Roberts family will be seeing the show for the first time Sunday night. Roberts hasn't even seen the final product.

"We had planned a huge watch party at the Golden Nugget," he said. "When this (COVID-19 outbreak) blows over, we'll have a party. During that, we'll pause the show and I'll talk about different scenes."

In the meantime, Roberts said he wanted to call attention to the efforts of healthcare workers.

"They're at the front lines," he said. "They're making this better."

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