By Rance Burger
Jessica Griffith wants to share a message that women can be strong and powerful.
She wants to be a titan.
The 27-year-old Ozark resident will appear as a contestant on “The Titan Games,” a nationally-televised show on NBC that debuts Jan. 3. In each episode of “The Titan Games,” four men and four women go against each other in different competitions designed to test a blend of strength, endurance and mental fortitude. The show is inspired, produced and hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Trailer videos show competitors wielding battering rams, smashing large stones with hammers and climbing over different barriers.
Griffith said the show gives her the chance to discuss her life’s passion.
“I always stand for girls being strong, confident and powerful women. This show has given me a huge platform to showcase what that’s all about, and just being a light for girls to have—you know, instead of these skinny supermodels, you can have these strong, powerful women leading the way,” Griffith said.
Griffith is originally from Rhode Island and moved to southwest Missouri in 2009 to study at Evangel University. She graduated with a nursing degree in 2013, around the same time her family moved to Ozark.
“I started doing CrossFit when I graduated from nursing school,” Griffith said.
Griffith works out at CrossFit 417, located on North 22nd Street in Ozark.
Griffith worked in the emergency room at Cox South Hospital, briefly relocated to St. Louis, and returned to Ozark this fall. In March 2018, Griffith put her nursing career on hold. She now concentrates on fitness and mentoring others.
“I’m successful enough with it that I can make a living off of it. I do competitions, I have sponsors and I also do nutrition coaching on the side, and so all of that income is sufficient enough to where I could leave my nursing career to pursue fitness full time,” Griffith said.
Griffith said she became a nurse in order to help people, and grew frustrated when she didn’t feel she could do enough to help the patients she saw in the emergency room.
“People would have chronic diseases and chronic problems, and i was just handing out pills to manage their blood pressure, or their diabetes or high cholesterol, where outside of the hospital I was preaching, ‘Let’s exercise and have a good diet, and let’s have good lifestyle choices,’ so the two worlds weren’t really aligning,” Griffith said.
Producers of “The Titan Games” recruited Griffith with emails. She was skeptical at first, but the emails were followed by phone calls.
“I was like, okay, maybe this isn’t a scam. Maybe I should give it a go and try it out,” Griffith said.
Before she knew it, Griffith had been through three casting interviews. The producers then flew her to California to take part in a fitness combine and more interviews.
Then it was time to compete on the show and meet The Rock.
“What was different and exciting about the Titan Games was I literally had Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson standing on the sidelines cheering me on to get through the events that I was doing,” Griffith said. “If you’re going to have a cheerleader, you might as well have Dwayne, right?”
Griffith described Johnson as “a super humble, incredible leader.” The arena for the “The Titan Games” was an outdoor set, and most of the filming occurred at night, Griffith said. Sometimes the shoots lasted until 4 a.m.
“Even at like 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning, he was still so patient with the film crew and casting directors, and all of those people. His character is just phenomenal,” Griffith said.
The contests, Griffith said, were similar to some of what she has faced as a CrossFit competitor, but had their own twists.
“A lot of the challenges were strength and fitness based,” Griffith said. “They are head-to-head challenges, so you’re competing against one other person, which is cool because it lets you see what you’re made of.”
Griffith will be traveling for work-related commitments when “The Titan Games” debuts on television. She will be in San Jose, California at the time of the first episode on Jan. 3.
“My family here in Ozark will definitely we watching,” Griffith said. “They think it’s awesome. They’re not surprised because I’ve always been the go-getter, super adventurous and willing to take risks and put myself out there.”
“The Titan Games” is a 10-episode series which is produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio, Seven Bucks Productions, which is co-founded by Dwayne Johnson, and A. Smith and Co. Productions, the makers of “American Ninja Warrior.”
A promotional release describes sets the stage for the show, “In this uplifting series, hard work and determination will be rewarded and a new breed of heroes will emerge. Titans aren’t born, they’re made.”
Want to watch?
Ozark resident Jessica Griffith on “The Titan Games”
Thursday, Jan. 3, 7-9 p.m. Central Time on NBC