The second amputee to compete on Survivor, Kelly Bruno easily won over viewers at home with her ability to play the game in spite of her disability. But it was a very different story for her tribemates, who saw her as both a liability and a huge threat to win the grand prize via a sympathy vote. The worst reaction came from NaOnka Mixon, who shoved Kelly to get a hidden immunity idol clue; she told the camera she wanted to put her tribemate's fake leg into the fire. Kelly, a 26-year-old medical student tells TVGuide.com says she will never understand NaOnka's bullying, and still feels she still accomplished what she set out to do.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you were voted out?
Kelly Bruno: I was targeted from the beginning because Alina and I made the decision that Brenda was the biggest threat. By that point, Brenda and I were not on the same page. When the tribes changed, I lost everyone that I was close with, and my alliance. When Jill got that immunity idol, they figured it was a good chance to get me out because I think they were worried that I had never been that tight with [Brenda, Sasha and NaOnka]. For whatever reason, they were influenced by NaOnka.
I will never understand why she decided to pick on me and bully me over everyone else. I don't know if it was because of my leg or what... Especially because she's a physical education teacher and works with kids, you would think she would have sensitivity towards that. Nonetheless, they had been influenced by her. They just generally felt concern or dislike for me and the way I was going to vote down the road. So I think a lot of them didn't want to see me get to the merge. They were worried I wouldn't vote for one of them or that I might be a strong competitor in a lot of the individual challenges.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised by how the other players reacted to your artificial leg? Did you expect there to be so much focus on that?
Kelly: At the end of the day, I did what I what went there to do. In a way, I'm changing people's perceptions of what a disability is and can be. I like to think that they went from seeing me as a huge potential sympathy vote, which was a surprise to me, to seeing me as a threat. I was able to prove myself. I did well in challenges and it's hard because I don't think people expected that from me. It was like, "Oh shoot, she might be stronger than we even thought and now she's got the leg and she's strong and that's just a bad combination."
TVGuide.com: Do you think you would have lasted longer had you been traded to the Espada tribe?
Kelly: You can speculate all you want. I think every decision I made could have been different. It's so hard to predict, there is such a luck factor in the game. Other people have to vote the way you vote or you have to be in an alliance with people that are really going to follow through. It probably would have been better if I at least had been able to stick with Alina and Benry, but that wasn't the hand I was given.
TVGuide.com: What do you think your tribe has to do to win and stay strong until the merge?
Kelly: I think La Flor is still very divided. But now, with the tribe swap it's very much old versus young within the tribe itself. If they want to maintain control once the merge hits, they need to try to be a unified tribe to keep their numbers.