'Naked and Afraid:' Interview with Steven Lee Hall, Jr.


Kathryn Darden
Sep 2, 2017
Steven Lee Hall, Jr. at work painting

It would be easy to assume that the Discovery show "Naked and Afraid" is not Christian viewing material. After all, women and men like Steven Lee Hall, Jr. are stranded together naked in some inhospitable corner of the world where they have to survive for 21 days, or worse -- 40 days on the XL version. The show does flash lots of bare backsides at the camera and blurred out front sides that sometimes don't leave much to the imagination. Whether or not that is appropriate viewing for a Christian audience is a topic for another discussion.

What does stand out about the show in stark contrast to the partial nudity is how many contestants are faithful, professing Christians and how many turn to their faith to get them through various ordeals on the show. Case in point is artist and survivalist Steven Lee Hall, Jr.

Hall achieved some notoriety for chasing antelopes with a rock and his blase' attitude after losing his partner's aloe. However, his resilience and determination over the course of the severe 40-day challenge ultimately earned him the respect of many viewers.

On his website Hall states:: "My faith, hard work, determination, and hunger for knowledge and adventure make me a renaissance man. Trying to become the best at anything I put my mind to, I strive to complete my main goal in life...to change the world." Intrigued, I struck up an online conversation with Hall and discovered as he puts it, "I am a Christian 100%."

Hall agreed to be interviewed by Christian Activities about his faith, his art, and "Naked and Afraid."

Kathryn Darden for Christian Activities: Describe what growing up in a Christian home did for you.

Steven Lee Hall, Jr.: I was brought up Lutheran and have been my whole life. It instilled in me a lot of life lessons I still take with me everywhere I go, whether on an adventure half way around the world or just going to the grocery store. It gave me a set of morals and values that I do my best to abide by, even though in life it can be difficult to from time to time.

KD: What was the most important lesson you learned from your Christian roots growing up?

SLH: Faith, Hope and Love….The Greatest of these is Love.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

I’ve learned that the most important thing in life is not only my relationship with God but with family, friends and community. I learned that whatever I do in life to do it to my best ability, from surviving naked in Africa for 40 days or just cleaning up my house… Never give up and always have faith…The more faith I have in the Lord the better I can be a reflection of Him in my words, thoughts and actions.

KD: What has your faith meant to you as an adult?

SLH: My faith has been pivotal to me as an adult… Without the Lord in my heart, I’m not sure I would even be here today. He has helped me overcome obstacles, tackle challenges and comforted me in my times of crisis… He is my Rock and my Light and I strive to be an example and inspiration in everything I do, because I am truly not worthy of His many blessings

KD: Give one or two examples of times your faith helped you on "Naked and Afraid."

SLH: It was day 17 in Alabama and one of the biggest storms ever to come through the area hit us early in the evening around 8pm… Seeing the lighting through the leaves of our shelter, hearing the wind and thunder; dead trees falling and crashing around us in the dark… It was a complete washout… Getting into the lower 50’s in temperature both Chalese and I were in serious danger of hypothermia to the point where you can't control your body from shivering….Chalese sat in my lap, with my arms around her and covering us with our soaked grass bedding for more insulation we sat until 6am until the sun finally started breaking through the canopy… it was the worst night of my life… I said the Lord's Prayer in my head for hours, it was the only thing that would keep my mind off what we were going through and the only thing in my mind that got us through it… Seeing the light come through the trees the next morning was like God acknowledging us, giving me more faith in knowing that Chalese and I weren’t the only ones in that shelter that night, God was right there with us, giving strength.

In Africa it was a little different… Halfway through the challenge I was made the black sheep by one of the survivalists lying to the rest of the tribe, putting words in my mouth and making me an outcast… That was the only family I had, I was across an ocean, on the other side of the world, in a different hemisphere. I try to live the way God would like me to, honest, hardworking and upfront…. and at that point I felt truly alone… When the tribe met up at our new camp they hadn’t eaten in a few days, the wild game was almost impossible to catch with the amount of human noise/scent around and the fishing was slow…. I knew that even though the tribe didn’t want anything to do with me at the time I was still going to do my best to provide…. After hours of fishing in the 100 degree African heat I caught nothing…. I remembered the story when Jesus was on a boat with Peter and they weren’t catching anything and thought about the lesson…. I prayed on a boulder next to the lake for God to bless us with some fish and to calm my heart from the accusations and to forgive so that I could provide for my team…. I got up and on the next cast I caught two bass, Then another one and then a turtle!!.... I brought them back to the tribe which motivated the rest of them to go out and fish as well. By that night we all had a fish to eat…. I put my anger aside for my team and the situation and I put my faith in the Lord for help and guidance, and He once again showed me the light and blessed me with his help

KD: How does your faith influence your art? 
SLH: I’ve had many professions in my life janitor, vinyl sign applicator, autoCAD drafter, labor worker, foreman, superintendent, loan officer, mortgage broker, bartender, bar manager, bouncer, zipline guide …. I’ve been searching my whole life to find something that I’m truly passionate about and would want to do forever… It took me a long time to realize that just because I was making a lot of money and had fancy job titles that none of that will make me happy… I needed to pursue my passions…. My passions are the outdoors and my artwork, so I quit everything I knew… I went headfirst 100% into my passions… Without my faith I would have never even taken that challenge… My faith doesn’t influence my artwork my faith is my artwork…. Every painting I create is a representation of my faith not only in the Lord but in myself and my abilities

KD: What do you want most for people to get or take away from your art?
SLH: Emotion…. I want them to feel some sort of way about it. Good or bad, scared or peaceful, disgusted or beautiful…. I thinks that’s the point of art, that even if its for one second you might think or feel a different way about something… I want people to be inspired and take something from it… I want people to see a part of me.

KD: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from "Naked and Afraid"?
SLH: “Things” in life are replaceable. My faith, hard work and determination got me through both the 21-day challenge and the 40-day challenge… We get blinded by bills, emails, stoplights, tolls, clients, work, schedules….they occupy our mindset and end up blinding us from what is truly important… Our family, our faith and this blessing which is “LIFE” itself… And never take for granted Ice cubes, shoes, air conditioning and showers!

KD: How are you going to change the world?
SLH: I already have….I’m just not done yet … If my journey was a book, in my opinion we just finished the prelude and we’re going into Chapter 1….. You can’t tell someone how you're going to change the world, you have to SHOW them…and you ain't seen nothing yet!

KD: What do you want your legacy as an artist and as a Christian to be?
SLH: I Just want to be an inspiration… I’ve never had a set direction in where life was going to take me, I just trusted the Lord to put me on a path to change the world… I want the world to see that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that actions speak louder than words in every instance… I want to be a good provider for my future wife and family, I want to be a good son and father….I want people to know that there is truly nothing you can't do, that the only person that can really hold you back is yourself…. Faith, hope and love are the greatest things in life, and if you accept and adhere to that, you not only will be successful you will be inspirational.

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