Backstage Interview with 'Survivor: Samoa' Contestant Jaison Robinson
Much like his Survivor: Samoa tribemate Brett, Jaison is one of the world's good guys. He's almost sappy, such as when he told me that going through the whole game without any socks is just one of those things that happens, or that he doesn't think Ben is a bad person. He was the first to recognize that if he had put himself first in the game he would have been in the finals, and might have won. But Jaison seems to be hardwired to let even the worst bygones by bygones, an outlook that doesn't seem to have hurt him in the real world.

Jaison is an all star of the real world. Already at his young age he earned degrees from Stanford and The University of Chicago, and along the way he made time to compete on the U.S. water polo team and climb mountains. He seems like the kind of person who could become a concert pianist in his spare time before work while most of us are hitting the snooze button. In fact, he felt before the show that he had been in a situation where he wasn't in control, and he went on the show partially to face that dilemma.

I asked Jaison how that experiment turned out, as well as his finale night conversation with Ben, the bowling challenge and his comment that Brett became what Foa Foa once was.

You're wearing purple, I see.

Yeah. I didn't realize I was wearing purple until a half an hour before the show. I mean, I realized I was wearing purple. But I didn't realize the significance of wearing purple. I feel a bit like a traitor right now.

I read an interview where you said you'd never been in a situation where you hadn't been in total control, and you wanted to try it. What was it like?

It was hard. It wasn't until after the merge that I realized how 'not in control' I was. Even during the tribal stage I had this alliance and I felt like I was part of the decision making apparatus. After the merge, with our numbers as small as they were, it was kind of a weird feeling. No matter who I was talking to I had no power to convince them to keep me. I had to think of alternative ways to stay in the game. It was a helpless feeling that I'd never felt before. I didn't like it. I can tell you that. I didn't like it at all.

Your socks! Tell me about your socks!

I had no idea what happened. I was going out looking for them.

You never had socks?

I never had socks. That was part of the reason why my feet looked as terrible
as they did. They were all white and swollen. That was just the way it was.
Whatever. It happens.

You're a world class athlete, but you didn't win many challenges out there. Why not?

To be honest with you, in the early challenges I did incredibly well. In fact, I did better than anybody else on my tribe. I did well in the swimming challenge. In the Schmerganbrawl I had to take on two people at once but I still got balls to my tribemates. I made more shots than anybody else. There were only two challenges that I can think of where I really flopped. One was the puzzle at the very end of that boat challenge and the other was the catapault. Other than that I was always in the mix, whether it was throwing rocks at plates or bowling on a makeshift alley.

The bowling challenge looked hard because there were no finger holes, right?


Was it the same skill as bowling or was it a totally new thing?

It was a totally new thing. I don't know how to describe it actually. But it just definitely didn't handle like a regular bowling ball.

You had a great quote about Brett. "He is who we were." Is this a situation where absolute power corrupts absolutely?

Absolutely! My biggest mistake - other than not making a move at the end - was talking to Monica and Brett on the beach. I was thinking to myself, "We are now doing exactly what they did at the merge. We are now way too cocky." It was just weird how all of our mindsets flipped once we had numerical superiority. We essentially became Galu.

Have you talked to Ben since the island?

Kind of briefly after the live show. We just said there were no hard feelings.

There weren't?

Honestly, I don't have any hard feelings towards Ben. Before that Tribal Council I tried to say, 'This is one of the most stressful experiences any of us will ever go through. We might say things we don't really mean.' So I tried to brush those things away and say, 'Maybe he's just hungry or thirsty or whatever.' By that Tribal Council there were some hard feelings, yeah. But now that we've had a chance to cool off and see the show I don't have any hard feelings. I don't think Ben is necessarily a bad person. I think sometimes he just tries to find that thing about you that bothers you the most and kind of hammer it for the purpose of getting a rise out of you. I don't want to judge someone based on a desert island experience. I'd like to know I'm in real life before I say anything horrible about somebody.

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-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins