"What a lot of people don't know is, the process of applying to be on Survivor... you send in a tape, you have your first interview, second interview, you have pre-finals, then you have finals. Usually, that's about a six-month period," she tells TVGuide.com. "Me, I actually was called during the week of finals. So I literally had 30 days to prepare and I did not know how to swim."
This season of Survivor, which was filmed in Fiji, has featured several water challenges, including one on Wednesday's episode that proved particularly difficult for CeCe (and several other participants), and undoubtedly contributed to her getting voted out at Tribal Council.
"That was actually my first time in the middle of the ocean in my entire life," she notes.
TVGuide.com spoke with CeCe about her biggest regret in the game, a confrontation at Tribal Council that we didn't get to see, and how she feels about David's betrayal.
TVGuide.com: As soon as Jeff announced the tribe shuffling, you seemed pretty disappointed. What was going through your head in that moment?
CeCe: I'm like, oh my goodness, who am I gonna be on a tribe with? Immediately, I'm thinking, the only two people that I'm in an alliance with and am comfortable with and trust were Ken and David. So, I knew going in ... if I'm on a tribe with anyone else and at least Ken is not on a tribe with me, or Dave, I think I'm gonna have a problem. But then, my biggest thing was also, I did not want to be on the tribe with Chris, because I knew he's been gunning with me from Day 1. And then, of course, my worst nightmare happened. I'm on a tribe with Chris ... [and] Dave stabbed me in the back.
We didn't get to see a lot of strategizing ahead of the merge, but was there a plan going in?
CeCe: Going in, me, Dave and Chris discussed that we were going to keep the numbers. Even before the swap, there was actual talk back at camp on the Gen X tribe. We felt that a swap or a merge or something was coming up. ... So we said, if that does happen, our goal was to keep the numbers for the Gen Xers, so that we could have some numbers and some loyalties later on if the merge happened. We knew we wanted to keep the numbers. So when we swapped and it was three Gen Xers - myself, Dave and Chris - it was more like, OK. We're OK, we've got the numbers. We've got all this. We're going to send a Millennial home. So that was what the discussion was, and that was my understanding of how it was going to play out.
How long did the Gen X tribe spend looking for the idol, and did anyone have any idea that David found another one?
CeCe: I had no idea that Dave found another idol. He was right next to me and he found it. We were literally out there for an hour. At the point that he found the idol, it was at the very tail end. I was exhausted. Everyone was exhausted. It started getting dark, as far as dusk coming in. So it was like, OK, we've got to get back to camp. But literally we were out there for a good hour looking for the idol.
A lot of people struggled in the challenge, including you and David. Do you think that pretty much sealed your fate?
CeCe: I don't think that anyone did particularly well in that challenge as a whole. I think everyone had their flaws except Zeke. He's the only one who actually did everything on point and swam and didn't have any issues. Poor Chris, he had to swim twice, so I know that probably aided in why he couldn't make any baskets, because he was exhausted. But Michelle - she didn't get her [buoy] either, and that prompted Chris to have to swim again and be tired. So, I felt like I wasn't the weakest link this time. I felt that the blame could easily be spread around between me, Dave and Michelle. But I think Dave was able to sway Chris, and vice-versa. I believe that Chris trusted Dave more than he trusted me. I think he felt like, either way, we both were weak in the water, but I think it was easier for Chris to trust Dave, especially since Chris has been gunning for me since Day 1. So it makes sense that he would vote me out instead of Dave.
Michelle tried to team up with you to target Dave. Do you regret not going along with her plan?
CeCe: Absolutely I have regrets about not going with her proposal. The only thing is, even if I did agree to her proposal, there's no guarantee she could have swayed Zeke. I was also thinking at that moment that Chris had Zeke in his back pocket, because Zeke was really looking at Chris as a fan. He was like, "Oh my goodness. It's Chris. He played for Oklahoma. I remember you back in the day. I remember this game, and you were the star player." So, Zeke was looking at him in awe. And I'm like, OK. Yeah, Michelle, you're saying that maybe we could get Dave off and Zeke will vote with you, but honestly, Zeke was so eager to be up in Chris' [alliance] at that moment that I was like, I'm not really sure that's going to work out. And then, I didn't want to be the first Gen Xer to flip, because we all discussed that going in we were going to try to keep the numbers. So I didn't want to be that one Gen Xer to be like, "Oh, yeah, let's go ahead and vote out Dave." ... I didn't want that target on my back for the future. Being loyal bit me again.
You seemed pretty dejected after the vote. What was going through your mind at Tribal?
CeCe: When the votes started being read, I started feeling that things were going a little bit wrong. What they didn't show on television was a confrontation between me and Dave, right after Michelle said she would vote Dave and Zeke said he would vote myself or Dave. Me and Dave were kind of going back and forth. I said, "Well, I don't think I'm the weakest in the water." I was saying that Dave's the weakest. I'm a lot stronger than him in the physical challenges. So we were going back and forth on that, basically fighting for our lives. ... Then when Chris was talking about, "The way this vote goes today, this will make me believe if I can trust this person going forward," I'm like, oh my goodness. They're about to vote me out. This is happening. When I [saw] my name twice, I knew it was it. Because we said we were going to vote out Michelle, so to see my name twice, I already knew. But it's still a shock and I'm just like, wow, I can't believe you guys just backstabbed me. ... But I just walked out with dignity and class and I'm like, "Hey, good luck." Because it's a game. I'm a fan. I've watched this game for over 10 years, so I know at the end of the day, it's a game, it's a competition and there's only one winner. So I have no hard feelings, but it was a surreal moment at that time. Like, oh my goodness, did that just happen? Did I just - am I walking out? Yes, I am walking out. My torch was snuffed. Yeah, that did just happen.
Watching the episode, how bummed were you when you saw that Dave had considered playing his idol to save you and ultimately decided against it?
CeCe: Oh my god, yeah. That just broke my heart. I just was like, really, Dave? You played the idol for Jessica, who wasn't even part of our alliance. I'm part of your alliance and you couldn't play the idol for me? I would have been loyal to him 'til the end. I'm already loyal, but I really, really would have been like, OK, there's no way I'm voting Dave. So it probably would have cost me a million dollars then, because I would have totally been in his pocket if he played the idol for me. I would have been like, "Oh my god, I got you 'til the end. It doesn't matter what anybody says." So I'm super bummed at that. I wanted to cry when I saw that part on television. That was the most disheartening, right there.
We didn't see any real strategizing from you ahead of Tribal. Do you regret not being more paranoid or suspicious about having a target on your back?
CeCe: Absolutely. That's been running through my head the whole summer, ever since the game ended. If I ever get the chance to play again, absolutely I'm going to be a lot more aggressive, take a lot more risks, because you never know. Even if you feel like you're one on one and buddies with one person, there's always that possibility that person's gonna flip, because it comes down to one winner. You have to more so play the game day by day versus playing it a couple days ahead, and I always was kind of thinking ahead in the game. I was thinking, "Oh, we may merge here; we may do this here," vs. some of these other players such as David. I think he was playing the game day by day, which is actually smart. Because you never know what could happen. You have to think about, at this moment, what is the best thing for me right now? How should I vote right now, for today, vs. how should I vote right now , thinking about the future? So there is definitely a big difference, and one of the regrets of how I [should have] played.
Who do you think is the biggest threat in the game going forward?
CeCe: I believe that Dave is definitely one of the biggest threats, because he could go either way. You think he's loyal, but then he could flip, and then it's like, OK. Well, maybe I'll trust him again. With him playing day by day, he is seriously a big threat, and the fact that he keeps finding all these idols and stuff. I think Chris is a threat physically and I think Michaela is a threat physically as well. ... The ones that are strong physically, you have to be worried about them later on, winning individual immunity and things of that nature.
Was there anything else that viewers didn't get to see that you think is important?
CeCe: I know it didn't show a lot of me playing the game so much and making choices. But actually, in the third episode when Paul got voted out, I went to all the ladies on the Gen Xers and said, "Hey, let's form an all-girl alliance and let's bring either Paul in or Ken in." That was something that I proposed to Sunday, Jessica and Lucy, and I think we would have been good if we did that, because we could have got out Chris. ... I felt like, if the girls could come to an alliance and bring in a guy, preferably Ken, we could probably make some moves here later on in the game. So that's something that they didn't show.
I even went to Figgy during the Summit and asked her, "Hey, were there any talks of any girl alliances going on?" And she just shut that down and was like, "No." So I was kind of planting the seed that maybe in the future, this is something that we could do. I don't know why girls don't do that. I don't understand why they just fall by the wayside and just do exactly what the guys say. I've never been that type of person, so that is so frustrating that the women always want to just let the guys run the game basically.
So you would play again if given the chance?
CeCe: Oh my God, in a heartbeat! I would drop everything. I'm a superfan. So I need to redeem myself.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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