How a practical joke catapulted Nine’s Rush host David Genat into international stardom

david genat rush

David Genat: “It just kind of turned into this big, big career for me”

You may know David Genat as the “Golden God” from Australian Survivor or his turn on The Celebrity Apprentice and now he’s at the helm of Nine’s new big adventure reality TV series, Rush.

While a staple on our screens since his first outing in 2019 and subsequent win on Survivor All-Stars in 2020, having an international modelling career or being a TV personality, may have never happened if it wasn’t for a cheeky practical joke that changed everything.

Speaking to Mediaweek before the premiere of his new show — which airs at 7.30 pm on Sunday, July 2 on 9 and 9Now — Genat revealed that his first foray into TV on 2011’s Search for a Supermodel began as a dare, not for one second thinking that he would actually win.

“A buddy of mine dared me to do a Zoolander impression at this casting for the show,” he said. “And so me, being a consummate idiot, I was like, ‘That’s a great idea’. So, I went and pretended to be Zoolander on this runway catwalk show and it basically got me through all these rounds.”

The series also saw the rise of models Gemma WardNicole Trunfio and Pia Miller, all of which have gone on to see major international success.

David Genat Modelling

David Genat on Search for a Supermodel, Ten and walking at AFR for Camilla.

At first, Genat questioned whether modelling was an “actual job”; however, once the show had ended, he was given a contract with Ford Models in New York, proving to him, that in fact, it was all real.

“It just kind of turned into this big, big career for me,” he said. “I’d had that television experience and I think TV was just something I wanted to do.”

After his supermodel status had been cemented, Genat then looked to acting as another career path, but a conversation with Sarah Tilleke, who appeared in season two of Australian Survivor, saw him take a different route.

“Sarah and I had been working together and she was just going on about how much she loved Australian Survivor and they were looking for a male model and it kind of came down to that,” he said.

david genat rush host

Genat on Australian Survivor. Ten

David Genat had applied for other TV Show hosting gigs

Even though he is now a host of a brand-new series, Genat had actually auditioned for other gigs on TV; however, says that Rush is a “dream project“.

“I’ve auditioned for shows previously and looked for hosting gigs here and there,” he admitted. “And then when this gig [Rush] came up, that’s the one where I was like, ‘Oh, I want that. I want that so bad’.”

Luckily the stars aligned and he was offered the plum gig, travelling with the contestants to nine different countries across the globe. Not only that, but he got to live it up at some of the largest cultural festivals in the world including Tomorrowland in Belgium, Brazil’s Rio Carnaval and even visited a call to prayer at 5 am in one of the world’s oldest mosques in Istanbul.

As for the competitors, they had “sensory deprivation” by way of blackout goggles, noise cancelling headphones and they were held in unknown locations, before being “dropped into a cultural event”. 

“We’re really bringing those kinds of cultural festive elements to it,” he said. “And it was so powerful, man. Like being there and seeing that. It was just incredible. An incredible experience.”

David Genat Rush

Genat in Brazil. Instagram

David Genat reveals what it takes to be a contestant on Rush

While the show is epic in itself, Genat admits that the contestants have to be a certain type of person.

“There are just so many cool themes that people can be a part of,” he said of the experience. “But I think if you want to apply and be a part of the show, you need a resilient spirit because travel is that right?”

He also revealed that there’s a strategic element, something that he wholeheartedly understands from his Survivor days; however, having a thirst for adventure is key.

“You have to have a great sense of adventure because this is possibly the world’s greatest adventure we’ve devised here,” he said.

Rush premieres at 7.00 pm on July 2 on 9 and 9Now.

Listen to the full interview with David Genat on Mediaweek and Chattr’s The Entertainment Hotline podcast from Monday, July 3.

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