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Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, we learned from the show that curly-haired Sheree Swanson is a former Hooters waitress. How do we know this? Because the editors felt the need to broadcast her resume in all caps at opportune moments – say, when she was lecturing her geek on the subject of appreciating a woman’s thoughts and feelings instead of obsessing about their breasts. But Sheree doesn’t mind a little career talk, and was happy to sit down with us to talk about being comfortable in front of the camera, why Nadia was crying so much at her elimination, and what she thinks of Pi’s sex life – or lack thereof.
So how did you come to be on the show? Had you watched the previous seasons?
I had watched a couple of episodes from season one and two. I actually auditioned for season two, and I guess I got pretty far in the process. They were calling me, and I had to send an extra tape and all that. But then they stopped calling me. So when season three came around, I was not going to audition, because I was like, “They know who I am. If they would have wanted me they would have called and I would have gotten it before.” But casting did end up calling, and they said they did love me last season but that I just didn’t fit. They invited me to come back for this season.
The premise of the show is that the women consider themselves to be beauties but not necessarily brains. Is that how you see yourself?
(laughs) No, as a matter of fact, when I went to the audition, I asked, “Do I have to play a little ditzy?” But to be honest, when you keep talking, even smart people – everybody says something dumb one way or another. They capitalize on when we all say silly things, so it wasn’t a matter of trying to play dumb. I remember one question they said in the casting process was, “Who was president first, George Washington or George Jefferson?” And I said, “George Washington. Oh, wait. George Jefferson, that’s the guy who was on ‘Moving On Up.’” You know, (singing) “Moving on up!” The thing is that they catch you on stuff like that. You’re in an interview, and you’re kind of a little nervous, and you just think, “George Washington, George Jefferson? Wait a minute, George Jefferson wasn’t a president.” They throw you stuff like that so you’ll say something dumb – which was hilarious. They said that all the girls were like, “Oh, definitely George Washington.” And then they would sort of catch themselves. It helps the show be more crazy.
What about the men, were they what you were expecting?
At first, no. At first when I saw them, I thought, “Are you kidding me? Who dresses like this? Who cuts their hair? Who does this?” But then when I got to know them, they were an awesome group of guys. It was exceptional casting. They were great.
All the stuff you mentioned – the way they dressed, and their haircuts – was that 100% genuine, would you say, or was there some producer manipulation?
A lot of the time we didn’t know where we were going or what we were going to do. Before anything, they would come to us and say, “Tomorrow morning you have to be up by six. You have to dress sexy, or, you have to dress business, you have to dress in sneakers.” They didn’t tell you where you were going, or what you were doing. That being said, they did the same thing to the guys. But think. Even though these guys may not have typically dressed that bad, all the clothing you saw were things that they individually owned, that were in their wardrobe. So they may not have dressed that bad all the time, but they owned all the clothes that you saw.
So you’re saying they weren’t passing out Star Trek uniforms.
No. (laughs) No, no, no! Drew, that’s his. That’s his favorite outfit to wear.
Can you tell us about your partner, Pi? What do you think of him now?
For a long time I was really upset with Pi because I felt like he didn’t try his hardest. To this day, he says that he did -- which makes me even more upset, because I’m like, “Just admit you didn’t!” But I think at the end, after watching it, I just got caught up in being aggravated with him and thinking, “You’re supposed to help me, you’re not helping me. Fine! I’ll study by myself.” But in turn, like when he was downstairs playing chess, I should have just gone downstairs and said, “Get up, we’re going to study. We need to study.” And maybe even help him study. Instead of sulking, being cranky, “We’re not going to study, oh my God, we’re going to bomb” -- I should have just made it happen.
It’s easy to say that now, at least.
Did you ever hear the story about Pi kissing a girl once?
I’m not sure about the kissing a girl thing. I told Pi many times that he needs to make changes. He’s not – his face, he has a cute little face, but --- I would say ‘Pi, you need to work on not giggling all the time, and watch what you say, and when you say it.” He’s a gentleman. He’s really sweet about opening doors and things like that. But he just had so many things that he had to work on in order to be just – not to say “normal”, but, a little more normal. Anyway, like he told me, (imitating Pi) “Sure, I’ve had opportunities” and that he has had offers. And I’m like, “Yeah, anybody can have sex. That’s not love.” That’s what I think he’s missing out on, love. And that’s why I was telling him to find love, you have to be approachable. That was something that I kind of worked on with him. I don’t know. He did tell me a story about a girl one time, but it wasn’t anything like a situation where they were in a relationship. It was something that was nothing. So even that doesn’t count for too much because there was no emotion in it.
Anyway, you did fantastic during the interview challenge in the first episode. Do you have experience in that area?
I did have a little part-time job when I was in college, but it lasted all of a month or two. It was a low-budget show that had no funding, so I got to do one or two small interviews. Even before I went to college, I wanted to go to college for broadcasting. But then I realized, hey, wait a minute. You graduate from college and you have a base salary of like, $18,000 a year? I was like, “Hmm, never mind. PR.” And that’s why I went and got a Public Relations degree, but it is something I would like to do. Public speaking has never been a fear of mine. I think it’s just because I’m comfortable.
See, here you are talking about your college degree in Public Relations, but when you were on the show, they would put a caption underneath you that read, “Former Hooters Waitress.” What do you think of those little reality show manipulations?
Well, they called me when they were doing the editing and said, “Can we refer to you as a Hooters waitress?” And I said no, because I wasn’t one. But I said, “You can refer to me as a former Hooters waitress. And then that was all I heard until I saw the captions. Like I told everybody, when I was in college, that’s what I did, was worked at Hooters. I learned a lot from Hooters, and it made it a lot easier to pay my bills, therefore making college a lot less stressful. I have no problem with them referring them to me as a former Hooters waitress because it’s just one thing that I did. We don’t all just have one job, we have plenty, and that was one of them.
They really capitalized on that. Did you notice that when you were telling Pi that the way to honor a woman is not to focus on her breasts, but to listen to her, they flashed the caption on the screen under you that said you were a former Hooters’ waitress?
(laughs) That’s funny. I didn’t notice that. That’s hilarious!
Yes, right when you were talking about breasts. These cheesy tricks – how do you feel about that kind of stuff?
It is funny because I didn’t notice that. (laughs again) But ultimately, to me, one thing about this season – and maybe I didn’t watch enough of last season – but this season is funny to me. There are funny things that are being said on both sides, from both the women and the guys. To me, that was funny. When I was watching the episode, I just cracked up laughing at myself, like when I said, “Why didn’t you just go ahead and draw her crotch?” I mean, who says that? I guess I do, but whatever. (laughs)
But anyway, no, I don’t mind, because that is kind of an oxymoron; don’t look at a woman’s body and by the way, I’m a former Hooters waitress. Like I said, at the end, it doesn’t bother me. But there were little things, like they don’t necessarily show why I was telling Pi that he doesn’t listen. There were some specific instances where I was like, “Pi, you’re not listening me and I’m trying to tell you something.” The editing, there’s little things here and there that aren’t in the final product, but the thing is that there was just so much and they can’t show every single thing. I think they did a pretty good job of just keeping it real.
Looking back, would you still have picked Pi to be your partner?
Ha, did I pick him in the first place? (laughs) No. Had I gone to school with Pi, I think he probably would have been the little funny kid in class. But in order to win, I didn’t want a little funny kid in class, I wanted somebody with determination. That’s one thing I will say about Matt, Andrea’s partner. He by far wasn’t the most socially savvy, or the strongest, but he was so determined. I admired that. He even said himself, “Listen: I am in no way on the level as Nate. I am not body-wise strong as him; academically I’m good, but socially I’m not.” He didn’t care, he just really tried hard, and that’s what I appreciate. And that’s the only thing that I will say about Pi, is that I just didn’t feel as if he tried hard enough. So yes, if I would have had a chance to change, I would have. And he knew that I would have traded partners.
How did the house end up so divided on lines of hair color?
Things just happened to end up divided by hair color. It wasn’t really the hair color, but it was something you could easily point out. But it just happened that way. Two prominent personalities in the house were Andrea and CC, and from day one – well, CC said something like, “I don’t like Coach bags, they’re like, cheap.” And all of us, all the other girls, we’re struggling to pay our bills at home, but here’s this girl in here who seems to be so well off. Money is an issue that becomes intimidating, so you have this standard to uphold that you’re a pretty girl too, you know what I’m saying, that you’re trying to show that life is easy for you as well. And I think the girls got caught up in it. Andrea was like – and even Erin, too – was like, “Whatever, I don’t have time for your little ‘hee hee’s and stuff”.
I can imagine that would get old pretty quickly.
The only thing was that I told Andrea, “You have to chill out. This is a reality show, and your peers are the ones who put you up for elimination. Just laugh. Who cares? Who cares if you don’t embrace what she’s saying, just, (faking insincere laughter) ha ha ha ha ha ha.” And Andrea would not do it. Because of association, I got the boot too. I hung out with the girls sometimes because Erin was a sweetheart. Nadia, even though she ended up putting me up for elimination, she was a good girl. Even JennyLee said that it was a really weird house. I think that ultimately, CC was the one who kept it catty, and because she was kind of talented, everybody was sucking up to her. But I don’t know if everybody was necessarily friends with her, it’s that she was partners with Nate and he was really strong, and they were trying to be friends with the people who were winning.
If you could go back, would you have made different friends for strategic reasons?
No, I think…no. No, friend-wise, like I said, they don’t really show me hanging out with Erin or Nadia. They don’t show me hanging out with the girls, but I did. I’ve always been like that, even in high school. No matter who my friends are, I don’t disassociate with other people, because they are who they are, and I am my own individual. So I just talked to everybody, and that’s what I did in this situation, too. I just happened to be closer with Andrea.
Did the guys seem to have any divisions like the women did, or did they pretty much all get along?
The guys all got along wonderfully. That’s the whole ironic part about the show -- the fact that we were supposed to be showing them how to socialize. Basically, the geeks said they are only savvy in intellectual endeavors, but socially, interacting with the house, the girls had problems and the guys were like best friends, it was so funny. I hung around with the guys a lot. I think I was with Andrea or the guys most. On occasion I would go hang out with the other girls. But I hung out with the guys a lot because they just kept it real. If they said something nerdy, they said something nerdy. If they said something cool, you know, often they were just really cool.
Was there anything that happened that you wished had made the edited show? Anything we as viewers did not get to see?
There were a couple of things. One thing was after I did my elimination, I told Nadia that she was definitely a strong person that kept coming up in elimination when I was trying to decide who to put up. I told her that I thought she was a good person with a good heart, and that even if I didn’t win, I wanted to see somebody that I thought was a good person win. I told her that I hoped that she appreciated that I kept her from going to elimination, and that hopefully the favor would be returned. That wasn’t shown, but actually, that’s why she got so upset. Because I was like, “Nadia, I can’t believe you, I told you that I didn’t put you up for elimination.” That part they didn’t show.
And then, just a couple of things with Pi. I went downstairs when he was playing chess one time, and said, “Seriously, can we go study? What’s up?” And I was quizzing him, and he got a few questions right, and a few questions wrong. Stuff like that. I was reading on Pi’s Myspace where some girl wrote, (exaggerated girly voice) “Pi, you did such a great job, I just didn’t like your partner, she was mean!” (laughs) I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.” (laughs)
In some ways, there was nothing you could do about having a bum partner.
I guess. That’s what makes it such a weird situation. You go through your whole life as an individual, one person – and then all of a sudden you’re put in this situation where you have $250,000 dangling in front of you, and by the way, I’m going to pair you with a complete stranger, good luck! It was just a weird situation. It almost did teach me to not doubt myself, and be stronger in myself. No matter what, if I at least do my best…you know what I’m saying?
What’s changed for you since the show?
I don’t know about career opportunities yet. Unfortunately, I was kicked off the show really early. But I’m really hopeful. I’m going to try on my end, I’m not going to sit around and wait for phone calls, I’m going to try to make some contacts and do some stuff. Because like you were saying about the interviewing, if I can use this as a stepping stone to the perfect job, I’m going to try really hard on my end to make something happen from it.
Thank you very much for speaking with me today, Sheree!
Keep watching, it’s a good show! Thanks so much.
Thanks for talking to us Sheree, and many thanks to CW for letting us talk to a beauty.