You can never remember who was second or third or fourth eliminated off of most reality shows, but there’s a certain slightly-more-than-anonymous ignominy that comes from being the first person sent home.
In that spirit, take a second to salute Carolina Eastwood.
The 26-year-old bartender from West Hollywood was the first contestant to have her torch extinguished on “Survivor: Tocantins.” One morning after her elimination aired, Carolina chatted with a few reporters about her truncated journey into the wilds of Brazil.
“Of course I was angry,” Carolina says, having had a few months to reflect. “I was really upset. You try being snuffed by Jeff Probst. It doesn’t feel good. I was surprise. I was shocked. And I was humbled. It’s very humbling.”
Carolina was recruited for the show after making a joke overheard by a “Survivor” casting person interviewing a friend. She promptly watched all 17 previous “Survivor” seasons in preparation and became a convert.
“You know, ‘Survivor’ was the journey of a lifetime,” Carolina gushes. “It was the greatest gift I have ever been given. ‘Survivor’ is truly a gift. God gives you what you need at that point in time in your life. I gained weight for ‘Survivor.’ I went to nutritionists. I trained hard for it. But obviously it wasn’t my time to play the game completely, but ‘Survivor’ was everything I could have ever imagined and I am proud and so blessed to be part of the family now.”
“Survivor” has a familiar tendency to vote off the old or the weak or the obviously inept as early as possible, but Carolina’s ouster bucked that trend. She’s young, attractive and appeared to be making an effort around camp. In fact, her problem may have been putting in too much effort. As presented by the editors, Carolina’s turning point with her fellow castaways came when she suggested they finish building their shelter, rather than lounging after a lost challenge.
“What you guys didn’t see is that JT wanted the shelter up just as much. Taj wanted it up just as much,” Carolina insists. “Because in a game [like this] you need shelter to be able to sleep. It was 120 degrees outside and we needed under shade and we didn’t have shade, so my thought process was like, ‘Shelter, shelter shelter so we can rest and save our energy for challenges.’ And obviously my aggressiveness got me into trouble.”
Carolina still doesn’t understand why her tribemates booted her instead of Sandy, the game’s oldest player.
“I have a lot of respect for Sandy. I think she’s a great lady,” Carolina begins. “But yeah, I was pissed, because she did nothing. She did nothing. She did no help with the shelter. She did nothing. And it was so hard to be like, I worked so hard to be there and to have it taken away from me was devastating. It was embarrassing.”
Carolina also doesn’t hesitate to name another player she’d have preferred to see voted off before her.
“Spencer,” she says, mentioning the 19-year-old student, the youngest player in “Survivor” history. “I’m sorry, I like Spencer a lot, but I’m sorry. When you go on ‘Survivor,’ you don’t complain about missing your iPod. Hi. You’re on ‘Survivor.’ You knew you weren’t going to have an iPod. Why complain about it? He complained a lot. Like, that kid complained so much and I’m just like, ‘Really, dude? Really?'”
Carolina doesn’t feel like the editing misrepresented much about what happened in the early days in Brazil, except possibly for over-emphasizing her bossy side. She also wants to clarify how she came to be wandering in the wilderness in a low-cut red dress and cowboy boots.
“Those are JT’s cowboy boots. Those are not my cowboy boots,” she laughs. “My tennis shoes were soaking wet. I had no say about that red dress, like I would really go on ‘Survivor’ in a little red dress. The only thing I had a say on was my tube socks, which I love. My tennis shoes were soaking wet and our campsite was full of ants and bugs, so you couldn’t really walk barefooted.”
And what does one do to capitalize on the infamy/notoriety/exposure of finishing last on a season of “Survivor”?
“I came out to LA three years ago by myself to be an actress,” Carolina admits. “I’ve been wanting to be an actress since before I could even walk or talk. It’s been my passion since I was a little girl and not only acting, but I’ve always wanted to host my own show and that’s what I’ve been trying to do out here and hopefully ‘Survivor’ will open some doors for me, I’m gonna be honest. But if it doesn’t, I’m still gonna work hard to accomplish my goals.”
She adds, “But also, I really want to bring awareness to domestic violence and rape awareness and really get those charities known to the public, because it’s such a taboo subject that no one ever wants to talk about and hopefully with ‘Survivor,’ I can use that growth to get my money involved and help change some lives… My goal is to help others and ‘Surivor’ is going to allow me to do that, to give back to people. If you don’t give back, you’re not living.”