How Aurora McCreary’s life and career prepared her for the CBS reality show
Super Lawyers online-exclusive
on June 5, 2019
Updated on February 8, 2021
Family law attorney Aurora McCreary of Maitland, Florida, recently took on another role: island castaway. McCreary, with Weiss, Grunor, Barclay & Barnett, was a cast member in Season 38 of the CBS reality show Survivor. She joined 17 other Edge of Extinction challengers on Mamanuca Islands in Fiji, filmed from the end of May to beginning of July 2018.
“I am used to being in the middle of drama daily,” notes the 32-year-old attorney, who specializes in adoptions, termination of parental rights and LGBT issues. “I see people who are allies become enemies and have secrets they can choose to use. Being a lawyer gives you the advantage of not taking everything personally … to step back, analyze all the facts and different viewpoints, and craft specific arguments to different individuals.”
Though McCreary didn’t make it to the end, she got just three away from being in the three-person finale.
But she has always been a survivor. Removed by the state from her biological mother’s care at age 1, McCreary lived in nearly a dozen foster homes and shelters in Pensacola before being adopted at age 8. She went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of Central Florida, then a partial scholarship for law school at Tulane. Her career accomplishments include obtaining an acknowledgement of the rights of a same-sex couple to their child without the need for adoption—before same-sex marriage was legalized.
What made her want to step away from her practice long enough to become a castaway?
“I had watched Survivor and had always wanted to go on,” she says. “The manipulation, physical challenges and the social warfare all interested me. I just finally reached a point in my life I felt comfortable not only leaving for the summer but putting myself out there as an individual personally and as a professional. … I love the outdoors and can make anything into a competition.”
As for the experience, she says, “It was amazing. It was a challenge, socially, physically and emotionally. I cried more than I would while getting in less fights than anyone expected. I excelled in the physical challenges and enjoyed every minute. I challenged myself socially and grew emotionally and spiritually within the game and afterward.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”