Simone Nguyen was eliminated on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers on Wednesday night, and that’s a shame judging from our exit interview. She’s candid, outspoken, and really fun as she talks about her time on the show, her perception of the game, and her struggles finding a way to get some other people on her side. It ultimately seems as though Simone just struggled from the onset of the game with her Hustlers tribe and could’ve find a way for her personality to mesh with theirs. It’s a shame, given that her being around longer would’ve led to some great soundbites and insights!
Take a look at the full CarterMatt exit interview below; also, take a look here to read our full review for Wednesday night’s new episode.
CarterMatt – How’s is it going today? Are there any post-watching-yourself-get-voted-out-on-TV blues going on?
Simone Nguyen – Oh my god, it is tough to watch yourself. It’s tough to hear a recording of yourself and it’s tough to watch yourself onscreen. For me I had so many Survivor firsts out there — it’s my first time leaving the country, it’s my first time going camping, it was my first time taking a s–t in the ocean — these are not things that I was prepared for! I see myself being so open and so vulnerable on TV; it’s really hard to relive.
I’m glad that I am [reliving it] because it is so raw. I remember what it was like to be out there. It was just so visceral and it was so real. I obviously wish I could’ve done better, but I am really enjoying the experience now.
I think we may have one thing in common in that I probably hate camping as much as you do. Did going out there at all change your mindset on that?
The only way that you’re going to get me to do [something] outside again is to invite me on Survivor. If you ask me to play again I would in a heartbeat, but if you asked me to go camping with you, goodbye. Sorry. If there’s not a million dollars in this, I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m leaving.
Let’s talk about this craziness from last night. At what point did you start to sense that you were in danger — was it after the challenge or at some point before that?
I had a tough time gelling with everyone from the beginning. At the time of the marooning I turned to my tribe and said ‘I’m going to need some help.’ I have a fear of heights. I’ve never jumped in the ocean and I’ve never been in open water. I knew that I was going to need help swimming, and at the time I was jumping off the boat I was so scared. I’m reliving it right now. I jumped off and Devon, our strongest swimmer, basically had to save me. He saved my life! He made sure I didn’t die. I’m here by the grace of God, Devon, and the safety swimmers who made sure I didn’t drown before my game even started.
From the beginning I was seen as a weaker tribe member and I was having a tough time shaking that perception at camp. I was working hard and was volunteering for stuff, but it also felt like I wasn’t getting along with people as much as I could have and should have. I do regret that. It was tough out there and overwhelming at times, so whenever a challenge came about I was like ‘if I do not pull out a win it’s going to be me.’ I tried my hardest. We had a lead on the puzzle and we lost the lead. Ali was working on it, too, but she had already won for us a previous challenge. I knew that it was going to come down to me. When I got back to camp I was scrambling. I was trying to show people that I was going to be loyal and saying ‘don’t get rid of me. I don’t want to go home. This is not something that I want to be over.’
Let’s say that this season was more like Millennials vs. Gen X where the tribes started with ten people. Do you think that would’ve been better? With six people you didn’t have as many places to hide.
You don’t have anywhere to hide! We were a tribe of six and we also saw how we looked compared to the other tribes. We looked outgunned! We thought that we were going to lose every single challenge and the only thing that we had was our cohesiveness. I was trying to play that up. It’s so different because you have to talk to each person [on a small tribe] and it’s so easy to have a conflict with somebody. I was not trying to be petty — I was just trying to work hard and hustle.
It was definitely a challenge for me. I was open about my background and I was open with other people about how the experience was going and how I was feeling. I felt like it was difficult for me and other people weren’t being 100% truthful. I would ask people questions about themselves … people felt like I was prying into their lives and finding untruths. I was just like ‘oh my god, how do I connect with people?’ I had no idea I was this socially inept!
It actually sounds to me like you were trying to get to know people and they were like ‘how dare you try and get to know me!’ in response.
I think part of it is because I’m from Massachusetts and I lived in New York for like seven or eight years. So I have that New England rudeness and that New York realness. I was completely candid with people. Like, to compliment Ali, I would say ‘you’re so pretty I hate you.’ To me this is like the best compliment in the world, but to Ali she’s like ‘why does this girl hate me?’ and I have to be like ‘no, that’s not what I meant!’ A lot of it had to do with how I form my sentences, how I speak, my vocal style. This is just what I’m like.
I think they’re all really nice people and they were respectful, but I was definitely an outsider.
Can you try to put into even just a couple of sentences what it was like living with Patrick?
It’s terrifying! I love him to death but it’s terrible. He would howl in the middle of the night. He will get up in the middle of the night and start shouting ‘get up everybody it’s morning!’. It’s insane because we were getting no sleep anyway. I was LIVID. I was angry at him 100% of the time. He would go out looking for the idol and he wouldn’t even care. We would catch him and he would be like ‘oh, I’m just looking for the idol.’ I’d ask him ‘aren’t you going to stop?’ and he would be like ‘no.’ Then he would ask ‘are you going to go back to camp now?’ and I’d be like ‘no, I’m going to look with you because I don’t want to leave you alone and have you find the idol.’
He would do that with everybody. It was insane. All of the Survivor rules, he was violating him and I was the outsider. It was definitely difficult.
Who on your tribe would you say you were the closest to?
Devon, obviously. He saved my life! I appreciated that and I appreciated being able to look at him. Have you seen Devon without his shirt? He’s very nice to look at.
Then there’s Ali. She’s so beautiful and she’s so thoughtful. She’s introverted but there was something about her that really made me want to be her friend. Ali was slowly getting to know me — we are so different but she was starting to warm up to me near the end. I thought it was really 50-50 between me and Patrick [as to who was going to go home] because we really stuck out like sore thumbs. Everybody else really gelled together well. I wasn’t fitting in but Patrick was really pissing people off.
Is there one specific thing that you wish you had done differently?
I think I should’ve worked out more before I got on! I didn’t want to be seen going on as this skinny little Asian b–ch, so I went and put on a bunch of weight. I felt like I was going to lose it for Survivor anyway, so I put it on and [they still looked at me as a] ‘b–ch.’ At that point I was like ‘okay, this was bad judgment on my part! I need to rewind the clock like three months and start lifting.’
You see everybody at the airport and you look around — I was like ‘man, these people are so good looking. They’re so athletic.’ There was a lot of eye candy going on. Don’t get me wrong — I was appreciating it, but I was very intimidated.
Finally, you mentioned earlier Patrick looking for the immunity idol. Were you doing that yourself?
I was not going to have that on me! I needed people to think I was the most trustworthy person so I tried to be open and honest. I didn’t hide anything about myself. I didn’t look for the idol because I knew I was one of the weaker players. If I was going to have to look for the idol I wanted it to be later because on this tribe, we’re probably going to go to Tribal Council [again]. I knew I needed allies like Ali or Devon, but I really wasn’t able to win them over. Things would’ve gone differently if I had. If there is a chance that it isn’t going to be you [going home], you don’t want to ruin those changes by doing something untrustworthy.
Thanks to Simone for her time doing this interview! You can share your thoughts in the comments below, and like us on Facebook to get news on Survivor and other shows we cover at CarterMatt. (Photo: CBS.)
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