‘King of the Nerds’ exit interview: Mary Kate Smith on dice-rolling, Zack conflict, and rocket science

Mary Kate -Mary Kate Smith had a nice few-episode run on “King of the Nerds.” She had a chance to meet some like-minded people, compete in crazy challenges, take part in a televised LARP, and even meet none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Unfortunately, Mary Kate ruling Nerdvana was not meant to be as she had the misfortune of going out due to something that we personally were not big fans of: Some unlucky dice rolls during a Nerd-Off against Zack, the same guy who was causing so much frustration and conflict within her team. Suffice it to say, we had plenty to discuss in our exclusive exit interview with Mary Kate, in between her feelings about Zack now, the way that she went out, and of course some of the fun stuff that she got to partake in along the way. Dive in to our interview (which was conducted via email) and enjoy! We’ll be around with some news on what is coming up next at the tail end of it.

CarterMatt – You said before the show that you wanted to try to manipulate people as a strategy. Was there more of that than we saw, and did you have any hopes to implement that more in the future? Sadly, we didn’t really see too much of your story on the show until last night.

I really love tabletop gaming. From D&D to Twilight Imperium, in almost every strategy based game, there is in game player manipulation. This is knowledge that I took with me going into Nerdvana. I had a lot of in game manipulation going on, however, it unfortunately fell apart.

How confident were you going into the LARPing challenge that Midas Touch Attack had the right plan? Is there anything that you wish you had done differently?

Absolutely not. We were very solid on every aspect of that challenge. Our costumes were fun and fit our fantastic story that Zack built with a plot twist (our friend the bard was controlling the monk the whole time!) It had daring sword fights, magic spells, betrayal and DEATH! I know I am biased, but as someone who has never LARPed in their life, I thought we did great.

Who was your favorite famous person that you met, and on a scale of one to a billion, how nerve-wrecking was it performing for Bill Nye?

Oh my BOWIE! I was incredibly nervous to be giving a science fair presentation to THE Bill Nye. He was definitely my favorite judge. I grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, and he was an amazing influence for me in my engineering career.  He is incredibly influential in my field and inspires kids to get excited about science, technology, engineering and math. Which is what I try to do back home and one of the biggest reasons I wanted to do the show, to inspire kids. I talk to kids and adults across Mississippi and teach what Bill Nye taught me. That science is fun! (Also, the ‘do-ability’ of rocket science.)

Were you a little bummed out that you went out on something that was as luck-based as the Nerd-Off was? Does that make leaving harder or easier to swallow?

Battlehammer was such an amazingly fun game. I loved the strategy involved and had a really fun time playing it (well, until the tragic end). Wee-Matt was on my side and made an absolute mess in my house! He had a blast smashing things and tried to ease the tension of the game with his hilarious sense of humor.  However, it was disappointing to go out on poor rolls when I was strategically and tactically ahead the entire game. I just couldn’t get enough high rolls in. I know as soon as my D&D group saw that there were dice in my Nerd-Off, they knew it was my last day in Nerdvana. Knowing that I didn’t get a question wrong or study hard enough did make this Nerd-off easier on my pride to leave. I just worried about Jack and Nicole.

Are you cool with the strategy the Titans of Rigel are using to try to keep Zack in the game? Is that something that you would have rallied behind of you were on that team?

Curse those Titans! But seriously, they made a tactical move with the Josh and Zack Nerd-Off. They saw that Zack was our Achilles’ heal on the team. I would have been behind the call, however, I would have agreed with Kayla if he had acted the same way the next week.

Now that some time has passed and you’ve seen the episodes, has your feeling of Zack changed at all?

Seeing the episode brought back a lot of positive feelings (Nerd-boner, anyone?!), but it was a hard episode to watch at times. Speaking of gravity, as a female in aerospace engineering, I can recognize when certain people are intimidated by intelligent and confident women, and sadly, that type of thinking still persists.  That being said, I have never had anyone speak to me in the manner I was spoken to that night.

Allow me to reiterate what I was shown saying, I felt that I was verbally being mistreated by someone who thought I was a weaker person. There are stronger words to describe such individuals although you might not agree (as stated in your podcast).  In the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism), there is a saying on the field of battle in my Kingdom of Gleann Abhann:  ‘Honor and courtesy above all.’  I try to uphold this saying everyday in my life, regardless of the situation.  I hope that every individual that has watched the episode has grown from seeing how I was treated and that they will reevaluate how they treat others.  We are all human beings and should be treated as equals with honor and courtesy.  As the wise Bill and Ted taught us, ‘Remember to be excellent to each other…and party on dude!’

What was your take on the experience as a whole? Did it meet all of your expectations and then some going in?

My experience on ‘King of the Nerds’ was incredible. I know a lot of people probably are excited about the cool house we live in, or the celebrities we meet, or seeing ourselves on television. Honestly, those things are cool and set the environment of the experience, but the heart of the show and Nerdvana are the nerds. I love learning about people and what makes them who they are and what are they are truly passionate and excited about. They are such interesting nerds! Like how Jack is going to cure cancer one day and knows an incredible amount about sweet potatoes or how Katie is brilliantly merging mechanical engineering with puppetry. These nerds are incredible and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what they all do in the future.

We’ll end with something a little imaginative: What would have been your dream nerd-off to complete in? Something involving rockets?

There is no doubt about it! When Kayla and I found out we were both the rocket scientists on the show, we fully expected some sort of space/rocket challenge. I would love the challenge of putting a rocket together in a specific period of time. The winner would be determined by the nerd’s rocket that reached highest apogee (altitude). However, It might have been a very dangerous Nerd-Off. I have some war stories from my rocket design team that had me thinking I was going to lose my life like an action flick movie with rockets and explosions! But it would be MOST EXCELLENT! I would have rock-et it! HEY-OH!

Stay nerdy, my friend. #ClinkDrink

What do we have coming up this week? A couple of big things. The next “King of the Nerds” rankings are going to be available on Wednesday, so be on the lookout for that. Then, we’ll be doing things all over again when it comes to reviewing the next new episode, creating a new podcast, and also conducting another exit interview (If you missed our exit interview with Josh Wittenkeller you can check that out here). Thanks for joining us on this nerdy magic carpet ride!

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Photo: TBS

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