It is never easy being the first person ousted from a reality show, so Jessica deBen was a little bit sad about getting her torch snuffed last week on CBS' Survivor: Fiji (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET). A fashion stylist by trade, she struggled during the first elimination challenge (untying ropes and puzzle-solving), and the Ravu tribe — already dealt a blow by landing on their beach with neither supplies nor fire — felt she was a weak link and sent her packing. TVGuide.com asked the New Orleans native about her experience.
TVGuide.com: Are you surprised you're the first person out?
Jessica deBen: Yeah, I definitely am.
TVGuide.com: Watching it on TV, why do you think they singled you out?
Jessica: Look at when I was tying the rope. Jeff [Probst]'s like, "Jessica's slowing down the tribe!" [Laughs] I mean, I should have screamed at Jeff like, "Damn it, Jeff!"
TVGuide.com: Nobody screams back at Jeff Probst.
Jessica: I know, I think you're right! But that really got to me — and then I slowed down even more.
TVGuide.com: Going in, what was your strategy to win?
Jessica: Let me think, what was it? I remember telling someone that when I first saw "Papa Smurf" Gary, the older guy with the gray beard, and Lisi — who had on the insane glitter boots and a rocker-chick outfit — I wanted those two to be my allies. But, of course, they were on the other team.
TVGuide.com: Of course. So do you think it's fair to blame you just because you couldn't untie things?
Jessica: Oh my god, I'm just glad my job doesn't require me to solve puzzles or untie rope.
TVGuide.com: How was "have-not" island? Was it all that bad?
Jessica: No. I mean, it was even prettier than it looked on TV, and it looked great on TV. Maybe that's another reason I got voted out, because I thought the island was so gorgeous, I didn't even care that we didn't have the shelter. And look at Erica — she was so upset, I didn't realize it.
TVGuide.com: When you realized that you had helped build this enormous, gorgeous shelter but wouldn't get to stay there, what was your first thought?
Jessica: I just felt like, "No way is the winner going to come from the loser tribe." Maybe the winner [does] come from that tribe, but it would be a long shot.
TVGuide.com: I can imagine, seeing as you'd have no energy! I'd like to be sleeping in a hammock, frankly, if I was out there.
Jessica: Yeah, with a couch and a shower and a sewing machine? What the hell do you need a sewing machine for? I'm sorry, it's ridiculous.
TVGuide.com: Well, you could make pretty little clothes out of your buffs — which you would have been great at, since you're a fashion stylist.
Jessica: [Laughs] That's true, that's true.
TVGuide.com: Why did you want to do Survivor instead of, say, something like Project Runway?
Jessica: That's a good question. I don't know, I was just approached with the idea and I couldn't say no. I mean, I think I would prefer this rather than some more "girlie" show. I had fun, it's a bit more of an adventure, and it made me not afraid. So I got voted out, I ended up in New York, I'm in a great place.... It wasn't so bad.
TVGuide.com: And you got to spend a few weeks chillin' in Fiji.
Jessica: That was amazing.
TVGuide.com: Would you ever do anything like this again?
Jessica: Absolutely, unquestionably yes. And if anyone else ever gets the chance to do it, I would say do it.
TVGuide.com: Did you make any friends on Survivor?
Jessica: I think I did, I mean, I don't know who voted me off, but Erica was from Louisiana, and I don't know how much I can say, but we've gone drinking since. And "Rocky" (James), maybe he did vote me out, but he calls me all the time from L.A., and I'm just like, "Hey!"
TVGuide.com: Are you an outdoor adventurer?
Jessica: Yeah, I used to do makeup for a fitness magazine and they would send us to all these crazy locations, where the models are ice-skating, or surfing....
TVGuide.com: As a stylist, which celebrity do you think most needs a makeover?
Jessica: Oooh, good question. I would have said Anna [Nicole Smith], but she just died, so.... Let's see, who else could make a big comeback? I'd want to pick someone who's much older who could make a comeback. Or even somebody younger, like Tara Reid. She would be a cool person to make over. I could tell you who I wouldn't make over, and that's Chloe Sevigny. I think she's got the best sense of style.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Jessica: Oh, you know what?! I have a great gig doing makeup touch-ups at the Oscars.
TVGuide.com: That's fantastic!
Jessica: There's a huge makeup company that's going to sponsor my venture. They've hired me to do that, and they're going to do some podcasts and have a crew following me around.... I'm probably going to make an ass out of myself there, too.
TVGuide.com: Oh, that's all right. It'll be fun!
Jessica: It's going to be great. You'll see me on the red carpet chasing George Clooney with a makeup brush.
TVGuide.com: Well, you gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Jessica: That's true.
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