Exclusive: Simone Nguyen talks 'Survivor' -- Ryan Ulrich owns the tribe, Patrick Bolton basically just wants screen time
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/06/2017
Simone Nguyen was voted out of the Hustlers tribe during the second episode of Survivor's 35th season called Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers on CBS.
Simone, a 25-year-old diversity advocate from Worcester, MA who currently resides in New York, NY, was voted out of the "Yawa" tribe through a unanimous vote on Day 6 after the tribe finished in last place at the second Immunity Challenge of the season.
Simone cast her vote, however, for Patrick Bolton, a 24-year-old small business owner from Lanett, AL who currently resides in Auburn, AL.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Simone talked about her short-lived Survivor experience. Below is a portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Ryan was shown admitting he was scared of you because of how smart you came across. How much of a role do you think your intelligence played in your vote-off?
Simone Nguyen: You know, you can never really say, because I went in and was just like, "Okay, I'm not going to be seen as sneaky. I don't want to be, like, the 'sneaky Asian.' I don't want people to think I'm running around and doing stuff, or whatever."
So I was completely open with people. I was just like, "I grew up here," and, "I went to college here," and "I don't drive," and "I'm missing these life skills." I was completely open with everybody.
And I was just like, "Okay, hopefully these [people] are going to see me as a trustworthy person," but like, people were lying about their jobs and where they went to school and what they were doing in life. And I was just like, "I had no idea!"
So, it was almost just like -- I think everybody pretended like they didn't go to college. And then here I was, this Ivy-League grad who lacks these basic life skills and has never gone camping before. I think there was a definite division. Because I thinkSurvivor is much more about finding common ground with people, and I struggled with it.
Reality TV World: Were you ultimately surprised the tribe decided to vote you off instead of Patrick? And even though it's a really tough thing to admit, if you had been in their shoes, do you think they made the right decision?
Simone Nguyen: So the season we had watched, only partly before we went out, was Game Changers. So I told them, I was like, "Look, there's a swap after two [challenges]! You're going to want to stay with the person who's loyal! Patrick is so unpredictable! You don't want to be swapped and then stuck with a person who basically just wants screen time."
I was trying to play it up, like, "We have no idea when this game is going to change." But from at least a physicality point of view, Patrick, he's a mover. He's tough; he's strong. And I don't know if you've ever seen this, but his butt was jiggling like crazy, like, look at those muscles!
Yeah, it's a very good looking cast. So thank you to casting, thank you to Survivor, thank you to [host Jeff Probst], thank you to [casting director] Lynne Spillman. But yeah, it's a very good looking cast. Pretty enjoyable time.
Reality TV World: Watching last night's episode back, did it surprise you to hear Ryan allege that no one in the tribe had really connected with you at that point? I mean, he called you "weird." (Laughs) What's your reaction to that?
Simone Nguyen: Well, here's the thing. I knew that was going on, but also, he's calling me weird and he doesn't drink, he never had a girlfriend in his life, he loves turtlenecks, so like, alright. I'm the weird one. I get it.
And I think it has to do with, like, so I'm from Worcester, Massachusetts, where everybody is rude. We have, like, a kind of brash way of expressing ourselves. So when I would compliment people, I would be like, "Oh my God, you're so pretty. I hate you." That was me talking about Ali, by the way.
And people would be like, "Why do you hate Ali, Simone?!" And I'd be like, "Noooo, that's not what I meant!" But yeah, I think it's just -- I mean, I think he's a really good person, and I think they're all really nice people. And so for me, it meant a lot to be able to go out there. And if I wasn't connecting with people, that's really on me, right? A good Survivorplayer would do better.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you if you had any regrets or wish you had handled anything differently. If you could go back and re-live those six days, would you have tried to alter your social game or something?
Simone Nguyen: I probably wouldn't have put on so much weight! Because I was afraid of being seen as this tiny, weak, skinny little Asian girl, who wasn't good or physical enough. So I put on a bunch of weight because I was just like, "Okay, well, I'm just going to lose it all anyway."
But then instead of people thinking, "Oh, she's like a skinny little Asian," they were just like, "Oh, she's a squishy little Asian!" (Laughs) I was like, "Nooooo!" That's [unintelligble] major regret. I think so much of it has to do with, like, your perception of somebody before you even see them.
And I think size, weight, like, physique, they're all proxy for information. So you just hope you're sending off the right signals and that you look friendly and you look sweet and like somebody people would want to work with.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you found out Ryan had found that secret idol and given it to Chrissy Hofbeck? Do you think you would have done the same thing had you found that advantage?
Simone Nguyen: Oh my God, go Ryan! Like, come on! That was insane. Obviously, like, I didn't know when we were on the tribe, but I saw it on TV and was like, "Yup it's time for us to ring that bell. It's time for everybody to get off, and it's time for us to start paddling. Let's do this! Let's watch this thing."
Because I love watchingSurvivor. So for me, a skinny little kid like Ryan doing well and owning his tribe, it's good to watch. Because, you know, I'm a little nerdy too. Clearly, I didn't fit in well with those people, but if I had just been watching from a regular viewer's point of view, I would've been like, "Yes, go Ryan!"
To read the first part of Simone's exclusive Survivor interview with Reality TV World, click here. Be sure to check back with us soon for more.