Tasha Fox and James Wallington were paired up for the third episode on The Challenge: USA, and although they got along better than some of the other pairs, their chemistry didn’t help them in the challenges. An unfortunate fall on a balance beam sent the randomly paired Survivor and Amazing Race duo tumbling into the elimination challenge where they were matched up against Domenick Abbate and Cashay Proudfoot.
Despite the tension between them, Domenick and Cashay prevailed, sending Tasha and James, two self-professed fans of The Challenge home before either of them were ready to say goodbye. James had narrowly escaped elimination in episode two, but the Amazing Race winner’s luck ran out when he was forced to confront a second consecutive elimination challenge.
In an interview with Screen Rant, James reveals how he first met Tasha and whether he and the Survivor contestants had each other in their long-term plans. Each of them describe how being on their respective previous CBS shows helped prepare them for a game that combines social, strategic and physical elements on a cast with some of the toughest reality TV competitors.
Screen Rant: First off, I thought you both were going to win the elimination challenge. The edit made it seem like Domenick was being way too cocky for his own good. How close was it there at the end?
James: From what we saw, I could tell the water was draining. I could tell he wasn’t clogging the pipe at all, so there was a little bit of hope there that maybe they were just going to lose because of the drain. If Cashay’s tower would’ve fallen, we would’ve won just because of the drain. I did not realize how close the water was with the line. It made for an exciting elimination to watch.
Tasha: From my perspective, my back was to Cash and Dom, but I had basically all of the other challengers yelling things like, “Do this! Move this! Put this there!” and it was really, really distracting. But it was super, super close. And poor James, he did his thing with the pipe. He sacrificed his body for that pipe.
It looked like a tough challenge! In the first challenge, would you have done anything differently? Was there a strategy you would have changed, or were you just unlucky falling off the balance beam?
James: I think communication was key. There’s so many elements going on with this daily challenge. You’re running, you’re grabbing things, you’re solving puzzles, just a lot of different elements at play that I definitely rushed the transition putting the sandbag on Tasha’s pole, and I think because I was too quick at letting go, it wasn’t enough time to actually transition and adjust the weight, so it was just a communication issue unfortunately.
Tasha: I heard myself say, “Let me know when you’re going to let it go” so I think I was trying to overcompensate for the weight but not knowing when the weight was actually going to hit my shoulders and we’ve talked about this so many times, like what could we have done differently and at the end of the day I think it was just communication, but you’re so pumped in the challenge. Adrenaline’s going. It wasn’t a fail, like I couldn’t balance or I couldn’t hold a 10-pound weight. That’s lightweight, so it’s just communication, unfortunately.
Tasha, you were a challenge beast on Survivor. James, you won The Amazing Race. How did each of those shows prepare you to be successful on The Challenge?
James: I think Amazing Racers are the most equipped going into The Challenge over any other show. With The Amazing Race, every leg of the race is designed almost like a final of The Challenge. You have something physical you have to overcome. A puzzle. There’s a little bit of strategy, a little bit of luck involved. So you have all these elements combined that going into The Challenge, it made some of these challenges feel like a walk in the park, almost. Sure, there’s sort of an extreme stunt to the challenges themselves, but I think with The Amazing Race, you get everything that The Challenge already has, if that makes sense.
Tasha: The challenges on The Challenge were different from Survivor but just as strenuous. With Survivor, you don’t get to eat, though, so at least with The Challenge, we got to eat. We actually had a bed, so in that sense it was easier. I think what was more difficult on The Challenge was there was the equalizer which was the board that picked your partner. So in Survivor, you can strategically position yourself to get further in the game based on relationships and we couldn’t do that. It was based on the strength of your partner for that particular challenge. The first challenge of the season, if you couldn’t do math, you had a bad partner. But then, on the next challenge, that partner could be a great swimmer, and so, there was a great equalizer which kept a little of the game out of our control.
James, you were aligned with the two other Amazing Racers and Tasha you were aligned with the Survivors. What didn’t we see about each of your strategies that might have involved other contestants from other shows?
James: Survivor and Amazing Race actually conjoined. We were working really, really well together. Night one, Tasha and Sarah pulled Cayla and I aside and said, “If you need a home, you have a home with Survivor.” And I had met Tasha and Sarah previously at their Survivor: Cagayan finale back in 2014, so there was a little bit of familiarity there. And going into it, I love Survivor so much so I was so excited to work with some of my Survivor favorites.
Tasha: Low-key, it was Survivor and Amazing Race, but everybody on the other shows are such amazing people that you couldn’t really hate people because they were all so sweet. I remember staying up at night talking to Kyra and Justine from Love Island and really loving them as people, but then trying to navigate the game and staying Survivor strong. But I think that was my favorite part of The Challenge, just hanging out with the people.
James: I agree. That was the hardest part about being eliminated was the FOMO and knowing that we were going to miss out on more of those moments that everyone else is going to get to have.
What is the biggest thing you felt you proved to yourself or the audience during your time on The Challenge?
James: When I was on The Amazing Race, I was either loved or really hated because of the social game that I implemented, and being able to be in The Challenge environment and play a full-on social and strategic game, I was very excited. I was living out this childhood dream that I never knew I needed or wanted. Being able to showcase that I’ve learned so much from watching reality TV and then being able to implement strategies and build these relationships, which is really fun and exciting to me. I’m not a quitter. I don’t give up, and I’m always going to fight, so I’m more of a fighter than I think I realized.
Tasha: I’ve always watched The Challenge. It was one of my favorite shows when I was younger, so to be on that show was a childhood memory come true. And then, I love the fact that there was no drama. I was chilling, having a good time. I didn’t annoy people. So, as a competitor on a show like this, you would like to know that your skills are transferrable regardless of the show, so I think I proved that whether it’s Survivor, The Challenge, or whatever might be next, I feel like I can flow in and out of whatever game it is and be authentic, and still be a good competitor.
James: I love Tasha’s answer. She articulated what I wish I said.
You were both a lot of fun to watch because you’re such huge fans of all these shows. We hope to see you again on another show on CBS, Paramount Plus, or somewhere on our TVs.
Tasha: Fingers crossed.
James: Yeah, fingers crossed!
Next: Tiffany Mitchell & Cashel Barnett Interview: The Challenge USA
The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on CBS.
90 Day Fiancé: What To Know About Biniyam’s First Son & Custody Battle
About The Author