“Survivor” Runner-Up Angelina and Castaway Kara on How the Show Can Better Portray Women

“Survivor: David vs. Goliath” (CBS)

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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: David vs. Goliath”

Gordon Holmes: Alright, what do I get if I go the whole interview without mentioning jackets or rice?
Kara Kay: (Laughs)
Angelina Keeley: (Laughs) I’ll give you my check from last night.
Holmes: Deal!

Holmes: Alright, Kara…what was behind your vote for Mike last night?
Kay: There was a point where I was considering voting for Nick because of the dynamic game that he played. But a vote is a personal thing and at the end of the day I felt like I should go with Mike because he just went out there and played the kind of game I wanted to play.

Holmes: Angelina, you were a character that people loved to hate. And I use the word “character” on purpose because what we saw was just an interpretation of your time out there. I’ve been doing this for ten years and my take is always; these are real people, you’re seeing them at their worst, and they have to go back to their real lives. I know the cast members that are hated by their casts. You’re not one of them.
Kay: I’ll vouch for that.
Holmes: I’ve interviewed everyone and to a person they all seem to like you. What is your takeaway from all of this now that you’re being viewed as a villain?
Keeley: I appreciate you recognizing that we’re real people. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re watching it. And not only are they seeing us at our worst, but you’re seeing very small slivers in a way that might not be representative of how things went down. And I get that they need to tell a story. But, when Natalie spoke last night, I tried to speak up for her and myself. Was I assertive? Strong-willed? Yes. But, there was a big gap in showing the rest of my game. There was a reason I made it out of rough waters after the Elizabeth scandal broke. I connected with that group and I related to a lot of the Davids and how they grew up compared to the Goliaths. So again, it’s so important to keep in mind that it’s a small representation. And going back into my normal life, it’s been hard. As strong as you want to be, it’s still hurtful when people say things that are below the belt. And as much as I can, I leaned on my family. And I know who I am, so I don’t let it get to me. I make a choice every day to focus on the positive. And I have so many letters and notes from girls and young women who say that I’ve inspired them to be themselves. That’s who I play for and that’s what gives me solace.

Holmes: Heading into final Tribal, you said that you felt like you had a chance. I wasn’t getting that from what I was seeing. Which votes did you think you had a chance of receiving?
Keeley: (Laughs) I was trying to convince myself I had a chance. I knew it was an uphill battle. I’m a huge optimist. I had to keep that narrative in my head to keep trying and keep fighting because you never really know what’s going on until you watch it back. You have to convince yourself that you’ve got a shot, even if it’s slim. So there wasn’t anyone in particular that I thought I had. I tried to differentiate my game from Mike and Nicks, but after seeing idols and the microaggressions and the anger, I don’t think there was anything I could have done at that point to get votes.

Holmes: Kara, it felt like you were always being dealt bad hands. Dan’s potential showmance, Alec flipping, is that how you felt in the game?
Kay: Yeah, but that’s “Survivor.” I felt a lot of times things weren’t going in my favor and I was vulnerable. But, that’s the same thing in life. You’re not always in the best position. But, if you have the right attitude you can turn things around. I knew that acting any way other than the way I did would lead to my demise. Thinking with a level head is something that I’m good at. It certainly got me further in the game as I’d watch other people implode.
Holmes: Was there anything out there that happened that you wish we had seen?
Kay: Yeah, I knew it was going to be hard to show what I was up to. I was working so hard to get to know all of these people. I had so many genuine connections. Carl was telling me things, because we had connected on Vuku. The same with Davie, he took me on the reward because we had such a strong bond at Vuku. These were genuine relationships and it looked like I was just going along with the plan, but they were a plans we had discussed before.

Holmes: One of the things discussed this season is how a woman who is aggressive can be viewed as bossy or annoying. I don’t think this is necessarily a “Survivor” problem as much as it’s a society problem. “Survivor” is a reflection of society in many ways and it helps to put a microscope on things. That said, is there anything the show can be doing differently to change that perception?
Angelina: It’s heartening to hear people recognize the double standard. I think there are a few things that “Survivor” can do. Matt and Jeff have made it clear that they want to cast more women with strong voices. But in addition to that, you have to have producers and crew who are telling our stories who can relate to us. Until that happens, you’re going to continue to get these stories that I don’t think are very representative of who we are as people. They can represent Christian, and his archetype, but I think for my archetype they have a long way to go.
Kay: I agree that it can be done a little bit differently. I get that there’s an entertainment value. I think there’s a way to portray women to make them better role models. Maybe it’s not as entertaining, but show them handling adversity. There are ways they can do that a little bit differently that are more respectful.

Holmes: Angelina, you had a very odd occurrence where Jeremy felt like his joke about you and John being in a showmance led to his elimination. You had a chance to respond, saying that there was nothing of the sort going on. Have you two had a chance to mend fences? I noticed he was not at the finale last night.
Keeley: He wasn’t there last night because of other reasons. It didn’t have to do with exit press. I said my piece in the press as far as how I feel about what he did. It was completely indecent and not OK for him to say that. Nothing ever happened. I’m married and it’s entirely disrespectful. I think it was more of a reflection of how he left the game. Being on “Survivor” puts you out there, and leaving so early must have been hard on him. He was saying the word “showmance” and I confronted him about it and asked him to stop using it respectfully. He laughed it off and said he was making a joke, but he continued to say it. So, voting him out was strategic and emotional. I said to my tribemates, “These are the two motivations; strategically he’s funny, people like him, he’s strong. Emotionally, he’s doing things that are not cool. It could hurt my game and hurt my life too. So, if you could have my back on this, it’d be awesome.” And it worked. I have seen him recently. I told him, “Look, I’m not one to hold a grudge. I don’t like what you did.” We’re not going to be close by any means. I’m a Catholic, forgiveness is important. We all mess up.

Holmes: Alright, we’re running out of time…and I did not mention rice or jackets.
Kay and Keeley: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’ll make sure CBS gets you my address so you can send that check my way.
Keeley: That’s amazing.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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