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Exclusive: Monica Culpepper talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 2)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/16/2012 

Monica Culpepper was voted out of her newly-shuffled mixed-gender Manono tribe at the fifth Tribal Council session of Survivor: One World during Wednesday night's fifth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.

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On Thursday, Monica, a 41-year-old ex-NFL football player's wife from Tampa, FL, talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: One World experience -- including how the hidden Immunity Idol that castaway Kim Spradlin found will work in the game and whether it actually belongs to her, what her thoughts were on how Colton Cumbie emerges as a powerful leader in whichever tribe he becomes a part of, and to what lengths she went to in order to prepare for Survivor's harsh conditions and physical expectations.

Below is the second portion of our exclusive interview with Monica. Click here to read the first half.

Reality TV World: There's been some viewer confusion about the the tribal shuffle and hidden Immunity Idol Kim was shown finding on last night's episode given she's still technically on the old girls' tribe and found the idol that the guys' tribe was supposed to find and give to one of the girls. Did [Survivor host Jeff Probst] explain that the hidden Immunity Idol rules were changing when you guys did the tribal change, or what was your understanding about whether Kim would be able to actually use that idol herself if she wanted to?

Monica Culpepper: Okay when the game started, Episode 1, and Jeff said, "There are idols in play." So we assumed "idols." Well, Sab [Sabrina Thompson] right away -- which that was what made the women so dysfunctional. It was very hard to see.

All of us in Episode 1 were scratching our heads, and in Episode 2, Sab found the idol. But it was designated that it had to go to a man. If you were a woman and found this idol, it had to go to a man.

Reality TV World: I understand that, I guess I'm referring to the one that Kim was shown finding on last night's show. Was your understanding that the rules had somehow changed once the tribal reshuffling happened?

Monica Culpepper: No, we knew that the women's idol was still out and in play. I was just kicking myself because I had been looking in that tree earlier that day before we went to the challenge -- before we did the swap -- and yes. She found the idol. It's the women's idol and it's hers to keep.

Reality TV World: So it didn't have to be found by a man and given to a woman at that point?

Monica Culpepper: No, no. And coincidentally, had Sab found that idol in Episode 2, it would have been a women's idol that she could hold. So lucky day for Kim! She found an idol and it happened to be the women's idol.

Reality TV World: Last night's episode seemed to show Kim emerging a potential strong player and not only finding the immunity idol but also appearing to form a second alliance with [Troy "Troyzan" Robertson] and [Jay Byars] in her new tribe. What was your opinion of Kim while you were out there?

Monica Culpepper: If I had to describe Kim in one word, I would say "savvy." Kim is a superfan's steward of the game and she's very savvy.

Reality TV World: Last night showed you guys saying that the new beach you were living at was better than the original beach. Were you just saying that to try to make yourselves feel better, or did you really mean it? And if so, what made it better?

Monica Culpepper: What made it better is that there was more food. There was breadfruit out there. There was papaya out there. There were more coconuts, and there was some shade. It just seemed like there was more life. There were lots more crabs. I must have caught a dozen crabs in those three days. It was just kind of a Renaissance rebirth. This is a new chance.

Reality TV World: How surprised were you to see Colton emerge as this Godfather-like figure on the men's tribe? Because it didn't seem like that was likely to happen at the beginning, you know? (Laughs)

Monica Culpepper: No question. And again, that's the power of the idol and the men felt as though it was very difficult once someone has the idol. You have to go to Tribal twice to get rid of them -- once to get them to play it and once again to get them gone.

And the best thing the men should have done was go for a blindside. The most disappointing thing for me to have watched was that those men were in that Tribal, they saw that happen, and then to quote [Jonas Otsuji] -- still the next day he says, "I'll be Colton's b-tch" -- just not my style and something I would have done.

Reality TV World: When I talked to Bill Posley last week, he dismissed Colton's comments as being merely ignorant, sheltered and inexperienced and didn't think he was  racist. What are your own thoughts on that whole thing?

Monica Culpepper: I think Colton is small. If I have to describe Colton in a word, it would be "small." I think he's small-minded, he's got small experience, small wisdom. I don't know if a zebra changes his stripes quickly. I certainly think, hopefully, he's learned from this experience, he's seen himself on TV and the way he's conducting himself, and hopefully he'll change.

I have three children and I raised my children under the Golden Rule and that's "treat others the way you would want to be treated." And hopefully Colton's had a minute to re-visit that and will be a better person.

Reality TV World: What was your general opinion of [Alicia Rosa] while you were out there and has it changed now that you've seen the episodes? Because she's come across as pretty aggressive and unfriendly on the show. (Laughs)

Monica Culpepper: Yes, to say the least. I would say Alicia is just silly -- very shallow and silly in her thinking and her thought processes. What you see is what you get.

Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor: One World? How did you end up on the show?

Monica Culpepper: I ended up on the show -- somebody had mentioned to my husband that he should go out for Survivor and then it turned into he and I doing The Amazing Race, and then it landed to, "Hey we really need a happily-married 40-year-old mother. Can we take your wife?" And my husband said, "Absolutely." And I said, "Are you crazy?!"

But it was just an absolutely wonderful opportunity. I sent in my application and put my information out there and I'm married to an eagle scout. We went to an island in the Gulf of Mexico and I was put through his tune-up to be sure that I was comfortable catching fish, gutting fish, and getting stingrays, and building shelter, and living off the land, and it was a wonderful experience.

I think I walk away from the whole thing -- I'm probably most proud that I got chosen and that I'm a part of the Survivor family. That in itself is really special to me and I just walked away last night thinking, "As long as I have my family, I'm really happy with my station in life and this is a wonderful experience."

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