You know that dream where you’re in the jungle, completely naked, and stuck with some random dude just trying to survive?
While most people wake up sweating at just the thought of this, Angela Hammer has lived it. Three times. On television.
Currently residing in St. Francis, Minnesota, Hammer is a mother, a grandmother, a former sergeant with the Minnesota Army National Guard, and an undisputed badass. She’s also currently one of the stars of the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid: XL. If you’re not familiar with the show, the way it works is two strangers are dropped into the middle of nowhere, stripped completely naked, and only allowed a couple of tools. Their mission is to work together to survive for 40 days. The latest season began airing this month, and runs through the end of July.
As for how she initially got cast, Hammer’s Naked and Afraid journey can be traced back to one thing: booze.
“It was Memorial Day weekend and I’d had a lot to drink,” she remembers. “My husband went to bed, and I was left unsupervised with an internet connection. So I decided, 'I’m going to fill out this application because I’ve got some funny answers to the questions they’re asking, and I figure no one is ever going to see it anyways.' The next day they called me, and a few days later they flew me out to Los Angeles for the interview.”
Soon after, Hammer was dropped into her first challenge: 21 days in Panama. Unfortunately, tragedy hit when Hammer’s ex-husband unexpectedly died a week into her challenge, causing her to drop out. Producers called her back for a second try in South Africa that same season, where she made it through, despite having a partner who gave up before the challenge was over.
Though she made it to the end, things took a toll on her physically.
“You lose so much weight when you’re out there, so I had to try and fatten up and put on like 25 or 30 pounds before each show,” she shares. “My husband and I eat very healthy. We don’t really eat anything that we don’t hunt and kill ourselves. But here I was eating fries with mayo to gain weight fast.”
Despite applying to be a part of the challenge on a drunken whim, Hammer insists she never had a second thought once she was selected.
“When I make a commitment, I’m in 100 percent,” she says. “I’m not going to do something unless I’m in 100 percent in the first place. I didn’t expect them to call me, but I thought if they did I would totally do it.”
Now that she’s on her third challenge in less than a year, Hammer has managed to build a fan base that includes other women and young girls.
“I have received so many messages of support during these challenges, especially from women,” she shares. “They tell me that I’m a huge inspiration to their daughters and motivate them to get through the challenges of everyday life. One woman told me that she tells her daughters, ‘Just be like Angela and keep pushing forward.’ That means a lot to me.”
Of course, the internet is always going to be the internet, so she’s dealt with some less than positive feedback, too.
“One guy said that he thought that living with me would be like getting pecked to death by a chicken,” she laughs. “But the majority of the feedback has been so positive and inspirational, so I don’t mind a few like that.”
While she’s under strict orders not to divulge any details about her fate on the show, her motivation for heading back into the jungle is no secret.
“I wanted to challenge myself. I didn’t want to wake up one day and wonder what could have been, so I went for it.”
New episodes of Naked and Afraid: XL air Sundays at 9 p.m. on Discovery GO.