Hali Ford was the first contestant eliminated at the merge on Survivor: Game Changers, and we’ll be the first to admit this floored us. It genuinely felt like she had the spirit and the gameplay chops to make it further! Her elimination was unfortunately a consequence of her being on the wrong side of the numbers, and being a vote-out that the majority of the people in the game could agree on at a time when so many people were seemingly playing it safe.
This particular thought seems like a great way to segue into the actual Hali Ford exit interview below! Read on for her take on how she was voted out, the frustrations of watching it play out, and how her relationship with Sierra was not as close as Caleb made it seem.
CarterMatt – So what was the experience like having to watch yourself be voted out a second time?
Hali Ford – I was super pissed! I was watching with my boyfriend and his roommate, and I was just nonstop commenting, which I don’t usually do. I was very annoyed.
Ponderosa ended up being an incredible time, and I took so much from the experience. But yeah, I’m very annoyed still, especially when it comes to seeing things play out in the episode that didn’t come out at Ponderosa. I had no idea Sierra actually thought I had an idol. What?!
Apparently Sierra is really great at reading you and your demeanor!
She didn’t know anything! That was just bizarre and [out of] left field.
Let’s talk about Sierra for a minute. Earlier this season I spoke with Caleb, and he said that he made an argument that you and Sierra were super-close because you guys have matching tattoos. What was your relationship with her pre-game? Was it just one of those things where you see each other here and there when your cast gets together?
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. We’re not friends at all. I like her and I respect her as a person. She’s kind of a badass! I think she’s awesome. We just don’t have that chemistry. Jenn and I from my season are still great friends and we really get along. With Sierra, the conversation just runs dry.
Through two seasons now, it just seems like you’ve landed on the wrong side of the numbers and found yourself in trouble. How much do you blame your performance on that, or do you think that there are different things you could’ve done?
All Survivor is luck. I think it’s pretty clear that some of the best players on this season, myself not included, have already been voted off.
Could I have done more? Yeah. I could’ve done more in building an actual relationship with Sierra and Debbie. I tried to take it there, but when you actually commit to something, it can change the atmosphere. I never wanted to actually go deep with them. I always wanted to work with the Mana people just because those were the people I liked. I wanted to work with Michaela and Troyzan and maybe also Aubry. I just liked them better.
I think if I had made a more real assessment, saying ‘these are the people in front of me right now, this is my time to try and commit to these people,’ maybe that could have carried me through. I have a hard time doing things that I’m just not into (laughs). I just wasn’t into the Nuku tribe.
What was the experience like of playing with Tony for six days?
He and Caleb stayed up all night talking LOUD. Yelling and laughing, and then they did the same thing all day. I really think that he had meth in his bag (laughs), because that man is on 24/7. He’s got the energy level of a four-year old.
I never considered working with him. I wanted him gone from the beginning.
What was your relationship like with Brad after the first tribe swap? You didn’t get voted out, but it felt like you [were on the outside of the numbers]. Plus, didn’t he call you ‘Blue Eyes’ at one point? I’d be a little annoyed.
Brad and I had this whole narrative going that didn’t make the show at all. We had a lot of disagreements, but if we could just leave that behind, we could trust each other. That started at the Caleb vote. I think I broke things with Brad at the Malcolm vote where I tried to throw him under the bus.
On the surface, I thought that we had rebuilt that trust, but apparently it wasn’t real at all. He couldn’t wait to get me voted out.
CarterMatt – Do you feel like everyone in the game was playing it safe in sending you out after the merge?
I do, and that’s what made me so upset about my vote. If it was an actual big-move strategic vote, I would’ve loved going out on that note. But going out on a note in Game Changers where I’m just biding time and my vote was essentially a non-move, that just sucks.
I tried to tell people while I was still there ‘now is the time when you get the numbers together. I’m your number — why don’t we take these numbers and try to make a move?’ No one would do it. I tried to show them at tribal council that it was dumb and they were setting themselves up for failure, but they were just gunning for me. I think everyone felt really uneasy at the merge.
If you had it your way, who would you have sent home at the merge?
I wanted Zeke to go home. I saw him running around, talking to everyone, flipping back and forth. There were a lot of people who weren’t in love with Zeke. He is a play-both-angles type of guy, and I just wanted him out. I would’ve gone for Ozzy, too, given that he was a big physical threat, but I was gunning for Zeke and that may have been to my detriment.
Was there more of a target on you because people like Parvati and Amber — who were also young, intelligent women who were a little under-the-radar — have done so well in these sort of seasons before?
I think I’d be flattering myself to say that people put me in the same category as Parvati (laughs). I think that I had a fairly good assessment of myself — I didn’t do anything in my first game and I thought I could fly under the radar.
It’s pretty clear that some people thought in the game thought that I was going to be one of those darkhorse types. I think Sierra especially, it seemed like she was threatened by something. I’m not sure exactly what.
I think that if I made it to the end, I could make an argument as to why I would win. I feel confident about that, so maybe it was a strategy vote [to get rid of me] … but I don’t think it was. I think they were just scared.
How big a factor were immunity idols at around the merge? Was there a lot of chatter about them?
People are scrambling to talk to each other more than to look for idols. I was so taken off-guard that people thought I had an idol, because idols weren’t really that much of an issue. They weren’t mentioned all that much around that vote.
After all of this, do you still have a hunger to go play this game again?
I don’t have a hunger to do it again. Now I know my skill at the game. I think after my first game I was chomping at the bit because I felt like I’d done nothing. My head was in an entirely different place. I had something to prove. I had a vendetta.
This time, I applied myself and I didn’t do awesome. I just don’t think I’m that good at Survivor — I think I’m just going to get into jury trials [instead]. But, if people really like me and want me back on, I’d love to go.
More Survivor coverage
You can see some more exit interviews, to go along with episode reviews, previews, and more, by heading over to the link here. (Photo: CBS.)