Annie Oakley. Lara Croft. Alice from Resident Evil. Dian Fossey of Gorillas in the Mist fame. Whether in fiction or non-fiction, there have been a few hard-hitting, tough as nails females over the years. Women you just wouldn’t want to mess with. Women who could give just as much as they could take. Women to look up to, respect, and admire. Well, today, I submit to you one more in the pantheon of kick-butt chicks in the non-fiction category…Erin Ryder (usually just referred to as Ryder) of SyFy’s reality adventure show DESTINATION TRUTH.
She’ll probably blush when she sees that I said this about her, but it’s one hundred percent true. You don’t have to watch too many episodes to see for yourself just how tough Ryder really is.
I mean let’s face it…Ryder has hunted some of the scariest monsters to ever hide in the shadows of our imagination…from yetis to goat-sucking vampiric cryptids. She’s explored some of the most remote ruins the world has ever seen to hunt gigantic ghosts in Thailand, mischievous elves in Iceland, and a forest in Asia where hundreds of people have gone to die by their own hands. She white-water rafts like she was born with oars in her hands. Repels down sheer cliff faces like a spider on a web. And hikes through some of the deadliest jungles the world has to offer like it’s a stroll in the park. I’ve known Navy SEALS with a far less impressive resumes. And she does it all with a rakish grin on her face and a wisecrack on the tip of her tongue. Ready, in any situation, to make Destination Truth viewers laugh out loud.
But wait, before I continue, there might be one or two people in the world who doesn’t know about my love of this TV show. May be one or two more who has never watched Destination Truth and has absolutely no idea what it’s about. Well for you guys, let me just say…you’re missing out on so much fun! Destination Truth is a travel adventure show on SyFy Channel that follows the real-life adventures of host Josh Gates and his team as they travel the world investigating some of the most astounding legends, myths, monsters, and ghosts imaginable. It’s not exactly a ghost hunting show. Not exactly a cryptozoology show either…though there is plenty of both for the most avid of paranormal junkies out there. But no…it’s so much more than that. It is basically a “What if Indiana Jones was a real person and had his own team to explore the mysteries of the world” kind of show. It concentrates on the cultures, the food, the myths that surround the various cultures of the world and then allows us to watch as they investigate the truth behind those legends. The Truth is what they’re really after…not ghosts. Not monsters. And they do it with such style and humor that I guarantee you’ll be hooked after watching just one episode. [And yes, I love the show so much, it inspired my series of books called the ENIGMA Directive!]
And Erin Ryder has been along for the ride for a large majority of the time the show has been on the air. And let me tell you…she can hold her own in the toughest of times. She’s fallen off the Great Wall of China (still attached to her repelling gear, thank goodness). She’s downed a motorcycle requiring numerous stitches. She’s fallen through the floors of some of the oldest ruins around. And what does she do after she’s done these things? Wipes herself off and cracks some of the best one-liners you’ll ever hear! No, Ryder has quickly become a hero of mine. Someone to respect and admire…and I am thankful to be able to list her among my recent friends.
So now, I’d like to introduce you to her. I’d like to have you get to know her a little bit. Recently, I talked with Erin about Destination Truth and her life in general. She was so gracious and forthright that I couldn’t wait to share with you what she had to say.
1) Can you tell us a little bit about how you became involved with the show?
In 2008 Executive Producer Casey Brumels came to me and said I have a unique opportunity that I think you would be perfect for. He explained that I would travel and produce an adventure show and that I would also be on camera. Unable to turn down travel and adventure intertwined with what I love to do, producing, I said why not! I met with Josh, we clicked instantly and the rest as they say is history. I’ve been lucky to be a part of the last 3 seasons and happy to say I’ll be on the road again for the upcoming 5th season.
What background or experience did you have to help you get the position?
I joke that I’ve been training to do Destination Truth since I was a little girl. I grew up in upstate NY so the outdoors was, and still is, a big part of my life. I love hiking, climbing, exploring, camping, basically if it involves getting dirty I’ll like it. I’ve always been an athlete and adventurer. I’ve played nearly every sport out there, and I’m constantly looking to check things off my adventure bucket list. And of course travel has always been a true passion of mine. There’s no better way to learn about this beautiful world of ours than by engulfing yourself in new cultures, meeting new people, and tasting new foods.
And how would you describe your role on Destination Truth to someone who may not be familiar?
Currently I am a Co-Executive Producer so I help research the stories we’ll investigate, the places we’ll travel to, the people we’ll interview, and yes the cars that we’ll break down in. On camera I guess you could say I’m Josh’s sidekick. Our job is to not only investigate these claims but to also give the audience at home a small glimpse into these unique cultures.
2) Now there’s a common joke on the show with you regarding a pattern of “falling down” or injuries or just a general Murphy’s Law effect when it comes to you. Can you share some of your more harrowing experiences? Some of your injuries? And do you think it’s fair that you get this reputation when Mr. Gates seems to have just as much ground time as you?
Ahh yes, I am one accident prone individual! It’s amazing how coordinated I am in sports and yet a safety hazard in life. Let’s see…I’ve fallen off of The Great Wall of China, off of motorcycles and ATVs, and I’ve tumbled down mountains and cliffs in nearly every country. I’ve broken toes and fingers, have had bruises the size of basketballs, and an assortment of gashes, scrapes and cuts. Though my biggest injury was this past season with that fall off the bike in Thailand. I fractured my elbow, strained my rotator cuff and received 8 stitches. The truth of it is we aren’t exactly taking the easy way so there are going to be accidents and falls. I just happen to keep Rex a lot busier than the rest of the crew.
3) You guys have hunted lots of cryptids over the years. Of the cryptids you have personally investigated on the show, which ones, from the evidence and your own experiences, do you believe is the most probable that it exists, if any? Why do you think that?
I have my suspicions about the Orang Pendek of Sumatra. There’s still so much unknown about the jungles there that I feel a species of small primate could potentially go undiscovered.
There is something about meeting these eyewitnesses face to face. Once you see real fear in their eyes you know that have truly experienced something. And every year 100’s of new species are discovered, that tells us how little we still know about the world. Think about it, the ocean covers almost 75% of the earth and we’ve only explored about 10% of it. Do I think massive cryptids can go undiscovered for this long? I’m not sure, but I will say nature never runs out of surprises!
4) What was your favorite country/location to investigate? Why?
Antarctica. I am so thrilled for you all to see our hour-long arctic adventure. It truly was a continent of wonder, I was in awe the entire time. The ice caps, glaciers, seals and penguins, it feels so naturally beautiful and untouched. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to walking on what I would say is another planet.
5) You guys have had a lot of crazy and scary experiences over the years. Which cases stand out as the scariest of your time on the show? Explain.
For me it has to be the Suicide Woods in Japan. From the moment I entered those woods I had an eerie feeling fill me up. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. There’s a reason that in the past 60 years over 500 people have chosen this spot to end their lives.
6) Recently, you guys have been doing a lot of paranormal investigations along with your cryptid investigations. Which do you personally prefer to investigate? Cryptids or ghosts? Why?
I really don’t prefer one over the other to me its all about the legend and myth behind the investigation. Whether it’s a cryptid or a ghost one thing is the same, people sharing encounters and telling their stories. I think its kind of neat that no matter where you are from we’re all a little scared of the unknown!
7) Have you ever seen a cryptid outside of your time on the show? A ghost? Any paranormal experiences you’d like to share from outside of the show?
I consider myself a “skeliever.” I fall somewhere in between a skeptic and a believer. I question the validity of each claim that comes our way but that’s just the investigator in me wanting to know the answers. But a good researcher and scientist is open-minded. You cant be objective if you already know the answer is ghosts don’t exist. Personally I’ve had quite a few experiences I can’t explain and I’m happy to say I’m always out looking for more!
8) Recently, I interviewed Rex who’s “day job” is a paramedic. I think a lot of people would be interested to know what Erin Ryder typically does when she’s not traveling the world in search of monsters, ghosts, and myths?
My day job is as a producer. I go out in the field and work to capture interesting stories and then work in edit figuring out the best way to visually tell them. I’ve worked in sports like the Athens Olympics and the X-Games. I’ve done reality TV, kids shows, stunt shows, you name it. If it’s fun and interesting I want to produce it.
9) Of all the cryptids, myths, and legends that are floating around all over the world…can you think of one that you would definitely like to investigate, but haven’t had the opportunity yet? If not, is there a particular locale you would love to explore?
I’m up for anything. There’s no cryptid to creepy, no ghost too ghoulish. I would just love to continue traveling to new and different places. The more frequent flier miles and passport stamps the better!
10) Finally, if you could give some advice to the aspiring globetrotting adventurers of the world, what would you say?
It sounds corny but, “If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” No it’s not “the secret.” I’m not saying wish for a car and you’ll get a car. I’m saying if you work really hard, and don’t take no as an answer you will really be happy with the outcome. Did I always dream of being a TV producer/adventurer? No, I dreamed of being an astronaut or a vet like most kids. But I knew when I grew up I wanted to enjoy what I did and not work in a cubicle. So I worked my ass off and here I am. Though I absolutely do not consider myself a grownup…yet!
If you’d like to learn more about Erin Ryder, you can join her fanpage on Facebook here. She is awesome about answering people’s comments and sharing news about what’s going on in her life and Destination Truth: https://www.facebook.com/erinryderdt .
She’s also available on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/erinRyderDT.
Thank you Erin for a great interview! And thank you so much for producing a fantastic show for so many adoring fans.
And for you readers out there who’ve never watched it, check it out on Tuesdays at 9 PM on SyFy Channel (check your local listings!). By the way, next Tuesday is the season finale…but not one you’ll want to miss!!! They’ll be investigating in Antarctica…probably the most remote paranormal investigation ever.