Exclusive: Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen talks 'Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 05/23/2014
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen, a 41-year-old attorney from Tehachapi, CA, finished Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty in third place behind runner-up Yung "Woo" Hwang and winner Tony Vlachos.
Kass was voted out of her Solarrion tribe at the Final 3 Tribal Council, when Woo had the decision to take her or Tony to the end and he opted to bring Tony to the Final 2. Woo ended up losing the $1 million prize to Tony.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Kass talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and also for more interviews with the season Final 4 castaways.
Reality TV World: How surprised were you that Woo decided to take Tony to the end instead of you? Did you go into Tribal expecting Woo to take you?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: No. Woo is such an easy read and he's such a genuine person and he can't lie. And going over to Tribal, usually I would get what I call the "Woo wink" and that's when I knew we were working together.
And he didn't give me the "Woo wink" that day. He could barely look at me. I mean, you saw it onscreen when I was talking to him about, "He should take me because he can beat me," he wasn't even able to look at me. And I knew that Tony had gotten to him.
Reality TV World: So what do you think happened there? Did you get an explanation from Woo?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I think Woo is a man with integrity, and I think we all knew that. And Tony approached it and said, "Hey, you can't take Kass. She doesn't deserve to be there."
And a lot of talk when there were votes out with Woo -- when you would discuss a vote, like the [Trish Hegarty] vote -- when we talked about it, he said, "She doesn't deserve to be here. She doesn't do anything at camp and she hasn't done anything."
So in Woo's mind, if was about who deserved to be there, and Tony played that card. I mean, he was with [Woo] from Day 1 and said, "Hey man. We're brothers. We fought this battle. Kass doesn't deserve to be with us," you know? And I think he played that card well, and Woo's too nice for the game. (Laughs) It's an ugly game and a beautiful soul cannot do well in it in this day and age of Survivor.
Reality TV World: You had been pretty confident that Tony was a good person to take to the end because he could be beaten due to the fact the jury didn't like him. But based upon the votes, that obviously didn't seem to be the case. Why do you think you misread the situation so drastically?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I don't think I really misread that situation. I think people thought of Woo as one of Tony's minions, and they weren't going to give the money to someone who hadn't really played in their eyes.
Reality TV World: So in hindsight, do you think you would've been able to beat Tony if you had gotten to the end with him?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I like to think it would've been a good fight. I would have owned my game and called everyone out, particularly the women, on the hyprocrisy of allowing Tony to win and thinking he's a great strategist when he did the same thing I did, which was cover his own butt.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you about that. You were shown saying if you were a man, you'd be considered strategic. But because you're a woman, making moves and being cutthroat gets you dubbed "a bitch." Could you elaborate on how you feel about that? Do you think the game ofSurvivor can therefore be a little sexist at times?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: No, I mean, I think that I'm in a male-dominated profession, and if I come in and I'm very cutthroat and direct with people, I am treated as if I'm a bitch. If a man comes in and he's cutthroat and direct and mops the floor with you, he's your boss.
It's the double standard in life. But I wanted to be able to call those women out, who sat there many times around camp and said, "I love the game, I love blindsides, I love when people play, and I'm here to play." Everyone had big talk but then they were really bitter.
Reality TV World: But do you think that was just because you're a woman or did the fact you kind of seemed to come off a little abrasive and make some nasty comments to the other castaways play a role in that? Tony seemed to deliver with more of a smile than you, I guess. You know what I mean? (Laughs)
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: Well, I was smiling all the time to a fault, you know, with the grin. (Laughs) But I know who I am and I know I'm an introverted person by nature, and it's very difficult to go out there and relate to each of those people. That's what makes the show so great, is you put these people on who are not used to dealing with each other.
My social game sucked, I'll admit it. I overlooked a huge aspect because I was so focused on strategy and getting myself further. But on the flip side, you have to get to the end to be able to win.
And I felt that I could go in there and just own it and say, "Hey, yes. This is me. This is who I am. Unfortunately, I have to live with it every day. You only had to live with it 39 days, but I played the game. And if you're truly a gamer, you need to set that aside."
And don't think Tony was so loved out there. I mean, he was quite controversial and very insulting to a lot of the women out there a lot of the time. I voted for him because he played a great game and I'm not going to take that away from him. As a fan and a lover of the game, Tony got my vote.
Reality TV World: When Jeff Probst polled the jury last night, they all claimed they would've voted for Woo if he had taken you to the end instead of Tony. Did that surprise you? Had you thought that the same way they rewarded Tony, they would've rewarded you, if you had made it to the end?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I like to think I could have talked them into it, you know, revisionism is great eight months later.
Reality TV World: You think that might be what's going on? It's not really an accurate reflection?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: Yeah, I mean, I think -- from what I understood at Ponderosa when the poll was taken, it was a four-five [vote]. I had four votes. So I would've had to convince one person to flip, to change their mind, and I think I could have done that.
Reality TV World: For an attorney, that doesn't sound impossible.
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: Right. And Woo is a sweetheart. He was not the best at answering questions, you know?
Reality TV World: Do you think the fact Spencer Bledsoe openly campaigned for Tony to win right before the jury voted played a significant role in either why Tony won or why Tony won as dramatically as he did?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I think we all laughed at Spencer for doing that. In fact, I almost voted for Woo because Spencer did that, because I was so tired of Spencer's pandering to Tony. It's ironic that he called Woo "a dog" when he clearly felt the need to be the one stroking Tony's ego constantly.
Reality TV World: So do you think Woo really thought he could beat Tony in a jury vote or do you think, deep down, he probably knew he was going to lose and just felt he needed to honor his martial arts code and principles?
Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen: I think Woo is such a nice person and he believed other people were nice, and really, I would say all but maybe a few people out there were actually nice people -- you know, genuinely nice. So, I think he believed he had a shot. And, you know, that's who he is and that's a big part of him culturally.
And I spoke to his dad and his dad is so proud of him. And he should be. He enstilled those values in Woo, and Woo stuck to them, and you have to respect that. I respect it in life but I don't respect it in Survivor. I mean, it's a game, and it's a horrible game to go into if you're going to be good.
Above is the first half of Kass' exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and also for more interviews with the season Final 4 castaways.