Exclusive: Sarita White talks about 'Survivor: Redemption Island'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/07/2011
Sarita White thought her Zapatera tribe was going to vote off David Murphy when they went to Survivor: Redemption Island's sixth Tribal Council session on Night 18.
However, much to her surprise, she was blindsided and they ended up voting her off instead.
On Thursday, the 36-year-old visual effects producer from Santa Monica, CA talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: Redemption Island experience -- including why she was so surprised her tribe voted her off, if she believes Matt Elrod's footage bandage gave him an advantage in the Redemption Island duel that subsequently permanently ended her Survivor adventure, whether she feels Matt is really as naive as he has appeared on TV, and her thoughts about Survivor villain Russell Hantz and his henchwomen Stephanie Valencia and Krista Klumpp.
Reality TV World: I want to start with your duel with [Matt Elrod] -- some viewers have been suggesting that your challenge wasn't fair because Matt had the advantage of getting to wear that big bandage on one of his feet, and that probably gave him some...
Sarita White: I've been talking about that all day!
Reality TV World: Okay. Yeah, basically it's the idea that the bandage gave him some padding and made things more comfortable and also maybe helped give him a better grip. What are your own thoughts about that?
Sarita White: Yeah, I totally agree! I thought he was really hurt, so I was like, 'Okay, cool.' I didn't have a chance to put my eyeballs on it, but I knew he had hurt his foot and there was a lot of talk about it. I was like, 'This is gold.'
Of all the challenges -- which everyone knows I'm not great at -- this was one where I was like, 'You know what? I got this. I've got skinny feet. I can do this, and I can just zen it out and just kind of yoga mind over matter and get to the other side of it.'
And when I saw last night that closeup of that little tiny scratch he had, and that they gave him that big old bandage, I was like, 'No you didn't. I'll wrap my feet up and see how well I do!' (Laughs)
I couldn't believe it! I thought it took them a lot of nerve, actually.
Reality TV World: So you weren't aware of it until now? You didn't have any idea during the time it was happening?
Sarita White: No, I didn't know! I thought he was all bandaged up because he had some big gash. I didn't know he had a scratch!
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Reality TV World: The episodes have made it look like Matt has a real strong physical game but a pretty weak strategic game...
Sarita White: He's -- bless his heart -- he's a little bit of a dummy. I mean, I don't mean that in a bad way, but it just doesn't make any sense what he's saying. It's like, I understand playing noble and honorable. That's how I tried to play the game as well. I stuck to my word. You know what I mean?
But it's like, it's still a game! So, if someone wrongs you, like if [David Murphy] and I are all of a sudden in cahoots and with what has happened previously, David would obviously -- I would have no problem in taking him out further down the line.
So, for [Matt] to go and put himself on a silver platter and take down his homegirl with him to [Rob Mariano], you deserve it. As sad as I am and as tiring as that experience must be for him, there was no other way for him. He basically was like, 'Could I buy a ticket back to Redemption Island, first class?'
Reality TV World: He's come across as very nice but almost remarkably naive so far -- do you think that's who he really is, or do you think that was just the image he wanted to project to everyone else and it's just ended up backfiring on him?
Sarita White: No, he really is that naive. That one night I spent with him, I was kind of like, 'He's just someone who hasn't had a lot of life experience as far as like trials and tribulations and things that kind of make you...'
Reality TV World: Skeptical?
Sarita White: Yeah! Or just makes you kind of -- Exactly! -- better able to process, 'Okay, this is what's going on in front of me. Let me read a couple layers deeper into it.' Instead of, 'Oh, you say you really like me? Awesome!' (laughs)
He just didn't have kind of those layers, and you know what? I don't think he has one lick of street smarts.
Reality TV World: The most memorable thing about your own Tribal Council vote-off was that it was such a surprise to you that you hadn't even brought your stuff. Why were you so confident you weren't going to be the one being voted off? I mean David's "we need strength" argument seemed to be a pretty good one, given everyone else was pretty strong and you guys were on a losing streak.
Sarita White: Yeah I was strong and [Mike Chiesl] had said that I was the spirit and the heart of the tribe. I was just so -- I think you can kind of tell by the way that my tribe was with me -- There was just a lot of love.
I said to them, 'Look, I want one of us to win. If you think you're going to get there with David, just give me the high sign and I would have expected someone to just be like, 'Hey.' You know what I mean? Just to give me the 411.
Because also, I did feel like a merge was coming. We all did, but there they were so scared. They were so in that football player strategy mentality that they just all kind of got "Alpha male" and like, 'Let's just wean it out. Whoever we can get -- Okay David is strong at puzzles -- keep him.' They got desperate and so that was the reaction.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you about that, because the idea that a merge was coming right around the corner kind of seemed to be like the biggest counterargument you could have made to Dave's "we need strength" claim. But we didn't actually see you make that in the show.
Sarita White: You know what? I didn't politic enough. Because of the whole Redemption Island thing, we were just so unsure. It could have been three [more Tribal Councils] down [the road] you know what I mean?
It's just we didn't know for sure, and I wish -- I got a couple regrets, not true regrets -- but like a couple, 'Mmm, I could have done that better.'
I should have made a huge play for that because what they ended up doing is I mean, it was shocking because it's like, 'Of course go with me because I'm not good at challenges, which is what you want when you go for the one-on-ones, and I'm super loyal.' You know what I mean? It's kind of in the bag for them to stick with me.
Whereas David is selfish. He's selfish in a way that few people I've met are, so he will really only take care of himself and kind of not honor any alliances at any point in time.
Reality TV World: What are your other regrets? You mentioned earlier that you had a few. What are the others?
Sarita White: Not being able to win the Matt [duel]. I feel like if I could have just gotten my strength together that I could have beat Matt and yeah, not really strongly politicking more for getting [David] out of there. It was actually really sweet at Tribal Council when they blindsided me because I turned around and I go, 'I really wish I brought my stuff.'
Mike was so sweet and was like, 'I brought your stuff.' And everyone was like, 'Yeah, Mike brought everything!'
They can sneakily kick me off but to sneak around before Tribal Council and get all my stuff in my little satchel and give it to me for Redemption Island, I was like, 'That's why I didn't see it coming!'
We were just such a sweet core.
Reality TV World: [Russell Hantz]'s critics have always claimed that the only reason he was able to get as far as he did during his second Survivor season was because no one out there had seen his first Survivor season yet, and based on what your tribe did to him this time around, it now seems like that was probably true...
Sarita White: True! Absolutely!
Reality TV World: ... So were you surprised that Stephanie Valencia and Krista Klumpp didn't anticipate that and decided to ally with him instead?
Sarita White: No, oh no. These girls -- talk about not having life experience -- they must have lived in a bubble. They were like an episode of Mean Girls. They were just mean, super two dimensional. They were star struck by him, and can you imagine?
I mean, it was like he had a little entourage and you're like, 'Have you even seen the show with him? Do you know how he talks about women?'
They just didn't -- he would be rude and be like, 'Oh, they'll do anything I want. Watch this.' They would almost just fan him during the day, like picking at his puss-filled [sores] -- it was disgusting.
We were just like, 'Girls, [clap, clap clap] come on, where are the smelling salts? What is happening?' It was crazy. It was one of the most interesting things to watch.
To watch two women who would could have stepped up, been strong, aligned themselves with [Julie Wolfe] and I -- two good, you know what I mean? -- down to earth women. Instead, they just went with a man who clearly has no respect for women.
Reality TV World: Your tribe seemed pretty disappointed when you initially got stuck with Russell instead of Rob. Do you think your tribe would still have immediately targeted Rob the same as Russell, or do you think things would have played out differently?
Sarita White: Oh, things would have been totally different because Rob's actually a good player and Russell is not.
Reality TV World: You seemed to emerge as your tribe's early leader. How did that happen, and did that surprise you?
Sarita White: It did surprise me. I just basically said I was going to play from the heart. I just really tried to just get to know everyone -- get to know what people's kind of deep primal needs are -- in a setting like that, and just make true connections with the people that I could, and try to be pragmatic and honest and just think, 'Okay, what is the group that's going to work best?'
I think a huge thing was the fact that I was the only one who was like, 'No. Russell's out.' And from that, with everyone wanting Russell on -- everyone wanted Russell on -- they were all for it, and me basically being like, 'No. Krista and Stephanie are bad seeds.'
Then a few days later, they make that clearly apparent on their own, but I called that out early. And then me being like, 'No. Russell. Bad. If you keep him in, it's going to be -- Do you want the Russell show or do you want to play Survivor as the game?'
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show?
Sarita White: I actually ended up meeting someone who recommended me to the show, but I've always -- I mean,Survivor is just fascinating to me and I just leapt at the chance to do it.