Exclusive: Desi Williams talks 'Survivor' -- I don't think voting me out was the smart move, but I'm flattered
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/18/2017
Desi Williams was voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers' merged Solewa tribe during Wednesday night's episode on CBS.
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 an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Desi talked about her Survivor experience. Below is a portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Just to confirm, you had no idea about Lauren's advantage while you were out there, correct?
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you found out about Lauren's advantage? Did the twist surprise you?
Desi Williams: So, I've had conversations since [filming] of course, and there's Ponderosa, so I knew before last night that that had happened. But when I found out, I was very shocked.
Reality TV World: It was a little bit of a risky move on Lauren's part. What do you think about her decision to play the advantage?
Desi Williams: Kind of. But I don't even know if it had crossed my mind. I mean, it was a risky move, but it also would've been foolish not to play it, right? So I think she had no choice in that.
Reality TV World: When the first vote was a tie at Tribal Council, did the thought even cross your mind that someone from the Healers had flipped? Did you just assume Lauren had voted?
Desi Williams: No, I kind of felt like a Healer had flipped. I'm trying to think of how the votes went down. It wasn't even -- it was less of a flip because when the first votes were read, I was more so confused as to why there were so many random votes.
I thought at least all the Healers were voting for Lauren. That was the last conversation we had before leaving for Tribal. So I was just confused at that moment, like people, why are all these other names being written down when I thought we had agreed that Lauren was who our votes were going to?
Reality TV World: When it became time for the revote, what did you expect was going to happen? Did you have a feeling you were the main target or that Joe was probably going home?
Desi Williams: No, I kind of had a feeling it was going to be me. And you know, I have to almost be flattered by the fact that they chose to get me out at this point in the game as opposed to Joe.
At this point, I was strategically trying not to demonstrate that I was smart in the game. So I was really just purely a physical threat at that point in the game, and nobody hated me at that point in the game.
So they got me out because I was a challenge threat, and they felt like I would win more Individual Immunities and it would be harder to get me out at the end. Joe was not performing well in Individual Immunity Challenges and probably could be voted out.
So in my head, that at least made me feel better about it. I take it as a compliment that they went towards me and I had a pretty good feeling that they would.
Reality TV World: So putting yourself in their shoes, it sounds like you think they made the smart choice in taking you out before Joe? Because they were also worried about Joe's strategic gameplay and how he was great at finding hidden Immunity Idols.
Desi Williams: I don't know if I feel that they made a good decision because from where I stand, in the season I was having, if we look at the history of Survivor, physical threats do not win the game of Survivor. Strategic threats win the game of Survivor.
So to me, it's foolish to vote physical players out first, because they're not historically who wins the game. We need to go for the strategic threats. And the physical threats, we can all kind of duke it out in the end. So, no, I don't think they made the smart move. But it worked for them I guess.
Reality TV World: You said you had a very difficult decision in whether to vote for Joe or not. How much did you waver in making that decision? Did you ever campaign for people to target Joe instead of you, or did you ever entertain the idea of flipping like Mike Zahalsky did?
Desi Williams: In my head and in confessionals, yes, but publicly, no. I would have not campaigned against Joe. And it became something bigger than the game for me. You're on this island with strangers, and if that was the one person I could trust and the one person I feel safe being around, I'm not going to campaign to get rid of him.
Because everybody else, they're doing nothing but lying to my face. So privately, in confessionals, I kind of had that conversation about, "Maybe I should flip. I know it's going to keep me in this game if I flip," but psychologically and morally, I just knew I couldn't do it.
Reality TV World: What was the turning point in your relationship with Joe when it actually become a friendship or close alliance? Because for most of the game, you had been talking with castaways -- like Jessica Johnston, for example -- about how you were kind of indifferent to working with him vs. getting rid of him.
Desi Williams: Yeah, I think the more and more -- so [Roark Luskin] was my closest ally in the beginning. Once Roark got voted out, I was kind of stuck with Joe. He was the only Healer left on my tribe and I knew [Ashley Nolan] and [Devon Pinto] were closer to each other than they were with me.
So that left me, kind of, with Joe. We merged and then Jess felt like my closest ally. And then Jess went home and I was left with Joe, and that's kind of the way it all went down.
I knew that both Mike and [Cole Medders] were unpredictable and super paranoid in the game, and not level-headed enough for me to even have a conversation with [them] that I could trust. So, it was just as people were being peeled out of the game who I trusted and felt like I could work with, I was left with Joe, and that's kind of how it happened.