Sydney Wheeler, a 24-year-old model and interior designer who was the sixth person voted off of Survivor: Tocantins, says it was hard to see herself go: "Watching it last night, it was just kind of weird because I knew the outcome, but I still had hope for myself," the Raleigh, N.C., native told TVGuide.com Friday.
Wheeler, who lost to Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George in the voting on Thursday's episode, plans to focus now on her modeling career, which has taken off thanks to the show. Besides modeling for Peruvian cosmetics company Esika, she's looking at the possibility of appearing in ads for Abercrombie and Fitch and Target. She talked with us about whether her looks helped her, her regrets, and whether modeling is really that hard.
TVGuide.com: Is there anything you would've done differently?
Sydney: I shot myself in the foot when I voted Spencer off. He was part of an early alliance that I had made with him and Joe. ... I knew at that point someone who would have been on my side was not anymore.
TVGuide.com: But you said at the start you were willing to lie, cheat and steal.
Sydney: Yeah, exactly! So I proved myself right but I still shot myself in the foot. I still could've used his vote.
TVGuide.com: You also said at the start you were willing to use your looks to advance. But does that really help on Survivor?
Sydney: Well, I think it does and it doesn't. I think they definitely played it up more than it definitely helped me. ... I had more of a strategy with having Joe and Spencer for an alliance first, and then trying to make a friendship with Taj and trying to talk to Sandy K. I was definitely trying to play all fields, but I was also laying low and trying to stay under the radar... So there were other strategic things that I did, but I think for some reason they wanted to play up the flirty thing, because it was more entertaining.
TVGuide.com: And how did the flirty thing work out with Spencer?
Sydney: [Laughs] Me and Spencer had our fun, but with Spencer... he was fun to flirt with because I knew nothing would come from it. I knew from the beginning that he was gay. I definitely felt comfortable with him.
TVGuide.com: You say in your bio for the show that modeling is easy. Why do they gripe about it so much on Top Model?
Sydney: [Laughs] Different jobs are easier than others. ... It is hard in some aspects and then it's easy because you get to take pictures all day. In a way it's hard, but also for some people it comes naturally and it's a little bit easier. I wouldn't say it's easy, maybe I should take that back. But it's definitely an easier job.
TVGuide.com: Who are you rooting for and who do you think will win?
Sydney: I have three people that I'm going for. I just love the sarcastic-ness of Tyson. I think he's hilarious. .... Although I've never met him, so I don't know. And then also Taj, because I think she's playing a very smart, under-the-radar game. And also Stephen because he's just so goofy and lovable and fun, but he's also playing a manipulative game.
Out of those three I hope Taj wins for sure... I think she has a good chance. Right now she's looking pretty good on her high horse. She has two guys that are at her beck and call because she has the immunity idol, and she's a big woman. She could take any of those girls in an immunity challenge. I think she's looking pretty good for a merge.
What do you think? Is Taj the favorite to win?