Exclusive: Brenda Lowe talks about her 'Survivor: Nicaragua' ousting
By Reality TV World staff, 11/18/2010
Brenda Lowe thought she and ally Matthew "Sash" Lenahan were in control of Survivor: Nicaragua.
However unbeknownst to Brenda, ally NaOnka Mixon turned on her -- resulting in the 27-year-old paddleboard company owner from Miami, FL becoming the eleventh Survivor: Nicaragua castaway voted out instead.
On Thursday, Brenda talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: Nicaragua experience -- including if she was surprised Sash didn't use his hidden Immunity Idol to save her, what she would have done in his situation, why she was so shocked by NaOnka's betrayal, why she didn't "scramble," and whether she believes things would have turned out differently if she hadn't opted to vote Marty Piombo out at the game's prior Tribal Council session.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Sash didn't give you the [hidden Immunity Idol] he had?
Brenda Lowe: No, not surprised, not surprised. What people don't know is that me and NaOnka -- one of the reasons why she turned on me was because I had a little private conversation with her about possibly taking Sash out of the game depending on how he was when returning from the Reward Challenge with Marty with all the guys from ziplining.
I was really like, "Hmm this is going to be good." If we see that Sash -- we were going to see if we could trust him or not and see what he says about who's going to go home next. So she realized that I was really ready to take out Sash -- my partner the whole time -- only because I wasn't sure what his intentions were towards me.
In the end, he ended up being trustable and I said, "Look NaOnka, forget about that, let's stick with Sash," but it backfired. She went and told Sash that and he knew at this point that I was willing to take him out, so why would he sacrifice his idol for someone who was very ready to take him out? Probably not. So it was not... but it was my hopeful thinking.
Reality TV World: We're calling it "Sash's idol" but it was really Marty's idol that, my understanding, was technically given to your overall alliance and Sash was just supposed to be holding it, so therefore it was really just as much yours as it was his, [at least] theoretically.
Brenda Lowe: Right.
Reality TV World: So had you never envisioned that you wouldn't have been able to get it from him if you wanted it, or why did you seem comfortable letting him hold it to begin with?
Brenda Lowe: Well one, you have to give props because Sash was the one who got it done. At that point, Marty hated me. He probably would have laughed in my face if I would have asked him for it. But Sash, Marty trusted Sash to a certain extent, and it's kind of like "you earned it, you deserved it, you got it."
The idol that I felt most closest to was NaOnka's because we found that one [together]. So yeah, I knew deep down in my heart -- especially with his little Freudian slip [at Tribal Council previously] -- that Sash was never going to give up that idol. And it's the same attitude I would have if I was in the exact same position.
Reality TV World: You seemed pretty confident and arrogant after Marty's Tribal Council ouster and talked about how [Ben "Benry" Henry], [Jud "Fabio" Birza] and [Dan Lembo] were next on your hit list because they'd allied with Marty. But you had also already voiced concern that [Jane Bright] and [Holly Hoffman] were starting to become "demanding," I think was the word you used.
Brenda Lowe: Oh my god, yes!
Reality TV World: So had you really not anticipated that those two groups could come together and turn on Sash and yourself, or had you just never anticipated they'd be able to get NaOnka or [Chase Rice] as a sixth vote?
Brenda Lowe: Never anticipated it and that's why I was definitely outplayed. Because the reason why we even voted off Marty was to show them -- show Holly and Jane -- "look, you can trust us."
They were paranoid about me and Marty, and Sash and Marty. [So we were like], "You know what, we're getting rid of him just for you guys!"
Both Sash and I wanted to keep him and take out Jane, but we were like, "You know what, we can't piss off Chase, he'd probably cry if we took out Jane." So we just stuck with the alliance -- which is a good thing to do in Survivor -- and took out Marty.
But yeah, that was the beginning of the end. And no, I didn't [anticipate them turning]. I underestimated all of them!
I didn't know they would come together, I didn't know it was such a group effort -- everyone loved [the idea], "Yes, let's take out Brenda!"
I didn't see it coming and that's my own fault.
Reality TV World: NaOnka has been a pretty unstable personality all season -- or at least that's the way it's been presented on TV. So why were you so shocked that she decided to turn on you?
Brenda Lowe: Well because what people don't see is -- believe it or not, here's a shocker! -- is that NaOnka was a nice person.
She has a nice side, she was a sweetheart. She's funny. She's kind and caring. We did things together. We talked, she told me all about her family, I know everything about her life practically!
We spent so much time together, and the one person I trusted the most, ironically, was her! I trusted her a lot, we became friends just like my whole alliance, we were friends before an alliance.
And I didn't see -- yes, she's crazy.
Reality TV World: (laughs)
Brenda Lowe: But the craziness was to my benefit! Because from the beginning of the game I was looked at as the quote-unquote threat. So to have someone as crazy as NaOnka -- where people target her [was perfect].
You know, "take the attention off me, target her" and our alliance is strong enough for them to target her and we [still] take them out. It was a beautiful system. It was a beautiful system, so I was glad to have someone as crazy as her on my side in my main alliance.
That's why I protected her so much. But obviously, hey, the rollercoaster derailed, crashed and burned and I was on it!
Reality TV World: So what made you decide to confront NaOnka at Tribal Council? Did you think you could change her mind, or did you already know you were going home and you just kind of wanted to go out with guns blazing?
Brenda Lowe: No, it definitely wasn't the whole guns blazing thing -- I could have done a lot worse, trust me. (laughs)
But my thing with her was to show her "this is not smart." "I'm mad at you, I'm not taking it personal," but my only salvation in the game was for the alliance to still stick.
I still needed Chase, I still needed Sash to give me the idol, I still needed [Kelly "Purple Kelly" Shinn] -- obviously Kelly was always at my side -- and I still needed NaOnka to [hear] "this is dumb, do not do it, I was never going to turn on you and I meant that with everything I had. I was not going to turn on you NaOnka."
"Yes, I was going to turn on Sash and Chase and whoever else, but not you." And I wanted her to see that, and that's why the whole quote-unquote non-scrambling thing -- which really irks me, the way that made it look -- [happened].
I had a strategy! It's not that I didn't fight, it's not that I was too proud or I didn't care about the game, it's not that I get everything I want in my life. No. I fought to the end and I had a strategy.
My strategy was for Sash to give me the idol [and] the only way he'd give it to me was if he could see that he could trust me. [And] how could he trust me if I'm talking to Fabio and Benry and Dan and Holly?!?!
It didn't make sense! He needed to trust me enough to give me the idol and the only way he'd trust me is if [I said] "I'm loyal to you to the last second, I'm loyal to NaOnka who betrayed me!"
You see what I mean?
Reality TV World: Sure.
Brenda Lowe: That was my plan! And I really wanted to stomp my feet and be like, "Jeff! Shut-up! I am fighting! I'm still doing it, and scrambling would have gone against that!"
It was so frustrating and still frustrating.
Reality TV World: To clarify then, did you go into Tribal Council thinking you were going home or did you still think you weren't going to be going home?
Brenda Lowe: Well, obviously I had all my stuff packed. I was still trying to act as innocent as possible -- I was trying really hard not to be bitter and roll my eyes at everybody because it sucks going home.
But I had to keep it together and I had to show people "I am still with you guys. I'm still with you Chase, I'm still with you Sash. NaOnka, even though you piss me off, I'm still with you guys. We have the majority, we're in control, don't quit!"
I was like, "Don't do it!" And I had high hopes that the idol -- if I kept on and kept on at Tribal Council telling these people "I trust you, I've been looking in your eyes since the beginning of the game and I'm turning to you. I'm not turning to Fabio, I'm not turning to Benry, I'm not turning to these people, [it'd be] so hypocritical of me!"
"I'm turning to you, I trust you, we're friends."
And I hoped my final plea [would make them think], "Wow, she stuck with us to the very, very end -- we can trust her."
I wanted to inspire them to be like, "I want somebody like that on my side." And I was very true to that, but obviously it didn't work.
Reality TV World: There was another scene that Wednesday's episode showed where after Chase told you about plan to vote you off, you said you weren't even "going to have to do anything crazy to beat" their plan and you "weren't even that impressed" by it. I'm assuming that was because you thought you still had NaOnka on your side, correct?
Brenda Lowe: Yes! That's what it was!
I mean I literally found out that it was NaOnka like five minutes before we left [for Tribal Council] and I was like, "Huh?"
I mean you saw me -- I was like, "She's not going to vote for me, no way!" It was like, "What?" And that was the blindside, that was the betrayal. That was what didn't make sense in my head when I was calculating how can I stay in the game.
The fact that she did it, I was like, "Okay, that kind of messes up everything!" And it really left me like, "Woah."
Obviously, all those things that you say you say with confidence because you think that you have control! And unknowingly, no, it's gone.
When your main alliance NaOnka is the one that turns on you, you're bye-bye -- you're gone, you have no one to turn to now!
Reality TV World: How had you seen the rest of the game playing out -- would Benry, Fabio and Dan have been your next order?
Brenda Lowe: Right, definitely Benry because look, at this point even though Jane is being nasty toward me -- she was picking flowers for all the girls, even Dan got a flower, and she purposefully did not give me a flower.
She would sit in front of my face when I was sleeping in front of the fire block the fire and literally make me be like, "Excuse me!" Her butt was that close to my face... she would just do nasty things like that to me.
And what was so [key] with her was [how] Chase was my main alliance and she loved Chase! So I knew I had Chase, and if I had Chase I have Jane and I have Holly. So I wanted to target them, but I didn't want to piss off my main guy which was Chase.
So the plan was Benry and all those people and Jane and Holly.
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you think it would have been a better move not to vote Marty out or would you still have been voted out of the game as quickly?
Brenda Lowe: It would have made a huge difference. Jane would be out, Chase would be closer to me and Holly would be not as empowered as she obviously was.
Reality TV World: We're out of time so last question, how were you cast on Survivor -- how did you end up on the show?
Brenda Lowe: I tried out last year at an open call in Miami. I would have made it to Samoa [but] I didn't get the call back and this year I got the call back.
I'm a fan, I wanted to be on the show and if you try-out you can make it!