Tufts graduate Josh Gates travels around the world searching for answers to the mysteries of life as host of Sci-Fi's "Destination: Truth."
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.18.08] While he doesn't don a fedora or carry a snake-like whip, Josh Gates (A'99) would definitely make Indiana Jones proud.
Traveling to the world's most remote regions, the Tufts graduate serves as the host of the Sci-Fi Networks' "Destination: Truth," a weekly, hour-long travel adventure show that strives to uncover the answers behind sightings of the supernatural reported around the globe.
Gates began his Tufts career in the university's drama department. By the end of his freshman year, he discovered a second passion for archeology and took on a double major.
For Gates, the two seemingly unrelated fields are strongly linked.
"I think the common thread between the two is storytelling," Gates says. "That is a big element of archeology and history-understanding the story of a place-so for me they kind of went together and I have now been able to marry the two, with an on-camera exploration job."
After graduating from Tufts, Gates left for Los Angeles where he decided to try his trade as an actor. While having some success with commercial acting, Gates says his heart was really set on travel, exploration and adventure.
"I have always been an avid traveler, so in L.A. I would do a little bit of work, save up some money and then I would go somewhere," Gates says. "I'd go to Hawaii for three months, I went to Africa for a bit. I would always just kind of take off and go places."
So when a producer he had known socially was in search of a host for a new travel adventure show, Gates was a natural. The result was "Destination: Truth," which premiered in June of 2007.
"The real hook that we hang the show on is eyewitness testimony," Gates says. "What we do is scour local news from around the world. Every once in a while there are stories you find buried on the back couple pages of the paper of some people saying they saw a lake monster or had a run in with a yeti in the Himalayas. These are stories that people really perk up at and say 'That's crazy, I wonder what is really going on there.'"
Once a story is found, Gates and crew travel to the area and set up a credible investigation in hopes of shedding some light on what is really happening.
"Some of these things we look for are really fantastical creatures, and we don't always have an expectation that we are going to throw a net on them," Gates says. "We want to meet with people and find out what their story is and if at the end of the day we find out that it is a tiger or whatever, that's still really satisfying."
Gates says they have had great luck with local residents in far-flung regions welcoming them.
"People want to share with outsiders their culture and their history, where they are from and what they believe in-especially people who have had these fundamentally mysterious experiences that often kind of shake them up and they don't know what to do with it," Gates says. "They want to understand what has happened to them and what they have seen because they want validation of these experiences."
With the show entering the back half of its second season, Gates says that his favorite episode so far was the premiere of the current year. He and his team traveled to Nepal in search of the yeti, finding and taking a cast of an extremely large footprint. The discovery received global media attention from Malaysia to Australia. Though Gates is still skeptical about the existence of the yeti, he has deep appreciation for the story and mythology.
Gates has also assisted in sub-sea archeological excavations and is an avid photographer.
As he continues down the career path of his dreams, Gates says that his experience at Tufts has a lot to do with his success.
"I feel as though the teachers I had at Tufts and the education that I got, in terms of this real freedom to marry these interests together, actually allowed me to study and invest time in things that were of real genuine interest to me and that has now paid off," Gates says. "I feel the show still has life left in it, and I think that I am now on this path to really being an adventurer and a traveler as a career and that's where I always wanted to be."
Profile by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications