Exit Interview Episode 5/Week 4 – Stephanie Johnson

What was it like for you rewatching your final tribal council months after living it out on the island.

You know, especially the tribal I feel like I was kind of in shock during it. I don’t remember a lot about that last tribal council and leaving, because I think that all of a sudden your dream is coming to an end and your heart is sad and bleeding. But rewatching that it was like I was watching this girl, first of all who was absolutely fighting for her life and then kind of watching myself living this shocked moment. It was almost like a surreal feeling watching it back and seeing it all go down. But it was also very disheartening and sad and made me cry a lot.

You are a big fan of Survivor, can you talk about where that all started and how that led you to applying to be on the show

I started watching 17 years ago, season one (Borneo). What drew me in was the adventure of it. This was pre-cell phone days and social media, so to watch something on my TV that was so far away. I’ve always had this sense of wanderlust and adventure in me, but then i’ve always loved the dynamic of this group of strangers living getting together and relying on each other and meeting all these people from different backgrounds. After watching the first episode, I knew I wanted to be part of it and that I needed that experience. So I started applying season two and got on thirty-six

[Laughs] So for anyone out there, it only takes a good 17-years. You and Brendan have a lot in common!

Yes we do and if you want something, just wait 17 years and it will manifest, but you just have to wait seventeen years. [Laughs]

It looked like you were in trouble as soon as you had the swap, did you feel that pressure going into the swap going in as a minority.

Absolutely. As soon as they (Naviti 5) had the numbers 5-4 , we tried to strategise and find a crack and see who was friends with who, but they made it very apparent that they hated our camp and that they were not working with us. They weren’t talking with us, so it was really up to us to find and idol. We needed to remain loyal to each other and we did, we found an idol, we swung for it, we missed and really from that point on, the 3 of us were fighting for our lives. It was fighting for our lives ever since the numbers were not on our side. With Morgan getting voted out, it gave us a little bit of hope because that side were fractured, but our five was like beating our head against a cement wall, they were not budging. Bradley and Kellyn had those 3 on a leash.

You seemed to have conflict with Bradley quite a bit this season, what was your relationship like with him?

Absolutely, Bradley and Kellyn were a power couple. I called them out at Brendan’s tribal council and I told the other 3 you are just following these guys. Bradley and I [laugh] we have a love/hate relationship. On a personal level we had great conversations about life, friendship and his life experience, we got along fantastic. But then as soon as anything strategy came up, he was so damn arrogant, that I just wanted to smack him or poison him or something to wake up and play the damn game he said he was such a fan of, instead of these people who did not care.

Kellyn on the flip side seemed really emotionally effected at having to vote you out. Were you able to connect over having those shared life experiences.

Absolutely, Kellyn and I bonded pretty immediately, we shared a lot of personal stories with each other and we could really relate to each other. We are both into yoga and meditation and we’ve both been through a lot of the same life experiences and I really just saw a lot of myself, where I was 5 years ago. So she kind of became my sole sister out there, and they really did not show that, but we were really close out there.

Stephanie my biggest disappointment was that you were sent to Ghost Island and there was no game for you to play.

Ugh, you know Ghost Island it was my demise. It was so heart-wrenching that I had to go there. I was excited to go there, but I was not excited that I was not going to be immune, because we did not know whether we would be immune or not. So firstly I was not immune, but then I get there and i’m expecting 100% that I’m going to get to play a game because Jacob and Kellyn talked about Ghost Island and both had the chance to play. So I though I would either lose my vote or get this advantage and be able to turn the entire game around. So when I got this piece of paper that basically said “nope sorry” you can’t do anything, it was gut-wrenching because I feel like every ounce of power for good or bad was taken out of my grasp. I just had no luck this season at all and I think you have to have an ounce of luck to survive in this game.

I agree and unfortunately you were not on that side this season. You said that Ghost Island, impacted your game, do you feel that when you went back, there was anything you could say to stay in the game or was that 24-hours away detrimental to you being able to sway their votes.

Hugely detrimental to me. I think had I came back with an advantage, it could of been a different story. Maybe they would of wanted to work with me, or we could of worked something out. But the fact is they had 24-hours to strategise and talk to these people, build relationships and even throw my name out and I wasn’t there to defend myself. I had nothing to offer when I got back, we’d lost immunity, you know I came back and it was a completely different dynamic. People who hadn’t been speaking very much were now talking to each other and I knew immediately, Michael and Jenna were totally different towards me and I’m very perceptive, I picked up on that, i’m not an idiot. I knew there was not much that I could do. Even if the thoughts I had on Ghost Island, I needed that loyalty, I needed those two votes to pull anything off. It was very detrimental to my game Ghost Island.

Did you consider pulling a Jacob and making up some fanciful lie? Or did you think that would not work?

I absolutely thought about that, but everything I could think of I would of needed their two votes. If I did like a steal a vote or any type of advantages I would of needed their votes with me and I knew immediately they were not going to be with me. I just told them I didn’t get the game, but this is what i’m thinking. So I showed them all my cards because I thought we could think of something, but I realised really quick I couldn’t. So my best bet at this point was to search for idols which I did until the last minute and work my relationships with Bradley, Kellyn and Chelsea and just pray to the Survivor Gods, that some miracle they would pick Michael over me which I knew was a long shot and basically impossible, but that was my only ounce of hope.

One last question, you talked about having 3 major takeaways from being on the show. What are your major take aways all this time down the track from the show.

I take away this amazing adventure that I had and these relationships. I think that being here now its actually the relationships, the relationships that I built with people were as genuine as I thought. I’ve got these long term friendships with these people that I would never have met otherwise and you know some friendships are worth a million dollars if i’m being honest. Everything kind of worked out the way it should. I wish I was still playing, I would have given anything to go further but I am very thankful as my key takeaway for the relationships I have built with people and friends i’ll have for a lifetime.

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Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

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