Exclusive Interview with 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' Candice Woodcock
Exclusive Interview with 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' Candice Woodcock
Candice Woodcock seemed, at first glance, a perplexing choice for the cast of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. An informal survey of my family and friends suggests that no one remembers who she is.

Here's the thing about Candice, though. She's a born All Star. There is not a more natural leader in this game.  

Candice was captain of her high school soccer and cross country teams when she got a perfect math score on her SATs. She was inspired by Survivor: Africa so she moved across the world and  taught school out of a mud hut. 

In college she became the Executive Director of Students for Students International and now she's in medical school while she plans her wedding.

Oh yeah. She's also a Survivor All Star. Sounds like a hero to me!

For a girl who gets dismissed as being cast for her sex appeal, Candice kicks some serious butt in life. I asked her how Survivor stacks up next to her (greater) accomplishments, and she gave me a fantastic interview.    

If you had not mutinied in the Cook Islands do you believe the game would have turned out differently?  

If you're asking do I think I could have won had I not mutinied, the answer is no. There has been a lot of talk about how things would have been different if: 1. Aitu hadn't gone on an immunity run, 2. Raro had not been forced to vote out 2 people for one immunity challenge loss, 3. we had known that Yul had the hidden immunity idol. I think that it's safe to say that these were not things I could have predicted when I made the decision to change tribes. I was thinking about numbers and about avoiding a head-to-head showdown with Yul (who had Becky no matter what) or Ozzy. I hate coattail riders, and was hedging that I could make the case to the jury that I made moves and took risks in the game to get myself to the end, and whoever I was sitting beside in the final 2 (as I believed it would be) either did nothing or was more disliked than I was. Anyway, what makes the game great is that you can't predict what will happen. Sure, I wish I had made it further, but I think the right person won in the end. Yul is a great guy, played a great strategic game, and I had no reservations about voting for him to win the million.

At the point you got called to compete on Heroes vs. Villains, was Survivor a part of your past? Had you moved on?

I sort of have this evolving "to do" list in my life, and being a contestant on Survivor was something (among others) that had been on it ever since I watched the first season in high school. I figured I'd never get the chance since I was too young then, and I thought, "of course the show won't still be on once I finish college." Well, it was, so I applied (twice), got on, and checked that right off my list. I had moved on...down the list: finished my masters degree, finished the first 2 years of medical school, taken the boards, gotten engaged and was gearing up for my wedding and 3rd year of med school. I'm minding my own business and one day, I get the offer. That was the start of a few weeks of me wavering back and forth about going back on the show. Hadn't I moved on? Hadn't I "been there, done that?" I had turned the opportunity down before but the timing was less than optimal then. With timing for school being an issue, it was much easier to turn down the first time. This time, as the idea of taking part in the special 20th season started to sink in, and as I started to ask around at my school about taking time off, and with my wedding vendors about moving the wedding... everything started to fall into place. With no technical road blocks, and with my man and our families behind me, I couldn't say no.

You have accomplished a lot already in life. How does Survivor rank for you compared to succeeding in medical school or being the Executive Director of Students for Students International?

I'm so grateful for having had the opportunity to experience of all them. I sort of put them into separate categories in my mind so that nothing is lost in comparison. Medicine is a long, grueling process (much harder than Survivor)- but it actually allows me to combine what's great about both Survivor and S4Si into a career. In medicine, every day brings a unique challenge, which makes it fun; I get to do what I love, which is to help others and to take care of people; and I get to call this a job. Could you ask for a better career?

Despite your intelligence, a lot of casual observers would say you were chosen for Heroes vs. Villains because the producers wanted cute girls in bikinis. How would you respond?

I would say that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Amber won All Stars. Parvati won Fans vs. Favorites. Do you believe that you, as a younger female player apt to be underestimated, are a bigger threat than someone like Colby, who's known for his dominance?  

The beautiful thing about Survivor is that anyone can be undone- you just have to find the right angle on a person to finish them. Physical dominance is no exception. When I think physical dominance, I think of Ozzy or James, and look what Parvati and her girls did to those two. Getting back to the point I think you're trying to make about being underestimated though, I do think it can be an advantage. When you're playing against people who have watched your game, it's much tougher to surprise anyone. I think that being a lesser known member of the cast could be an advantage in that way (except of course, if all anyone knew about you was that you mutinied...that would have its downsides.) Being lesser known could also be a bad thing if, for instance, most of the cast members already knew each other from outside of the game. All this hypothesizing is getting out of hand, though. I think no matter how you look at it, Newton's law applies. There is no one thing you can point at and say this is a clear advantage all around. There's always a downside. It's why the show is so appealing.

-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins