Exclusive: Sherea Lloyd dishes about her 'Survivor: China' journey
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/26/2007
With Survivor: China's remaining castaways anticipating the merge, Sherea Lloyd feels she was a casualty of the numbers game.
On the cusp of merging and rejoining her former Zhan Hu tribe members, the 26-year-old elementary school teacher from Atlanta, GA became the sixth castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.
On Friday, Sherea talked to Reality TV World about entering the competition wearing a dress and high heels; how her strategy to play a social game was overpowered by the strength she displayed during challenges; why she was aware her former tribe was going to throw a challenge before it even happened; and what she thinks caused her ouster.
Reality TV World: How did you end up being cast for Survivor: China? Had you applied to the show before?
Sherea: I had never applied to the show before. A friend of mine from college knew somebody in casting, and he let me know that they were looking for African-American females. I told them I'd possibly be interested; I wanted to know what it was about. A couple of days later they called me for a video, and then a couple of weeks later they flew me out to L.A. for interviews.
Reality TV World: Had you watched a lot of Survivor before going on the show?
Sherea: I had watched a few seasons. I had been a fan since the first season. So I was aware of the show.
Reality TV World: How did you prepare yourself both physically and mentally prior to leaving for the competition?
Sherea: Physically... I didn't do much physically because I knew for me it was going to be mind over matter out there. So I just kind of had to prepare my mind for what I was about to go through out there.
Reality TV World: How did you prepare yourself mentally?
Sherea: Well I hadn't taken my journal with me, so I made sure before the show I journaled a lot and just wrote down my thoughts and how I thought I wanted to play the game and what was going to get me through the game -- thinking about family and friends.
Reality TV World: Considering you were wearing high heels and a dress, what was your reaction when host Jeff Probst told you you'd be starting the competition with the clothes on your back?
Sherea: (laughing) It's funny because it was a little bit of a relief. We would've had to taken our bags 400 flights of stairs up [to the Buddhist temple]. So it was like, "Good! I don't have to carry it anymore." But then it's like, "What am I going to do with heels and a dress on out there?" So I was kind of mad I was stuck with just what I had one.
Reality TV World: When was it that you received additional clothing?
Sherea: Let's see... Almost 15 days in maybe.
Reality TV World: What was the mood at Zhan Hu since the tribe seemed to struggle so much early in the competition?
Sherea: We had our ups and downs actually. Some days, we were kind of down about losing. But for the most part we were pretty upbeat for a tribe that was losing.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Dave Cruser and Peih-Gee Law nominated themselves as Zhan Hu's leaders at the first Tribal Council?
Sherea: Well it wasn't a surprise because they had already basically -- especially Dave -- taken on that role as a leader. Not even saying it, just the way he acted and trying to get everybody to do certain things. He had already taken that role so it wasn't surprising.
Reality TV World: You commented how Dave had a tendency to talk down to people and also said his work ethic was making your Survivor experience unenjoyable. Were those the main reason why you two seemed to butt heads so much? Were there other factors that contributed to it?
Sherea: I think [those] were the main reasons. As a leader, I just felt like he didn't lead us well. He didn't take our opinions into consideration and he just wanted to it his way or nobody's way. I think that just bothered me a lot because we had opinions that we wanted to contribute to.
Reality TV World: Do you think Dave eventually being booted from Zhan Hu was a reflection of the way the tribe felt about him?
Sherea: It was most definitely a reflection of his leadership skills as well as him doing so much at camp that when we'd get to the challenges, he still can't perform!
Reality TV World: Why did you vote for Ashley Massaro during the second Tribal Council, especially considering your feelings on Dave?
Sherea: Just because the majority of the group wanted to go with Ashley [who was eliminated by a unanimous 6-1 vote]. Ashley was also sick around that time, so we just kind of thought it was better for the group as a whole to vote her out.
Reality TV World: You were a very strong competitor in all the physical challenges and some of the previously eliminated castaways we spoke with described you as one of the strongest women in the competition? Were you surprised by how well you did?
Sherea: I was very surprised because going out there -- I knew I was a strong person -- but I never thought that physically I was going to do so well. It was a shock to me that I did so well.
Reality TV World: Why do you think you were able to do so well physically?
Sherea: It is kind of unexplainable. I mean, I'm very competitive and I didn't even know what the challenges were going to be like. So I was surprised by myself and kind of happy that I did so good.
Reality TV World: Why were you so insistent about throwing away those shells that Dave was saving for his mom?
Sherea: Well I didn't know that he wanted to save them for his mother. What happened was, after I finished sorting out the moldy rice after we discussed that, I was just cleaning up around the bed area because we ate right next to our bed. So those were shells that were leftover from our meal. So I was basically cleaning them up to go throw them out and then he tells me that there for his mother. But every time we finished with the shells we would throw them out.
Reality TV World: Was the atmosphere at Zhan Hu really that much different without Dave around?
Sherea: Yes. It was a lot more relaxed (laughing). Basically we were maintaining. After the first few days when we got our camp set-up, the rest of the time it was just maintaining. So Dave was just, "Let's do, Let's do, Let's do." So we were just a lot more relaxed.
Reality TV World: Dave made comments you weren't pulling your weight at camp. Do you agree with that and do you think it might have put a larger target on you?
Sherea: Yeah, I think the disagreement between the two of us put a target on my back. At the same time, he had already had disagreements with other people. he was kind of digging his own grave -- one after the other -- by getting into it with people.
Reality TV World: Following Dave's elimination, you commented how you felt like Zhan Hu's "outsider." What gave you that impression?
Sherea: Well I felt like the outsider just because... I mean I had a good relationship with [fellow original Zhan Hu member Jaime Dugan]. But at the same time I wasn't close with [fellow original Zhan Hu member Michael "Frosti" Zernow]; [fellow original Zhan Hu member Erik Huffman] and I were just starting to bond. But between [Frosti, Peih-Gee, Jaime and Erik], Frosti and Peih-Gee had a relationship and Jaime and Erik had a relationship as well. So that kind of put me on the outskirts.
Reality TV World: Why was it that none of the Zhan Hu members ever thought for a second that Fei Long had received the same parchment explaining the swap of tribe members? Why didn't you guys ever piece that together?
Sherea: I don't know, I guess it was because [Zhan Hu had five members and Fei Long had seven]. We were down two players, so I guess we were just thinking they were going to shake it up and give us two players and see if we can beat [Fei Long] now. I don't know why it never crossed our mind. We were just so into the moment we didn't think about it.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Fei Long selected you as one of the castaways they traded for?
Sherea: I was very surprised! But at the same time I was kind of excited. But that kind of put a target on my back again. It was very surprising, I just didn't expect them to choose me.
Reality TV World: Were you excited to try and form some new alliances at Fei Long?
Sherea: That's correct. I wanted to go over there and get a feel for their tribe and get to meet them since I wasn't one of the ones kidnapped and some people got to see both sides. So I was happy to go over there. It kind of gave me like a second chance to start over.
Reality TV World: Did you share any strategic information about Zhan Hu with Fei Long?
Sherea: I did not share any of that information because I wanted them to trust me as a member of Fei Long then.
Reality TV World: Interesting. Since you spent time with both, what were some of the major differences between Fei Long and Zhan Hu?
Sherea: They were uneven as far as strength. Fei Long had the two strongest guys, of course, with [original Fei Long member James Clement] being on there. That was one of the things that held [Zhan Hu] back from [winning] the challenges. Then just personality-wise, we're very different. Zhan Hu, they wanted to keep the peace, no arguing or anything like that. At Fei Long, they were just trying to keep the numbers and make it to the merge.
Reality TV World: James ended up revealing that Jaime and Peih-Gee had thrown the Immunity Challenge that led to Aaron Reisberger's elimination when Fei Long kidnapped him a couple of days later. But prior to that, did anyone at Fei Long think that Zhan Hu might have intentionally thrown the challenge?
Sherea: After the challenge, Fei Long had an idea because of Jeff's comments to Jaime and Peih-Gee [during the challenge] that they had thrown the challenge. But before that, [Fei Long] didn't know what was going on. I actually knew that they were throwing it, but Fei Long didn't guess until afterwards.
Reality TV World: You just said you knew they were throwing it, was that because the original Zhan Hu discussed it before the swap occurred?
Sherea: We discussed it before the swap happened and then right before the challenge Jaime and Peih-Gee gave me the heads-up that they were going to throw it.
Reality TV World: Interesting. Do you remember what they said to you? Was it as simple as that, that they were going to throw the challenge?
Sherea: It was as simple as that. Jaime just mouthed it to me that they were throwing the challenge.
Reality TV World: Were you ever worried that Fei Long would consider a similar move to get rid of you or Frosti?
Sherea: Actually, I thought that after that Immunity Challenge that Zhan Hu threw, we got to the Reward Challenge, I thought that Fei Long was going to try to throw the next couple challenges because they sat out [Courtney Yates] and [Amanda Kimmel], people that I was just kind of surprised about [Fei Long] sitting out.
Reality TV World: What was going through your mind during last night's Reward Challenge when Peih-Gee told you Zhan Hu still wanted to be aligned with you and Frosti?
Sherea: It was good because it let me know... After they threw the [Immunity Challenge], I was like, "Okay, they have my back, at least for a few more days or so." So it was good to hear and know from her that they still wanted to make sure that [Frosti and I] were together with them. But I knew that Fei Long could see me in there, so I didn't want to talk to her and let them see me doing that.
Reality TV World: I just want to make sure I understand this right. If you had made it to the merge, who would you have aligned yourself with your old Zhan Hu tribe members?
Sherea: More than likely. But I was trying to play both sides. I wanted Zhan Hu to think I was coming back with them, but I wanted Fei Long to trust me as well. So my mind kept going back and forth. I wasn't sure what I was going to do until I got to that point.
Reality TV World: Do you think you were able to establish trust with Fei Long?
Sherea: It was working to a point. I got a good relationship with [Fei Long member Todd Herzog] and Courtney -- but at the same time -- they kept thinking about numbers, numbers, numbers. So as much as they wanted to trust me, they still knew that they needed the numbers to go into the merge.
Reality TV World: Were you aware Todd, Amanda and Frosti had found the Hidden Immunity Idol at Fei Long's camp?
Sherea: No I had no idea and I was sitting literally five-feet away from the when they found it.
Reality TV World: What did you think they were doing when you saw them fiddling around near the archway where the Idol was located?
Sherea: We used the shingles [from the archway roof] for the fire because they burn really well. So when they hopped up there, that's what we thought they were taking down, the shingles for the fire.
Reality TV World: That makes sense. Why did you get along so well with Courtney at Fei Long?
Sherea: We just had similar personalities because both of us were out our element (laughing). We connected really well out there. I don't know, we had a good bond together, good conversation, and we disliked the same people, so that helped.
Reality TV World: Courtney's been looking more and more dangerously malnourished with each passing episode and even before the season began, there was talk about how someone as obviously underweight as Courtney could even get on Survivor. I know she passed the show's physical, but do you think the producers did the responsible thing in allowing someone who was so obviously underweight to compete on the show?
Sherea: Well... She's naturally skinny and thin. But at the same time I saw her eating, so I don't think she has an eating disorder like people say. She just happens to be very, very slim. Seeing her before I got to Fei Long, I was a little worried about her. What's she going to do? She has no fat on her body. But she seemed to be doing just fine when I got to get over there with her.
Reality TV World: Since you two were close, did she ever express to you that she was concerned about feeling weak?
Sherea: No, she just made the comments that why would the producers put her out there like that if she knew she was so skinny (laughing)!
Reality TV World: Were you surprised when Fei Long eliminated you or did you see it coming?
Sherea: I saw it coming. I knew when the switch happened that -- of course -- it'll probably be me or Frosti. But after the [Immunity Challenge] that we lost, even though I still thought it would be Frosti, there was just so much back and forth, "Frosti, Sherea, Sherea, [original Fei Long member Jean-Robert Bellande]..." I was kind of prepared and I knew it would probably be me.
Reality TV World: Why did you go off on that Jean-Robert rant at Tribal Council? Was that some kind of last-minute attempt to try and impact the voting, or were you not really thinking about the game anymore at that point?
Sherea: It was a last minute attempt for them to see that they needed to get rid of him. But at the same time, I wanted to make sure that if I was leaving I just left everything there and got everything I had to say out. I wanted to clear the air and make sure everybody knew how [Jean-Robert] was before I left.
Reality TV World: Do you think Fei Long's decision to keep Jean-Robert will hurt them later in the game?
Sherea: I think it will come back to hurt them -- but at the same time -- they're still going to have the numbers when they get to the merge now that I'm gone.
Reality TV World: In your "Final Words" interview, you said, "I hope half of them get screwed since some of them screwed me." Who do you think screwed you?
Sherea: Frosti screwed me because he voted against me and we were supposed to stick together.
Reality TV World: Do you hold that against him?
Sherea: Not now, I'm good with him. But at that time I was pretty upset about it because even though we didn't have a "true alliance," we said coming over there we were going to try and stick together. He wanted to go with [Fei Long]. Keep yourself in the game longer, so I don't blame him.
Reality TV World: Do you think the old Zhan Hu members will hold it against Frosti if they find out he voted against you?
Sherea: Yeah more than likely. He'll probably flip and stay with Fei Long and flip on Zhan Hu now that [Fei Long] has the numbers.
Reality TV World: You're a schoolteacher, what do your students think about your Survivor experience?
Sherea: They're very excited and of course they were hoping I could go as far as I could. They have questions every week; who they think should be voted; why did we vote certain people off... So they're loving it.
Reality TV World: Do you ever find yourself having to explain some of the behavior you displayed on the show to them?
Sherea: Actually no. I haven't had many questions about that from my students. They know my personality. They know I'm kind of feisty. It hasn't really been surprising to too many people. I do my job when I'm at school, so they know I take care of business.
Reality TV World: Is there anyone you would really like to see win? Anybody you don't want to see win?
Sherea: I don't want to see [professional poker player] Jean-Robert win. He has enough money through poker. I hope that Todd gets to the end because just because he's wanted this for so long and he knows the game really well.
Reality TV World: Watching the season unfold on TV, have you been surprised how strategic Todd is playing the game?
Sherea: Very much so. People act like they're not really playing the game, but he was playing it from Day 1. He knew what he was doing.
Reality TV World: Could you sense that from him while you were out there?
Sherea: Oh definitely. Conversations we were having and alliances and things like that going on, I knew that he was playing and I knew that he was thinking far ahead in the game.
Reality TV World: What was your strategy going into the game and do you think it worked?
Sherea: My strategy going into the game was to play more of a social game. It didn't work as well as it wanted it to because I conflicted with certain people like Jean-Robert and Dave.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you? What are you doing now?
Sherea: I'm currently teaching fourth-grade still and I'm going to continue out the year and just see what comes up next for me!