Exclusive: Mikayla Wingle talks about 'Survivor: South Pacific'
By Reality TV World staff, 10/27/2011
Mikayla Wingle seemed set to survive Survivor: South Pacific's sixth Tribal Council vote when fellow Upolu tribemate Edna Ma had an apparent target on her back for being their tribe's weakest challenge competitor and biggest potential threat to flip at the upcoming tribal merge.
However, Mikayla's game took a turn for the worst when Upolu's tribe leader "Coach" Benjamin Wade managed to convince Rick Nelson -- who had turned into the swing vote because of the split in his tribe -- to change his vote for Edna and decide to vote off Mikayla instead, proving his loyalty to Coach. Mikayla then fared no better the following day when, due to the Redemption Island twist, she lost a duel challenge that would have allowed her to continue to attempt to eventually earn the right to return to the game -- resulting in her permanent elimination from the competition during Wednesday night's broadcast of Survivor: South Pacific's seventh episode.
On Thursday, the 22-year-old model and Lingerie Football League player from Tampa, FL, talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: South Pacific experience.
Reality TV World: Rick ended up being the Tribal Council swing vote that resulted in your vote-off over Edna. Were you aware that was going to be the case before you guys went to Tribal Council and did you have any conversations with Rick in which you tried to convince him to vote to keep you?
Mikayla Wingle: I definitely know that that's what it came down to. Even in Tribal, [Albert Destrade] assured me, "Don't worry. It's going to be Edna. We pulled for you. You're good." And I was like, "Okay." And then all of a sudden, I was getting vibes and I had a gut feeling where I was like, "I'm going."
I kind of felt it and it really stunk because I had a lot of respect for Rick because he was one of the few people that I spoke to about me being in the football league and I didn't tell people a lot about it. He was one of the few people and I thought that when he put my name down, it was like a slap in the face.
I just felt like he had the chance -- everybody's always like, "Who's the guy with the mustache in your tribe? He hasn't done anything yet." Right there, he just showed that he was following the group.
Be different, you know? You live to stand out, not to blend in. You tried out 14 times for the show and you still could not just stand out. He said basically that this is what his dream is, so like, come on. Make something of it, you know?
Reality TV World: Last week's episode initially showed Albert warning you that Coach and [Brandon Hantz] wanted to vote for you but he wasn't going to let that happen and he was going to "go to war" for you. Did that surprise you? Because you didn't seem to have that close of a relationship with Albert from what we had seen on the show.
Mikayla Wingle: Actually, me, Albert and [Sophie Clarke] probably in the first hour made an alliance on the show. Unfortunately, when that whole [alliance of] five was made [later on with Coach, Albert, Sophie, Brandon, and Rick], it really stunk. What really put a problem on our alliance was the fact that Brandon was making up a lot of lies.
The fact that he said I was like, "We've gotta get [Stacey Powell] and [Christine Shields Markoski] because you know -- because they were talking about the Idol" -- and we were talking about it as a game perspective and what we needed to do next for our first move. And then he turned it around and said Stacey and Sophie -- and was making up these lies about me.
That was one of the many lies and he targeted a lot of them towards Sophie, because Sophie's very skeptical about me and it stunk because that definitely tore our alliance up a little bit. Me and Al have always had a great relationship. We always saw eye to eye and I think we connected a lot because we're both athletes. We talk a lot about sports.
We talked a lot about things with Coach, we talked about things and games and we definitely connected on that point. Brandon put a big burden on my connection with Sophie, you know? It definitely -- him and not only her, but the rest of the tribe, I don't think my name was ever even brought up if it wasn't for Brandon in the beginning. It put a solid target on my back from Day 1, which really stunk.
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Reality TV World: In addition to physical strength, the other concern Albert was shown having about Edna was that he felt she was a smart, tactical person who knew she was the No. 6 person in her alliance and likely flip on your tribe at the merge. What are your thoughts on that -- did you also have the same feelings about her?
Mikayla Wingle: Yeah, like I already said, Edna is very quiet but she's smart. I will give her that. She's very smart and the quiet people in the room are the smartest people. She very rarely spoke about any tactics. Whatever you told her to do, she'd do.
The way I looked at her with Coach was like [Natalie Tenerelli] last year for ["Boston Rob" Rob Mariano]. She didn't say [anything], and when she did, "Okay sure. Whatever you want. You want me to do this? Okay perfect."
And it stunk. I have way too much pride to be somebody's little toy -- not going to happen. So it definitely stunk, but she's very smart and I wouldn't put it past her. If the merge comes and somebody gives her a better deal and tells her she's going to be the bomb, then she would flip.
I don't think she has loyalties and I don't think she cares about loyalties. The way she carries herself, I don't think she has any morals, because like Coach even said, if he asked her to, she'll probably even walk around [Ozzy Lusth] and watch him go to the bathroom and wait for him. I just don't think that she -- Why wouldn't she flip?
Reality TV World: You didn't make it that far so this is hypothetical, obviously, but you were in an even worse place than Edna and weren't in your tribe's six-person alliance at all, so how do you think you would have handled the merge -- were you hoping to flip to the other tribe if you'd made it that far, or what type of strategy had you been planning? It sounds like you thought you had something going on with Albert and Sophie?
Mikayla Wingle: Yeah, I definitely wouldn't have flipped. I feel like if I had flipped, I would have just been considered -- I know it's a big part of the game, but let's be honest. You flip, you make it a little bit further, but you're not going to make it to the Top 3.
You're the first person to go from the -- once one tribe gets whittled down, when the next tribe comes up and it starts to get down to that final team, you're the first to go because you were the last one to be a part of it. They've been together for weeks before and you're the last one to join them.
There's no way you can build those bonds over such a short period of time. So flipping, it makes the show fun to watch -- it will get you a little bit further -- but let's be honest. It's part of the game but you're not going to make it that much further.
Reality TV World: I need to ask you some questions about your relationship with Brandon...
Mikayla Wingle: Shocker! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: First of all, did you have any idea about how he initially considered you a "temptress" and all those other creepy comments and awkward stares the season's early episodes showed him making?
Mikayla Wingle: (Laughs) I had no idea! None at all. It was funny, because the only things I heard was when Albert came up to me before one of the first Tribal Councils and said, "Listen. They're bringing your name up."
And I was like, "What?! My name? I didn't do anything!" You know what I mean? He was like, "They're very intimidated by you." I said, "Intimidated by me? You want to vote me out because you're intimidated by me?" I was like, "I've been nothing but work hard, done this, in challenges I was doing my thing, why?"
And then when I watched the TV, my jaw is on the floor. It was funny because I always make jokes and my friends are like, "Why are you biting your nails? You know what happens!" And I'm like, "You never know what they're going to say about me!" (Laughs) I chew my nails up every week even though I know what's going to happen, but I was so shocked.
And the names -- the fact he called me Delilah -- it's funny, because my family and my close friends are like, "You are the farthest thing from a flirt ever." I'm a huge tomboy and even if I knew how to flirt, I couldn't imagine me flirting, you know what I mean? We all make jokes about. They're like, "He has no idea." So we just laugh about it, but it was a setback from the start.
Reality TV World: Do you have any ideas or explanations about why he may have felt the way he did? I mean, did anything that he might have misunderstood or misinterpreted happen between you two? Because when I talked to Stacey a couple of weeks ago, she said she'd thought you two were friends and you did "everything together" while you were out there.
Mikayla Wingle: It's funny because we did. We actually went fishing, we did this, we did that, everything was cool and it was not a big deal. I just think -- and again, in this game, a lot of people take themselves out of their normal life and they put themselves into this game and they play and they live for the game. Him, he brought his personal life into the game, and played his personal life, which you can't do.
And the fact of whatever he's done in the past -- whether it was before his wife or with his wife, whatever it was -- it put me in a bad situation and it put a target on my back from the start. It really stunk because nobody else had this first target on their back before they even walked through the door, you know what I mean? It was an automatic setback for me and it was really terrible.
If it wasn't for him, my name wouldn't have come up. Whether it was just a five or six-person alliance, I think Brandon pushed it so much. And I think Coach was also trying to keep Brandon on lock down with his crazy outspoken things, and if Coach didn't go with it -- It was just crazy and it just stunk, the fact that I already had a target on my back when I did nothing to nobody.
Reality TV World: Do you think Brandon's "temptress" issues were something that were specific to you somehow, or do you think it's a general issue of some kind. Like, how do you think he would have fared if he'd been in the other tribe where he would have had [Semhar Tadesse], [Elyse Umemoto] and [Whitney Duncan] wondering around and the tribe deciding to all strip down to their underwear and go for a swim on Day 1 before they even built their shelter?
Mikayla Wingle: I was laughing. I was dying laughing. I said, "Oh my gosh, he probably would have swam off the island and just randomly woke up on another island!" Because let's see. You got Whitney -- beautiful. Elyse? Beautiful. Semhar -- beautiful. Like, really? If he was on the other tribe, he probably would have jumped off a tree, swam off the island and ended up somewhere else.
It's just crazy. And he was like, "Oh, you're flaunting yourself around." Excuse me? Flaunting? Let me tell you something. I have one set of clothes to wear and I had to wash something at some point and I'm not wearing my clothes to go into the water and fish. Throw me a bone man. I'm the only person here -- Sophie's in her bathing suit, Edna's in her bathing suit.
You're kidding, you know? But he has a lot of -- I think he said -- inner demons and he's got other problems. He's got one good thing and one bad thing on either shoulder there. Apparently, he needs to do a little more soul-searching or whatever you want to call it than what the show is going to help him with. He needs a lot of help.
Reality TV World: Based on what's been shown on TV, it seemed like Coach is convinced that Brandon and Edna will remain loyal to him all the way to the end and he's not going to let either one of them go unless he's absolutely forced to do so. Was that your take while you were out there -- did you ever discuss that with Albert, Sophie or Rick? Because we saw the other tribe in a similar situation with Ozzy and Elyse and they took Elyse out, but we didn't really see your tribe discuss that.
Mikayla Wingle: I think [Edna] is kind of a floater. She was tight with Coach but I felt like she's one of those people that will say, "Hey, we're going to vote out Coach tonight. He's getting too strong in this. We should vote for Coach." She was just a floater. She was just like, "Who wants to vote? If you want to go with Bill, oh then go with Bill."
I don't think she has any loyalties, and when the merge comes, I wouldn't doubt her flipping. I think Brandon, he's in his own crazy world that there are things he believes about him and this and that, but he has nobody else to trust in.
The fact that they have a connection, whether it's through God, whether it's, "Oh you played like me in my first season and I understand" -- I feel like he looks up to Coach as an older male figure and I think that's their connection. But Edna, it was nothing like that. She was a floater and she kind of did the grunt work of the group because nobody wanted to do it. She just happened to be there and still be playing.
Reality TV World: Coach seemed very likely to be the first player out of your tribe on Day 1 and we saw the exchange where Christine called him a "temporary player." Obviously that didn't happen and he somehow ended up being the leader instead. Do you have any explanation of how that ended up unfolding? Because when I talked to Stacey, she seemed to think that he roped all of you in because you were younger than him and he entertained you all with his epic stories and such.
Mikayla Wingle: Yeah, I brought up -- I even said that before poor Stacey went home -- I said, "Hey, you know what? Let's get rid of Brandon" and Albert and Sophie were like, "No, we still need him for strength," blah, blah blah. I'm like, "Ugh, well seriously, let's get rid of Coach!" I'm like, "You're playingSurvivor here. Let's do some Survivor moves. Let's do it, you know!?" [And the reply was] "Oh no, no. We need him."
Listen here, he brought absolutely nothing to challenges. He tried to be a voice and point fingers and tell people what to do. That's what he did. Anybody can do that, let's be honest, you know? It stunk. He should have been gone earlier. I just apparently couldn't get them together and get their minds right and be like, "Okay, we're done with you. You didn't help much anyway."
All he did was make us laugh and I never had a great connection with him. I just could not -- I feel like I see through a lot of BS and I'm [originally] from up north [in New Jersey]. I deal with a lot of people. I deal with a lot of garbage. I'm listening to him and I played a lot of sports, like I can connect with all my coaches, like, "Okay, I got you" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I just could never -- I don't know. I just could not connect with him and I can get along with everybody. I just think he's so full of it and I feel like he was doing more of an acting role this season than anything. I just -- he's full of it. He's full of it.
Reality TV World: Coach said his big problem with you was that you weren't "coachable" and "don't follow orders." What's your reaction to that?
Mikayla Wingle: It's kind of like, if you're going to preach it, make sure you read it first because I'm pretty sure you did not hit one target [at that challenge] either. So, you're telling me to sit down when you haven't done anything?! I thought it was an insult.
If Albert said, "Hey Mikayla, I'm hot. I got it." Okay. If you're hitting them, then you're going to make the calls. If you haven't hit a damn thing -- he's better off catching a cold than hitting a shot. You can't tell me what to do if you're not doing it yourself.
So, it's funny because I talked to my coaches and they were dying laughing. They were like, "Really? Home boy couldn't get one himself." And I was like, "I know!" So we all thought of it as kind of a joke and we're like, "It is what it is." You have to point the fingers somewhere. Call me uncoachable. Call me what you want, but you know what? I'm okay with that.
Because I know exactly who I am and what I do and how I play and good luck to you bud. Third time -- what happens the third, fourth, fifth, sixth -- maybe the seventh time [you play Survivor] you'll get it down. You never know.
Reality TV World: Do you think you would have done any better in the game if you'd ended up on the other tribe instead, or if you'd still been in your same tribe but your tribe had ended up with Ozzy instead of Coach?
Mikayla Wingle: (Laughs) A lot of people said, "You were on the wrong tribe! You were on the wrong season!" I do feel like I got the short end of the stick. I came out with an automatic target on my back. I could have been a total force in this, especially when we get to Individual Immunity. Could you imagine me in those challenges? Between strength and endurance, it was just ughh.
It really stinks and if I was on the other tribe, I definitely could have linked up with [Jim Rice] and [Keith Tollefson] and I could have been a part of that vibe. It just stinks at that point and I feel like Jim and I definitely could have -- I feel like my ideas that I did put out there and nobody really bid on, it's just like Jim would have bid on them.
He would have been like, "Alright. Cool. Let's do it." But I just didn't have any risk-takers on my team. Everybody just wanted to be one big happy family and the family's got to break up at some point. Let's do something. Let's, for once, run the show.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor -- how did you end up on the show?
Mikayla Wingle: I ended up trying out and next thing I know, I get a call and boom. I'm in LA trying out and going through some crazy casting work and all that good stuff. Here I am and here I was. (Laughs)