Exclusive: Jacque Berg dishes about her 'Survivor: Gabon' elimination
By John Bracchitta, 10/10/2008
Jacque Berg, a 25-year-old medical device sales representative from Santa Barbara, CA, feels she just needed to fly under the radar for one more round before putting her gameplan into action to win Survivor: Gabon.
However, after twelve days in Gabon and a reshuffling of the Kota and Fang tribes, Jacque suddenly found herself viewed as a threat and eventually became the fourth castaway to be eliminated from the show.
On Friday, Jacque talked to Reality TV World about what alliance she established that was never shown on the show, whom she disliked the most on both of her tribes, what "super shocked" her, and why she felt certain that she would not be eliminated so early in the competition.
Reality TV World: What were your initial reactions after the two tribes were reshuffled? Did you think the tribes had ended up even more lopsided than they had been before?
Jacque: Yeah! I was super pissed! I mean, if I had gone to the Kota [tribe] I would have been super happy. But it was like my worst nightmare going over to Fang.
I hated the team name "Fang" and just being over there made me mad, but I knew I was the minority.
Reality TV World: After the [tribal] shuffle happened, you said you were surprised that [Kelly Czarnecki] had felt like an outsider while she was at Kota. Did you really feel that way or were you just trying to convince your new tribemates that was the case?
Jacque: Yeah... [I was] kind of trying to convince them of that. She really alienated herself, it's not like anyone excluded her or tried to exclude her. She just kept digging herself in a hole by saying rude comments to everybody and just wouldn't think before she talked
Reality TV World: Ok. We didn't really get to see much of you in Kota's early days, what made you decide to join [Marcus Lehman'] "large onion" alliance?
Jacque: Honestly, those three were the smartest and most genuine people out there. I knew that if I was in an alliance with them that it would take me all the way to the end.
Reality TV World: Kind of going off on that. What type of relationship did you have with [Ace Gordon] and [Jessica "Sugar Kiper]?
Jacque: I actually had an alliance with them, but they didn't even show it. Sugar came to me and told me she had the [Immunity Idol] so that was kind of my backup alliance.
Reality TV World: Oh, Sugar told you [about the Idol] also?
Jacque: Yep. And I was hoping that would have paid off if I got switched to Fang. But I was just... I needed one more round.
Reality TV World: Well, on the show that alliance was clearly not shown. Were you surprised to hear Kelly tell the other Fang tribe members that you had a close relationship with Ace?
Jacque: I mean I had a close relationship with everybody from [the original Kota tribe] except for her and [Paloma Soto-Castillo].
So I mean, she was right. She didn't have any alliances. And the rankings of all of us? It was clear. I mean I could not combat that because I was obviously ranked the top girl [on Kota] and she was ranked at the bottom.
Reality TV World: [Right,] before the tribes got reorganized [you'd been] rated the fifth most important person in the Kota tribe. How did you react to that?
Jacque: I mean, I thought it was pretty accurate. I was on top for the girls in my tribe. But I didn't want to be highlighted. I didn't want to, you know, be targeted as the most athletic girl either because it just felt like that [would have] put me at a disadvantage.
Reality TV World: Did any of the rankings surprise you?
Jacque: Not on our tribe. It's exactly how I voted.
Reality TV World: What about the other tribe?
Jacque: Yeah it was ridiculous. The fact that [Randy Bailey] was so high up and [Ken Hoang] wasn't at the end... I mean Kenny is obviously the weakest link there so that was shocking.
Reality TV World: Given their horrible performance and [the] superior numbers [they went into it with], it almost looked like Fang decided to intentionally throw last night's Immunity Challenge -- did that thought ever enter your mind before or after the challenge?
Jacque: Me and Ace... they didn't show [this] but me and Ace planned the day prior to throw [the challenge] because we wanted Sugar and we wanted her Immunity Idol to help switch the table around.
But right before the game started we were so nervous that our heads would be on the chopping block that we actually tried really hard.
The Fang members just absolutely sucked on the water. They were so unathletic. They went into the challenge basically knowing that they would lose.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that [Matty Whitmore] came up to you and told you that the original Fang members were going to vote you out?
Jacque: Well, yeah because before that he was worried [that] he was getting voted out. He was actually not in an alliance with [Danny "G.C." Brown], [Crystal Cox], or Kenny, so he was trying to save himself and Ace.
Me, him and Ace wanted to start our own alliance but we needed one more person. So we thought that was going to be Kenny. As soon as Kenny changed his mind then I think that's when Matty changed his mind too.
Reality TV World: What had you been expecting to happen up until that point when you started hearing talk that you might be on the chopping block? Did you think Kelly was going to be voted off?
Jacque: Yeah actually I was pretty darn confident that Kelly was going to be the one [eliminated] next. I mean, Kenny promised me he wouldn't write my name down and so did Matty. And then the way the [Tribal Council] went, Kelly just kept digging her grave there and kept bashing Fang people. So I honestly thought I was gonna stay.
Reality TV World: Yeah actually going of off of that... were you surprised when Kelly called out Kenny and Crystal [as poor performers in the Immunity Challenge]? Did you think she thought she was already going home at that point?
Jacque: She totally did because they had mentioned how they wanted to send the weakest person home, which I would have thought was her.
But she just does that. That's Kelly. She wasn't thinking even before she opened her mouth because she did that in the previous Tribal Council when she bashed Ace. I think that she was shocked that she stayed.
Reality TV World: When you were trying to convince Ken and Crystal to keep you around, you made a comment that came across like you were saying you had felt like the fifth member of the "onion alliance." Was that accurate or were you just saying anything you could to try and save yourself?
Jacque: I was just trying to save my butt. If I would have stayed one more round I would have gone back with Sugar and Ace until the merge, and then gone back to the "onion alliance."
Reality TV World: So if you had managed to form an alliance with the Fang members, would you have really have turned your back on your original alliance?
Jacque: Nope, I wouldn't have. Just because I respected them so much more. I didn't really care for the Fang people. It was portrayed pretty accurately [on television], everyone over there was very, very negative, very deceitful. You couldn't trust any of them to do anything. They were lazy. They were complainers. I didn't want to go to the end with them.
Reality TV World: So you said that Sugar had told you she had the Immunity Idol. That's what the Fang tribe members were scared of, that she would give it to you if the situation called for it...
Jacque: Yes, and that was pretty accurate.
Reality TV World: So you think she would have if the situation came to it?
Jacque: Yes. Definitely yes.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised about how focused the Fang tribe members were on that scenario?
Jacque: Yeah! That's the one thing I was super shocked by! I didn't think they were that clever to, you know, [to] think that far ahead.
I mean that is exactly what was going on. I honestly didn't think that they knew that though.
Reality TV World: Did you ever think that you were going home or did you never know for sure? Because on the show it looked like the writing was on the wall before you had even left for Tribal Council.
Jacque: No, I mean... really, I said I was nervous in Tribal Council [but] I really thought I was safe, especially with how [the Tribal Council] was going.
But you know... I had this weird intuition -- like I almost threw up before walking to [Tribal Council] -- and I'm like "My gut's telling me something."
But I just... during the whole game I kept picturing myself winning. So I was just so dumbfounded.
Reality TV World: Did anyone say anything during Tribal Council that gave you some hope that you'd be staying?
Jacque: Oh yeah. They all said that they needed to vote off the weakest link so they could start winning challenges. And Kelly started bashing Crystal and Kenny, which I totally wanted to do too but I didn't want to sacrifice myself.
Reality TV World: Ok that was actually going to be my next question. You seemed to be pretty reserved in the Tribal Council....
Jacque: ...I was VERY reserved. That's a big part of the game. What you say off camera and in front of the tribe is totally different. I mean, I never would have shown all of my cards. I was just trying to play the innocent part.
Reality TV World: Last season on Survivor, [there was a lot of hype about how there was a strong female alliance and] the Final Four consisted of all women. This [season] the first four people eliminated have all been women -- do you think there was some kind of bias against the women this season?
Jacque: Um.... no not really. I thought it was pretty evenly matched. I mean the women, it seemed, were far weaker than the guys. (pauses) Except for Kenny and G.C.
Reality TV World: Actually going off of that... In Tribal Council [Survivor host Jeff Probst] said you were one of the strongest contestants -- man or woman -- on your tribe. Did you agree with that statement?
Jacque: Completely. I mean, I was so prepared for every challenge. I actually held back in pretty much every challenge except for that last one polo one. I held back because I didn't want to stand out, and I had done pretty much every sport under the sun to get ready for [the show] so I was just waiting for my time to peak.
And I didn't even get it! (laughs)
Reality TV World: What was your strategy going into the competition?
Jacque: I just kind of wanted to be right in the middle. I didn't want to look too inferior or superior.
I didn't want to come off as a leader, because generally in situations like that I try to dominate it and delegate and all that. After seeing the show though, I just wanted to mesh so I could keep myself [in] until the merge.
Reality TV World: During your "Final Words," you mentioned that if you had made it one more round that you could have gone all the way to the end....
Jacque: (interrupting) For sure.
Reality TV World: How did you see that happening?
Jacque: Well if I stayed one more round Sugar, Ace, Matty, and I would have had the majority. Even if Matty didn't join us we could have used the Immunity Idol to our advantage.
Then as soon as the merge happened I would switch on them and go right back to Charlie, Marcus, and Corinne because I knew that was going to hold strong.
Reality TV World: How much weight did you end up losing on the show?
Jacque: I don't even know! It was all in kilograms so I don't even remember.
Reality TV World: How were you cast originally onto Survivor?
Jacque: Um, I'm pretty sure it was as the business professional girl next door [type].
Reality TV World: Did you apply or were you recruited?
Jacque: I applied.
Reality TV World: Had you applied to previous seasons?
Jacque: I hadn't! I'd always wanted to but I [finally] did this season.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to hear Matty [tell Jeff] he'd be voting to keep the tribe physically strong and then learn that he still voted for you anyways?
Jacque: Yeah exactly! You'll notice, all of Fang's tribe -- I thought -- were just B. S. They were telling Probst one thing and doing another.
Reality TV World: In the earlier episodes you weren't focused on quite as much. Was there anything that you expected to make it on the show that did not make it on?
Jacque: Yeah just the alliance with me, Sugar, and Ace. And then also the strategy of us [when we were] going to throw the challenge.
Reality TV World: What are you doing now? Did you go back to medical sales?
Jacque: I didn't. I actually started a charity. It's called Second Family.
Reality TV World: What does it focus on?
Jacque: It helps to find mentors for at risk children and the website is www.second-family.org.
Reality TV World: Oh, one last question I forgot -- you've been saying that the [Kota and Fang] tribes were both much different and that the Fang tribe members were very manipulative and played down and dirty. Were you aware of that same vibe when you were on Kota?
Jacque: For sure! You could totally sense it. They would come into every challenge with their heads hung low. They didn't work well together, you could hear them yelling at each other. They weren't close at all. They just had very negative vibes.