Andrea Boehlke and Ashley Underwood talk about 'Survivor'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/17/2011
Andrea Boehlke and Ashley Underwood both came up short of Survivor: Redemption Island's final Tribal Council vote during Sunday night's CBS broadcast of the reality competition's finale.
During a joint conference call with reporters on Monday, the women talked to Reality TV World about their Survivor experience -- including what big moves Ashley believes she made during the game; why Andrea felt the finale castaways implemented little, if any, strategic gameplay besides Survivor: Redemption Island winner "Boston" Rob Mariano; when Ashley discovered Rob had found a hidden Immunity Idol; and how Andrea reacted to the poor treatment she received by the guys upon her arrival on Redemption Island.
Also check back with Reality TV World the rest of this week for additional interviews with fellow finale castaways Grant Mattos, Matt Elrod, Mike Chiesl, Natalie Tenerelli, and Phillip Sheppard.
Reality TV World: Ashley, you said it was laughable that Andrea said Natalie and yourself hadn't made any big moves in the game [at Tribal Council]. Can you explain what big moves you believe you made? Because for viewers watching at home, it kind of looked like Andrea was right and you guys did just follow Rob to the end.
Ashley Underwood: Yeah, I mean, that might be how it looked. It doesn't take one person to blindside people. Everybody has to be onboard, and I mean, Andrea will vouch for this too. A lot of the times, the people that we voted out, it was our idea. Was it made to look that way? No, but that's how it was, and...
Andrea Boehlke: The girls brought up the [Julie Wolfe] thing. It was our idea to vote out Julie.
Ashley Underwood: And as far as the initial Matt blindside, I mean, that was brought up upon by me, Grant, Natalie, and Rob. That was not just like a one person thing. The Grant whole thing, obviously he was a huge threat, and I think that was a huge key point in the game, to get rid of Grant.
If he had made it to the end, there was no question in my mind, no matter who he went up against, he would have won hands down. So, I think it was huge getting him out. But yeah, everybody's going to have their opinion, but until you're actually in the game and like see how difficult it is and all that stuff, it's easy to make assumptions from home.
Reality TV World: Andrea, you were in the game, so how do you feel about that? Has Ashley managed to change your opinion? Do you believe she had made big moves now?
Andrea Boehlke: Um, it's so funny because we're on the same [conference call] line. I still, I mean my angle when I came back was pretty much to tell them that -- as everyone on Redemption Island said it, and myself included -- we didn't make such big moves, really.
It was Rob pulling all the strings, and there were points in the Ometepe alliance where the girls were actually like, "We should vote out Julie." We made decisions, but in terms of individual strategic moves, as a jury, my point was that it doesn't look like we -- they -- had really done anything. Anyone but Rob really didn't do anything strategically. So, I don't know. That's kind of where I stand.
Reality TV World: Ashley, during Sunday night's reunion show, you said that Natalie and yourself knew that Rob had an idol before the [second] Final 5 Tribal Council vote because he told you. When did he tell you, and were you saying you would have gone ahead with Andrea's plan to vote him off otherwise?
Ashley Underwood: Yeah, he actually told us right after the merge -- when he found it in the basket of food. It wasn't shown. He told Natalie, Grant and I because that was like the core four alliance that we had. So, he told us that and that's what we knew in the back of our minds.
Andrea didn't know that he had an idol, so that's why -- I mean, it was the last Tribal Council where he could use his idol, so we obviously knew that even if he felt completely safe, why not use it? And he did.
I mean, obviously it was like, "Well, we're not going to vote for him," and the next biggest threat was obviously Andrea because she had gone to Redemption Island, she had a good story of coming back and fighting her way back into the game. So, it just made more sense to go that route.
Reality TV World: I guess the confusing part then is that it sounds like you knew for quite awhile that he had it and there have been plenty of other people in Survivor who had idols but still never made it to the end because the other contestants flushed it out or found a way to just completely blindside the person. So why didn't you ever go after him prior to that one specific [Tribal Council vote] you just cited?
Ashley Underwood: I guess it's because he, like we've been saying all along, he made everybody feel comfortable and the fact that if you stuck with him, he'd take you to the final three. We just didn't talk to each other and that was our obvious mistake in the game -- the thing that we all regret.
It's just like we were just programmed to just not talk to each other and if we did, we were pegged as being sneaky and not trustworthy. So, that was basically why none of us ever wanted to do that.
Reality TV World: I want to clarify one of your prior comments. Are you saying you believed you would have beat Rob in the jury if you made it to the end against him, or that it wouldn't have made a difference? Because that was a little unclear.
Ashley Underwood: If I had won the last challenge?
Reality TV World: Regardless of how you got there, if you had made it to the end with Rob.
Ashley Underwood: If I had gone up against Rob in the finals, I definitely think I would have had a good chance, and just winning three immunities in a row -- or even if I didn't win the last one -- I made good relationships with people on the jury and I've heard from a lot of them that they didn't want to vote for Rob.
But I mean, sitting next to Natalie and Phillip, it was so clear cut that obviously it was like a no brainer, but what can you do? I may not have played obviously as a strategic game as Rob -- he was on a different level -- but it's a social game too, and if you piss everybody off on the jury, that obviously isn't going to help you that much when you're going against somebody that's friends with people on the jury.
Reality TV World: If you thought you had a good chance against Rob then, would you have even wanted to get Rob out of the game?
Ashley Underwood: Going into the final Tribal Council?
Reality TV World: At any point in the game, I guess.
Ashley Underwood: No, that's the thing. I knew that I had built such -- like that's why I wanted to get rid of Grant before I wanted to get rid of Rob -- because I had a better chance of winning. Honestly, sitting next to Grant, he would have won against anybody, and I'm sure Andrea would agree with that too.
He would have won against anyone, because everybody loved him and he was such a strong physical threat in challenges. He did so well, so for me, I would have rathered sit next to Rob than Grant at the end.
Reality TV World: Ashley, there was a lot of criticism over your work ethic during the season. Phillip said you were lazier than any of his seven sisters, Rob said you were "in a league of your own" as far as laziness went, and Ralph called Natalie and yourself the "spa girls." Can you talk about that a little bit and what your response is?
Ashley Underwood: (Laughs) Mmm, yeah. It makes me laugh, obviously. It's like "spa day," when you're on an island and you have nothing to do, why not make it fun? But I don't regret it at all. I really don't. I mean, you can't really be a professional basketball player and nurse and Miss USA contestant and be lazy. So, I don't know.
I guess it is what it is and people are going to think what they think and that's fine, but it really doesn't bother me, because the people that know me the best know who I am and how I am. So, that's all that matters to me.
Reality TV World: Andrea, when you got to Redemption Island, the guys made you sleep outside on the ground, which surprised people because not only did it seem like you weren't the main reason Zapatera got wiped out -- that really seemed to be more on Matt -- but it really kind of seemed like a pretty ungentlemanly and non-Christian thing to do. Did their behavior surprise you and did you feel a little inconsistent at all with the Christian values Matt and Grant had both been talking about before that?
Andrea Boehlke: It was super awkward coming into Redemption Island, because "A," I was pissed at my tribe and "B," I was the first one of Ometepe that was coming there.
Up until that point, everyone was, "Hey [Steve Wright]! Hey [Ralph Kiser]!" Everyone was super nice and I came in just a firecracker -- pissed, confused, and I was fighting with Ralph, I was fighting with Matt, and then I found out I had to sleep on the ground.
So it was a lot of emotions and it was kind of tense, but I mean, those guys -- there wasn't enough room in the shelter. I'm not mad at Ralph. Otherwise, I'd be sleeping on a board. Actually, the ground wasn't that bad. When Grant came to the island, I was like, "Oh, you can take the board. I'll sleep on the ground again." I mean, whatever.
They warmed up to me after a bit, but I kind of understood why -- this was the first time that I saw Matt after I just lied to his face, and we had been the closest out there. I was the closest to him out of everyone else, and I did feel bad about that. So, I kind of expected that it wouldn't be a completely hunky-dory welcome, but I don't know. They warmed up to me after a bit. We all made up.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Ralph last week, he was pretty critical of Matt and Mike's Christian comments and said he believed they were just part of their game strategies. He said something like he didn't think they were "much of Christians" and he also said "God's for a reason [and] it's not for trying to win a million dollars." What are your own personal thoughts on that?
Andrea Boehlke: I read that Ralph said that. They are both very religious. I mean, Matt's very religious from what I can tell because I know him pretty well outside the game too. He's very religious. So is Mike, and they're great guys. I don't think that, honestly -- Matt went through so much out there that I think it's great that he turned to God.
I was surprised how much it showed that. I mean it surprised me how much editing went into that. But it was kind of surprising that it was mentioned so much, but honestly, he grew so much, his faith grew, and I believe that -- I don't think they were using that as strategy. I don't know where Ralph got that.
Also in the call, Andrea and Ashley told reporters what it was like to play the game with Phillip, how Andrea's relationship with Matt had improved overtime, and who Ashley would have taken to the end with her if she had the choice and made the final three.
Could you talk about Phillip and what it was like to play the game with him?
Andrea Boehlke: Phillip was a trip, like simply with me -- and you, Ashley, you consent with me because you had to spend even more time with him that I did -- but we had a love/hate relationship where I appreciated that he worked hard around camp.
He was always entertaining, always had something to talk about, but also, there were times where he would just go off on us and we would just fight. It was a love/hate relationship.
Ashley Underwood: For me, obviously you saw how much Phillip and I clashed, but that was no surprise to anybody. I just have a really strong personality. It's harder for me to keep things in, which is why you saw all the facial expressions, because it was easier for me than just blowing up in his face all the time.
Yeah, I mean, obviously I wouldn't ever want to live with Phillip again, but it was a game and now, I would definitely go and like have lunch with Phillip, no problem.
Ashley, looking back now, do you understand why Natalie went with Rob or do you still have a problem with the way she voted?
Ashley Underwood: I mean, obviously watching it again last night, it kind of brought back all the feeling and the emotions and everything of how I felt. I still would have rathered her just voted for Phillip and if I had gone out in a tiebreaker, that's easier to handle for me.
She knew she had no chance of winning, Phillip had no chance of winning, so basically, she just chose Rob to win the million over me. Yeah, it kind of sucks, obviously.
Andrea, could you talk about what went through your mind when Matt outed your strategy to Rob?
Andrea Boehlke: That moment was so pivotal in my game, because we just talked and I was willing to work with Matt, and that totally would have changed the game if I worked with Matt. I really trusted him and the last thing I said to him was, "Okay, I want to work with you. We'll play this out. Don't say anything. Don't tell anybody what we're planning."
And then I go up on the perch and he just goes, "Hey, Drea, I just told Rob what we were planning," and my heart dropped. I was like, "Oh my God." I'm like, "This is the worst thing that could happen." So then, I tried to mend things with Rob and was like, "That's not what I was planning. I was just trying to see what Matt's doing."
Because at this point, I can't work with Matt if every time I come up with a plan, he just throws me under the bus. So, I love that kid. He's so great. It's just that it could have been a game-changing moment if he wouldn't have went and told Rob what was up.
Ashley, you seemed more heavily allied with Rob earlier in the game than you were in the end. Could you talk about your mindset and how it evolved throughout the game?
Ashley Underwood: I would actually, Natalie and I, were actually the closest from the very beginning. But Rob, he had actually approached us Day 2. So it might not have looked that way, but we had a really, really tight alliance, and I think as the game went on, I just felt more and more the control that Rob had.
Andrea would probably agree that we were just so deep into it at that point, that to make like a jump might have gotten rid of Rob and helped us maybe for like one or two Tribals, but then I don't think I would have gotten as far in the game as I did had I not stuck with the original alliance that I had.
Andrea, how do you look at what you went through with Matt now that the show is over? What did that teach you?
Andrea Boehlke: It's a game and I think Matt understands that. We've kind of had an up and down relationship in the game, because we were really close and that's the reason that he went so early. And then I did -- I felt awful as a person -- you know, lying to him and lying to his face, because I do like him.
But it's a game and that's what you have to do, and I forgive Rob, I forgive all those people for lying to me, and I think he does. He has a very warm heart and I think he's just -- outside of the game, I think he's great. I just had to put that aside to play a little more strategic.
Ashley, do you feel like you were told exactly what to do throughout the game by Rob, like Natalie was, or did you have an individual plan from the beginning?
Ashley Underwood: I think it was a little bit of a mixture of both. I mean at the start, we were obviously clearly taking our lead from Rob, but as it got down to less and less people, I was definitely thinking about making a plan for myself in my head for different scenarios. I don't think Natalie was doing that at all, and I was definitely doing that.
I was thinking of all different types of scenarios in my head, just trying to -- for me, I knew that I had built a good relationship with the people on the jury. So, I was a threat. So, I knew that I had to win those last three challenges in a row and I just came up a little bit short in the last one. But yeah, I kind of put that pressure on myself and just fell short.
Ashley, was your final vote a difficult decision for you since you felt more betrayed by Natalie than Rob? Did you ever consider voting for Natalie because you two had been so close?
Ashley Underwood: No. For me, I said even like before, if I wasn't in the finals, I was going to vote for the person who was most deserving. It didn't matter, like Natalie and I were friends, but I didn't think she was the most deserving, and that's why Rob got my vote. He played brilliantly -- the best game he's ever played -- so I wanted to reward whoever played the best game and it was Rob.
Ashley, had you have won the final immunity challenge, do you feel you would have taken Rob with you to the end or do you think you would have had a better chance against Phillip and Natalie?
Ashley Underwood: Oh my gosh. That's a good question. Honestly, I want to say that I would have taken Phillip and Natalie, but I think at that point, I was so, "Oh my gosh, stick to your alliance. Stick to your alliance. Do what you said you were going to do from the beginning. Be that trustworthy person. Take Rob!"
I honestly think that if I had won that last challenge, I would have won three immunities in a row. And with the relationships I made on the jury -- like with the Zapatera tribe, because they made up the majority -- I would have had a really good chance. That's obviously why Rob didn't take me to the end, but...
Andrea Boehlke: I would have considered voting for you, really, if you had won the last Immunity Challenge. Sorry, I'm just chiming in, but if that was the scenario, it would have been a lot tougher.
Ashley Underwood: I know, I know.
Andrea, looking back to Matt's first blindside, it seemed like to put 100% percent of your trust in Rob afterwards. Did you ever take his move as a signal that he couldn't be trusted?
Andrea Boehlke: It was definitely a signal, and it's so weird out there and watching it is so funny, because you're like, "How could you? -- obviously he knows you have this thing with Matt, so how could you ever trust him?" But we were out there so long and I don't know how long it was before Matt found his way back in, but Rob was just very good at making everyone feel comfortable.
They never showed Grant and I interacting at all, but Grant and I had a lot of interactions where we kind of had like a trust -- at least what I thought. At that point, when Matt came in, I was ready to work with Matt.
I was ready to work with Matt over Rob and stuff like that, but when Matt did the whole spilling of everything on the first -- I was just like, "I can't work with Matt if that's what he's going to do!"
Andrea, after Matt was first blindsided when you voted differently from your alliance, did you always have in the back of your mind that you needed to get Rob out? Did you have a plan to get Rob in the end?
Andrea Boehlke: Yeah, especially in the beginning when that just happened, I ran up to [Kristina Kell] at one point and I was like, "Okay, we need to do something. Are you looking for a [hidden Immunity Idol]?" Kristina and I had some exchanges, but Kristina was always like weird too. (Laughs) She was kind of hard to trust as well.
But yeah, in the back of my head, I was always kind of like upset that that went down. So, I think I did. It was just hard when everyone on our tribe was pretty much catering towards him.
Andrea, what was your final three plan if you made it to the end of the game?
Andrea Boehlke: I mean, I was keeping my options definitely open. I did -- and it seems to silly now -- but all of us thought we had, that we believed Rob. But Grant and I essentially thought that Rob, especially because Rob keeping Grant around made sense.
I was like, "Well Grant's going to go before me, I would assume, because Grant's a bigger threat." That's how I saw that, but I did see myself being -- going against Rob, like everyone did, which was so weird and so stupid.
If we would have just talked -- like Ashley, if we had just talked about it -- we could have figured something out. It was so dumb, but that's why Rob played a really good game. He kept us all against each other.
Do you plan on pursuing moving forward with Matt?
Andrea Boehlke: Our relationship? It's so funny because everyone asks that. I do feel really close to him, and I don't know exactly how he feels about me. But I mean, we're really close and we talk a lot and maybe -- we're in different parts of the country too -- but I plan to keep up our friendship and I don't know. I'm single and kind of hoping for whatever.