Exclusive: Ashley Trainer dishes on 'Survivor: Samoa' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/16/2009
Ashley Trainer had a plan to save herself from elimination, but torrential downpours put the kibosh on that.
The 22-year-old spa sales representative from Maple Grove, MN became the sixth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Samoa during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
On Friday, Ashley talked to Reality TV World about how she would have targeted Elizabeth Kim as the next to go if she had the chance to strategize; why she thinks her fellow castaways would have been agreeable to the plan; what made her trust Russell Hantz so much; and how she had a hard time keeping down a smoothie made of sea slug guts.
Reality TV World: If torrential downpours hadn't hindered your ability to strategize and scramble, what would have been your plan to try and save yourself?
Ashley: Honestly, I would have rallied my butt off against Liz. Everyone knew she was untrustworthy. I mean Russell had been after her, he was mad about her calling him out. I would have just pretty much told everyone, "Why would you keep Liz when you don't trust her?" Because trust is a huge thing in this game.
Everyone I talked to didn't trust her. No one liked her all around camp. So why keep her? I'm not doing anything to make anyone upset. Pretty much I would have rallied to get her out and not me.
Reality TV World: Do you think it would have been successful?
Ashley: I actually do because just from watching the first couple shows, when Russell wants someone out normally they leave. Well I was the first one the kind of... I didn't really do anything to Russell except Week 2, I think it was with [Ben Browning].
But Russell wasn't really gunning for me in last night's episode. So I do think it would have been successful except we couldn't strategize because we were stuck in the shelter.
Reality TV World: Where did your mistrust of Liz originate? Last night's episode showed you saying you hadn't trusted Liz "since Day 1" and always thought there was "something weird going on with her." Can you elaborate on that a little more?
Ashley: It pretty much came from, I originally approached Liz -- or she actually approached me... Anytime after that, any type of strategy would come out... The perfect example is the day that I was like, "Ben is hurting our tribe, not making us stronger." I wanted [Betsy Bolan] to stay. Liz went directly to Ben -- literally seconds after I talked to her, she went right to Ben and then she went right to Russell.
Well, that's huge mistrust right there anyway because it's not how you play the game. So that was it. Numerous counts against her for going and approaching someone when she should have just kept her mouth shut.
Reality TV World: Just to be clear, you think that mistrust for Liz was shared among the other Foa Foa members, right? That's not just based on watching the episodes? You thought they mistrusted her while you were out there?
Ashley: I did think that when I was out there. A lot of people spoke about their mistrust for Liz. I think everyone didn't trust her.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed Liz singling you out as a potential weak link in the Reward Challenge right away. Do you think that was part of a larger situation where she had also distrusted you all along or do you think that was just isolated incident where she just felt you were "a picky eater?"
Ashley: No, I definitely think that there was a larger issue. The truth is, I wasn't a picky eater around camp. I ate coconut. I would eat anything -- they showed me eating a lizard in like the second episode. I was fine. I think that she did that just to try to get a target on my back.
Reality TV World: Were there some other gross food face-offs that got edited out of last night's episode or was everyone in the first four face-offs really able to down all their stuff?
Ashley: Honestly, everyone struggled. You see people gagging, you see Russell gagging, you see [Jaison Robinson] gagging. Everyone had a hard time. Galu, they seemed fine. They're like amazing. They really are. All of them were fine downing their smoothies.
Reality TV World: Just to follow-up on that, it looked like Natalie White and Erik Cardona actually got away without having to drink anything during the challenge. Is that right?
Ashley: Ummm... [Ashley calls out to CBS publicist]
CBS Publicist: Yeah, they got away without having to drink anything.
Ashley: Yes. They got away without having to drink anything.
Reality TV World: Okay. You seemed to be doing pretty good with your sea slug smoothie until you got near the end...
Reality TV World: What happened? Did the Galu taunts just eventually get to you?
Ashley: (laughing) Honestly, in the end there, my body just started rejecting it. I literally couldn't take it. I would swallow a little bit and it would come right back up. I was trying to take it little by little. It was really, really hard. I don't know, my body just couldn't take it anymore.
Reality TV World: Russell commented right before the vote that it wouldn't be up in the air and everybody should be on the same page. At that point, what were you thinking? Did you think you would be the one going home?
Ashley: I knew from what Jaison and from what [Mick Trimming] said at Tribal Council that I was going home.
Reality TV World: You're talking about their comments about keeping castaways who would "stronger in challenges," right?
Ashley: Yeah, because I had been called out from Week 1 that I was the weakest link. So I was like, "Oh my god, I'm leaving tonight." (laughing) It was then that I realized, "I'm going home."
Reality TV World: How big of a role do you think your inability to keep down the sea slug smoothie played in your elimination?
Ashley: I really, seriously do not think that played any role in it. I really don't. I don't know. I think there were a lot of other contributing factors.
Reality TV World: You came right out and said you had trusted Russell since Day 1 at Tribal Council.
Reality TV World: Could you elaborate a bit on why you trusted him so much?
Ashley: Russell was so good to my face. He was so nice to me. He is charming in this weird way. He makes you trust him. It's very odd. He shares little bits of information with you that you think he's only sharing with you. I don't know, there's just something about him that you trust. It's very odd.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when during the premiere episode you heard Russell say you were part of his "dumb-ass girls" alliance?
Ashley: I was a little disappointed just because it's like, "Oh geez, he has no idea." But that's the typical response to blonde girls -- that they're dumb. So... But at least he wasn't just talking about me, which was good. And it's Russell. How much can you REALLY trust what Russell says.
Reality TV World: You had to be aware that Russell was doing a lot of scrambling around camp. Did that have an impact on your relationship with him? Did it make you trust him less?
Ashley: At first, I wasn't worried about it because then he'd come to me and say, "Okay, I'm just going around with these other people to find out what's going on. Don't worry, I'm not strategizing. I'm not doing this." But then the more it happened, the more I didn't trust him.
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you think it would have been best if you and Natalie had listened to Betsy and tried to get rid of Russell earlier in the game?
Ashley: I really wish I would have listened to Betsy at that point. (laughing) I really do, yeah.
Reality TV World: Okay, so do you think you would have had a chance to go farther in the competition if you had stuck with Betsy rather than Russell?
Ashley: I don't know. I really, really don't because Russell had everyone. It was just... I don't know if I would have stuck with... I don't know. I really don't know.
Reality TV World: So far we know Russell told Mick, Jaison and Ben about having the hidden Immunity Idol. Did he ever tell you that he had it?
Ashley: He never told me about the hidden Immunity Idol.
Reality TV World: Did anyone else ever tell you he had the idol?
Ashley: Nope. All the guys kept it a secret. None of the women knew, from what I know at least.
Reality TV World: What was your thinking when Shannon "Shambo" Waters showed you the clues to its whereabouts but still couldn't find it? Did that tip you off that somebody had it or did you think she was just looking in the wrong place?
Ashley: We thought that Ben had it. That was all of our thoughts, that Ben had the idol because there was that one night he was up banging wood all night -- I don't know what he was doing. We thought that he had found the idol that night and he left with it. That's what we thought, and they re-hid it.
Reality TV World: Okay, so you thought [the producers] re-hid it -- just in a different spot maybe?
Reality TV World: You seemed to have alliances with both Natalie and Russell. Would you say you had an alliance with both of them together, or were they more separate alliances with each?
Ashley: I would say all of the above because me and Natalie had an alliance and me and Russell had an alliance and us three had an alliance. So it was three individual alliances. I shared a lot with Natalie, and she shared a lot with me. So, we believed -- or I believed -- that it was going to be us three plus either Mick or Jaison to the merge, whenever the merge would have been.
Reality TV World: So did it sting at all last night to see both Russell and Natalie vote against you?
Ashley: Yeah, it kind of sucked a little bit. I mean I knew walking out of that Tribal that they had voted for me just because look at the votes. But it still sucked a little bit because I thought they were my allies.
Reality TV World: Were you aware of any other Foa Foa alliances?
Ashley: I knew Mick and Jaison had an alliance. They were really tight. But I thought for the most part everyone was pretty much on the same page when it came to votes and whatever. Yeah, I don't know what happened. (laughing)
Reality TV World: The weather looked absolutely terrible during last night's episode. Was there anyway to cope with it or was it basically miserable that entire time it was raining?
Ashley: There's no way to cope with it. I mean what we were doing is we would sit in the shelter huddled and just tell stories about anything and everything you could think of. It was horrible. (laughing)
Reality TV World: What's your take on Mick as Foa Foa's leader?
Ashley: (laughing) Mick's not a very good leader by any means. I don't know. He was fine all around camp, but he didn't lead too much. We had really no true leader to be honest with you.
Reality TV World: Do you blame him at all for how poorly the tribe has been performing up until this point?
Ashley: No, not at all. I think that it was a combination of everyone. I don't think that Mick has any blame. I mean there were challenges where he would have to choose people, like you have seen, and he chose what he thought was best and that was it.
Reality TV World: So you think it's a tribal thing as to why Foa Foa is doing so poorly? Do you think Galu is just a better tribe? Why do you think there's been such a big gap between you guys?
Ashley: I just think that Galu is stronger in general. They had stronger people -- physical, better people at puzzles. I don't know. They were SO much better than us. (laughing)
Reality TV World: Before it happened, you actually said were "excited" about the gross-food Reward Challenge, did you really mean that?
Ashley: I was excited! I was so excited! I truly thought that I would have no issue. I really did. I don't know. I'm so disappointed in myself.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for Survivor: Samoa? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Ashley: I auditioned for The Amazing Race with one of my friends and they called me two days later and asked me if I would be interested in trying out for Survivor. I was SO thrilled because I'm a huge fan of the show. I've watched every season.
So I tried out -- I did everything that everyone else has to do like a video, fill out all the forms. I did everything and I got called to be on the show. So it technically was my first time [applying].