This morning, I had the pleasure of talking to Mary, the first female banished from FOX's new reality show "Forever Eden". Though she was only on the show a short time, Mary certainly made some waves, and people who watch the show will likely not forget her for a while. Mary was a lot of fun to talk to, and here's what she had to say:
First of all, Mary, how did you hear about the show?
Well, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail saying that they were in town doing some auditioning and casting.
Do you watch a lot of reality television?
You know, I don't watch a lot of TV, period. I love Nick & Jessica—I think they're hilarious—and I like American Idol. But, that's really about it. I don't really have a whole lot of time for TV.
So, what was it about this show that made you want to try out?
Well, you know, I thought this was gonna be an amazing experience…on a tropical island…every need taken care of. You know, I've never seen the ocean other than in San Diego, so, for me, getting to go to a tropical island and be pampered was pretty much the closer on the deal.
Once you got to Eden and the show got underway, was it what you expected? Did you have an idea of what it'd be like going in?
Oh, it was nothing at all like we expected. I mean, for the amount of things we were told to bring, how many clothes we were told to pack…I thought it was going to be a long-term thing. I honestly didn't think we were going to be jumping right into eliminating some of the guests. That really took me by surprise. I thought it was going to be more of a Real World-type of deal for network television. So, it really took me by surprise when they told us on the first day that someone was going to be banished.
Now, with a show like this that could go on indefinitely, do you have a type of strategy going in, or do you just take things as they come?
You know, my biggest downfall with the whole thing is that I never got into the mindset that it was just a game. I mean, when I went into it, I went into it thinking it was gonna be a life-changing experience. I wasn't looking at it like, "Oh, this is a game…I need to do whatever I need to do to win." That's just not me. I couldn't do something bad to somebody just for the sake of money. Things would have turned out differently if I had been thinking a little more like, "This is not so personal…this is just a TV show." But, it's too late for that now (*laughter*).
A lot of times, on shows like this, people are brought on to fill certain roles—the hunk, the troublemaker, etc. Do you think you were brought on to fill a certain role?
Well, everybody was brought on for specific reasons. I mean, they picked 11 extremely different people from all different parts of the country. Unfortunately, I think that I was not portrayed as who I am in real life. But, it's a TV show, and the character they chose to portray me as was kinda "The Blonde".
I did get a lot of questions about the things you said to Michael. Rather than ask you those questions individually, would you just like to address the situation and say something about it?
First of all, the comments that were made were completely…you know, it was an honest mistake. I never said anything meant in any kind of a racial slur. If you watched the show, I never treated anyone badly. It was just an honest mistake. Everybody says things they wish they could take back, you know? Unfortunately, the stupid comments I made grew into more of a racial thing, but that was never my intention. I mean, I come from a very sheltered way of life, and that's how I was raised. I was just trying to be open, and you know, learn as much as I could about everybody else's culture, and, unfortunately, it made me a target for a storyline.
So, would you say it was blown out of proportion a bit?
You know, I just feel like…you know, my perception of racism is somebody being mean or somebody treating somebody badly because of their race. And I never treated anyone any differently because of their race. So, I really don't understand how a lot of people are as upset as they are, because it was never my intention to be offensive.
OK, fair enough. So, now tell me…why did you choose to banish Craig?
Well, in the short amount of time we had to know each other, the reasons were…He had a girlfriend. Well, not that he had a girlfriend, but that he had a girlfriend and said, "Well, you know, things are kinda wishy-washy and if something happens, well, that's OK." To me, that means that he's got a girlfriend and may possibly cheat on her, and that's a lack of respect right there for a girl back at home. And the fact that he is with a stripper, you know, kinda reflects on his moral character. It's not that she's a bad person at all, but there are some things people will do and some things people won't. And, you know, he was really kind of rooting for me and kinda taking my side. He could have picked someone else, and he picked me in the end, which I feel like…you know, he was just kinda going along with the group and not standing up for his own thoughts. To me, that showed a lack of integrity.
So, then you find out you can either go through with banishing him or decide to spare him. Did you even give any consideration to sparing him at that point?
Well, here's the thing…Within the 10 seconds she came across and said, "Hey, you can change your mind", it's like I had spent 24 hours thinking about this decision, and it's a big decision I had to make. It had to be right, and I had to believe in my decision. So, when she said that to me, it was immediately like they were trying to get me to second-guess myself and question my judgement. And, how can I stand there and tell Craig he has no integrity if I have no integrity in my own decision? That's just the first thing that came across to me when she said it, and if I had been thinking about it more from the game aspect, I would have changed my mind. But, I wasn't in that mentality.
So, if you had changed your mind, who would you have banished instead?
There's nobody else. I mean, you know, nobody else at that time had really given me a reason…I mean, it shows a lot of Matt being horrible and really nasty to me, but it doesn't show Matt and me making up and being friends after our tiff. Obviously, it shows all the bad sides of him, but you know…
What did you think when you realized the vote was unanimous?
(*laughter*) It was harsh. You know, I knew that it was coming because of the way that we all kind of met each other in the beginning. I was really kind of…I really had my guard up with the guys, because I felt like they were all coming into it thinking, "We're here to get drunk and get laid", and I was just not wanting to be a part of that. So, I really had my guard up the whole time, and that came across as stand-offish. I wasn't surprised that they were all gonna vote me…Craig is the only one that I was surprised about because I thought, you know, that he really liked me as a person. But, at the same time, I wasn't all that surprised.
So, do you think that your decision not to interact with the group as much as you could have played a bigger part in getting the votes than your comments to Michael?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, the comments…that was really such a small thing that was made into a whole show. Michael, Khalilah, and I were obviously friends afterwards, but it was just a small thing that was made into a big thing for the show. But, I was kinda afraid to let my guard down around all of the guys, and that definitely made things hard in the beginning.
Who would you say of the women and the men was the hardest to get to know?
Of the women, definitely Kassie. I really loved all the girls, and we really got along, which is rare. But, Kassie really kinda had a distaste for me in the beginning, so she never really opened up to me. As far as the guys go, obviously Matt…(*laughter*)…did not want to have anything to do with me in the beginning. So, it really took some work to get to know him.
I'm going to throw out some names to you, and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind. First off…Neveen?
Poor Neveen. She's got it rough back home. She needs some love and support in her life.
What about Brooke?
Brooke is awesome. She's such a funny girl. She's like a good girlfriend but can be one of the guys, also.
Shawna is amazing. She's just a wonderful, mature, beautiful person.
Kassie, I think, has a lot going for her. She's very talented, but, at the same time, I think she's kinda close-minded, too. I think she has issues with girls.
Khalilah's very open-minded. You know, very positive and…I love her.
OK, let's talk about the guys. What about Jordan?
Jordan is hilarious, but he is a little…you know, he likes to make controversy.
David's just a nice guy. David is a sweetheart.
Michael is "Mr. GQ". (*laughter*) I just think he's a classy kind of guy, but he's also very quiet and kinda hard to get to know.
Matt is just out there. (*laughter*) He likes the attention. He likes being the loud one.
And, finally, what about Craig?
Craig's a very well-rounded individual.
You've already touched on this, but do you think you were portrayed accurately or not?
No, absolutely not.
So, what would you say is the biggest misconception about you for people who only know you through the show?
Well, obviously, the things I feel are not me at all are being racist and being unintelligent.
Knowing what you know now and having been on the show already, would you go back and do it again if you had the chance?
Yeah. I mean, things would definitely be different if I went back. I would definitely have the mindset of it being a game, and I wouldn't be so defensive and take things so personally. If I remembered that it was just a TV show and just a game, it would be a lot easier to go back.
Do you think you'll keep in touch with these guys after it's all over?
Oh, definitely. It really is a good group of people. I was blown away by how well everyone got along. Unfortunately, it seems like it's falling apart rapidly, but as far as the women go, I'm just so impressed with how well the women all got along.
Well, Mary, we're almost out of time. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, and, if you have the chance, please stop by our website and say hello.
I sure will…thanks.
My thanks to Mary for taking the time to talk to me and to the people at FOX for setting up the interview.