'Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains:' Exclusive Interview with Jerri Manthey
'Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains:' Exclusive Interview with Jerri Manthey
Much like a Hershey bar, Jerri Manthey was the sweetest part of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. She and Coach seemed to find true companionship. Unlike some three time players, she wanted to be there, and fought to win every challenge. Finally, at the age of 39, she could still rock her once-trademark bathing suit as well as a lot of 20-somethings. In short, Jerri was once labeled a soap opera witch, but today she is nothing if not down to earth.

For me, the one knock against Jerri this season was how easily she seemed to bend to Russell's threats. I was therefore very pleased with her strong, articulate explanation of her strategic decisions in the game. She also reflected on her friendship with Colby and offered a brutal answer about her romantic potential with Coach. That was cold, Jerri, but you warm my heart anyway.

How do you feel about the season looking back on it now?

All I can say is that I'm glad I went back for more torture.

Yes? Good! Do you feel like this has put a satisfying ending on The Jerri Trilogy?

Absolutely. I can definitely step back and look at this experience and be happy with the way I played the game. I can pat myself on the back for figuring out how to get through the game without making a single person angry at me.

Not even Danielle?

No, not even Danielle. Once the merge occurred I became very aware of how other people would be perceiving me, and where I stood in the hierarchy of the Russell alliance. When Rupert got voted off I basically planted a seed in his head. I said, "Tell Danielle that the only reason I voted for her was because Russell threatened me." There was partial truth in that, but that's not why I made that decision.

Why did you make that decision?

In the last second before I made that decision I just sat there. I didn't like being put in that position, first of all. But at the same time I had to very quickly decipher the pros and cons of my choice. Contrary to what Russell would like to believe, my choice was based on my personal Survivor [strategy], not because he was controlling me, which was infuriating to hear.

What was your reason?

I knew that getting rid of Danielle would move me one slot higher up in the hierarchy of the Russell/Parvati/Danielle alliance, and it did. It almost worked. Ironically enough I became too well liked by the jury to take to the final three.

Do you believe that the main reason you got voted out was because Russell wanted to have your vote on the jury? Or was there more to it?

We all know he's dellusional and cocky. He thought he had my vote in the bag. Oddly enough, as I said when I got voted off, it was my intention to vote for Russell. He voted me off, which happens in Survivor. I really did not have any reason to hold a grudge whatsoever. But he blew it at the final Tribal Council by insulting all of us, and basically saying that his gameplay was so good that he didn't need any luck, or anyone else, and he was in control of everybody at all times. It was like slapping everybody in the face. His arrogance lost him a million dollars. Regardless of what a lot of people might want to believe, to me, that [performance] right ther e should have won The Dumbest Move in Survivor History [award.]

Did he ever really have a chance to get votes, though?

Absolutely! My jury speech included things such as apologizing to people who might have felt slighted, and being gracious to people who had to be ousted in order for me to stay in the game. Those are things Russell isn't capable of. If he had been more humble absolutely. He could have at least gotten a couple more votes. But you cannot insult the people who are getting ready to give you a million bucks. You just can't. Not if you really want to win.

Why, in your opinion, did Sandra beat Parvati for the million?

Sandra scored a lot of points by trying to get Rupert and Colby to side with her, and oust Russell. I think there was a lot of regret on the Heroes team for not listening to her. As well as respect for her trying. That and, quite honestly, Parvati being associated with Russell hurt her.

Is that fair?

No, I don't really think it's fair; but that's my personal opinion. The reason I voted for Parvati is because I thought she played an amazing game socially, physically and mentally. For me it was a moral decision. I had no other choice but to vote for Parvati because she was really my number one competition throughout the game.

The relationship with Coach: Was there ever a romantic vibe to it on your end?

For me? Absolutely not. It's a game. It's hard to decipher what's real and what's not. I really do look forward to getting to know Coach outside of the game. I'm hoping that underneath the character he plays on Survivor there is a real, genuine guy. But on the show itself? No. I would never get involved with someone romantically [during the game.] I tried the first time I played and went after Colby pretty hard and I realized pretty quick that it tends to alienate you. If it goes wrong it's not going to go in your favor.

Colby told me you had a really nice friendship develop on this season. Tell me about that.

Yeah. It's unfortunate that most of it hit the cutting room floor. Colby and I had an absolute, amazing and positive experience together.  We almost found comfort in each other, just having this long history and appreciating what the game used to be, compared to what it is now. We hung out a lot and went fishing. None of that made the show and I was actually very disappointed. I thought that was a great arc for our relationship.

Is there any way we can keep up with your on going adventures?

Absolutely! If people would like to find out what I'm up to next, they should go to jerrimanthey.com. All my stuff is on there.  

Check out more Survivor interviews:

(Images courtesy of CBS)

-Interview by Henry Jenkins