We had the chance to interview the second cast off from Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers’, diversity advocate, Simone Nguyen. Here’s her unique perspective (as told to CBS Local’s Adam Bloom) on life on the Hustler tribe and why she thinks she was voted off the island.
AB: First of all, it’s a pleasure talking to you.
S: This Survivor experience is incredible. Let me just say that there is not a trivial thing about it. Let me just say right off the bat – thank you to Survivor – thank you to Jeff for giving me the opportunity to be brave because there were so many firsts that I had out there. I can’t begin to describe how it feels.
AB: That’s so cool. I can only imagine what it would be like. There are so many people who want to be on the show. It just must be incredible. I’m just curious your strategy going into the game. Let’s talk about what initially you had planned not knowing how the game was going to be divided up. What was your strategy going in?
S: So, I know myself – I’m a tiny Asian female – I’m not a bodybuilder. I’m not Desi – I’m not Jessica. So I knew they were either going to get rid of me in the beginning or they’re going to forget about me and then they’re going to let me run deep. So I knew that I needed to let myself be shown as somebody who was able to be controlled. I wanted to be like everybody’s little sister – I wanted to let people know I was charmed by them – I would not betray them. I would promise my loyalty and hopefully people would feel like they were dragging me along – getting me to the end. Every time, I wanted to assert myself. Every time I wanted to yell at people I’d tell myself – no, don’t do it. You need to be everybody’s little sister. Try to be charming. Even with that I had a tough time because even like Ryan – the skinny guy who likes turtlenecks – thought I was weird.
AB: Was it surprising when you watched Ryan say that?
S: No – I had the feeling I was an outsider from basically the beginning because everybody went in with a set of lies. Devon was like – I’ve never been to college. Ryan said – I’m a dropout. Lauren was like – I’m a contractor. Ali said – I’ve never been to college. None of these things are true. So I was like – okay I’m going to be real with people – I’m going to be open – I’m not going to let them think that I’m lying. I’m going to be matter of fact about the way that I live my life because I think these people were lying about their backstory. I felt – oh, what do I ask them about – how do I connect with these people. I was really struggling. There’s no place to hide on a tribe of six so I would try to bond with different people in different ways. I’d say – what do you want to be when you grow up – and Ali would joke – oh, I want to be a housewife. I’d say something silly like – I want to be a Senator. Cole would say – I want to be U.S. Attorney for the southern district. I was just like – no, reel it in – don’t be the nerd – don’t be too smart. I felt it was kind of tough. I think it was obvious that I was a little bit of an outsider.
AB: I’m curious. When you get to tribal council – I think there was a point where Patrick said he trusted ‘most’ everyone instead of everyone. There seemed to be a big reaction to that amongst the group. At that moment – did you think it might be him or did you think it might be you?
S: I knew that the tribal decision would probably be decided. The decision has already been made – 50/50 – it’s me or it’s Patrick. I know I don’t fit in with people but Patrick is loud – Patrick is brass. Patrick can be annoying. I figured this is my only shot – I don’t really want him out but this is my only opportunity to figure out how I can stay – go for the person who is also sticking out like a sore thumb and that’s Patrick. That’s what happens when you howl in the middle of the night and you tell Ryan to dance with you like a court jester. He does not stop like one hundred percent of the time – he is always on. I love him – he’s a really great person – but at the same time, even I thought it was a little too much.
AB: Was there a point that you thought – I think I’m going to be staying – when he made that comment?
S: Yeah – I thought that it was 50/50 – it was me or Patrick. I thought the decision had come down to Ali. Ali was a person who I felt was really controlling the decision at that point and thought Ali would have decided by now if she’s going to let me or Patrick go. Ali was the one who approached me and hopefully that means that Patrick was going to go. I know I’m in the hot seat – I screwed up that puzzle – I’m not as strong as Patrick. I’m the person who is really easy to get out and at that point – Patrick had been making waves with me – he was making waves with Lauren. Ali looked like she didn’t want to give him the time of day. You don’t want to make waves at tribal because if it’s you – you don’t want to rock the boat. You want to hold that hope that hopefully what they told me is true. In my case, it turns out not.
AB: Last question for you. For all the future hustlers – what advice would you give them to be a successful hustler?
S: I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer this because I was the first one voted out of my tribe.
AB: You made it on the show – so you beat out a lot of hustlers in that regard.
S: If you’re going to hustle – hustle hard. Don’t do anything halfway. Go camping before you go on “Survivor” and at least try out a lot of different things. If I’m speaking more generally about hustling – don’t think about hustling – just think about what you want and think about how you can bridge where you are with where you want to be. The struggle is real – it doesn’t get easier. You just have to keep at it. You don’t want anything in life that comes too easily anyway.
AB: I really appreciate it. Here’s to more hustling and thank you so much for your time.
Tune into Survivor at 8/7c, Wednesdays on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.