Exclusive: Hali Ford talks 'Survivor: Game Changers' and reveals pre-game alliances
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/20/2017
Hali Ford was eliminated from Survivor: Game Changers after the two tribes merged during Wednesday night's special two-hour episode of Season 34 on CBS.
The merged Maku Maku tribe sent Hali, a 26-year-old attorney from San Francisco, CA, packing at Tribal Council on Night 21 with 7 out of 13 votes because she was an outsider of the new tribe along with Michael Bradshaw; however, Michael had Cirie Fields on her side working some magic.
Many castaways also suspected Hali -- who finished 11th on Survivor: Worlds Apart -- had a hidden Immunity Idol, so they were hoping to flush it out of the game. In the second half of the latest episode, the tribe voted off Ozzy Lusth.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Hali talked about her Survivor: Game Changers experience. Below is the first half of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Going into Tribal Council, what did you think was going to unfold? Whom did you think was voting for Zeke Smith with you and what did you think your chances were of staying?
Hali Ford: I knew I was beyond the chopping block going into this Tribal Council, and I was fending for my life. I thought it was a matter of people not wanting to take sides yet and I was just a time-filler, but low and behold, I guess everyone thought I had an idol. What?! That blew my mind when I got to Tribal and found out that people actually were considering voting for me because they thought I had an idol.
Reality TV World: Viewers didn't actually see anyone asking you to shake down, and so it looked like the whole topic of you potentially having a hidden Immunity Idol was just dropped. Was that really the case? And if so, looking back, do you regret not proving you were without an idol?
Hali Ford: No, I don't regret it. I mean, I didn't think anyone was going to change the vote even if they saw I didn't have an idol. I didn't believe that was the core reason for voting me out.
So I was basically just like, "Guys, man up! Why are you voting me out?! You think it's because I have an idol? Let's take care of this right now." But clearly that wasn't the biggest consideration. I think people were just buying their time, or maybe some people just wanted me out.
Reality TV World: You made a point to say there was a big difference between showing the tribe you didn't have an idol on your own vs. someone demanding that you shake down at Tribal Council. Could you elaborate on that distinction?
Hali Ford: Well I think it's because the No. 1 reason people wanted to vote me out was because they thought I had an idol, well then if I can shake down right there -- I had this conversation with [Sarah Lacina]. She's a cop. She knows how to conduct a pat-search.
I was like, "Come on, Sarah, do a pat-search on me." No one wanted to do it, no one wanted to search my bag. So I was like, "There we go. I really don't think that's what this vote is about."
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I think it was that no one wants to make a move right now. I was really frustrated because the game of Game Changers, I was yet again going to be a non-vote going home. It was just people not making a move and I was the victim of, I think, a poor strategic decision.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode made it look like you were well aware you were on the outs of the tribe, but we didn't see you do much to try to change that. I'm assuming you had conversations that weren't shown on TV...
Hali Ford: That is so frustrating! I think I have received a really gracious edit. Some people get harsh edits. But this was the one time when I was frustrated! I was sitting [watching the show] with my boyfriend, and I was just so mad because I worked my butt off that day!
I talked to everyone. I was giving these involved, vehement, passionate speeches! I pulled everyone aside and I was like, "What are you doing? Now is the time when we make a move! We can pull in the numbers."
I would count the numbers up for people: "We can get these people. We need to make a move now, not just be Nuku strong, because what are you going to do when all the Manas are gone? Now is the time to put yourselves in a power position."
But no one was hearing it, and I just couldn't figure out why people wanted to send me home and not make an actual move. It was very frustrating that didn't come out, but I don't really care. I don't think I was one of the better players in this game at all. So I'm glad that [Cirie Fields] was shown to be the mastermind of that vote. But it's still a little frustrating and hurt my pride.
Reality TV World: So you didn't feel like you were even close to swaying anybody into your line of thinking?
Hali Ford: No, I felt like I was persuading them a bit, but I just wasn't seeing the results because the longer the day went on, the less people were talking to me.
So, I pretty much knew where things were at when I was going into the vote, and I think that's why I was so adamant that they just check me for an idol, because I was like, "If this is really the reason, then let's resolve this right year." But I don't think it was the reason.
Reality TV World: Did you get the sense out there Cirie and Michaela Bradshaw were becoming all buddy-buddy or did they do a good job of keeping their friendship under wraps? Because Cirie seemingly didn't want anyone to know she was trying to help and save Michaela.
Hali Ford: Oh yeah! They spent every waking moment together! And I don't even mean just waking moments -- like, all night long, when everyone else was asleep, they were up chatting the entire night! They were nonstop together, so it was very clear.
But Cirie had me fooled that she was on my side too, and I thought there was a way we were going to get Zeke out or something, and that clearly wasn't the case after watching the episode.
Reality TV World: Cirie presented matter of factly on the episode it was you or Michaela going home. Were you surprised that Cirie and her group weren't willing to go directly after Sierra Dawn Thomas and Brad Culpepper more immediately? Because in Part 2 of the episode when Ozzy went home, the initial target of Andrea Boehlke's alliance was Sierra before Zeke betrayed her, so why not do that earlier?
Hali Ford: Yes! What was that?! That's just kind of the elephant in the room. Why didn't people want to make a dominant move? It's allegedly a very important vote in the game, the first vote after the merge. But no one was willing to take them out.
I identified them as kind of the head of the snake on the other side, and I did try to pitch that -- not necessarily to take out Brad or Sierra, but just to everyone, "Let's try to get numbers and actually take a stand instead of delay the inevitable and put yourself into a weak position."
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you what pitches you had made to the tribe. So it sounds like Sierra or Brad was an option, but did you throw out anyone else's name?
Hali Ford: Yes! I wanted Zeke to go out, and I think that was to my detriment actually. After watching the episode, I see that Cirie was really the one chatting Zeke up.
But my understanding from conversations I had at Ponderosa -- even just with [Ozzy Lusth] -- was that Zeke wanted me out because I wasn't working with him and I wasn't strategizing with him, and Zeke was the one gunning to get me out. So I wanted Zeke out. I was pitching Zeke, and even [Aubry Bracco] at points just to get the target off me. But Zeke was really who I was going after.
Reality TV World: How aware of the alliances were you while you were out there? Did you know Zeke was a member of Andrea's alliance with Cirie, Aubry, Sarah and Ozzy? And where did you think Sarah stood, because she talked about being in the middle of two sides last night.
Hali Ford: Sarah and Andrea were clearly a packaged deal, and they were in tight with Ozzy. That was clear. Cirie seemed to be on the outs of that alliance, but still a part of it. But what I didn't know -- and I don't know if this is Kosher not to talk about, but there is a pre-game alliance between Brad, I think, Sierra and [Troy "Troyzan" Robertson] that I was unaware of.
I thought I was the bridge between Brad and Sierra and Troyzan, because Troyzan was one of my closer alliances. But little did I know, they had this whole thing going, the same with [Debbie Wanner] and Brad, they bonded pre-game. So, I don't know. I'm sure I could've done things to change it, but there were a lot of strong alliances I was completely unaware of.
Reality TV World: So at the time you left the game, were you figuring that Tai Trang was at the bottom of that Brad alliance?
Hali Ford: Well, I saw Tai as a free agent. Tai seemed to be really strung in with just Nukus in general -- not strung in, but just tied to them. He was spending a lot of time talking with Andrea and Ozzy -- and also Brad and Tai and Debbie were a little trio, so I didn't really see Tai on the bottom as much as he was a free agent. Not even a free agent, but just someone running around, like a free radical. (Laughs)
Check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive interview with Hali Ford, as well as what Ozzy Lusth had to say following his elimination.