Brenda Lowe, 27 year old paddleboard company owner and self proclaimed "king" of this season is the latest to take a trip to Ponderosa after being betrayed by her alliance. Read on in this interview as she shares her thoughts on what happened, who caused that fire, and what she really thinks about NaOnka and Chase...
Question: How do you make sense of why you got voted out and NaOnka turned the tables on you, when you guys seemed like a strong alliance?
Brenda: It probably doesn't make sense, but what's missing from the picture, what people don't see, is the time when Sash went off to the reward challenge and was ziplining with all the guys, I started to think, can we trust Sash? And the first person I really trusted enough to talk strategy was NaOnka at that point, and I told her, look, depending on what Sash says when he comes back, let me know what he tells you, but this is going to decide if we trust him or not. Sash was always thinking and thinking and was a good strategist. And she was looking at me like are you sure? Do we want to take out Sash? And I said of course, we've got to do what we've got to do, and with that information she went and she told Sash. So that was one of the main reasons why Sash didn't give me the idol and why NaOnka turned on me, because she didn't trust me enough, even though she could have, to want to keep me any longer.
How do you think her strategy, and how she's playing, could come back to bite her in the end?
Well it's very obvious, you play a very violent, crazy, unpredictable game that involves stealing food and weird random things like that, in the weird upside down world of Survivor either people will want to take you to the end, like me, or people just get sick of it and you're gone. People might get sick of her craziness and want her out.
What was it about Marty that you had such a problem with, when he could have been an asset to you?
That's a misconception - yes in the beginning Marty and I kind of hated each other, but towards the end, especially with Jane's growing obsession with Marty, it became more and more clear that I'd rather have Marty around than Jane. And I know that voting off Marty was the beginning of the end for me, and the only reason that I did it was to go along with my alliance. I didn't want to piss off Chase and I would have loved to vote off Jane that time and things would have been a lot different. I knew it, I felt it, I felt uncomfortable with the vote and I just did it. I guessed it was just one of those things you have to do on Survivor - go along with your alliance, but I was very uncomfortable about it, and look where I am.
Looking back now, which move do you regret the most?
Definitely letting NaOnka find the immunity idol. I could have found it myself. I went looking in the middle of the night, when nobody was there, not even the cameras, and I couldn't find it, and you saw when we found it, it was the crack of dawn, I think I still even had eye boogers in my eyes. We had literally just rolled out of the shelter and Alina had her eyes on us the whole time. It was do or die, we get it now or we never get it. So it was getting to the point where either Alina and Kelly B were going to find it, or NaOnka and I were, and everybody knew that we had the clue. It was an obvious thing in the tribe. So somebody knew we were going to get it, I wanted her to have the target instead of me, if my alliance had it, I felt like I had it too, wishful thinking, you never have it unless it's in your pocket.
Let's talk a little about the fire that happened last episode, what exactly went down? Who made the decision to put all the chests in that area?
Well I love fire, and I was part of the fire patrol, and we were trying to protect the fire, we put the chests around it, we covered it from the rain, but it was actually Jane who put more wood on it, that's what made it go up. If we had left it like it was, the embers would have been there by the time we got back, we could have absolutely started a fire with the embers. I don't know what she was thinking, she put more wood there, the flames went up and obviously burned everything. It wasn't intentional at all, it was just bad thinking.
After you got back to camp and found the fire how did you deal with all the damage that was caused?
It was ridiculous. One it was still hot so we couldn't shovel it with our hands or anything like that. We had to use the paddle and it was me and Holly that really picked up the remains of the metal scraps and the wood and the ashes and we had to take out all the glass. I lost my flip flops in the fire. We had to move all the bad stuff away so nobody would step on nails or glass or anything like that and we just had to deal with it. Clean it up, the guys worked on the shelter.
Talk about Chase, what was it about you that made him want to trust you with everything, or was it just that he had a little crush?
I think it was beyond anything like a crush. In the beginning, we really bonded tightly on day one, it was something very natural, very sweet, I was not playing him. I wasn't thinking "that's the guy, I'm going to get him!" It wasn't that at all. I felt like he was sweet, genuine, 100%, and I know it's the corniest line in the whole wide world but I liked his spirit. I know that's really cheesy but I really felt it and that's where it came from. So he wanted to play with someone he trusted, and he found that in me from the beginning. And obviously there are a lot of things that happened that they didn't show but he gained that trust in me and he didn't lose it.
Going to Tribal last night, Jeff seemed to really make a big deal out of the word "scrambling" and from what I understood, you really did campaign hard you just didn't run around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get people to vote. So what exactly did you do before Tribal to attempt to save yourself?
The only thing that I could have done, and this was my strategy, was the only people that could save me were the people I looked to from the beginning of the game -- Chase and Sash. Let's be real here, everybody else wanted me gone. So the only people that were going to save me was my alliance and I kept ingraining in their head as hard as I could, these people are targeting you by targeting me. They're taking out your main alliance, it's very obvious that Chase and me are tight, and Sash and me are tight. You take out me, what does that say to you? So I kept saying to them that I was loyal to them, and I wanted to show them that to the very last second, I didn't tell everyone that NaOnka had an immunity idol, I'm not giving up on you guys. So that was my fight - I'm showing them in front of Jeff, in front of these other people, I'm fighting to be with you guys. And I wanted Sash to be inspired to give me the hidden immunity idol and I wanted them to trust me again. I hate the way it looks like I didn't care and that I just gave up, it's a bunch of b*******, I had an intelligent strategy behind it. I obviously couldn't explain myself like this in the middle of a tribal council.
Is Kelly Purple playing the game at all or is she as invisible in real life as she is on the show?
No, she's there, she's a good girl, she's one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. She played the game as she went along and who says being invisible is not a strategy, I mean it's a weird one, I would never do it, but some people do and I guess that's what Kelly Purple wanted to do. And look, she's in it and I'm not so there must be something that she's doing right.
Did you draw an immunity idol on your parchment with your vote for NaOnka?
Yeah, thank you! I know my drawing skills weren't that good but that's what it was. It was a hidden immunity idol and it was my last little punch back to NaOnka in my own little way, showing people without outright telling them that she has the immunity idol, do what you want with this information, I'm out of here, peace, bye bye. That was my little thing for her.
So it wasn't you hoping that Sash would have given you his idol?
No, I understood why he wouldn't do that. It was more making a statement "hello, she has a hidden immunity idol, do what you want."
Right before Jeff revealed the vote, you and Sash and Chase all kind of exchanged looks, was that you trying to get Sash to get out the immunity idol and give it to you, was that like your last hope?
It was a last hope, those glances didn't really happen that way, but I was definitely praying that something would happen and Sash would decide he wanted to keep me and stick with the alliance.
Are you pissed at him or do you understand why he didn't give it to you?
I absolutely one hundred thousand percent understand because if I was in Sash's place... I wanted to take him out and NaOnka told him, Brenda will take you out if she has to. And I'm just guessing, Sash would not do that if he has another alliance he can trust. So he has several alliances, I'm guessing.
After seeing NaOnka's antics throughout the season are you shocked at yourself that you trusted her and thought she was your main ally?
What people don't see is the sweet side of NaOnka. She is, believe it or not, a good person, sweet, kind, funny, all those things that made me want to be a friend to her. To have someone like her is crazy and for it to backfire yes, I should have seen it coming a mile away. I thought though that personally we were friends and that it would never happen to me. I knew she was crazy, I knew she was a bomb ready to explode at any point, but we had the type of relationship where I thought I could trust her and I didn't have a problem trusting people out there.
What reaction did you have when you heard Sash say that he's the #1 ladies' man in New York?
Well I'd have to see it to believe it. I wouldn't want to say anything bad about Sash but I think most guys that get a lot of girls never brag about it, so that's one universal law that I think.
Last week we spoke to Marty and you've said previously that you felt confident in you and Sash's contol over the game. He said it was more circumstantial and not necessarily a result of you being a better player than anybody else, so how do you think you came into such a position of power for so long?
I do agree with people when they say there's an amount of luck that goes into Survivor. Had Shannon not done what he did at the first Tribal Council, what would have happened to me, and what would people have said about me. But if you are in a position of power, what do you do with it? And I think that Sash and I did make some good moves with it, whether it fell into our laps or not. We took out Kelly B, we took out Jill, Sash got to Marty and Sash got Marty's idol, you know, little things like that, I befriended Jane, and we worked together and we did stuff. Yes it was my downfall that I didn't anticipate people to be playing it as hard as I thought I was, like Holly and NaOnka. I underestimated them and that was my fault, but I do think that we deserve some merit for the work that we did.
If you had stayed, what was your plan to make it to the final?
I flip-flopped, and you have to be flexible whenever you're in a game like Survivor, but I was very very keen on sticking with the final five which was me, Sash, Chase, Purple Kelly and NaOnka. We were always talking about that. Some people would talk about final three, I personally was up in the air about that but preferences, I would have taken Purple Kelly and NaOnka to the end because that is a guaranteed win for me. But at that time I was prepared to go with anybody. There are days when you're thinking why am I thinking about this so much? I'll just go with anybody. I really was that confident. But I was willing to go with the final five, duke it out, see what happened, and take anybody, actually.
You said that you understood Sash's decision not to give you the immunity idol, were you pretty sure before going to Tribal Council that he wouldn't, and did the fact that he didn't change your opinion about him?
It didn't change my opinion about him because we're both kind of the same player. I probably wouldn't have done it either if I had to save myself, not have taken a risk, and saved it for myself, because it's giving up something so huge in the game. I respect what he did. And going into Tribal Council, I was hoping he would give it to me, and that's why I didn't scramble, I held onto that hope, and I held onto something about him maybe being able to trust me. I thought maybe he would do it, I know Sash is smart and maybe he would keep me around just for loyalty, but it didn't happen.
What haven't we seen on TV that would surprise us the most?
I think what I mentioned before about NaOnka being a nice person. You don't see that. And she actually got along with Fabio, you don't see that either. I know we can't talk much about what's not shown on TV but it's basically that. She did have her good side. I'm not trying to defend her bad side but there is an explanation of why I trusted her so much. You don't just trust a crazy person out of nowhere.
What have you seen on TV that surprised you the most?
I didn't know how bad NaOnka was in the confessionals. I knew she had a very big personality, you could say, but I didn't know it was that vicious. That was surprising. And also underestimating everybody in my boot episode. I didn't know that the plan was so great for everybody. I didn't know Holly tried so hard, I didn't know NaOnka tried so hard, Benry, everybody. I didn't see that, obviously.
Can you give us some insight as to why NaOnka seemed to hate Kelly B so much?
In NaOnka's defense, Kelly B didn't really have the best personality. She's a sweet girl and everything, but as far as getting along and friendship and all these things, I tried myself to be friends with Kelly B and she kinda didn't really want to. So I think it was that. She had some misconception of Kelly B being weak which I don't agree with at all, and mixed with the fact that Kelly B didn't like NaOnka too. And it kind of angered NaOnka that when Kelly B acted like "what was that all about" with the pushing down thing. Kelly B was going for the clue, NaOnka was going for the clue. Yes Kelly B has one leg, but she's a strong girl and everyone's like, oh you pushed down a girl with one leg. Well, they kind of fought and Kelly's not that weak, she could take it, she could probably beat up NaOnka. And I think the irony of that is people overlook that. She's not a weak girl, she could take a fight.
Tell me about Fabio. He seems to be smarter than he appears, is he smart?
Yes, Fabio is a great guy, he was like a little brother to me out there, I watched him grow, I congratulated him on that. He went from the little doofus that we would all make fun of to somebody that I was just so proud of. He is genuinely a good person, can't help but tell the truth, and more involved than you think. He did share some strategy with me, that he was just going to lay low, be cool, and he's a smart guy. He's studying Chinese and I don't know if people know that but I really like that about him too.
Your relationship with Chase, did anything happen beyond just flirting?
No, everybody sleeps together in Survivor and that was the most that we did. But the first night, it's nice to have someone that you trust and he's obviously a cute guy and that was it. He's a sweet, genuine guy and it's easy to be comforted by him and that's all it was. He's just a good person and it was nothing more than that.
In one of the early episodes you said that you didn't have to do anything, that everyone came to you and offered alliances and friendships. What actually did you do?
It was perfect. The reason that I did that was so people would come up to me, so I didn't look like the threat that Alina and Kelly B were making me out to be. So I would lay low but I would stay close to people, I would be there, I was their friend. I befriended all of these people without ever talking about alliances. So when the day came that it was judgment day and we had to vote out somebody, everyone was like "I like you, you're my friend" and I’m like “I’m your friend too” and they’re like “I’m not voting for you” it was perfect. So it wasn't like "hey do you want to be in an alliance" it wasn't that. All of a sudden my "friends" were coming up to me saying “I like you, I’m not going to vote for you” and it was music to my ears. So instead of looking at that like a strategist I just played it cool, but I made sure to invest the time so that when I needed these people they would already be like, “I like you, you’re a good person.”
When we talked to Marty last week, he admitted that he was pretty arrogant when he played the game. You had a couple of clips that you came off as pretty arrogant, do you think that’s just editing or do you think you really were arrogant? Where did you fall on that scale?
I think it was a combination of both, and if I ever came across as too arrogant, or too cocky, it sucks. No one likes to be around people like that, I hate people like that. I think I was just confident. When you talk to your friends, and not in front of any of these people, you say things that you wouldn’t say in front of them, and never was like that in front of them. I was very quiet, very part of the team players around camp. Anything I said in confessionals, obviously you were going to get the little sound bites. And if someone asks you, “hey are you and Sash the King and Queen of camp” you answer “yeah, I guess we are the King and Queen of camp, I’m more King, he’s more Queen.” You see what I mean? You know how television is made. So I guess I was very confident and yes, I will own that one hundred percent.
When you and Sash and NaOnka formed early on, it was kind of based on race, and there were a lot of comments on message boards that you guys were kind of being racist. Do you have any comments on that?
There’s an insider clip of me talking about that on CBS, but I think the whole “minority alliance” was a joke, Sash never even told me about it, it was NaOnka who mentioned it to me and I laughed when she said it because I don’t look at people like that. I wasn’t raised like that. I look at people for people and I think making an alliance out of that is just a joke. I went along with it because I trusted them, it wasn’t because I was Asian and Hispanic.
Tell me your thoughts on Benry, what was it about him that you didn’t want to be tight with him?
What’s funny about Benry is I did this game, I did it on Chase, Benry, and Fabio, and I said hey guys, what’s your favorite animal? Benry’s answer was a fox, and I asked why and he said because they’re sly, they’re sneaky, and they’re slick. And that was him, that is Benry. I loved Benry from the start, he’s amazing, we’re friends, but out there I was like I can’t trust Benry, that was my thing from day one. He tried to make an alliance with me and Chase and that lasted for about two days, I never heard from him again. You can’t trust somebody who never talks strategy with you. I think me and Benry had a mutual respect, an understanding that we couldn’t trust each other.
How about Dan, as far as the game goes, did you get any sense that he’s playing the game?
Yes and no. Obviously Dan couldn’t care less about the challenges, but when it was time for him to get up out of the shelter and say something he was into it. He had his alliances, for example Marty, and now the guys, Benry and Fabio, so when it was time to do something he was vocal. You saw him on TV telling Marty “hey Chase is trying to blindside you” so he did do his little things here and there. Was it as exciting as people would want from a player that’s on Survivor? No, but he did do something.
Had NaOnka not turned against you, it seemed like you were targeting Benry as next, what would have been your ideal pecking order?
Definitely Benry, Fabio, Jane, Holly. We’d keep Holly and Jane thinking they were on our side, obviously I was very wrong. So we’d take out Benry and Fabio, the two people that would be good in challenges, that leaves Dan and Kelly Purple, who would be easy for us to carry along, and then we’d take out Jane and then Holly. Both of them were interchangeable so it didn’t really matter. That was a great plan, and it didn’t happen.
What’s the story about how you got on the show?
I went to an open call last year and had I made it, I would have been on Samoa. I didn’t get the call back then, but I got it this year.
Were you a fan of the show before you were on?
Yep, huge fan of the show before I was on, that’s why I went to go try out.
You just laid out the pecking order for us, do you think you could have taken the entire rest of the game sticking with Sash and Chase? Would you have liked to take those two guys to the end or do you think there would have been a point where you needed to slit one of their throats to make it further?
I was more than willing to do that, and this is one of the reasons why NaOnka turned on me. I had actually confessed to her that I would take out Sash if I needed to. So at any moment I could have turned my back on them. I was loyal to final five, that’s all I would talk about, other than that I couldn’t lie to their faces and say final three you, me and Sash. So I would just say final five and then we’ll see what happens. Honestly I was willing to say whatever to stay with whoever. It made sense to stick with my core alliance and that’s what I did.
*Thanks to Mariner for the interview and TheIrishEyes for transcribing!