Exclusive: NaOnka Mixon talks about quitting 'Survivor: Nicaragua'
By Reality TV World staff, 12/02/2010
NaOnka Mixon's Survivor: Nicaragua experience seemed to be going pretty well, all things considered, 28 days into the 39-day competition.
However, while she appeared to have emerged as in control of her fate in the game, there was one thing she couldn't control: the weather, resulting in NaOnka and fellow castaway Kelly "Purple Kelly" Shinn making the controversial decisions to quit the game after determining they could no longer handle the elements.
On Thursday, NaOnka and Kelly talked to Reality TV World about their Survivor: Nicaragua experiences and decisions to become quitters. Below is NaOnka's portion on the interview -- along with a brief interjection from Kelly.
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for Kelly's interview.
Reality TV World: Can you explain why you quit? Because I know last night's episode showed you saying you just couldn't handle the elements and lack of food anymore, but a lot of viewers still can't understand how you could decide to quit after lasting 28 days and only having 11 days left.
NaOnka Mixon: It was the elements. I was over it. I wanted to quit previously and the only reason why I stayed was because of [Chase Rice]. Day by day, the weather was getting worse. We would be able to tell if we were going to have a storm or not and we were able to see Costa Rica on the coast.
It would either get really foggy or it would be clear, and it would be moments where it didn't even look like there ever was an island right there. So, it was just getting worse. The little lake that that we had where we would go fishing broke into the ocean and it became dirt and flooded, like it was just getting bad.
And I was getting cold, and I just couldn't deal with it anymore, so I just got content with the fact that I'm going to leave and I will do the best that I can at the challenge. I'm not going to let my team down and we ended up winning it and I went to celebrate it, and I decided to not go ahead and get the rights to the tarp because I wanted to celebrate with my team.
I worked just as hard even though I'm going home, I'm getting to celebrate with the team that I got to go on my first reward with when we went on the farm.
I was with them minus [Alina Wilson] and [Holly Hoffman], so if I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna go out with the people that I first came into the game celebrating with on the seventeenth day. So it meant a lot to me to be able to share that with them other than getting the tarp and the rice for everybody else.
Reality TV World: When did you decide to quit? Because the beginning of last night's episode had shown you talking with Chase about voting [Matthew "Sash" Lenahan] out next, which didn't seem consistent with someone looking at quitting later that same day.
NaOnka Mixon: In the morning when I woke up. Because in the morning when I woke up, it was storming and I had a talk with Chase and I had a talk with Holly and Purple Kelly. Kelly was feeling the same way that I was feeling and we just talked about it, and I was just trying to make sure that she was sure that that's what she wanted to do, because I was definitely sure that that's what I wanted to do.
Reality TV World: So what role did Kelly play in [your decision to quit]? Like which one of yourselves was the first to talk about quitting, and do you think the fact that the other one was also considering it played any role in your decision?
NaOnka Mixon: No, because she played her own role and I played my own role. That was her decision and that was my decision. Her decision had nothing to do with mine and my decision had absolutely nothing to do with hers.
Reality TV World: So although it almost seemed like it was one of those decisions where the fact that someone else was doing it was kind of taking the stigma away from quitting and empowering you to do something you might not have done otherwise, you're saying that's not how it was? You would have done it anyways?
NaOnka Mixon: Absolutely not.
Reality TV World: If you wanted to quit, why didn't you just quit immediately and have a production team take you out of the game like some of the show's prior quitters have done? Did you have some type of unshown conversation with the producers, or how did the scenario in which you guys went to Tribal Council come about?
NaOnka Mixon: That was a lot of questions in one. I don't really understand that question.
Reality TV World: Well I'm saying if you wanted to quit in the middle of the day, why didn't you basically just say, "Hey, go get a boat and pick me up!" You were never shy during the game NaOnka, so why did you stick around the rest of the day at that point?
NaOnka Mixon: That day it was storming. It was storming to the point where we couldn't even go to our water well. It was flooded. It was flooded all around us. There was nothing that we could do other than stay in our shelter area so we were sitting up there crying and wet. We couldn't even...
Reality TV World: But you got to the Reward Challenge, right?
NaOnka Mixon: Excuse me?
Reality TV World: You were able to get [transported] to the Reward Challenge site?
NaOnka Mixon: When we got to the Reward Challenge -- it was evening when we got to our Reward Challenge. It was not the morning. So, it was flooded everywhere. We couldn't go walking through the mud. We had to sit up there and wait. So if you want to ask production, I suggest you ask production, but they had no control over the flooding either.
Reality TV World: I'm not asking about [being transported to see the movie after your team won the Reward Challenge] -- let me try to restate the question. If you had been on the losing team at the Reward Challenge, would you have left [the game] immediately or would you have gone back to camp for the afternoon?
NaOnka Mixon: I would've went back to camp. I mean I was on the losing team so I would have gone back to camp. But since I won, I was not going to go back to camp. I could care less about camp.
Reality TV World: Okay so then...
Kelly Shinn: I think it's like we didn't have a choice. Going to Tribal Council was just how it was.
Reality TV World: You're saying then Kelly, that it wasn't your decision?
NaOnka Mixon: ...And ask him that question because I'm not really understanding.
Reality TV World: Kelly seemed to understand it, but that's okay, I'm going to move on. [Ben "Benry" Henry] and [Jud "Fabio" Birza] were both shown making comments in which they suggested you guys were exaggerating how bad the elements were and that it had actually rained only four to five hours at a time out there. I just want to give you a chance to address that because it seemed they kind of threw you under the bus.
NaOnka Mixon: Well, just everybody's always throwing each other under the bus no matter if it was Purple Kelly or myself if we were deciding to quit or stay in the game, it was always going to be like that. I was a threat and Purple Kelly was a threat, so everybody is going to say what they want to say, and I can't get mad at Fabio or Benry for their comments because I probably would have said the same exact thing.
Reality TV World: Why did you give your hidden Immunity Idol to Chase? You didn't seem that close given last week's episode had showed you telling everyone they couldn't trust him when you were trying to vote [Brenda Lowe] out.
NaOnka Mixon: Chase and I were really close. Before post-merge -- when I was deciding to quit, when I really wanted to quit -- who was the first man holding me and keeping me warm and praying with me?
It was Chase. Chase had always had my back.
If I made a dumb move, Chase would walk up to me and say, that was dumb, that was stupid. I love Chase's spirit and though he played a crazy scattered game to me, you know he was all over the place, but he saved me and I ended up making it to the merge.
So if I was going to leave that game, I would've saved the person that saved me I gave it to Chase, so I feel like I gave Chase my spot. And people out there say it, everybody out there tried to vote me off. I stole; I did a lot of crazy things.
I cussed people out; I flipped them off. I did everything and I only managed to get one vote and that was because they were trying to stab me in the back because I threw them under the bus.
Reality TV World: Unlike Kelly who was shown saying she felt bad other people got voted out of the game only to see her decide to quit afterwards, you said you didn't have any regrets about quitting and don't feel you owe anyone an apology -- why?
NaOnka Mixon: Who me?
Reality TV World: Yeah.
NaOnka Mixon: No, I don't have any regrets quitting whatsoever. The people that are on the jury are on the jury for a reason because their game was a little weak. They had a missing link in their chain. That had absolutely nothing to do with me, because obviously, I was still there. I decided to walk away from the game.
Reality TV World: In his blog this morning, Jeff said he was shocked you didn't make the sacrifice [to get the tribe extra rice and a new tarp] but said he had later realized you had been "consistently selfish for 28 days." How do you respond to that?
NaOnka Mixon: As far as giving someone else my spot?
Reality TV World: Being labeled a selfish person.
NaOnka Mixon: I don't care about being labeled as a selfish person. In the name of the game, Survivor, Survivor's all about that sole survivor so I had to look out for myself, why should I look out for someone else in the game about me?
Reality TV World: So you don't think the way you were portrayed on the game is any reflection on yourself outside the game?
NaOnka Mixon: No, the game is a reflection on what the hell I would do if I was playing a game for a million dollars. The way I live my life and make my money has absolutely nothing to do with the way I play a game on television.
Reality TV World: You were also pretty roundly criticized for exploiting [Kelly "Kelly B" Bruno's] disability when you pushed her to the ground to get the hidden Immunity Idol clue. How do you respond to that?
NaOnka Mixon: I was just playing the game, and when I have to -- it was Kelly B's fault that she moved that clue in front of me instead of taking that clue when she saw it. That's what she should've did. That would've been the smart thing to do.
When we got back to camp, I just dropped my side of the basket and went in for the clue -- she went in for the clue -- I just like shrugged my arm and it ended up turning into, "Oh my God, NaOnka just tackled her, she pushed her!" And we were both going for the same exact thing but I got it.
But then I was pissed when she stood up and everyone was like, "What was that about?" And she goes all Hollywood like, "I don't know! Oh my God, I don't know what happened!"
She knew exactly what happened because she moved the clue in front of me, and frankly, I would have known nothing about that clue if she didn't move it.
Reality TV World: On last night's show, you said you come from a long line of "strong black women." How do they feel about your decision to quit?
NaOnka Mixon: My family was very proud of me because I made it that far. They were surprised that I even made it that far. They were shocked -- they were not disappointed -- they were shocked by my decision, but they also understood and stood by me because that's what families do.
And the women in my family, they wouldn't have been able to do what I did. They wouldn't have been able to even last a day on that island doing what I did. So, we're still strong and we're going to be even stronger now after this.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show?