What do you call a female Survivor contestant who doesn't get a line on camera until the third episode? Who knows what her name is? But she'll probably win.
Former winners like Jenna Morasca, Amber Brkich and last season's Natalie White beat male allies who dominated the challenges and controlled the vote. All of them played smart social games, but a big part of that was doing as they were told and pretending not to have ideas of their own.
For better or for worse, Stephenie LaGrossa refuses to play that way. In Survivor: Palau she talked strategy, fought the boys in the challenges and still survived 11 Tribal Councils. In Guatemala she really took the gloves off and thrived through 13 more. But did playing a guy's strategy make her a villain?
I asked Stephenie that, as how she would respond to fans who have said she doesn't deserve a third chance on the show. She was, as usual, candid.
You were definitely a hero in Palau. But were you a villain in Guatemala?
I wasn't a villain in Guatemala. I just had a huge target on my back and I needed to play a much more competitive game. That made me look somewhat more like a villain than a hero.
Jerri told me that it was impossible for a female to play Survivor aggressively and not be labeled a villain. Do you agree?
No, I think a female can play the game aggressively. It just depends what light they portray you in. Male or female, you can play aggressively and be portrayed as a villain or a hero. It's up to them.
As a strong female athlete, can you beat competitors like Colby and James one on one?
It depends on the challenge. On Palau I beat men in some of the really physical challenges, like the one where we carried the weighted bags in the water. I outlasted some men. But if it came down to a wrestling match or something physical that was one on one, probably not. I'm physically smaller then James and Colby. I just don't have as much muscle mass.
Doesn't mean I wouldn't try my hardest though! [Laughs]
What competitors were you most excited to be playing Heroes vs. Villains against?
Jerri, Boston Rob, and Colby. I'm an old school Survivor gal. I've been watching since the beginning, so it was exciting for me to play with them!
Some fans have argued that no castaways should be getting a third chance before others have had their second or their first. How would you respond?
Well, it wouldn't be a true All Star season if they were giving people a first chance. The show has their reasons for picking who they pick, so I have no comment on whether people deserved to get a second or third chance!
-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins
(Image courtesy of CBS)