Fifteen-minute superstars are reality TV's most significant contribution to our diapered zeitgeist, but every now and then someone with substance emerges from that morass of inanity to make us take a longer look. Survivor's Stephenie LaGrossa may just be one of those, well, survivors.

That's because the Jersey girl, who grew up outside of Philly, was the youngest of five children—four of whom are older brothers who could not care less about chromosomal differences. Playing sports, not dolls and house, defined her youth, and waxing coquettish was replaced with hip checks and full-court presses. "Give me a competition and you can forget about it," she says. "I'm going to try to blow you away."

And that was pretty much her MO on Survivor: Palau, where she tapped into her inner jungle woman and went on to out-perform the rabble with an indefatigable will. She returned the next year, too, but after back-to-back seasons, she was a mess physically. She credits a steady training program and ProSource Supreme protein bars for helping to get her health and fitness back on track. She's using her newfound popularity guest-hosting on talk shows and cable specials and maneuvering for a permanent host spot of her own. "I'm a strong woman," she says. "Now I feel like I can accomplish anything I want if I really go for it." Our recommendation? Don't get in her way. M&F

Stephenie LaGrossa

Occupation: Talk show host
Birthdate: Dec. 6, 1979
Birthplace: Glenolden, Pennsylvania
Residence: Toms River, New Jersey
Specs: 5'8", 125 pounds


If you liked the photo above, you'll love these web-exclusive pics! Oh, and here are a few more tidbits from Stephanie:

On Survivor:
"I was totally myself. Super competitive and aligning with the right people. I wasn't one of the girls that sat back, saying, 'Oh yeah, you [guys] can get the wood.' Anything the guys were doing, I was doing."

In Rocky's Footsteps:
"I love Eye of the Tiger. I'd listened to it in college before lacrosse games to get myself pumped."

Sticks and Stones:
"I developed a tough skin at a young age and I didn't care what people said about me. I just went out and was who I was. Mostly that was a leader or a team captain."

Talk Of The Town:
"I didn't go on Survivor to try to get into the entertainment industry, but after my second show I realized I would have been an idiot not to see if I was any good at hosting shows."

"Playing team sports my whole life, where you put the team first, helped shape me into a strong mental leader."