Exclusive: Lisa Whelchel talks 'Survivor: Philippines' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/19/2012
Lisa Whelchel was beaten by winner Denise Stapley during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast of Survivor: Philippines on CBS from Los Angeles.
Lisa, a 49-year-old former actress from Dallas, TX, tied with fellow castaway Michael Skupin, a former Survivor: Australia castaway, after they each received one vote. "RC" Roberta Saint-Amour voted for Lisa, while Carter Williams voted for Skupin to win. Denise had received the four other votes which were revealed by Survivor host Jeff Probst and therefore claimed the $1 million grand prize.
Also during the live reunion show following Survivor: Philippines' finale episode, Jeff revealed that Lisa had won $100,000 as the winner of the season's "Player of the Season" home viewer vote. Fourth-place finisher Malcolm Freberg came in a very close second for the prize, as only 0.7% percent of a vote separated the two deserving castaways.
In an exclusive interview on Monday, Lisa talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: Philippines experience.
Below is the concluding portion of Lisa's interview. Click here to read the first half. To begin reading our interview with Denise, click here. For the initial portion of Skupin's interview, click here. Start reading our interview with Malcolm here.
Reality TV World: Malcolm seemed completely shocked when you were at the Final 4 Tribal Council and you told Jeff Probst you couldn't think of any reason to take Malcolm to the end and then voted him off. Did it surprise you how shocked he was?
Lisa Whelchel: A little bit because he really knows the game well enough to know that it wasn't smart to take him to the end, and he wouldn't have taken himself to the end had he been in anybody else's shoes. And so, I think in his head, he knew that.
But I think he also, as far as he knew at that point, I was still playing the game with my heart and wasn't going to go against that. He didn't know the consequences of my brother's visit, and since that time, I was back in the game and ready to do whatever it took to get to the end and win the title of "Sole Survivor."
Reality TV World: Why do you believe most of the jury members voted for Denise?
Lisa Whelchel: I think she played an awesome game. I would've voted for Denise!
Reality TV World: Do you mind elaborating on that a little bit? What do you think was her awesome gameplay, because when I talked to Skupin, he seemed to think Denise had played a really under the radar game and so he was kind of surprised she had won. I'm paraphrasing, but he said whenever he asked Denise something, her answer was basically like, "Go talk to Malcolm." (Laughs)
Lisa Whelchel: That's still a great strategy because when you let somebody else take the hits for you and nobody's mad at you, they'll vote for you at the end. So I don't think that is a negative commentary on Denise's game, even if it is true.
I think she was strong in challenges, she stayed with strong alliances, she listened and paid attention, but she didn't get her heart so in the game that it got in the way. She had good relationships with everybody, but not too close that they were going to be terribly hurt if she wrote their name down. She played a great game.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Skupin, based upon his interview and what was shown on TV, he said it seemed like you guys had underestimated how much support Denise would get from the jury. And Skupin particularly said he had kind of underestimated the "bitterness factor" of the jury. Do you feel the same way?
Lisa Whelchel: Skupin and I were in an alliance, but we didn't always agree on everything. And so, to tie our opinions as the same...
Reality TV World: Well, I'm not. I'm asking you if you agree with his opinion or not.
Lisa Whelchel: No, I don't. It wasn't a surprise to me that she had so many jury votes.
Reality TV World: Penner said he couldn't believe that you had decided to make a Final 4 deal with Malcolm and Denise just because he didn't make "an empty promise" to you and Skupin. Do you think if you had gotten a visit from your brother earlier in the game you might've handled that situation differently?
Lisa Whelchel: I absolutely think I would've handled it differently.
Reality TV World: Pete Yurkowski alluded to this a little bit during his jury questioning to you, but one of the criticisms of your gameplay earlier in the season was that you were a little wishy-washy, and there were times when you seemed to remain loyal to your alliance in name only. Like, for example, that Penner situation. So what are your thoughts on that? Some people have said you were loyal to people but only technically loyal to your alliance.
Lisa Whelchel: Well if you look at the game, that's not true. Granted, I was wishy-washy throughout the game, but there was never a time that I wasn't loyal to Tandang until it would've been stupid to be loyal to the two-person alliance than it would be to have been to a five-person alliance mind you.
So I was loyal to Tandang until it would've been ridiculous to continue to stick with Pete and [Abi-Maria Gomes] when I had the other majority alliance wanting me to join them at that point.
Reality TV World: So once you had aligned with Denise and Malcolm and Penner was the target, you went to Penner and told him he was the target and basically that you wanted him to do what he could to change the vote so he wouldn't be the one going home. But you had the power to keep him from going home just by changing your own vote, which you declined to do.
Lisa Whelchel: I think I said, "I don't know what you should do, maybe just go work your magic." So I don't think I said, "Go do whatever it takes to win the vote even though I can win the vote to get you to stay." I said, "Do your magic," which was the best he could do at that point.
Reality TV World: So I just wanted to get your perspective on this then. Telling the vote target that he's going home and giving him an opportunity to get someone else in your alliance to betray the pack instead, you don't consider that to be betraying your alliance? Even though if Penner had worked his magic, obviously the vote target instead would've ended up being, I think, Denise or Malcolm, correct?
Lisa Whelchel: Yeah, my downfall at that point was when he came straight to me and said, "We're good right?" And at that point in the game, I wasn't able to look him in the eye and say, "Yeah, we're onboard buddy." He wouldn't have believed me had I said it, because that would've been too hard for me to do at that point.
So I said, "Look, I'm not onboard and I gotta let you know that." And so, had he not asked me, then I wouldn't have said anything. But he asked me directly and I wasn't able to lie, so the next thing to do is just kind of, "Okay, this is where it's at."
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Penner revealed your acting career during the jury questioning?
Lisa Whelchel: I was surprised. I didn't see it coming. But in hindsight, I should have. That made perfect sense for him to do that at that point, and he's a great storyteller and performer. So it was true to who he is and it shouldn't have surprised me. And in the end, it was probably better storytelling to have that result.
Reality TV World: He seemed to give you the option to tell everyone, and you opted to let him do it instead. Why was that?
Lisa Whelchel: Because I didn't want to say it! So if he wanted it said, he needed to be the one that said it.
Reality TV World: Do you think Penner's disclosure impacted the jury vote in any way or do you think they still would have voted the exact same way if they hadn't known about your background?
Lisa Whelchel: Yeah, it's my opinion that people kind of know who they're going to vote for. They've had days to ponder over it over at Ponderosa. So, I think it was already a done deal.
Reality TV World: What was the reaction from the cast once they found out about your background? I'm assuming you must've at least talked about it with some of them after the game was over.
Lisa Whelchel: A little bit, but not much. By that point, we had spent a lot of time together. They knew me as me, and it was just kind of a, "How cool! What an interesting piece of information." But it didn't really affect our relationship, because our relationship had already been established.
Reality TV World: The show made it seem like you and Skupin disagreed whether to take Malcolm or Denise to the Final 3. Was that actually the case, and if so, how did you finally resolve it?
Lisa Whelchel: You know, I think we both argued for both ways on why one would've been better than the other. I think they just showed our deliberations.
Reality TV World: What's next for you? I saw something that you're hoping to return to acting?
Lisa Whelchel: Well yeah, I'm actually going to do some co-hosting with [Jeff Probst] on his show coming up. So that will be fun.
Above is the concluding portion of Lisa's interview. Click here to read the first half.To begin reading our interview with Denise, click here. For the initial portion of Skupin's interview, click here. Start reading our interview with Malcolm here.