Exclusive: Julie Wolfe talks about 'Survivor: Redemption Island'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/28/2011
Julie Wolfe was eliminated from Survivor: Redemption Island after she lost the season's ninth Redemption Island duel to Matt Elrod and Mike Chiesl during Wednesday night's broadcast of the eleventh episode of the CBS reality series' 22nd edition.
On Thursday, the 50-year-old firefighter from Oceanside, CA talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: Redemption Island experience -- including her thoughts about Phillip Sheppard's allegedly divine discovery of the shorts he had hidden on him, why she never trusted Andrea Boehlke and how some of the game's other castaways may have come to believe otherwise, what she thought of Phillip's "N" word incident with fellow castaway Steve Wright, and at what point in the game she and some of the castaways believed their lives could truly be in danger.
Reality TV World: So Phillip was real proud of the fact that he managed to find the shorts you buried on him. What was your reaction to that? Last night's episode just showed you smiling but not saying anything.
Julie Wolfe: When he showed up at the Redemption [duel] in his shorts, I didn't even notice. When he pointed it out to me I was like, "Oh, okay. I was actually happy for the guy. Woo-hoo!"
Now looking back at it, it kind of backfired because hiding his shorts -- then he just shows up at Tribal [Council] in that disgusting pink underwear, where he had the opportunity to put his jeans on, but no -- he wants the attention, so he shows up in his underwear.
So, that actually backfired on me and I was happy that he found his stinkin' shorts because now he came covered up. The whole thing actually backfired on me. He was all happy that I was happy too that he found them. It backfired on both of us.
Reality TV World: How well do you feel they were hidden? Because there are already conspiracy theories floating around that the only way he could have found them is if one of the producers or crew members told him where you'd hidden them.
Julie Wolfe: (Laughs) I mean, they were buried in the sand underneath a rock and there's -- hell, I don't know how many acres of land there -- I didn't hide them far from our camp, but they could have been anywhere.
So, you know, maybe Phillip really did have a vision from his great-great-grandfather. I'm not going to put the blame on anybody else, because I was shocked that he found them, yeah, just as shocked as everybody else was. Who knows, maybe he really did have a vision!
Reality TV World: That type of situation -- where you took and buried the personal property of another castaway -- is the type of behavior we basically never really saw or even knew was allowed until Russell Hantz came along a couple of years ago. Do you think you still would have done something like that if you hadn't already seen Russell do similar things that during his seasons, and what are your thoughts on that concept in general -- did you think the producers should be letting people take or destroy other castaways' personal property, and if so where do you think the line should be drawn?
Julie Wolfe: I'm not really going to talk about what they didn't show, but there's a reason why I did that, and they can't show that. But yeah, you know what, when it comes to -- we play a lot of practical jokes on the fire department -- I'm a firefighter as you know. We play a lot of practical jokes and there is a line.
There's a line when it comes to your safety equipment and anything that's going to risk you of any kind of injury. Something like those shorts, eh, hmm, you know, big deal. It's not so much of a big deal. When you're going to start playing with somebody's food or something that could really get them hurt, then yeah, there should be a line drawn, yes.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed you [at Redemption Island] telling [Mike Chiesl] you never trusted Andrea, which seemed kind of funny because later on we saw [Rob Mariano]'s alliance [in camp] talking about how they felt they needed to vote Andrea out because they felt she had been close with your Zapatera group. Can you explain how that disconnect might have come about and why you never trusted Andrea?
Julie Wolfe: You know, it's funny because I watched the show as well and when Rob talked about Andrea being close to the Zapatera tribe, I really didn't see that. What I did see was -- and I hate to say, I don't want to say anything good about Phillip -- but I do have to give him credit.
Phillip was a hard worker. He was a hard worker around camp and Andrea -- I don't want to say she was a hard worker -- but she did start doing stuff around camp. She would collect firewood and she would wash the dishes once in awhile, where everybody else -- all the rest of the Ometepe tribe -- did nothing.
Absolutely nothing! -- which was really frustrating. So, for Andrea to get up and pick up the wood when we were picking up wood, maybe Rob saw that as her making friends with us. But no, I had never really trusted Andrea and then when [Matt Elrod] got voted back to Redemption, I was like, "Okay, now I really don't trust her."
So, yeah, I never saw her -- she was never friends with Zapatera. We tried to make an alliance with everybody, and me, myself, with all the girls was just like, "Nope! We don't have time for your nonsense." I was surprised to hear Rob say that.
Reality TV World: Viewers have kind of split into two camps about the way Survivor host Jeff Probst seemed to mock and poke fun at Matt's belief that he was competing for his God during last night's episode, with one side thinking it was basically in poor taste and the other feeling it was fair game given Matt seems to have gotten increasingly preachy as the season has gone on. Which side do you fall into?
Julie Wolfe: I wasn't given the impression that Jeff was making fun of Matt at all. I just kind of felt like he was helping him to tell his story. Yeah, I didn't get that feeling. I didn't get that feeling at all.
Yup! (laughs) I'm kind of slow too, so...
Reality TV World: After you lost the duel, you got pretty emotional and explained how you had gone on the show because you were having financial problems and you were trying to save your house from foreclosure. How are things going now, did they improve at all after you got home?
Julie Wolfe: Yeah, yeah, you know, for the last few years, I've had a lot of financial challenges. I just went through a divorce. I'm paying alimony and child support, and it's put me in a financial bind with my house. I was in foreclosure.
I came home from the game and I had an auction date posted on my door, and yeah, it's been a very emotional -- Mike is a realtor through the San Diego area and he helps veterans find homes, and he gave me some advice about how to save my home.
He said, "You know what, if it's not working for you, you need to file bankruptcy. Like I know you don't want to file bankruptcy but it's the only way. It's the only way -- the bank is not looking out for your interest in your best interests."
So, I did. I filed for bankruptcy and it has been a huge lift. I saved my home. I'm paying back the back-payments that I owe, and yeah. It's all a happy ending.
Reality TV World: You were still in the game when Phillip and Steve had their "N" word incident. What were your thoughts about it, and did that really go down just like the show presented it or was there more to it that didn't get shown due to time constraints or whatever?
Julie Wolfe: Yes. It was ugly. It was very, very very uncomfortable, and there was a lot more to it than what the show saw -- what the show had time to show, like you said. It was very real. I don't think it was an act at all on Phil's part.
It was very real and it was very uncomfortable, and it got to the point where, "Man, this guy -- it's one thing for him to feel the way he feels and this and that," but he is crazy and it got to the point where we did not feel safe.
We honestly didn't feel safe. At night, we were looking for the machete, like, "Where are all the machetes at? Where's Phillip at?"
It was a lot worse than what was really shown on the show. It was real. It was for real.
Reality TV World: Wow, so you actually felt like your safety was in danger?
Julie Wolfe: Absolutely. I absolutely did. Maybe because of in my line of profession, I see violence all the time. I see domestic violence. I see people just lose it, and...
Reality TV World: Did you guys express those concerns to the producers?
Julie Wolfe: Well, we expressed it -- we expressed it with ourselves, and we were like, "Wow, I really don't feel safe." I'm sure everybody knew how we felt.
Reality TV World: Ashley Underwood, Natalie Tenerelli and Grant Mattos all seem to have done basically nothing other than ride on Rob's back all season. And while it seems like that might actually get Natalie to the Final 3 since Rob has been shown admitting he plans to take her to the end, Rob doesn't seem to be planning to take Ashley or Grant to the end, plus none of three of them would seem to stand to have much of a chance of convincing the jury that they played a better game than Rob. What are your thoughts on that -- do you think any of them could beat Rob in a jury vote if they got to the end with him?
Julie Wolfe: Well, you know, when we play the game, we're all thinking about who's going to make it to the end. You're always going to think, "Oh, well Rob, just look, everybody is trusting him and they're just going to give it to him."
I don't know how many times I told the girls, "Don't give it to him. Don't give it to him." It looks like it's going that way now.
If you were in Rob's shoes, who would you take? I'd definitely wouldn't take Grant because everybody likes him and if anybody's got a chance to beat Rob in a physical challenge, it's going to be Grant. So, what the heck is Grant thinking?!
Yeah, if I were Rob, I'm going to try to win the votes. "Okay, what has Natalie done? Hmm, well she hasn't done anything. Yeah, Ashley hasn't done anything either. And Phillip? Everybody hates Phillip." You just gotta pick it apart!
I don't know what Grant is thinking at this point in time. Rob has so much faith in Grant and Grant -- this is the time for all of them to make a move on Rob. Do something to get him out of the game!
Reality TV World: Do you think Redemption Island's the wild card [for Rob] at this point then in that whoever comes back from there having chance to win whether it's Matt or one of your former Zapatera tribemates?
Julie Wolfe: Absolutely. Redemption is a huge flaw -- it's a huge hiccup in Rob's whole plan, you know?
Right now, you have both Mike and Matt at Redemption and they're both solid, solid players. So, either one of those guys could come back in and maybe get lucky if there's a challenge and win it.
Who knows how it's going to play out. Who knows what they're going to do. Who knows who's going back. But either one of those two guys have a great chance of throwing the Rob's whole plan into the trash.
Reality TV World: So you pretty much think they're the only two that could probably beat Rob?
Julie Wolfe: I think so. I absolutely think so.
Reality TV World: After the duel, you also said that Matt's faith had inspired you and you were looking forward to "finding a church and just getting involved" when you got back home. Did you end up getting a chance to do that?
Julie Wolfe: Yeah, I absolutely have. The whole Matt story made me realize that I was on Survivor for a reason and I have had a rebirth, a relationship with God, and I'm actually going to a church down in San Diego called Horizon. It's a church that Mike goes to -- he [said] "You should go to my church," and oh my gosh! That's my church down in San Diego. So yeah, things are looking good for me.
Reality TV World: How were you cast onSurvivor -- how did you end up on the show?
Julie Wolfe: Um, I was actually recruited at my fire station. They came to me and said, "Hey... we've been looking for a female firefighter and you're perfect." At that time, I had never seen the show, so I was like, "No thank you, nah." And my family was like, "What are you talking about!? Are you kidding me?!"
So I called them back and they were like, "You know what? You've never seen the show. We want you to be successful, so we're not going to take you this time." So, I applied a couple more times, just like everybody else -- put in the tape, filled out the long application, and finally got the call.
So, I was actually recruited at my fire station the first time.