Last night, Celeste Anderson won the title on King of the Nerds. I got the chance to speak to her about her experience on the show, how it changed her, and what being a nerd means to her. She was just as sweet on the phone as she was on the show, and you can tell how much being there meant to her, so read on to see what she had to say.
Jenny: Several contestants changed not for the better as the show went on, and by the end, the viewers maybe felt like they didn’t deserve to be there, but you only continued to grow, which was nice to see.
Celeste: Yeah, that whole experience was definitely very challenging for me. I didn’t think I was gonna get that far, let alone win the show, to be honest, because I went into the show feeling so out of place and so different from everyone. Because you know, I wasn’t the NASA engineer or the neuroscientist, and I had a lot really different issues where I was still needing to come out of my shell and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, I’m really happy with people getting to see the kind of growth I experienced because a lot of people have been reaching out to me, saying how inspirational it is. That’s what I wanna do. I want to make sure the people that struggle with the same thing I did while growing up know that you can really accomplish anything.
Jump with me to read more from Celeste.
Jenny: Did this show do anything to change your perspective on what being a nerd actually means?
Celeste: Yeah, you know… Especially when I was young, nerd was a very offensive thing, and throughout high school, people always commented that I sat at the nerd table and that kind of stuff, and I ended up being extremely self-conscious about like attending school and that kind of stuff just because I felt really different. And then over the years, I ended up going into the gaming community, and it was a community that accepted me for what I loved. And then being on the show, that whole experience, to spend so much time with the other castmates, it’s just like, we are a group that’s just so passionate and loving of one another that we embrace that you can be a nerd for anything, like for video games, for eduction, intelligence, and all that kind of stuff. I felt like…by the end of the show, I had never felt so proud to be a nerd and wanted to represent the people that struggled with what I did in high school because the whole “nerd” associates with being an outcast, like a weirdo kind of thing.
Jenny: Did it just feel right that a professional gamer won the right to sit in the Throne of Games?
Celeste: It definitely felt right to sit on the Throne of Games, because if you look at it up close, it’s all a bunch of like…gaming stuff—Guitar Hero guitars sticking out and all that kind of stuff—so yeah, I was like, “This feels right.”
Jenny: What were your favorite and least favorite challenges of the competition and why?
Celeste: My favorite challenge was probably a toss-up between the Rubik’s Cube/Sudoku challenge and the nerdy dancing challenge. Those are my two favorites just because the nerdy dancing was kind of, “I’m not going to care anymore what anyone thinks. I’m just going to go up on stage and enjoy myself.” The sudoku and Rubik’s Cube one was just…it was the only challenge on the show that you didn’t have time to prepare for. It was just on the spot and like you need to do this now, and I liked the pressure of that, and I liked the physical activity. We had to build a piece, like a big giant Rubik’s Cube to solve a puzzle, so I really like that. And then my least favorite challenge was probably the… I don’t wanna say the debate challenge, just ’cause I really felt like I embarrassed myself. I’m so glad I went through that experience…but I’m pretty good with never wanting to do it again. So the debate challenge was probably the toughest one on on me.
That was a really killer experience. I went up there and I said…right before my speech, I was like, “Celeste, just shout it out and sound extremely confident.” And I did for a while, and then…
Jenny: That was a hard challenge for everyone. I didn’t necessarily agree with the rulings they gave everybody. It was interesting because I’m not into comic books, I’m not into superheroes and all of that, so it was fun as an audience member to listen and see who I thought swayed me more on a subject I really didn’t personally have any knowledge of or honestly care for other than what I was watching at the moment. So most of the time, the things that swayed me more were the ones the judges didn’t actually choose.
Celeste: The whole Genevieve thing, right? Yeah, I remember sitting there and were just absolutely shocked that Genevieve didn’t win her debate. That’s why it really hit her hard, because we all believed she’d won—she believed she’d won—so when we went back to the blue room, it was just so disappointing. Especially because at that point, we were like, “We’re not doing too well in judge-based competitions at this point, so what are we going to do? There are going to be more challenges like this.” It was really hard for team blue in that kind of sense because we won every objective challenges, as Virgil said in the show, and the orange team won every subjective challenge, so it was really tough, yeah.
Jenny: Who was the most surprising elimination? Like Alana went out on the challenge to do with comic books and stuff, and then Moo went out on the engineering challenge.
Celeste: I think it was the one where I watched Moo go was the most surprising to me. Like I was not expecting that whatsoever. During the challenge, I was like…I don’t think my heart had ever raced so fast before while watching that challenge. Moo’s structure was stressing me out. She had a single Rubik’s Cube in the middle of her structure, and I was panicking and I was like, “Moo, what’s going on? I don’t understand!” And to see her go home, it was just shocking ’cause she was one of the biggest threats in the house. The girl’s extremely smart. She was so upbeat and optimistic, we felt like she was going to be King of the Nerds, and to see her go home was like, “Oh, wow…”
Actually, I had the exact same feeling when Brandon went home, too. I’d thought Brandon was going to stay in the competition because… Even when we were doing episode one, to pick the teams and everyone was debating between Moo or me, and I talked to Genevieve, and Genevieve was like, “I’ll be happy if we have either Moo or Hendrik,” and in the back of my head, I was thinking, “I really want Brandon on my team.” But I ended up picking Hendrik for Genevieve because she chose me for her team, but Brandon was someone I was set on winning the show, too.
Jenny: Since the show was picked up for a second season, if you had to give one piece of advice to future nerdtestants, what would it be?
Celeste: It’s going to sound really stereotypical, but you need to really work hard if you want to make it far in that game, and you have to make sure you represent nerds in a very good way, how it should be. If you feel [like an] outcast, like you’re struggling throughout the competition, just remember that you have people to look back on and that are supporting you back at home and things like that. So just be yourself.
Thank you so much to Celeste for chatting with me. She was just as sweet as she was on the show. Congratulations to her for winning Season 1 of King of the Nerds! You can follow her on Twitter at @itsBiiTTERSWEET. Shoot her a tweet and tell her congrats!
Tune in to TBS in 2014 for Season 2!