Q&A with Amazing Race contestant Leo Temory

It’s no secret that the USC alumni network has a global footprint. Leo Temory, a 2008 graduate of USC who studied business administration at the Marshall School of Business, seems to have taken that statement literally, though.

Race on · Leo Temory (left) and cousin Jamal Zadran (right) will both appear on the 23rd season of CBS’ hit reality TV show The Amazing Race. Temory graduated from USC with a degree in business management in 2008. - Courtesy of CBS

Race on · Leo Temory (left) and cousin Jamal Zadran (right) will both appear on the 23rd season of CBS’ hit reality TV show The Amazing Race. Temory graduated from USC with a degree in business management in 2008. – Courtesy of CBS

Temory and his cousin Jamal Zadran will be contestants in the 23rd season of The Amazing Race, set to premiere later this month. Temory, who owns a restaurant and bar in Pasadena, is a first generation college graduate who has been a fan of the show since it started. He never thought that he would actually be on it.  Everything came together in just the right way, however, and he and his cousin have been able to live out their dream of being on the show.

The duo, who jokingly call themselves the “Afghanimals” because their parents immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan, hope to bring diversity and humor to the show.

The Daily Trojan caught up with Temory to talk to him about what he learned at USC and how he’s applied that in his life, from building a business to being a contestant on The Amazing Race:


DT: What made you decide to go on The Amazing Race?

Temory: My cousin and I were fans from season one, but we were too young at the time. Then he was off doing his own thing, and I was off doing my own thing. And then, finally, the stars aligned. The process is actually not as easy as it looks, but I got a call and the next thing you know, we’re on The Amazing Race and traveling [around] the world. It was probably the funnest, most memorable time of my life — after USC, of course.

DT: This is your first reality TV show. Did you have any expectations before you started shooting?

Temory: Going in, watching 22 seasons of The Amazing Race on DVD, you think it’s easy, but the production that goes into it, the amount of crew, the amount of staff that goes on to make such a show, it’s like an orchestra and it’s always perfectly orchestrated and it’s just remarkable. It’s like if you put the million dollars aside it’s like it’s priceless, the experience you get.

DT: What was life like as a contestant on reality TV?

Temory: Well, I always love attention. With my group of friends, I like to crack jokes, go up to people, so in that regard I loved having a camera around you 24 hours a day practically recording everything you do, but definitely still to this day it feels surreal, like I can’t believe I was on The Amazing Race. I just watched a commercial the other day, and I’m like, “Wow I can’t believe that’s me.” I’m just thankful I get to relive it again when it airs.

DT: What do you hope audience members take out of your experience on the show?

Temory: I think I really brought the Trojan family mentality out in the race. You could see the humor that we bring, the smarts, the strength that we bring, basically the whole all-around perspective that encompasses the USC culture. I tried my best to bring it to the show with my cousin. Hopefully, everyone sees we’re fun-loving, crazy fans that want to have a good time.

DT: Did you learn anything at USC which you were able to apply to the show?

Temory: If USC taught me one thing, it was to network. I tell that to everybody, everyday, “Network, network!” and that went along with The Amazing Race. It’s networking in a different perspective, communicating with different cultures, learning from different cultures, interacting, taking it all in … It’s not all about the million dollars, but the experience — it’s the experience of a lifetime.

DT: What do you think you and your cousin bring that gives you an advantage stand apart?

Temory: Definitely what we bring is culture. We bring a little diversity. We can actually connect with all the other cultures around the world, all the different people, different ethnicities from kids to adults. Our parents immigrated here, so they have that aspect. We have that within us because we’re Afghan Americans so I think it’ll be easier for us to connect if we visit a third world country or if we visit another country, you know, we’re immigrants, they’re immigrants so we can all sort of relate. We’ll bring the fun, diversity, excitement … a ton of things we bring we’re proud of. But you’ll just have to watch and see.


Follow Jackie on Twitter @Jackie_Mansky