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Exclusive: Ali Sonoma dishes about 'The Mole' and quitting for cash

By Christopher Rocchio, 06/18/2008 

Ali Sonoma had no idea who The Mole's fifth-season saboteur was, so she decided to take the money and run.

While the 24-year-old model from St. Louis, MO only learned she had in fact passed the quiz after she quit the competition for a $30,000 bribe, she has no regrets about her decision during Monday night's episode.

On Tuesday, Ali talked with Reality TV World about how she wouldn't have quit unless the money was waved under her nose; why her competitive nature helped her work well with Paul; and her thoughts on several other players still remaining in the competition.

Click here to read Reality TV World's interview with Bobby O'Donnell, who was executed after Ali quit and sat in during her interview.

Reality TV World:  It seemed like you were discouraged during the "Dress Code" mission and even mentioned quitting then.  Is that when you first entertained the idea of quitting?

Ali:  I really did kind of want to quit.  There was a point there where we had 45 minutes and didn't find anybody.  I got kind of discouraged and I'm not really one to quit, so I just really was thinking about it.  Then all of a sudden, we turn around the corner and our luck changed and we found some people to give us some clothes.  It went from a really bad day to a really good one.

Reality TV World:  Would you have ever quit the competition if there was no bribe involved?

Ali:  I wouldn't of quit if there wasn't a bribe involved.  I'm very competitive.  I'm actually kind of shocked myself.  I'm watching it and I'm like, "Wow!  I can't believe I did that!" (laughing)

Reality TV World:  How close were you to taking the $20,000 bribe?

Ali:  It definitely crossed my mind.  That's a lot of money and it's guaranteed.  Once they out the $30,000 down, I honestly just jumped up and went with it.

Reality TV World:  After you quit you said you had a "nervous" feeling about the quiz.  What made you feel that way?

Ali:  I really wasn't sure who it was.  I just kind of went with my gut and I just said, "I'm not really confident in my answers."  I was starting to question myself and then they put the money out there and I was like, "Alright, well that seems right.  It seems like the right thing to do."

[Editor's note:  Due to the nature of The Mole's format, ABC would not allow Reality TV World to question which contestant Ali had believed to be the season's saboteur.]

Reality TV World:  What happened after you quit?  Could you tell from where you were standing that Bobby had still been executed?

  I could kind of see from a distance, and I saw that I was safe.  I then started to think, "Man, did I really do the right thing?"  I was having all these mixed emotions of happiness and excitement and anxiety and just being scared at the same time.  But then I saw that Bobby had been executed from a distance.

Reality TV World:  You just said you had mixed emotions.  Was regret one of them?  Did you regret your decision?

Ali:  I did a little bit.  But at the same time, I think what I did... I'm happy with it.  Thirty-thousand dollars is something to be happy about. (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Any plans for the money yet?  Have you spent any already?

Ali:  Nope.  I'm just kind of waiting for a rainy day.  I'm not going to go and play it, I'll tell you that. (laughing)  I'll use it wisely.

Reality TV World:  You already touched upon the initial difficulty of the Dress Code mission.  Did you, Kristen and Victoria originally anticipate it would be so tough for you to get locals to give you their clothes?

Ali:  It was very challenging.  I didn't think it would be that hard, honestly.  We got a lot of cat calls and a lot of looks and stares and hollers and everything.  I was like, "Oh yeah, anybody would just be willing to give us clothes.  Sure.  We're girls, we get what we want."  But it was not like that at all. (laughing)  People wanted to see us running around in our underwear. (laughing)  That as the funny thing about it.  They were like, "No!  You look so good half-naked, why would we want to give you our clothes?"  It was funny.

Reality TV World:  Why do you think you and Paul were able to do so well during the "Fruit of the Luge" mission without breaking the rules?

Ali:  Paul and I, we worked really well together.  I liked his hardcore mentality.  He's kind of a little outspoken -- he really does speak what's on his mind.  But we just kind of got along good together.  We understood what was going on pretty well.

Reality TV World:  He seemed to rub a lot of players the wrong way -- especially before the dinner that preceded Monday night's quiz.  But based on what you just said, it doesn't sound like that was the case with you.  So you guys got along pretty well?

Ali:  Yeah, we did for the most part.  I didn't really take what he said to heart.  I didn't really get that emotional with it.  He just kind of spoke what's on his mind -- that's cool, that was him.  I didn't really let it affect me the way he affected other people.  We were similar in a way that we're both very competitive.  We knew what we wanted to do, so that's why we related so well together.

Reality TV World:  Would you say you had a coalition with Paul?  Did you form a coalition with any of the other players while you were in the competition?

Ali:  No I didn't form any coalitions.  I was just kind of all for myself.  I thought about it.

Reality TV World:  What was your take on Bobby?  Did you suspect that he was really having as difficult a time during the physical challenges as he led on?

Ali:  (laughing)  Bobby, I'm telling you this -- I do like you as a person, but you pissed me off a lot.
Bobby:  Wow...
Ali:  Yeah you did! (laughing)  I'm sorry, I got mad when you couldn't run with the soccer game.  I was like, "God, he's such a wimp.  He needs to man up!"  So I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings or anything, but I'm kind of a hardcore chick. (laughing)
Bobby:  There's no feelings hurt, honestly.  I understand where you're coming from because I saw everyday how you were so competitive and you wanted to win.  I understood that.  But at the same time, I was too.  It's just that soccer game I really did get injured.  I was seriously injured.  It seems like I was being, "Oh, woe is me!"  But at the beginning of the game I was super-exerting myself and running hardcore -- trying to go fast... I was super-competitive, I just felt bad because nobody else got the chance to see it.  I did want to contribute and that's what sucked the most.
Ali:  The way I saw it, I just got frustrated.  Obviously we're cool now.  It's just my competitive nature, I got upset.

Reality TV World:  Alex has come under heavy criticism from a few of the other players for trying to be a leader and doing a poor job at it.  Do you think Alex could do a better job leading if he wanted to and is simply holding back as a strategy?

Ali:  Alex just really demands attention.  He really does like attention. (laughing)  He's an interesting guy, I'll just say that.  I don't understand him really.  He's just interesting.  He's a person I don't really get. (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Were you in the group of people that had a problem with Nicole?  What was it specifically about her that rubbed the group the wrong way? 

Ali:  I think everybody had a problem with Nicole -- myself included.  I just thought she was the kind of person that was as fake as press-on nails.  At first I was like, "Maybe this is just her strategy.  Maybe she demands attention."  But she was just so fake to me.  I could never really get along with somebody like that.  You didn't really know if that was really the way she was or if that was just her way of playing the game.

Reality TV World:  So based on that, did you take her threat to kill Paul seriously?

Ali:  Yeah.  You see the crazy look in her eye, and you're like maybe this girl is just really nuts.  I'm like, "How can that be?  That's kind of scary that she's a gynecologist.  I'd never go and see her!"  All these things are running through your head.

Reality TV World:  Did you use your journal at all?

Ali:  Yeah I did.  I definitely used my journal.  It's just good to take notes.  You need it for the quiz.  It's a great tool to have.

Reality TV World:  Was there anything you expected to be show that wasn't?

Ali:  (laughing)  Yeah, some of the stuff.  It's funny some of the stuff they did show and then some of the stuff they didn't.  I'm happy with it though.  I've thought it's entertaining.

Reality TV World:  How were you cast for The Mole?

Ali:  I actually was on MySpace one night and the casting director from the show said, "We're doing auditions for it tomorrow."  So I went in and it's all good from there!

Reality TV World:  Would you consider yourself a fan of the show's first two seasons?  What about the celebrity installments?

Ali:  Yeah, I watched all the seasons -- the celebrity included.  I just like the concept of the show, that it wasn't a popularity contest and there's a chance to win a lot of money and it's a good competition.  It just seemed like something that was definitely right for me.

Reality TV World:  What was your strategy heading into the competition? 

Ali:  I had a bunch.  Honestly I had no idea what to expect because I've never done anything like this before.  I had a couple strategies.  I was thinking about forming a coalition but really I just wanted to read everybody and feel them out first.  You're strategies are constantly changing all the time because whenever you're trying to take time off from the game you're really still playing it.  Whenever we got our massages and everything I really couldn't relax because there's so many things running through your head.  You're trying to analyze everybody and you question everything they do and you don't know if it's just them or just the way they play the game.  Everything is running through your head.

Reality TV World:  What did you think would be your strong points and what areas of your game play were you concerned about?

Ali:  Well my stronger points, I'm definitely athletic.  That helped.  I guess my weaker points were sometimes I am kind of gullible.  I really just like to believe the positive in everything and everyone is who they say they are.

Reality TV World:  When we talked to host Jon Kelley before the season started, he described you as someone who used her looks to intimidate but was also smart about how she did so.  Is that something you'd agree with?  Did you think your looks would be asset heading into the competition?

Ali:  Yeah, absolutely.

Reality TV World:  Do you think it played out that way?

Ali:  Yeah, it did.  There was a lot of pretty girls cast obviously.  You can use your beauty in a sense, yeah...
Bobby:  The first day I didn't talk to you because I was so intimidated by you.
Ali: (laughing) I noticed that...
Bobby:  I couldn't stay away from you!  I'm like, "I want to keep me eye on her because I don't know what to say, I don't know what to do!" 
Ali:  Once people realize that I'm just down to earth -- I'm just me -- they're like, "Wow, she's not what I really expected!"

Reality TV World:  What's the reaction been like by your friends and family members who watched you on the show? 

Ali:  They're all really, really excited.  I got so many phone calls on [Monday] night.  It was great.  My family was very happy and they kind of said, "Now we just want to see more of you!" (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Overall, what was your favorite memory from the experience?

Ali:  My favorite memory -- there was so many good ones honestly.  Just a lot of the stuff we did -- the missions, jumping over the falls was great.  That was super-exciting.  Just meeting a lot of great people.  Everything was great.  Honestly, I can't just say one thing.  I can't just pinpoint on thing.

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