Exclusive: Victoria Garza talks about her 'The Mole' adventure
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/02/2008
Victoria Garza had a strategy when taking The Mole's fifth-season quizzes, and she stuck with it.
Unfortunately the quizzes progressively got tougher and without her trusty journal the 26-year-old retail manager from Bishop, TX took a little longer than usual and became the fifth player executed from The Mole's fifth season.
On Tuesday, Victoria talked to Reality TV World about how she was "gung-ho" on targeting one player as the mole; why she wasn't selfish enough to claim an exemption that could have saved her skin; how Mark pining for his burned journal could have something to do with his emotional attachment to it; and how everyone from fellow players and viewers to family and friends suspected her as the mole.
Reality TV World: What was your approach to taking the quiz? Did you put all of your eggs in one basket or try to spread your answers out?
Victoria: My approach to taking the quiz was, from the very beginning I was just gung-ho on one person. I know some of the other players, their approach was, "I'm going to answer a little bit for this person, a little bit for that person." But I really didn't feel comfortable with that. I figured, "I'm just going to go with my gut and stick with one person."
[Editor's note: Due to the nature of The Mole's format, ABC would not allow Reality TV World to question which contestant Victoria had believed to be the season's saboteur.]
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you wish you would have employed a different strategy in taking the quiz?
Victoria: No, I don't. I think I had I gone the other way, I don't think I would have lasted as long as I did. So no, I'm happy with the approach that I took.
Reality TV World: When host Jon Kelley revealed the quiz had been a tie, were you optimistic at how quickly you completed it?
Victoria: I knew I was slow on that one. I just had a feeling that I was maybe going home, only because the quiz had changed a bit. Previous quizzes I thought were easier, and with this one, it got a little more detailed. So I got caught-up on about two questions -- I went a little slower than I usually had. Once I heard there was a tie, I was like, "Oh no... I'm in trouble."
Reality TV World: Right before the quiz that led to your execution, you commented that if you were executed you'd be mad but would only have yourself to blame. Could you elaborate on that?
Victoria: In this game, you have to be on your A-game everyday. You can't let other things affect you, and I think around that time, I was starting to miss home and my family. That really started getting to me, and in that type of game you can't let other things affect you like that. You just have to concentrate on the game, concentrate on your strategy. I think I faltered a little bit around that time.
Reality TV World: After you joined the "selfish" team during the "Midas Rush" challenge, you immediately said you don't consider yourself that selfish of a person. If that was the case, why did you join that team?
Victoria: I joined the "selfish" team because I wanted an exemption and I just didn't want to be on Craig's team. I knew he was going to slow us down, and I was like, "There's no way I'm going to be on Craig's team." I knew physically, he has a hard time completing missions. My strategy at that point was I want to win -- I want to get exemption -- and so I don't want to be on his team.
Reality TV World: That leads well into my next question. Do you wish you would have been more vocal in your desire to have the exemption at the end of the "Midas Rush" mission? Did you see any scenario where it wouldn't have went to Clay?
Victoria: (laughing) That comes to me not being selfish. I thought I was a good player, and I wasn't going to fight for something that I didn't feel I deserved. That's another thing about the game; you have to be cutthroat. I've always been a team player and I felt either Clay or Kristen, they deserved the exemption. They worked harder.
I felt I worked hard, but really I think Kristen should have gotten the exemption. She was just on fire. She kept going. But when Clay put his foot down and she kind of gave in a little bit, I felt, "If he's not going to back down, no one's going to get the exemption, no one's going to get the money, so we just need to make a decision now."
Reality TV World: Were you really suspicious of Craig embellishing his illness as a strategy? Do you think it is something you could ever see him doing?
Victoria: I really think Craig was ill. I think everyone was so sympathetic with him. Looking back, if it were embellished, I think that would just be terrible. But no, I never thought for one second he was embellishing his illness. I really, really don't think so. I hope he didn't. That would have just been evil! (laughing) I really think he was ill. I don't think you can play-up something like that.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you learned Mark accused you of drinking a lot during the "Who Said That" mission?
Victoria: (laughing) I was offended when Mark wrote that I drink a lot [in his journal], because there are specific people -- other players -- that drink all the time. I really didn't.
That night that I drank a lot, Paul and I had gotten into an argument. I was stressed out, I was sitting next to Bobby. Bobby was like, "Come on Victoria! Drink some pisco sours with me!" I was like, "No, no, no." He was like, "Oh come on!" I was just feeling really pissed, so I was like, "Fine." So I downed one pisco, and I was like, "Woo! That's good!" So then I have like three other ones. That was like the only time really that I kind of let loose with the drinking -- and the one time that I do, Mark comments on it. It was like, "What!?"
Reality TV World: You were the player that wrote in your journal that Nicole was only in the game for fame. What did you mean by that when you wrote it? What's your take on Nicole?
Victoria: When I wrote that in my journal, Nicole came off very strong on camera. I had had a couple of conversations with her -- we'd be [wearing microphones] but the cameras wouldn't be around -- and she was cool. We had like the same taste in literature, we had the same taste in a couple of other things too -- she's very educated, she's very smart.
But then the cameras would roll on and this monster-type diva would appear. It was like, "Okay, where's the cool chick I was just talking to?" I think she's definitely playing it up for the camera, and that's where that comment came from.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised by the way Mark acted after his journal was thrown in the fire? Did it raise your suspicions about him or do you think he was genuinely angry?
Victoria: I think was genuinely angry. I was not surprised at all, only because that journal was with him at all times. other players had made comments, "Mark's a little paranoid about his journal. He's a little obsessive." That was true. He had it with him all the time.
On top of that, he had also said that he wrote things about his family and to his wife in there. It was kind of like his diary as well, so he had an emotional attachment to that. So when they burned it, his reaction wasn't a surprise to me at all.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when your journal was burned? Was your journal as important to you as it was to Mark?
Victoria: On a scale of one to 10, it was probably a four that I was attached to it. Only because up until the quizzes thus far, I hadn't really used my journal. I was just going off of memory. So it didn't really affect me. It wasn't until the quiz that I took that I got executed on, I was like, "Damn! I wish I would have had my journal!" (laughing)
Reality TV World: One of the things that happened during The Mole's second season was a mission where the producers faked the players into believing their bags had been burned, but then in the next episode revealed they hadn't really been burned. Given the way Alex gathered your journals right in front of you and such, it didn't seem like there was much chance that the burning was fake, but did any of you remember and talk about that old mission after you saw your journals burn? Did you think the journal burning could have been a fake?
Victoria: Basically everyone was just kind of shocked and numb. At that point, I think the game took a turn. It was like, "Okay, these people aren't playing around. This is really a game and it's serious." We had been using those to our advantage. We had been documenting all of these things. As each quiz comes about, there's more and more questions about the mole. Then all of a sudden, it's gone. And it's not just, "Oh, let me take this journal." It was, "Let me take your journal, and let me light it on fire in front of you." (laughing) It was just dirty. The game definitely turned at that point.
Reality TV World: Did you form a coalition with any of the other players while you were in the competition?
Victoria: Yeah, I did. I formed somewhat of a coalition with Bobby. I trusted him the most. At the same time, while Marcie was there, we exchanged information. I exchanged the most information with Bobby. But it was really hard to have a good coalition, only because with missions and games, a lot of the time you really couldn't sneak away to talk. It was hard. I think it could have been more solid, but it wasn't.
Reality TV World: You just mentioned Bobby, why do you think you had such a good relationship with him?
Victoria: I don't know. We just hit it off from the start. I think he's like a small-town boy -- I mean I don't know where in Philadelphia he's from. I don't know, he just seemed really cool and laid back and I felt really comfortable with him. Aside from the game, we were able to become friends on the show too. So that was really comforting.
Reality TV World: One of the instances you came to Bobby's defense was when he was being bullied by Paul. What was your approach to dealing with someone like Paul? Were you surprised at the way he acted or did you think it was strategy on his part?
Victoria: Paul, from the very beginning, I knew that was his strategy -- attacking people. The only reason why I defended Bobby... It wasn't so much defending Bobby, because Bobby's a big boy and he can defend himself.
But what Paul was saying, "He's weak. He's struggling." My argument was, "Okay, you're going to say that about this person, but in the same mission Paul was just as weak." He was out there coughing up a lung, sitting down. He's like, "I can't go on!" Making a big deal. It's like, "How can you criticize someone when you were doing the exact same thing." That was my argument.
Then when he started to attack me, I felt myself getting heated. I was like, "Wait, I know what he's doing." So I just got up and I walked away.
Reality TV World: Sounds like it was a good idea.
Victoria: Yeah. After that, he left me alone.
Reality TV World: Was there anything you expected to be show that wasn't?
Victoria: Um... I thought they would have shown more at the house [on the first night]. When we got to the house, they really didn't show us arriving at the house and just sort of a lot of the down time we had there. It was so miserable! (laughing) It was so cold and you could hear everything and some people were sleeping outside. I'm surprised they didn't show more of that.
Victoria: I just went in and auditioned for it. While I was doing the first on camera one, the girl that was videotaping me was like, I really like you. I like your attitude." She gave me this paper of instructions to make an additional video. So I made an additional video, just sort of like who I am, what I do. I sent that off and then after that I got called back to the final casting, and that was it.
Reality TV World: Would you consider yourself a fan of the show's first two seasons? What about the celebrity installments?
Victoria: I was definitely a huge fan of the first season. It was one of -- if not the first -- reality show I ever watched. It was fresh, it was different. I'm a child of the 80s, so I grew-up watching The Real World. When this came about, it was different.
It's so funny, it's in my bio. But at the time I did this scholarship pageant. I got to the finals, and one of the final questions was if you could be on any reality show, what would it be. My answer was The Mole. My answer started off so good. I was like, "I'd definitely be on The Mole because it tests your knowledge, you have to be witty." Then I tried to elaborate on my answer and said, "You have to be deceitful." As soon as I said that, the crowds' faces were like, "She said deceitful!" So needless to say, I didn't win. (laughing)
Reality TV World: What was your strategy heading into the competition?
Victoria: I didn't really have a specific strategy. It was just take in everything and trust no one. That's what it was -- plain and simple and I'd figure out the rest later.
Reality TV World: What did you think would be your strong points and what areas of your game play were you concerned about?
Victoria: I think as a competitor I was strong. I think some people thought I was the mole, so that was another strong advantage. I think probably my weakest point is... I don't know. Maybe I was a little too nice. I probably could have been a little more cutthroat.
Reality TV World: You just mentioned several players thought you wereThe Mole's saboteur, were you surprised by that? Did you think you might be good at it going in?
Victoria: I really didn't think about it, But I think just by my bubbly personality, people would say, "Oh, she would definitely be the mole." My family thought I was the mole, my friends thought I was the mole. My best friend called me up and was like, "I think you're the mole." My uncle. Everybody thought I was the mole. The message boards, they were like, "She has to be the mole because at the executions she's smiles a lot." (laughing)
It's just funny. I think it's because of my personality -- me being so excited to be there. A lot of people thought that was suspicious.
Reality TV World: What's the reaction been like by your friends and family members who watched you on the show?
Victoria: (laughing) They were really excited. I come from a really small town, so I had the support of Bishop, TX. People that I hadn't talked to in a while would look me up, "Hey, congratulations! We're rooting for you." The local newspaper did a piece on me. It was so heartfelt. So many people were supporting me.
So when I was executed, they were shocked because they really did think I was the mole. They were like, "What's going on?!" I even had some of my friends say, "Even though you were executed, anything can happen in this show. So I think you might come back and be the mole." (laughing)
Reality TV World: Overall, what was your favorite memory from the experience?
Victoria: Oh my goodness! The Andes. That was definitely, definitely my favorite thing. Like I said, I'm just a small-town girl. So to be out there and to see these beautiful things that God has created, and just to be in its presence, it was beautiful. It's definitely an experience that I will never forget. It was amazing. I feel very fortunate.