The Zapatera tribe's alliance of six was strong enough to take down one of the biggest villains in show history, Russell Hantz, on Survivor: Redemption Island. However, when it came to the question of Sarita White's strength and physical capabilities, her one-time allies quickly changed their tune and sided with David Murphy to vote her out. White, a 36-year-old visual effects producer, is the first to admit she wasn't the strongest competitor, but (wrongly) assumed her fellow tribemates would see through David and his "insidious" ways. White talked with TVGuide.com about which player she calls the "juggernaut of power," who made her want to slit her wrists and why she hated the physical challenges so much.
Did you know that Matt had injured his foot before the duel?
Sarita White: I did. ... I felt really good about it. I have really narrow feet and Matt [Elrod] has really big feet so I figured that would be the only challenge I could beat him at. I was hoping for that or something cerebral, like a puzzle. I didn't want to do a huge muscle challenge with him at all.
Did you have a certain mindset going into the duel since Matt had already won five at that point?
Sarita: When you're out there, your focus just becomes so singular. It's like OK, next day this is the goal. Next day, this is the goal because you don't have anything else distracting you. You don't have cell phones, you're not multi-managing anything. You just get total tunnel vision on it and that's all you see and all you do. Everything else falls away.
Going back to tribal council, were you expecting to get voted out?
Sarita: I knew it was either going to be me or David, just because of the talks. I just thought it would be David because he's such a loose cannon. Also, I figured that we were merging so I was just surprised that it went that way. But I just think everyone just wanted to make the biggest football team, and that's fine, but I can already see it's not going to go as well for them. It's just not that way for the individual challenges, it becomes much more complicated. ... To be honest, I did not do one iota of politicking. I always said from the beginning of the game that I'm going to play with an open heart. I'm going to play honestly. Even if it's just my own experiment, I'm going to see how far I can get. Even Matt last night being all flip-flopping so much — I did not want to go out like that. So I wasn't crushed, I just think — for them — it wasn't a wise move.
Is there any player whose mind you think you could have changed had you done more politicking?
Sarita: I think if I had gotten more into that — the same way that I started with getting Russell off — I think I could have gone case-by-case and rallied and pulled David apart a little more than I had. I was like ok, he's annoying, he's annoying, he's annoying, but I didn't go into how insidious I think he can be. I tried to never get negative. I thought it would just be apparent and that we were all on the same page, but I can understand the direction they went.
Going back to the strength of the tribe, why do you think the question of your personal strength became such a hot topic? How difficult was that for you to overcome?
Sarita: I was such a good social player, but I hated the challenges. I knew I would hate those from Day 1. I'm a Pilates girl so that doesn't really translate into climbing ropes or hanging onto things in the jungle. I am strong, and I was good, but when you put me up against Julie [Wolfe], I'm not going to be. She's just a juggernaut of power. I definitely did not like the challenges one bit, so that wasn't surprising. Every one of the challenges, I was just like please teleport me off this island right now. I always said that. I always said that this is going to get awkward on TV — I didn't even like playing high school sports. But I'm kind of glad I did it because [I faced] my worst fears.
Did you ever consider possibly doing another reality show instead of Survivor since it sounds like you didn't like the physical challenges?
Sarita: It's not like that I didn't like them, I appreciated them. It's just that it's scary out there. You have to imagine the whole environment of it. It's like a Roman gladiator stage. It's so out of this world. I wouldn't do any show, but Survivor because it's the best and truest reality show cultural experiment. After last night, I was like this show is gold. They do a really, really good job of that.
Do you have any other regrets or anything else you would have done differently?
Sarita: There was a time after I got off when I thought, 'What if I had gone with Russell?' because I had been approached so many times. It was never an option because if you want to slit your wrists when you're talking to someone, you can't be aligned with them. You just can't. I just didn't have it in me. It would not be being true to myself and it would have made the game so stressful and not enjoyable. ... I think my group alliance was great; I could have [patched] things up with David. There were some things that didn't air that totally rubbed me the wrong way that we won't talk about.