Exclusive: Nicole Williams talks about her 'The Mole' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/13/2008
Nicole Williams was the fastest quiz-taker in The Mole's history, but -- unfortunately for her -- she wasn't the most meticulous note-taker.
As a result, the 32-year-old OB/GYN doctor from Chicago, IL finished as The Mole's fifth-season runner-up during Monday night's finale broadcast of the ABC reality competition series.
On Tuesday, Nicole talked to Reality TV World about why her quiz-taking strategy hurt her in the final quiz although she was certain Craig Slike was the saboteur; how her feud with Paul Grassi prevented her from viewing Mark Lambrecht as a threat to take home the $420,000 pot; what was going through her mind when she was contemplating self-execution; and why she ultimately decided against it.
Reality TV World: You said you knew the moment after taking the final quiz that you had done worse than Mark. Why do you think you did poorly on it, especially since you had been suspecting Craig for several weeks already?
Nicole: Well, that has a lot to do with the details of the quiz because I didn't take as many notes as perhaps I should have. Actually, I didn't expect to make it all the way to the Final 3. I was flying by the seat of my pants. Therefore, when I made it to the Final 3, I thought, "Wow, this is serious." Then I realized my tragic flaw -- no notes.
Reality TV World: While watching the season unfold on TV, was there ever any doubt in your mind that Craig wasn't the mole?
Nicole: I never, ever, ever suspected Mark as the mole. He was too hard of a player, he was too nuts about the game entirely so. He wore his heart on his face. It was too easy.
Reality TV World: Did Mark's ability to look at the dossier really shake your confidence that much?
Nicole: I was completely rattled and Mark did a wonderful job of psychological warfare on me because although the dossier had nothing in it -- which I found out [in the finale] -- he kept referencing it every time we were together. Every meal he would reference the dossier. Every time we would be together.
So I kept thinking to myself, "Oh my god, he really has something here." He completely psyched me out. So kudos to Mark. That was an excellent game play.
Reality TV World: You seemed to not try very hard during the "Three to Tango" mission. Is that something you would agree with? If so, what was the reasoning behind it?
Nicole: There was no strategy. I was tired.
Reality TV World: So that's it?
Nicole: I was tired of the game and I'm not a very big fan of having to beg people for items. (laughing) That's all.
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Reality TV World: You said you used a strategy to annoy the other players and thus raise suspicion about yourself while you focused on who the mole really was. Were you surprised at how well you were able to do that?
Nicole: I was very surprised that my plan worked so well because I was obvious about all of my attempts to sabotage. I didn't want anybody to miss it, so I wanted to be obvious. Then I started thinking, "Maybe people will think I'm so obvious that it will make them think twice about their mole choice." I guess it worked because [Clay Cauley and Alex Jacobs] and even Mark suspected me, which was perfect.
Reality TV World: How much of that aggressive behavior that was shown on the show was the real you? Was the rest an intentional part of your strategy?
Nicole: Ninety-percent of that was me being on the show, 10% of that was my personality. You have to embellish your personality. hell, it's reality TV.
Reality TV World: When you and Paul first started to butt heads, what was going through your head about it? Did you see him as a threat or think you could use him to your advantage?
Nicole: I just saw him as the bane of my existence for the six weeks I was there and I just wished he would go away. I didn't start thinking that he would actually be a major player until over half way through. I was like, "Wow, why is Paul still here?"
That's when I realized what he was doing to me. Who knew that I was -- I don;'t know how he knew, he's very, very sharp when it comes to reading personalities -- but he knew that I would be a major nemesis and I guess that's why he rode me so hard. Didn't work! (laughing)
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you think your adversarial relationship benefited the both of you?
Nicole: It really did because as I was watching some of those videos, Paul was putting people my way... So yeah, it really helped because if they're voting for me then they're not voting for the mole.
Reality TV World: When you threatened to kill him and hide the body, was that a spur of the moment comment or part of your strategy?
Nicole: I thought to myself, "Dear Lord, do not let me hurt this man for real." So I figured words would do.
Reality TV World: As a doctor, were you concerned about any post-show professional fallout about the way you came across on the show? Has there been any?
Nicole: Yes there has been professional fallout. (laughing) I was actually... My current private practice and I have decided to part ways. However I'm now a full employee at my hospital. So it actually came out okay.
Reality TV World: Explain what your thought process was when you were considering self execution. Was Paul really getting under your skin that much?
Nicole: Paul was really getting under my skin. We were getting down to the wire and I think he really wanted to get rid of those people -- especially me... We had a really huge blowout and I was at a point where none of the stress was working. I'd been through a lot of stress, and it just wasn't working anymore. I wanted to just leave. I really, really did. I couldn't.
Reality TV World: So what happened? Why didn't you leave?
Nicole: A lot of factors went into my wanting to stay. I wanted to see if I could get as far as I could. I started thinking, "I've done too much in my life to let one person keep me from the possibility of $500,000." When I sat down at that computer [to take the quiz], I couldn't help myself. It's as simple as that.
Reality TV World: What was that "Omarosa" comment that your mom made at that quiz all about?
Nicole: It's a derogatory remark by a lot of people in the African-American community. (laughing) An angry black woman wanting to rule the world kind of thing. But it was a joke.
Reality TV World: How surprised were you when Paul was executed? Did you know that he was also targeting Craig as the mole's saboteur?
Nicole: Of course I did. When we spoke, we just left Craig out of the entire conversation. Craig didn't even exist to us because we knew that he was the mole.
Reality TV World: Do you remember when in the competition you realized Paul had an idea Craig was the mole too?
Nicole: Not until it was the Final 4. Everyone was really hiding their hand, nobody wanted to show their hand and say, "I know who it is" and let everybody else know because we didn't know who else knew. Nobody let their hands show until it was really down to the Final 4.
Reality TV World: Who did you consider to be your biggest threat during the competition? Was it Paul?
Nicole: I did consider my biggest threat Paul. That's another part of the problem, I never considered Mark an actual threat. My killer instinct was gone with Paul. Once that's gone... It's sweet Mark. You can't annihilate Mark. Mark had all those notes... What are you going to do? I guess I'll keep seeing patients.
Reality TV World: How difficult was it for you to be the last female player in the game?
Nicole: I was ostracized by most of the female players very early on in the game so it didn't really make that much of a difference. [Kristen Willeumier] and I actually became pretty cool when it was just she and I, we got a chance to talk. So when she was gone I was like, "Wow, I really do have to play."
It's not like I felt some benevolent need to represent the female gender. But it was kind of more just girl pride, like, "I'm not going to let the men get me."
Reality TV World: After you targeted both Bobby O'Donnell and Victoria Garza as the mole and they were executed, you changed your strategy and spread your answers out. Was that something you had planned on doing all along or was it a change you made based on the way the game was unfolding?
Nicole: I had no idea what I was doing.
Reality TV World: Okay, so you just took the quizzes as they came?
Nicole: I knew nothing about... I knew very little about the game itself. So I had to learn on my feet and think on my feet. At first I was like, "Okay, I'm going to target one person." But as people started dropping off and I started getting exposed to more of the quizzes, I realized that some of those questions were almost too specific.
Being a test taker -- having taken many, many, many standardized exams -- when it's too specific you have to be wary. Therefore I said, "It's probably a good idea I go for the most-likely answer." So if it's, "What color were the mole's pants?" and if there's only one person wearing pants that are blue and everybody else is wearing black, then I would answer black.
Reality TV World: Did you ever think of forming any coalitions during the competition?
Nicole: Well I had a coalition with Clay that was kind of behind-the-scenes. We only whispered things to each other here or there, we would never sit around together and go over our journals. He helped me out, even though he doesn't realize it.
Reality TV World: How important was your journal to you during the competition?
Nicole: I didn't touch my journal.
Reality TV World: Really? Not at all?
Nicole: Nope. (laughing) The way I prepared for the quizzes was after I had seen three or four quizzes, I kind of knew how the questions were going to be. So I would write quiz questions down and then write the answer I wanted to give. So I would memorize the questions and answers I wanted to give, therefore I could be as fast as possible because I already knew the answer I wanted to give.
Nine times out of 10, I would come up with the quiz questions. But when it came down to 20 questions [for the finale quiz], there was no way I could come up with the proper questions.
Reality TV World: It's interesting you mention that. When we talked to Mark, he said he was informed that you were one of the fastest quiz takers in The Mole's history.
Nicole: History of the show?!
Reality TV World: That's what he told me. What's your take on that? Do you think that was basically due to your experience taking standardized tests?
Nicole: I read really, really fast. Like I said, I could anticipate the questions. So when they would give the questions, I already knew what the answers were going to be in my head. There it goes. On top of that, I'm quick with my hands -- good hands lead to coordination, it always helps.
[Editor's Note: At this point, The Mole executive producer Clay Newbill confirmed that Nicole was "the fastest quiz taker in The Mole's history." Her fastest time was 37 seconds and she averaged in the 30s. Upon hearing this, Reality TV World informed Nicole that Mark averaged "in the high 40, low 50 seconds" range.]
It was divine intervention that Mark won. He got that close to execution so many times. I really think it was destiny. I can't be angry at that and I can't be mad at Mark. If Paul had beaten me or any of the other girls, I would have been... Ooh!
Nicole: A friend and I were having a philosophical discussion about reality TV. I had really only ever seen one reality TV show, which was The Real World... It's ground-breaking. It's incredible. But since then I think reality TV has basically fallen by the waste side.
We were talking about it, and she goes on craigslist.com all the time. She found the show on craigslist and was like, "I think this is the show for you." She bet me $2 I wouldn't do it. She still owes me $2.
Reality TV World: Based on that, I'm assuming you weren't a fan of The Mole during its first two seasons or its subsequent celebrity installments?
Nicole: I saw a bit of The Celebrity Mole. I did, I saw some Celebrity Mole. But other than that, I never saw the show. I apologize to all the purists out there. I do want to apologize to them because they're all really big fans of the show, they really follow it very closely, and then I've never seen the show before and I got on it.
All I can say is I'm really sorry I wasn't a fan. Now I am, because once I've done it I've seen how incredible it really is.
Reality TV World: What did you think would be your strong points and what areas of your game play were you concerned about?
Nicole: My original strategy was to try to be very, very nice and befriend everybody and doctor everybody... But after that whole let's sleep outside [following the first mission], I knew that wasn't going to work. So I changed and I said, "Well, we're just going to have to rethink things." I did.
Reality TV World: What's the reaction been like by your friends and family members who watched you on the show? Did they suspect you of being the mole?
Nicole: They said, "That's Nicole." They know what I can do if I really put my mind to something.
Reality TV World: Overall, what was your favorite memory from you're The Mole experience?
Nicole: Actually "Tick Tock Boom." That was the most fun. It was a mission that took -- even though of course I had to do my mole thing -- it took intelligence, it took skill, it was exciting. We won, thanks to Craig.
They never put this on the show, but when we were standing there I whispered to Craig, "All right Craig, you've got to help us out here." Of course he didn't acknowledge because he's not supposed to. Then Craig helped.