Exclusive: 'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' castoff Julia Sokolowski talks (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/29/2016
Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty's merged Dara tribe voted Julia Sokolowski out during Wednesday night's broadcast on CBS.
Julia, a 19-year-old college student from Boston, MA, was voted out of her tribe on Night 29 at the game's tenth Tribal Council session once her close ally, Michele Fitzgerald, betrayed her.
Julia, a former Beauty tribe member, became the tenth person voted out of the tribe although 12 castaways have left the game overall -- two of them due to medical evacuations.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Julia talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for more.
Reality TV World: You and Kyle Jason were targeting Tai Trang, hoping that Michele and Cydney Gillon were onboard. But everyone knew he had an idol and an advantage. Flushing the idol or sending Tai home with it was the idea, but what if he did play it at Tribal? You or Jason would've gone home. Did you ever consider going with a less-risky plan of voting out, say, Joseph "Joe" Del Campo? Maybe the girls would agree it'd be smart to break him and Aubry Bracco up.
Julia Sokolowski: Yeah! Of course. We did. We knew that Cydney and Michele, probably at that point, never would've gone for Aubry. So, yeah, and we wouldn't have gotten the numbers to vote out Cydney at that time either. So the only other logical explanation would've been to try and get rid of Joe, but the thing is, no one wanted to get rid of Joe.
Because if you look at Joe's game currently, he hasn't had, you know, a power-player mentality. He was just kind of on the back-burner for awhile, so he was the perfect person to kind of take along to the end.
Reality TV World: That makes sense.
Julia Sokolowski: And so, it was just that no one really wanted to get rid of him, I guess, at the time. So our only next option was Tai, because he had all of these advantages. And we just really tried hard.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you were convinced heading into Tribal Council that Michele was on your side, and if you weren't certain of that because of Cydney's position, maybe you thought Jason would at least be the target before you. So could you talk about that? Were you therefore blindsided?
Julia Sokolowski: Yeah, you know, I went into Tribal really thinking that I was tight with Michele. I knew that Jason had my back because we were both kind of -- our backs were against the wall. But, I really did think I had Michele.
And I knew ultimately that Jason and I were going to be the targets of Aubry and Joe and probably Tai. But I course hoped it would be Jason. I would say I wasn't blindsided, but I was blindsided by the fact that Michele voted for me. That was a big blindside.
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Reality TV World: On that note, at the time you left the game, did you have any hard feelings against Michele for her betrayal? You hugged her and even said "good luck," so it didn't appear that way.
Julia Sokolowski: The thing is, I don't think the show gave enough credit to Michele and I's relationship. I think everything was so accurate, and the way that I was portrayed and most people are betrayed is so, so true to who we are and so true to how we play this game, but Michele and I had a really, really deep, deep friendship. It was a relationship that went much deeper than just an alliance.
And so, even though Michele voted me out -- which I didn't even realize at the moment -- so that's kind of why I was like, "Good luck," and I hugged her. But I did go back to Ponderosa and I was a little salty when I found out that Michele did in fact vote for me. But, you know, I looked at it as, I'm a huge fan of the game, so I can respect it in so many ways.
I think that it could've easily been a 3-4 vote and she could've voted with Jason and I for Tai, but she did what she needed to do to prove her allegiance and to progress her game. And I think that it was the perfect timing for her. It was, I guess, what she had to do!
Reality TV World: Putting your own bias aside considering their decision meant your vote-off, do you think Michele and Cydney made the best strategic decision for themselves in getting rid of you instead of Tai?
Julia Sokolowski: Personally, I don't think that Cydney and Michele's decision to vote me off was the best strategic move. I think that they should've voted Tai! I think that Tai right now is a huge power player. He has this advantage, this extra vote, and then he has an idol! I don't know what they're thinking about, but I have nothing else.
I could've easily been used as just a number at that point. So, I definitely don't think that Cydney and Michele made the best decision by voting me off at the time, and I think it was a very fear-driven decision. I think at this point, you're really nervous to make big moves and voting with the majority alliance is safer. So, I can see it that way.
Reality TV World: Many people, including Jeff Probst and Scot Pollard, have said they respected your game because you weren't afraid to play both sides and make big moves. However, looking back, do you regret trying to work with Jason and Scot when you were initially secure in that girls' alliance-plus-Joe?
Julia Sokolowski: I don't regret it. Of course it was dangerous. Of course, you know, I didn't play an elegant game by any means. I keep saying that because it's true! My game was very obvious. My game was very forward. But I felt on the bottom of both sides at that point. I felt on the bottom of the Cydney/Aubry side, and I felt on the bottom of the Jason/Scot/Tai side after voting [Nick Maiorano] out.
So, I think that the only way to kind of gain some leverage and really progress myself, I needed to play the middle. And I don't think that even if I had made it to the end, and I didn't play the middle, I wouldn't have a lot to show. So, I had to kind of play this risky, dangerous game. And I don't regret it even though it put me here.
Reality TV World: You mentioned that taking Scot and Jason to the end with you was a good plan because they were disliked and wouldn't receive many votes. However, villains in the past have won because the jury agreed they played the best game even though it was ruthless. Does that mean you believe this season's jury was different, that they would vote from a more emotional place at the end?
Julia Sokolowski: Yeah! I really don't think that people would've been on Scot and Jason's side. I personally love Jason and Scot. I think they are -- I really admire the way that they respect and treat their families.
And you know, they had some actions in the game that weren't respectful or respectable, and they made some moves that really, really turned people off... A lot of the other women just seriously took it so personally, and it really ruined their relationship. So, I do think it totally would've been an emotional perspective thing.
Reality TV World: When you were playing the middle, it wouldn't have been so obvious had you not opted to work with Scot, Jason and Tai in a prior Reward Challenge that you ended up winning. Because when I talked to Debbie Wanner, she said that particular move was your fatal flaw in the game, the move that separated you from the girls. Would you agree or do you feel otherwise?
Julia Sokolowski: Yeah, I would definitely consider that the fatal flaw, and that's partly the reason that night that I decided to vote for Debbie. I had to prove to the girls that I was still on their side. At that point, it seemed like the best move because I was voting with the majority, yet I wasn't hurting Jason, Scot or Tai.
So I still proved to them, "Hey, look, I'm with you." But they didn't believe it. They're all smart girls. They knew what I was doing, and if I could go back in time, that was the night I would've changed my move. I would've voted Cydney instead of Debbie because I think [Cydney] was a bigger threat.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Julia's exclusive Survivor interview.