Exclusive: Michelle Schubert talks 'Survivor' -- Zeke Smith told me he didn't want to work with me because of my faith
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/11/2016
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X merged the three tribes and then castaway Michelle Schubert was voted out of the game during Wednesday night's Episode 8 broadcast on CBS.
Michelle, a 28-year-old missionary recruiter from Yakima, WA, became the eighth castaway voted out of Season 33 of Survivor.
Michelle was sent packing following the merge on Night 23 at Tribal Council. She was eliminated from the newly-merged Vinaka tribe seemingly because her whole alliance was the target and she likely didn't have a hidden Immunity Idol.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Michelle talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for more.
Reality TV World: Is it safe to say you were blindsided? Whom were you convinced was voting for Adam Klein with you heading into Tribal Council?
Michelle Schubert: Okay, here's what I hate, is that I don't know. I went into that Tribal so uncertain about everything because I had intentionally not been strategizing with people that day thinking, "This is the first vote after the merge," and I didn't want to be seen as a big threat or I'm overstrategizing.
I had already heard whispers like that, so I said, "You know what? I'm not even going to strategize. I'm just going to let my alliance tell me who to vote and, you know, walk in and right that name down."
I hated it; I didn't feel good about it in my gut. But walking into Tribal, I thought pretty sure [Justin "Jay" Starrett], [Will Wahl] and [Taylor Stocker] would vote with me. And I was told by them that we had the numbers, that [Chris Hammons] had rallied some of the Gen Xers and that was all working together.
[Bret LaBelle] and [Sunday Burquest], I think, were also involved. But to be honest, I didn't exactly know. I was trusting my alliance to have done the relational aspect of the strategy that day and that was my downfall.
Reality TV World: Where did you think you fit into your alliance after the merge with Will, Taylor and Jay? Did you start worrying that you were on the bottom? And how did Adam, [Zeke Smith] and [Hannah Shapiro] fit into that equation being the other millennials?
Michelle Schubert: I definitely did not feel I was at the bottom. I feel like Jay and I were still feeling like we could run the post-merge game together with what we had between us and we loved Adam.
Like, until we heard Adam was gunning for Will -- which kind of meant then that he was gunning for Jay -- at that point, that was the first [time] we ever even had an ill feeling about Adam.
Even pre-swap, Jay and I both talked about how we liked Adam and wanted to work with Adam. But we just, out of necessity, had to keep him out of the [Mari Takahashi] vote since he was so close to Mari.
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Reality TV World: Were you aware Jay had found a hidden Immunity Idol?
Michelle Schubert: I did know about Jay's idol. Now that I'm thinking about earlier [in the game], I was wondering if he had told me that at the time, and I remember that he did tell me.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you became the Gen Xers target because they feared Taylor or Jay had an idol, and if Jay had it, he might use it to save his friend. Any reason why they were so convinced you didn't have an idol? And do you think there was any chance Jay would've played his idol for you had he known you were in trouble?
Michelle Schubert: I remember during Tribal Council, when I realized it was going to be me -- well, I guess I didn't realize it was me because then I'm sure I would have leaned over to [Jay] and said, "Hey, play your idol for me." But I almost did.
I almost leaned over to him and said that because I started getting little hints, like, "Oh no. I think, reading between the lines of what people are saying, I think it's me." So, that's interesting. And I do, I do think he would've done it had he been convinced that it was necessary to keep me in.
Reality TV World: We saw you voicing how you didn't think it was a smart move to vote Adam out right away because he's a fellow millennial who didn't have numbers on his side to do anything. I know you didn't want to come across like a leader, but did you suggest someone else, a different target?
Michelle Schubert: No, I didn't! I wish that I would have pushed back on that a little bit, because it was a stupid move. Adam didn't have numbers at that point. He wasn't a threat against us, he wasn't going to be able to rally troops.
I wish we would've taken him aside and said, "Adam, yes, we'll vote Will out next," but right now, we need to get rid of a Gen Xer. I think we could've gotten him to go along with it. So, I really did think it was a personal move, not a strategic move. And you can't do that!
You can't do that and hope to go further, and somehow in my sleep-deprived mind, I said, "Well, one vote. I'll just sit back for this one vote. I'll let a stupid decision be made for one vote, but then I'm back in it." And of course, it didn't work out so well.
Reality TV World: When Zeke voted for you, we saw him tell the cameras that he never trusted you. You've seemed to be a focal point for Zeke since the game began so could you talk about that a little bit? Why did Zeke have it out for you?
Michelle Schubert: That's a great question! That's a really great question. It was interesting because I tried to connect with him multiple times pre-swap and our conversations never went anywhere.
What you didn't see was a conversation we had, I guess, pre-swap where he had said that because of my faith, he had judged that he should not try to align with me, or that he didn't trust me or something. And we kind of hashed through that a little bit and I thought resolved it, but it's apparent that it wasn't resolved.
Reality TV World: I want to get your take on Taylor and Jessica "Figgy" Figueroa's romance. Did their relationship concern you as much as it did Jay or did you feel okay about riding it out as long as possible? Did you view your relationship with Jay to be comparable to what "FigTayls" had?
Michelle Schubert: So you're touching on something that, you know, a showmance represents these two votes to one mind, really. But we still had a close friendship, sort of like a genuine friendship. And there were definitely some of those genuine friendships out there, like completely platonic genuine friendships.
But there is a difference. It's that in a romance, even when it gets down to Final 4, if you're not going to win because of the person you're voting with, and they're going to win instead, you're probably still going to vote with them.
But with me and Jay for instance, I think if it got down to Final 5 or 4, I think -- even though we were genuine friends, if we thought we wouldn't win because of being with the other person, I think it's more possible we would have turned against each other.
So there is a genuine threat to a couple, but in this case, people had been saying to me and I had heard people saying things like, "Figgy and Taylor aren't on TV playing the game, they're just out here to look at each other!" Things like that.
And when you hear that, that's kind of a reminder in your head, "Hey, I could go to the end with these people and A.) I don't think they'll ever vote against me because I saved Figgy in the game, you know? And B.) if I go to the end, I'll probably win!
People would respect my gameplay more than theirs, might as well ride that. So it was kind of a win-win for me. I didn't care. I liked them both and felt like having them in the game was better for me than having to leave one of them out.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive Survivor interview with Michelle.