There is no question that Eliza Orlins is one of my favorite Survivors of all time. I thought that she played a brilliant game, and one that I have often praised in the past. It was a pleasure to talk to her and I hope you enjoy the piece as much as I did.
Murtz Jaffer: You were unquestionably one of the most underrated players in Survivor history. What was your strategy going in?
Eliza Orlins: As you know, I have been a HUGE Survivor fan since the very first season of the show, so I had a bunch of different strategies in mind before I got to Vanuatu. Unfortunately, once you’re out there, all of your strategies seem to fly out the window. I had intended to lie and backstab and make multiple alliances and break them if I had to, but then I got there and I developed real feelings for people and my plans of backstabbing were much better in concept than in reality. The one strategic thing I planned to do, that I stuck with, was to be flexible. I knew that if I wanted to stay in the game I was going to have to adapt and that’s what I did.
MJ: It is common knowledge that you were a big fan of the show. How did you go from being a fan to being a star?
EO: Well, I have been obsessed with Survivor since the first season and I knew that as soon as I turned 21, I would be sending in my application! I filmed my video and answered all the questions on the application as honestly and brutally as possible and got called back for a semi-finalist interview in NYC and then I became a finalist in LA and finally, I was chosen!
MJ: You received votes at almost every tribal council, how did you manage to keep yourself there until the final four?
EO: Haha, I know! My name came up for almost every tribal council! I think that I was very aware of my situation. I did my best to keep up to date on everyone’s voting plans and find out if people were going to vote for me. If I found out I would be receiving votes, I would go around and talk to everyone who I thought might vote for me and give them reasons why they should vote for someone else! It worked almost the whole way.
MJ: Specifically, is there anyone you blame for your demise?
EO: There is no one I can blame for my demise, but myself. If I had not been so blinded by my hatred of Scout and Twila, I think I would have seen through Chris’s lies and known to get rid of him earlier. I am proud of how long I lasted, though, and I know if I get another chance, I can win it all!
MJ: I (Murtz Jaffer) have gone on the record many times to say that you were Vanuatu’s best player. Do you concur with this assessment and why do you
think you do not get as much credit as Chris and Amy?
EO: Thanks Murtz! Yes, I concur!! I think the editing built up Chris and Ami’s strategic skills so people would cheer when “Queen Ami” was defeated and be excited when Chris won it all. I think since I was on the brink of being voted out so many times, if my strategic moves had been shown, it would have been too clear that I wasn’t going home that episode and therefore would kill the suspense. I think that’s the major reason I don’t get as much credit.
MJ: What do you think your best move was?
EO: I think I had a couple “best” moves. I think that the top two were: voting off Dolly on day 6 and voting off Leann on day 30. Ultimately, I did what I had to do to save myself. I think that’s how you have to play this game.
MJ: How deeply was your strategy affected when you realized that it was going to be men versus women?
EO: I think my strategy may have been different if it had been co-ed tribes. It’s hard to know what would have been, but Brook and I have done a lot of hypothesizing. He thinks we would have been the final 2!
MJ: Many of the players (especially Scout) referred to you as the smartest one there. Why didn’t we see more of your deep understanding of the game?
EO: I don’t know why you didn’t see more of my deep understanding of the game. There were innumerable conversations between me and Ami where I was explaining the game to her. I guess they didn’t want me to be seen as a mastermind, but I definitely understood the game as well or better than anyone out there.
MJ: If you could take any one move back that you made in the game, what would you take back?
EO: Honestly, I have no regrets. I don’t think there is any one thing I would take back. I’m proud of how I played the game and even a million dollars couldn’t buy back my integrity, so I’m glad I didn’t lose it out there.
MJ: Your speech at the final tribal council had shades of Susan Hawk’s. Did you mean to come out so vicious?
EO: At the time, I was furious. Twila had been “a deceptive lying bitch” throughout the entire game and I really did feel like she treated me with no respect. I wanted to rip into her. And I had really trusted Chris, had thought we were friends, so he hurt me. And I was pissed at him, too. I wanted to give it to them both. I didn’t think I’d hear the comparison to Sue Hawk’s speech as much as I have, but I intended to be vicious.
MJ: From previous Survivors, which players did you like the most and did you try and model your game after any of them?
EO: Since the situation is different every time, I didn’t try to model my game after any particular person. I did really like Rudy, Colleen, and Gervase, though.
MJ: How difficult was it for you to vote off Ami and why was it so difficult
for you when she clearly turned against you in the vote prior to hers?
EO: It really was very difficult for me to vote off Ami, even though she had voted against me in the previous vote. Ami really was (and still is!) like the big sister I never had. Though it appeared as such in the episode, there really was no question in my mind that I was voting her off at final 6, but I was still very sad to see her go. Ami is a sweet, wonderful, and caring person and I love her.
MJ: Was there any chance of you voting for Twila at the Final Tribal Council?
EO: Well, I was pretty angry at Chris for going back on his word to me, so if Twila had given me a sincere apology for the way she treated me over the course of the time we were out there, AND Chris had told me to shove it and not apologized, then I think I would have voted for Twila. However, Chris apologized and Twila didn’t and that cemented my vote.
MJ: Interesting. So if you had to put together your own tribe of 8 people from Vanuatu, who would you pick?
EO: My Vanuatu dream team: Me, Julie, Ami, Mia, Leann, Sarge, Brook, and Chris
MJ: Haha, so the women can still vote off all the guys, even in your dream team! What do you think about the new Palau cast?
EO: They seem great so far!! I have a few early favorites, but I can’t wait to see what happens with all of them!
MJ: Speaking of Palau, it’s great to announce that you will be joining Inside Pulse. What can we expect from you?
EO: I’m excited to announce that I will be writing a weekly column on Survivor!