ďI Shot Myself in the FootĒ Ė An Interview with Survivor: Cook Islandsí Stephannieby David Bloomberg -- 10/13/2006
Stephannie might have appeared quiet on Survivor, but she has plenty to say about her time on the show. When she talked to RealityNewsOnline, she told us everything:
RealityNewsOnline: What did you first think when you found out the tribes were divided by race?
Stephannie: Wow. I was extremely excited about it. I thought it was very bold and daring and brave. And I thought it was necessary and long overdue. It was wonderful to see such diversity represented.
RNO: So what did you think of all the hoopla, including even politicians speaking out about it?
Stephannie: I thought that all of the negative images and comments and hoopla was just overrated. And for the most part Iím sure most of the people never even watched the show and didnít know what it was all about Ė like that there would be a merge. They brought more attention to the issue of different races and if nothing else it created discussion and dialog, and with dialog always comes change. Hopefully that was all positive.
RNO: What was your strategy coming into the game?
Stephannie: My strategy coming into this game was to fly low under the radar. My natural personality is to be very kind, sweet, and nurturing. But at times I can be overbearing and demanding. Iím tall and have a presence about me. When I open my mouth at times I can be a little aggressive, so I wanted to downplay all of that and be very humble and quiet, almost to the point where you didnít know I was there. That was working for me. As I watched the show, I was a little too soft, I donít really like all of that. For the most part I was flying low under the radar. Once we merged, I was going to really assert myself and show the competitive nature.
RNO: What did you do to prepare yourself for the show?
Stephannie: I run regularly, so thatís something I looked at something to help me with endurance and challenges involving my legs. I tried to cut back on my food portions and intake of fluids and try to prepare myself mentally for the unexpected.
RNO: You said in Tribal Council that you didnít really form any close-knit bonds with other players. Why not?
Stephannie: Well, that was something that I regret. On my part, I thought that if you kind of mixed and mingled with everybody and didnít play the villain, just hung loose, that youíd be safe. That was a mistake on my part. Coming from the Hiki tribe, we had talked about strategy and what things we should do to go forward and watch our backs, but once we got to Raro, we did not reaffirm that. That was a mistake on my part, I should have made sure we reconnected. And I did not really bond with the other tribe members and secure my position with the other players.
RNO: So then you didnít have any specific alliances?
Stephannie: Yes, on the Hiki tribe we had all discussed sticking together no matter what. Once we joined with Raro, that was never discussed. I never really aligned myself with anyone. I had discussions with Rebecca but in terms of hardcore strategy, no. Again, that was a mistake on my part.
RNO: You said you werenít going to beg to stay, but what did you do to try to undo the damage caused by Nate telling everyone about your ďmashed potatoes and gravyĒ comment?
Stephannie: When Parvati brought the comment to me, I knew it was him because he was the only one Iíd said it to. I said that in confidence, not as if it was a ďdonít tell anybody,Ē but we talked about food all the time. It was not unusual. It was very commonplace. I felt comfortable sharing that with him because we were Hiki.
When that comment got back to me the way it got back to me, I was a little surprised. I could not believe he was doing this to me. My initial instinct was to confront him, but that would not have worked well for my image (laughs). I thought if they donít realize who I am and what I do to contribute to this tribe, the heck with it. I caught an octopus Ė they didnít show that Ė I brought wood for the fire, I was bringing water, various things. I felt like if you knew there was a person who was the irritant and that person was scheduled to go but yet youíre going to look in my direction, to heck with it. I knew it would have been blown out of proportion and I would have been voted out anyway.
I did tell Parvati I was in the game, and Cristina. I told them my game face was on. When Iím in my private time, my thoughts are my own. I certainly was thinking about my husband and kids, but we all had our thoughts. When the game is on, Iím here, Iím playing. I clearly told everybody that. My thoughts are my own but my game face is on. If I had started going down that road of every week having to eat humble pie and grovel, I would have had to do that all game. I was not going to go out on my knees Ė absolutely not.
RNO: So then did you know you were probably leaving when you arrived at Tribal Council, or did you think the tide had turned by that point to send Cristina home instead?
Stephannie: I wasnít sure. I kind of thought I was going to be going. But Iím very strong in my faith and I had prayed about this. I was prayerful that this week I would be saved again. I had that hope that I would be. I sang around the campfire almost every other night Ė theyíd ask me to sing and weíd enjoy that. Iím not Mariah Carey or anything, but I would sing and pray and I thought those positive attributes would outweigh the comment taken out of contest. And since Cristina was scheduled to go anyway, I was hoping theyíd vote that way. Unfortunately, it didnít happen that way for me that time.
RNO: With the men seeming to mostly be aligned, why didn't the women stick together?
Stephannie: I believe the women did stick together. I believe they all had my back. I believe Parvati was in my corner, Rebecca was in my corner. They knew I was in the game. I believe it was Adamís and Nateís influence that changed everything. I didnít appreciate the comment Adam made about me being dead weight! He doesnít have a clue! I believe it was their influence plus the previous weekís comment I made. The seed had been planted and it continued to grow in their minds. I believe they wanted to support me, but they were influenced of the men and the other things going on.
RNO: What happened with the fire in the last episode?
Stephannie: Oh I was so frustrated with that frigging fire! Let me just say that anybody who went up against Cao Boi would have lost. He makes fire every day like itís nothing. But at the time I didnít look at it that way. I was thinking it was the girlsí turn to deliver a victory. I was the oldest one there, and Iím thinking ďI know we can do this, we need to kick some butt.Ē Cao Boi took the smart road and built his fire inside the supply box to shield himself from the wind. We were exposed to the wind and it didnít work. We tried so hard. I just felt like I should have been able to do something to make it work. I felt so much pressure to make it happen. When it didnít, I internalized that as if it was completely my fault, not realizing that there were two other people with me and Cao Boi is an expert. It was a huge burden that I let the tribe down. Then of course I shot myself in the foot by vocalizing that. Thatís something you can never do in this game.
RNO: Speaking of Cao Boi, what was your thought on being invaded by the nutballs of Aitu?
Stephannie: I think I was the first one to spot them, and when I first saw them coming, I thought, ďAre we merging?Ē On the one hand, it was a little surprising, Iím thinking thereís a new twist and I was ready for whatever. On the other hand, once they got in and started talking, I was able to get to know them and it was okay. I realized Cao Boi can talk! It was a little frustrating because he wanted to borrow things from our tribe. You talk trash, we kick your butt, then you want to borrow stuff? You got a lot of nerve. But it gave me an opportunity to get to meet them, which is something I probably would not have been able to do otherwise.
RNO: I have always been under the impression that there are rules against going to the other tribeís camp Ė were there any?
Stephannie: I thought there were rules against it too, thatís why we were taken aback. Apparently, they I guess got a green light to go on a scavenger hunt. I dunno. I guess it was approved.
RNO: Did your tribe have a strategy for the endgame of this most recent immunity challenge or was it a free for all?
Stephannie: We really didnít have a strategy per se, because when looking at the tower from afar, we didnít know how small it was. We did strategize to have Parvati and Jenny go on the stilts. Then we were just going to try to cram ourselves on the platform. But we have a lot of big bodies! So comparing that to the smaller tribe members on Aitu, it was difficult to fit all of us in that tiny little square. We almost had it!
RNO: Do you feel you were portrayed accurately?
Stephannie: Absolutely not! My strategy was to play low and I thought I was doing very well at that, not wanting to have a target on my back. I donít appreciate the fact that I was portrayed as a weakling. I did make the comment, but I did not make the comment the way it was portrayed, so I was a little frustrated about the way it was edited. It is just a game, itís reality TV, youíre not in control of how youíre portrayed. I tried to take it as a pos experience.
RNO: Is there anything else youíd like to tell us about your time on Survivor?
Stephannie: I just like people to know that when youíre sitting at home and watching as I often did, itís not even close to what you think. You are out there in your energy level is sometimes low, you are dehydrated, there are a lot of factors taking their toll. They only thing that keeps you going is that you have that sheer will. When Jeff Probst says go, the adrenaline kicks in and thatís all you have Ė that high, that rush. That is the ultimate with that show. No matter where you are, you still have that burning fire that burning passion to give it your all. Iím proud of the way I played the game. Iím not really happy with being portrayed as a weakling, but I believe Godís going to bless me and use this opportunity as a way to change some things. Overall it was a wonderful experience and I wouldnít trade it for the world.
RNO: Thank you very much for your time, Stephannie!
If you havenít already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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