Whitney Duncan: I had an unhealthy marriage, fell in love on 'Survivor'
By Reality TV World staff, 12/01/2011
Whitney Duncan was furious at fellow Survivor: South Pacific castaway and Savaii tribe member, John Cochran, when he decided to flip on his tribe and join with the rival Upolu tribe -- which left the Savaii tribe outnumbered and doomed to fail, as each member would be picked off one by one at subsequent Tribal Council sessions.
Whitney's exit came after her alliance members "Ozzy" Oscar Lusth, Keith Tollefson, Jim Rice, and Dawn Meehan all got voted out before her, and while she came close to winning Individual Immunity in a Survivor trivia game, she got sent to Redemption Island and hoped she could battle her way back into the game and continue competing for the one million dollars. However, Ozzy won the duel against Whitney and Dawn, who were permanently eliminated from the game -- becoming the third and fourth members of the jury during Wednesday night's broadcast of Survivor: South Pacific's eleventh episode.
In addition, Whitney's Survivor experience also took an unexpected turn when reports that she was secretly married but began a relationship with Keith while they were competing on the show -- resulting in her husband filing for divorce -- surfaced last month.
On Thursday, in a joint interview with Dawn, Whitney discussed her relationship with Keith and her overall Survivor: South Pacific experience with Reality TV World. Below is Whitney's portion of the joint interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for Dawn's portion.
Reality TV World: You were one of the people that kind of unloaded on Cochran -- I think you basically said he was dead to you or something like that after that first post-merge Tribal Council where he flipped on your tribe...
Whitney Duncan: No, I said he disgusts me. (Laughs) I didn't say he was dead to me.
Reality TV World: Excuse me, I stand corrected. (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: Being dead is much worse than being disgusting! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: So looking back at it now, and now that you've gotten to see Cochran's perspective of how your tribe had treated him the first few weeks in the game on TV, do you understand why he decided to flip on your tribe or do you still feel the same as you did before?
Whitney Duncan: I mean honestly, I was very obviously -- my emotions were running high at that Tribal and I kind of let him have it, but I let it go after that. I didn't say anything else about it in the game and I actually think Cochran said it best last night -- he said if the debt's not repaid, it would go down as one of the most idiotic moves in Survivor history.
I think he hit the nail on the head and I just don't feel any better about the move. I feel sorry for him a little bit because he was gullible enough to believe ["Coach" Benjamin Wade]'s B.S. But he definitely looked up to Coach a lot and I just felt like I never would have bought it, and he bought it.
So, that was disappointing to this day that not only did he mess up his own game, but he messed up the rest of his tribe's game. I'm not -- I wouldn't say I'm bitter about it or still mad at him for it.
It's just -- definitely watching it all over again brings up those same emotions, because I never would have considered flipping. I would have never even thought somebody else would have, because it just didn't make sense to me.
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Reality TV World: Last night's episode seemed to show Keith and yourself holding hands and celebrating Cochran's vote-off -- so what was going on there?
Whitney Duncan: I mean, I smiled just because it happened the way we knew it was going to happen. We all told him before the vote where he flipped -- we all sat around and said -- I think Jim is actually the one that said it -- "Well, it just doesn't make sense. The odds are in our favor. It doesn't make sense for someone to flip because they're going out seventh. You're dealing with a tribe that it very united. They're very tough. They're not going to let somebody get into their group."
And it just proved that we were right.
Reality TV World: The show didn't really show much of your relationship with Keith until last week's pre-Thanksgiving "look back" episode. Why do you think that was, do you have any thoughts about that?
Whitney Duncan: Well, if there was stuff to show, they would have showed it. That's the thing. All they had was some commentary about Cochran cracking jokes about, you know, "nine months later." He actually told us after he said it and it was funny. You gotta give it to him. It was funny, but it was obviously very false.
He knows that. We all know that. If there was stuff to show, it would have been shown. We had a very close alliance. We had that alliance from Day 1, so I can say that -- obviously I can't talk about what's going on now or anything like that. I'm sure there will be talk of that on the reunion show.
But I mean, I genuinely did fall in love on the island and never in a million years would I have thought that, but what was being insinuated, was false. There was nothing going on in the bungalow next to Cochran. I'm sorry, but that is disgusting. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: There have been a lot of recent reports about how even though you presented yourself as single when you went on the show, you had actually secretly been married for a year...
Whitney Duncan: I'm not going to talk about my private life. That's one thing -- people go on Survivor, it'sSurvivor. You don't -- nobody goes out there and bares it all. Everybody portrays something different. From [Edna Ma] not being a doctor to Jim being a school teacher, I was simply a songwriter.
Dawn Meehan: You mean Jim's not a school teacher? (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: (Laughs) Exactly. Keith worked with kids after school. Like everybody -- you don't go out there and tell at the time who are strangers -- people you're playing a million-dollar game with. You don't show all your cards. Nobody does.
Reality TV World: So did you ever show anyone [your true] "cards?" Obviously, there seemed to be a point when you must have told Keith you weren't single and were actually married [to Donny Fallgatter], correct?
Whitney Duncan: Well, I'm not, like I said, I'm not here to talk about my private life. That's very private and I've always been so private about my private life, so you know, I'm not going to start talking about it now just because of something that's come out. I don't feel the need to defend myself. I was in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship and I never would have thought I would have fallen in love on Survivor.
Reality TV World: That's fine, all I was trying to do is give you a chance to comment, as what's been out [in the press] so far is Donny suggesting otherwise.
Whitney Duncan: Well, yeah. I mean, you have to take into consideration where information comes from.
Reality TV World: Sure, that's why I was just trying to give you an opportunity [to comment directly]... How had you seen the rest of the season playing out if Cochran had remained loyal to your alliance? Had you seen your alliance staying together until the other tribe was entirely wiped out and you were the Final 6, and if so, how had you seen the endgame playing out between Ozzy, Keith, Jim, Dawn, Cochran and yourself?
Whitney Duncan: I think we would have stayed strong. We might have voted Ozzy out sooner than the six just because if we saw a chance to get him out -- he's such a strong competitor in the Individual Immunity Challenges -- that we needed to get him out when we could. But I definitely saw us sticking pretty strong. I had an alliance with Dawn. I had a strong alliance with Keith.
So, I definitely -- and Cochran, funny thing is, everybody's like, "Well, he would have been sixth in your tribe." I never felt like that was true at all. I would have loved to take Cochran to the Final 3.
I never told him that, so I guess that's my fault, but I felt like that was a little far ahead to be solidifying your Final 3. Because like they say, everyday in the game changes. So, I definitely would have loved to take Cochran to the Final 3 because, to be kind of blunt about it, I feel like he'd be somebody I could beat.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show?
Whitney Duncan: Well, I actually applied for Nicaragua and was talking to them about going on that one and it didn't work out at the time because I was with a major label. So they called me for South Pacific and I was stoked.
I'm a fan of the show and I think it's a great, great game and I actually have all the more respect for it now after playing it and seeing how legit it is. I mean, it's real. It's hard. It's easy to sit on the couch and watch all these seasons and be like, "Oh that challenge? I could do that? I could totally do that. He should have done this. He should have done that."
But to be out there actually in the game, it's hard. I mean, not gonna lie, you're starving. You don't know for sure who to trust. Dawn and Keith were the only people in the game that I really trusted. So, it's just a great game. I have tons of respect for it. About The Author:Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.