On Survivor: Fiji, nice girls finish... somewhere right in the middle. That, at least, was the case with Michelle Yi. The peppy fashion-design student, whose bubbly spirit led her to memorably fall off a platform during a challenge and hop right back up without missing a beat, was the first member to be voted off the newly merged Bula Bula tribe (or at least dismissed by half of it, thanks to a new tribe-within-tribe twist). TVGuide.com spoke to Michelle about Jeff Probst's very leading questions.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, in your little exit interview, you were so peppy and happy about the experience. That's a nice change from Rocky screaming at the camera.
Michelle: Yeah, which is surprising, too, because I was bawling my eyes out and then you have to compose yourself. They sit you down and they're like, "OK...," and I'm like, "Ahhh."
TVGuide.com: Were you totally blindsided by the vote, or did you have a hunch it was coming?
Michelle: You definitely get an uneasy feeling on your way to tribal council. It's especially unnerving on the way there, since we didn't talk....
TVGuide.com: It was an interesting twist to have the tribe divided and send the losing half immediately to tribal council.
Michelle: I knew it was coming when Alex pointed out that I was the one he was voting for.
TVGuide.com: Now, do you think Jeff Probst sort of did you in? You weren't allowed to talk to each other, but he basically asked Alex who he thought should go home.
Michelle: It definitely took away the concept of even talking in tongues at tribal council, because everything you have to say, you have to say in front of everybody. That was just shocking that that happened, but I think Alex knew that in order to get Dreamz to vote his way, he had to say it out loud.
TVGuide.com: Right, because it definitely seemed like maybe Dreamz would have voted for Stacy, because he didn't seem to have a relationship with her.
Michelle: Right, right, I doubt he was keeping her around for emotional reasons after the incident with the coffee press.
TVGuide.com: Ah, the coffee press. She wouldn't show him how it works because he wasn't in her alliance. That's not really good strategy on her part, being mean to other people.
Michelle: No, no, I don't think so.
TVGuide.com: You lived in both camps. Do you think the luxury camp was really true Survivor?
Michelle: Definitely not. The luxury camp was nicer than when I go camping.
TVGuide.com: Do you think that it was fair?
Michelle: It was incredibly unfair. The nutrients [available] in the nice camp and the good sleep and food proved to be such an advantage in challenges. After all, the new Ravu boys kept losing to a bunch of girls and an old man.
TVGuide.com: Although, that Yau-Man is pretty wily for his age.
Michelle: Yau-Man is definitely an underestimated player.
TVGuide.com: Were you excited when you heard you guys were merging?
Michelle: I was very excited about the merge, just because I felt very strong with my alliance with Earl and Yau-Man, when we knew we could get Cassandra and Dreamz on our side and it would be easy sailing after the first merge boot. Unfortunately, that was me.
TVGuide.com: They went and threw in another twist.
Michelle: Yeah, it's unfortunate to be the victim of a twist, but maybe that's a better way to go out than everyone hating me.
TVGuide.com: Right, well you definitely seemed pretty well liked by everybody, which you don't always hear on Survivor.
Michelle: Yeah, that's very true.
TVGuide.com: I have to ask, how'd you fall off that platform during the blindfold challenge? You were the one who could see!
Michelle: I was so focused on calling to Yau-Man that I wasn't even thinking about how close I was to the edge of the platform. The greatest part of all is, after I fell, I got up with nervous laughter, I looked around, and I realized that nobody saw because everybody was blindfolded.
TVGuide.com: Except the camera.
Michelle: Yeah, except for the 16 million people at home.
TVGuide.com: I hope you're OK, but it was very entertaining and showed a tenacity on your part that you got right back up.
Michelle: [Laughs] You know, you're still competing. Just because you fall doesn't mean it's over. So you get back up and we still ended up winning the challenge.
TVGuide.com: Who was in your alliance?
Michelle: I was closest with Earl and Yau-Man. We each definitely played a very different role in our alliance and I think that's what made it so strong. Earl's kind of a hidden leader whereas I'm sort of the pickpocket spy. Yau-Man is under the radar, though definitely dependable. Also, we knew he was holding the immunity idol and we knew we could bring in Dreamz and Cassandra.
TVGuide.com: And your spy role, very good idea. I wouldn't have suspected it, you're so sweet.
Michelle: That's definitely part of it. I can be a little deceptive sometimes, and I know in this game you have to give trust to get it back, you can't just be taking it. So, to prove my role and my loyalty to my alliance, that's what I had to do.
TVGuide.com: I noticed on your bio that The Amazing Race was your favorite show. Are you a fan of Survivor, too?
Michelle: I am a fan of Survivor, too. My favorite part of Survivor is not the social game, it's the challenges, which is why I love Amazing Race.
TVGuide.com: They've had some crazy challenges this season.
Michelle: Yeah, although overall, I'd say Survivor is a social game.
TVGuide.com: You said you kind of learned a lot about yourself and what sort of person you are. Anything specific?
Michelle: Well, I was just proving to myself that I'm as tough as I like to think I am and that I can be put through a lot. I think as a little girl, I'm underestimated a lot of the time.
TVGuide.com: Can we watch out for any fun stuff from you at the final jury?
Michelle: Well, I guess we'll have to see. I definitely play the role in helping to decide the million, so I couldn't ask for a better position now.
TVGuide.com: Well, unless you were in one of those two or three final hot seats.
Michelle: [Laughs] Exactly. I'll be on the sidelines, rooting for my boys the whole way.
TVGuide.com: What are you doing now?
Michelle: I am currently going to school at University of Cincinnati, studying fashion design. I graduate in June.
TVGuide.com: Maybe we can see you on Project Runway!
Michelle: I know, perhaps you can look forward to a line of activewear….
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