Exclusive: Ciera Eastin talks 'Survivor' -- I turned down the offer to play at first, my head wasn't in the game
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/14/2017
Ciera Eastin was voted off the "Mana" tribe on Survivor: Game Changers' epic two-hour premiere episode on CBS.
After losing Season 34's first Immunity Challenge, the "Mana" tribe voted off Ciera, a 27-year-old from Salem, OR, at the first Tribal Council session via a unanimous 9-1 vote. Ciera, who previously played on Survivor: Blood vs. Water and Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, had voted for Michaela Bradshaw to go.
Ciera appeared to be blindsided in a vote spearheaded by Malcolm Freberg, who thought the female player spoke strategy too early. Ciera also volunteered to complete the puzzle in the Immunity Challenge, which they lost, and boasted a history of cutthroat gameplay many returning castaways found intimidating.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Ciera talked about her short-lived Survivor: Game Changers experience and what went wrong. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to see that Tony Vlachos went home after you? Because when you initially pitched the plan of targeting him or Caleb Reynolds, no one seemed ready for that and Michaela Bradshaw's attitude later seemed to become an excuse for the tribe to go after her instead.
Ciera Eastin: Well, so, this is interesting for me, and I feel like the edit definitely, as an audience watching, made it seem like I was the one throwing Tony's name out and they denied it. When in reality, everybody was talking about Tony.
From the second we landed on the beach and Tony ran off yelling, "I'm looking for the idol," and late-late nights with him and Tony and Caleb would be like out in the middle of the jungle and we wouldn't even know what they were doing.
Everyone was talking about getting rid of Tony. We'd sit around camp and they'd be like, "Tony needs to go first," and so it wasn't like I was just throwing random names out there. Everybody was talking about Tony. It was like a pretty safe name to say. I think it was the Caleb name is what really screwed me.
But with that being said, I was not surprised -- I knew Tony was coming after me, because they were all talking about wanting Tony gone. So I knew, I was like, "Well, if I go, Tony, you're next because they're after you." And my true, true core, I'd put anybody's [name down] but me, so obviously I would've voted out Tony, but in Ciera's perfect world, Tony would not have been the first vote out.
So when I walked up to the well and they were talking about Tony, obviously I'm going to say, "Oh yeah, Tony needs to go," right? But that wasn't my -- that wasn't the person in my heart whom I wanted gone first. I just wanted it to be anybody but me.
Reality TV World: Which players did you hope to work with going into the game? Since you're all returnees, you obviously have the ability to talk to each other beforehand. So just to be clear, did you have any pre-game discussions with anyone or agree to any pre-game alliances?
But nothing to where it said, "Hey, we're going to work together. Let's do this thing together." More so I had already known that and we conversated and I knew we got along. But pre-game alliances always -- they never work. It always ends up biting you in the butt.
Reality TV World: What was your strategy going into this season having played twice before? What did you plan to do differently to hopefully improve your game this time around?
Ciera Eastin: I think I made a mistake in the past of maybe being a little -- I don't want to say the word "cliquey" but finding a friendship or relationship that I love. In my first season, it was [Katie Collins], and even like Katie and [Hayden Moss] and [Caleb Bankston]. My second season, it was the "witches' coven" with [Abi-Maria Gomes] and [Kelley Wentworth].
This time I kind of wanted to play a smarter role and get along with everyone, and be the person that everybody is talking to vs. "Ciera is with Kelley," or, "Ciera is with Katie." I wanted it to be like, "Well, Ciera is with everyone." And that was kind of, like, the main thing I wanted to adjust about my game. I just really didn't get the opportunity to do that.
Reality TV World: Sandra Diaz-Twine was pretty arrogant after Tony got voted off, yelling that the queen is staying the queen and stuff like that. How do you think the tribe is going to react to that, and do you think it could be dangerous for her game?
Ciera Eastin: You would think it would. Honestly, you would really think it would. Sandra has an amazing ability -- a charming, charming ability -- that she can bash you or make, like, a snarky comment and have it come off cute and funny, and people laugh at it vs. take offense to it, if that makes sense.
A lot of people don't have that, but she'll make a comment that really could be portrayed as rude or arrogant, but people laugh at it and think it's funny because she just has this charming ability about her, and I think that's why she does so well -- or is one of the reasons why she does so well. She also does well because she is an incredible player. So you would think it would, but I don't think it will.
Reality TV World: What are your general thoughts on the new rule of there being no revote after a tie-vote at Tribal Council. How drastically do you think that might impact gameplay?
Ciera Eastin: Oh my God, so much! One of the main things I'm mad about at myself is that I didn't get the chance to see that through. Because also, I feel like I had an advantage in a sense that I totally understand how going to rocks works, and I understand what it takes and I understand that moment.
And I also understand the strategy of it, and so for me, I was super disappointed I didn't get to see that through because that twist has so many advantages. It's like Andrea said herself, "You no longer have the comfort of saying, 'Well, if Tony has an idol, let's just split the votes, and then worst case scenario we revote and vote out Caleb,'" right?
You don't get that luxury anymore, so you better be dang sure of what you're doing or your butt could be the one putting your hand in the bag and drawing a rock. And I'm not scared to do that at all.
And I think I could use that to my advantage by saying, "Hey, you better not go there because you know full well I will go there with you." You know what I mean? So I was so disappointed that I did not get to see that through.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when producers asked you to come back to play Survivor again? Did you have any hesitation? And would you be up for another shot at the million or do you think you're done? (Laughs)
Ciera Eastin: To be completely honest, when I first got the call to come back, I actually told them I could not come. And the reason for that was not because -- I am so grateful for the opportunity and the experience, and the CBS family has been so good to me.
I was just having a very hard time leaving my children again, because I have a five-year-old and a nine-year-old, but for my five-year-old, it would be my third summer in five years that I've been gone.
And it was just the guilt of leaving my children again that soon -- because I had just gotten done filming a year prior -- was so tremendous, that I actually told them I couldn't do it. And then I ended up working it out and saying I was going to go, obviously, and that guilt really, honestly, ate me alive the whole time. My head was just not properly in the game.
I think I needed a little bit -- my gut was telling me before I left I needed more time in between seasons before I went back, but it's so hard to say, "No," because I don't know when I'll ever get this opportunity again. And I'm so fortunate to even be asked and they are just so good to me, so it was rough. But, you know, so is life! I am a very blessed individual and am so lucky to be a part of it.
Reality TV World: The preview for the next episode reveals a tribal swap is already coming. What's your reaction to that? What are your thoughts on that happening so soon?
Ciera Eastin: It so doesn't surprise me. On a Game Changers season, you have to be ready for really, seriously anything. It's such a fast-paced game that it really, totally does not surprise me, especially when you have a tribe like our tribe who lost the first two challenges.
It's kind of a predictable -- it seems fairly predictable. You've got to switch it up at some point to make it a bit more exciting, but also, it's a Game Changers season. They're probably going to do more than switch it up once.
Reality TV World: Did you have any predictions going into the season on twists they may implement or rules they may bend?
Ciera Eastin: Oh my God! I don't even try to predict. At this point, I've seen such crazy sh-t that I was, like, ready for anything!