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HOME > Survivor > Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

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Exclusive: Desi Williams talks 'Survivor' -- Ben Driebergen and Chrissy Hofbeck were playing the best game!


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/22/2017 

Desi Williams was voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers' merged Solewa tribe during the latest episode on CBS.

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Desi, a 27-year-old physical therapist from Peachtree City, GA who currently resides in Newport News, VA, became the eighth person voted out of the game and the first member of the Season 35 jury on Night 21 through a 5-1 revote at Tribal Council instead of Joe Mena, a 34-year-old probation officer from Bronx, NY who currently resides in Tolland, CT.

There was a revote after the tribe initially split votes 4-4 between Desi and Joe, although both Lauren Rimmer, a 35-year-old fisherman from Beaufort, NC, and Ben Driebergen, a 34-year-old U.S. Marine from Boise, ID, received one vote apiece as well.

Lauren did not vote either of the times because she had found an advantage, forcing her to skip this vote but allowing her to vote twice at the subsequent Tribal Council session.

During a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Desi talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of what she had to say.

Reality TV World: There was a big shift in power once Ben and Lauren decided to flip and work against the Healers. How confident were you before Jessica Johnston's vote off that you had Ben and Lauren on your side? And were you personally offended or disappointed by the pair's decision to join the Heroes and Hustlers?

Desi Williams: Yeah I think, I mean, I had had conversations with Ben and we talked about working together. I was still sort of suspicious about it, but I had had a couple of conversations with Lauren and really thought that we were together until that first post-merge vote, and then I wasn't so sure. 

So I had hoped that Lauren would see a relationship with the Healers as being more beneficial than being at the bottom of the Heroes, but it turns out, she didn't. But I kind of thought that Lauren and I were playing the game together, until it became obvious that we weren't.

Reality TV World: Right after the merge, did you worry that you were a target and that's why you worked so hard to win Individual Immunity? I'm wondering if, looking back, you think it would've been better to throw that first challenge as to not show how strong and threatening you are so early on.

Desi Williams: Yeah, no, but at that point, I was worried. Because again, I had seen and heard -- even when I wasn't on their tribe -- how [Cole Medders] and [Mike Zahalsky] had been playing the game. But I knew they were paranoid and knew they couldn't be trusted to not flip.

And it became apparently early on that I was a challenge threat. Even had I thrown the first Individual Immunity Challenge, I had demonstrated my strength and my skill enough in group challenges and team challenges that there's no way it hadn't been noticed by everyone.

So it would've been foolish, I think, of me to throw a challenge, because that doesn't make me any less strong. People know exactly how strong I am regardless, based upon my prior performance. So I knew I was a physical threat, but I would've been a physical threat whether I won that challenge or not.

Reality TV World: At the Tribal Council when Jessica went home, Joe took out his hidden Immunity Idol and waved it around. At the time, did you think it was a mistake for him to play the idol so soon after the merge? If he held onto it, do you think it might've changed the outcome of your elimination?

Desi Williams: I mean, obviously hindsight is 20/20, and we could say that would've been a smarter move for him because we know how that vote went down. But in the moment, I was blindsided by Jess' vote out, so I thought it was smart for Joe to play the idol. I thought that was going to save him.

And Joe has good instincts as well. I trusted his instincts and I'm sure he trusted his instincts, and we were just all so shocked by the vote-out that I wouldn't have told him to not play it. It made total sense to me in the moment.

Reality TV World: At the time of your elimination, whom did you think was playing the best game of Survivor? And watching the season back on TV, do you still feel that way?

Desi Williams: When I was in the moment, it felt like either Ben or [Chrissy Hofbeck]. There was some conversation at Tribal that doesn't happen about who's leading that alliance, because it's clear that they are an alliance.

And there was a lot of conversation, actually, about who's the leader of the alliance. Everyone was denying it. And that's why Ben made the comment about them being knights of the round table, that there was no actual leader in their alliance.

But somebody's got to lead the vote, right? Somebody's got to be making the final decision. And it was clear to me -- just based upon the personalities of people out there that it was either Ben or Chrissy calling the shots. And once that became apparent, they, to me, were the biggest threats.

Reality TV World: Were you starting to think about your endgame? Who would've been in your ideal Final 3 if you had made it to the end?

Desi Williams: Yes, my ideal Final 3 would be someone whom nobody would vote for because they're confused most of the time. So I would've loved to go to the Final 3 with someone like [JP Hilsabeck], and then Cole or [Devon Pinto], probably Cole more so than Devon just because we saw him making fatal moves over and over and over again.

So definitely JP. I would've loved to sit next to him. That's pretty much a shoo-in vote for anybody, but then also, I think Cole or Devon would've been a good person to sit next to.

Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show this season?

Desi Williams: Yeah, I have to say that I got really, really lucky actually. I was contacted by a casting director, so this was the first time that I applied for Survivor. I really hadn't considered applying for Survivor, like living outside for 39 days without being able to brush my teeth or look in a mirror.

It's so opposite from my typical, everyday life and the things that I enjoy doing. But never in a million years would I have woken up and said, "Let me apply for Survivor."

But once I was contacted and I sort of thought about it and thought about the competition aspect, I couldn't say no. And that's sort of how I ended up there! It was just totally by chance and maybe a little bit by fate. But yeah, sitting 39 days outside has not impacted my idea of a good time.

To read the rest of Reality TV World's exclusive Survivor interview with Desi Williams, click here and here.



Robert Voets/CBS

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