Exclusive: Desiree Afuye talks 'Survivor: Ghost Island' -- Keeping Domenick Abbate and Wendell Holland around is only making them stronger
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/30/2018
Desiree Afuye was voted out of Survivor: Ghost Island's merged Lavita tribe after her alliance members discovered she had been planning to betray them during the latest episode on CBS.
Desiree, a 21-year-old student from New Jersey who currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, was voted out of her tribe on Night 27 of the game through an 8-2 vote at Tribal Council instead of Michael Yerger, an 18-year-old real estate agent from Knoxville, TN. (Angela Perkins was unable to vote because she had opted to play a Game of Chance on Ghost Island and lost it).
Desiree was the tenth person voted out of this game, and so she became the third jury member of Survivor: Ghost Island.
"They could tell I was lying. Aww man! I gave it my all. I tried to act as real as possible. It's just such a shame because I was right there. [Kellyn Bechtold] was just the first. I had plans, baby," Desiree said following her ouster, referencing how she had attempted to orchestrate her pal Kellyn's blindside but failed to execute the plan once Laurel Johnson spilled the beans.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Desiree talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of what she had to say.
Desiree Afuye: I definitely did try to convince Kellyn to go against Dom and Wendell, but at the time, I felt she was working with them. I wanted to vote with her and say, "You know what? Okay, let's get out Dom and Wendell. But if she's making [plans] with them, this is not going to work. She's most likely going to go with them."
And then she's going to look at how she's been winning the challenges and I haven't been winning the challenges. Wendell is getting close to winning challenges. Dom is getting close to winning challenges. And she's going to say, "Yeah, does Desiree really want to end up sitting next to me if I'm really this strong of a player? Probably not."
Reality TV World: What was your relationship with Laurel like out there? Did it surprise you she ended up spilling the beans about your plan? How much did you trust her during the game?
Desiree Afuye: I definitely did trust Laurel a lot, and the main reason I trusted Laurel a lot was because I had been trying to build a relationship with her since the merge.
Since the merge, I was working on that plan and building a relationship with Laurel and [Donathan Hurley]. Because I knew I needed them towards the end. I knew I needed them to get Dom and Wendell out, like that was known.
And I knew Laurel and Donathan were pretty much working with Dom and Wendell, but I figured, "It's not going to make sense for them to keep them around because Dom and Wendell -- they're only going to make them stronger by keeping them around this long."
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If they keep them around longer than me, in my mind, I was thinking, "They're only making them stronger."
Reality TV World: Put yourself in Naviti's shoes. Do you think they made the right choice in taking you out instead of Michael?
Desiree Afuye: I think that was a great move on their part because I was the main one trying to get them out. I think after you remove me, Kellyn is probably pretty much going to try to work with Dom and Wendell. [Chelsea Townsend] is going to do the same thing, and they're not sure -- they don't know that Laurel has an alliance with Dom and Wendell.
And Donathan has an alliance with Dom. He's talking to Dom and he's talking to Wendell, so they didn't know that, and they were probably thinking -- the women, Chelsea and Kellyn -- "You know what? We're still going to be good with our Naviti." And they may be right! Or they may be wrong.
Reality TV World: So you clearly viewed Kellyn, Wendell and Dom as being dangerous, and you wanted them all gone. Why target Kellyn first, which had to potential to create the most waves?
Desiree Afuye: To me, Kellyn was the glue to everything, like she was keeping Dom and Wendell there, and she was kind of the most marketable for going first because she was winning challenges. So she was winning challenges and everybody loves her. She was kind of gluing Dom and Wendell to the rest of the Malolo and everybody else.
So if you give it to her, everybody's going to want to get rid of Dom, everybody's going to want to get rid of Wendell because they're strong players and they have idols. Everybody is going to want to get rid of them; no one is going to want to get rid of their original Malolo.
Reality TV World: Looking back on your last couple of days in the game, do you regret ever turning your back on Kellyn to begin with or do you stand by that move and feel you had to do it in order to advance yourself in Survior?
Desiree Afuye: I think the way it's played out on TV, it seems as though I turned my back on Kellyn. But I think by the time I was ready to vote Kellyn out, our alliance was pretty much broken already.
She voted out [Chris Noble] without me knowing, like, she was telling me Chris wasn't going to be voted out -- and Chris was voted out. So I was left out on that vote already and she was working with Wendell on that.
So our alliance was already pretty much broken. But to each other, we were kind of saying, "We're still here [together]," but it was pretty much broken already. I don't really regret it because I think it would have played out probably the same way for me.
Reality TV World: What about how you handled the situation once you decided to lie to Kellyn about trying to vote her out? Do you think the outcome would have been different had you looked Kellyn in the eyes and confessed, "Look, I did try to go after you because of the whole Chris thing, but I'm sorry, and I swear my loyalty is with you for the rest of the game...?"
Desiree Afuye: I did contemplate it, but I don't know if it would've changed the outcome. I don't know how Kellyn would have received me saying, "Look, yeah, I lied, and this whole thing was a lie." Because she saw me go so hard about not lying. It would kind of be confusing, you know?
So I contemplated it, but I figured, "You know what? If Kellyn was going to believe me, she would just believe what I'm saying. It doesn't matter what I'm saying; she would just believe me." So I figured, you know what? It is what it is. Hopefully she believes me, but if she doesn't, she doesn't.
Reality TV World: I know Chelsea was left out of your plotting, but did any of the castaways accuse her of trying to flip with you? Did anyone confront her at Tribal and viewers just didn't see it?
Desiree Afuye: Chelsea didn't know about the plan but everyone suspected she did while we were at camp. So Chelsea's name was brought up with mine and it was sort of going around, like, "Chelsea and Desiree came up with this plan and they pitched it to all the original Malolo."
And then after Chelsea's name, it was like, "Only Desiree did it!" So people were kind of confused about that. I was also using that to my advantage.
I was like, "Hey, this story is changing up like five times! First it's me and Chelsea, and then it's me and Angela, and then it's just me. Which story is it? You guys have got to get it together."
Reality TV World: So at the time you left the game, did you anticipate Chelsea was going to be the next target?
Desiree Afuye: I definitely did suspect Chelsea would be the next target, and that's why I said, "Ladies, you guys have got to keep winning!" Because I felt the only way they could stay in the game is if they'd continue winning.
Because so far, socially, as far as getting the players who are going to help you win in the end on the jury, I'm not sure the women are doing that as of yet.
Reality TV World: You knew Wendell and Dom had idols going into Tribal Council. What was the talk around camp about idols and advantages before you got voted out?
Desiree Afuye: Yeah, I definitely thought Dom and Wendell had idols. That was something I knew for sure. It was like, "Dom and Wendell have idols and they need to get out of the game right now."
Reality TV World: So I'm sure another reason you went after Kellyn was because she was kind of the easy vote given Wendell and Dom had the power to save themselves.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor this season? How did you end up on the show?
Desiree Afuye: I auditioned just like everyone else. I was just sitting at my house and I think I was online and saw the opportunity to audition for Survivor. And I sent in my tape, I auditioned, and I got cast! Just randomly! This was at a rough time in my life and it just happened right at the right moment.