HitFix Interview: Stacey Powell of ‘Survivor: South Pacific’

Before her Duel on Wednesday (October 12) night’s “Survivor: South Pacific,” Stacey Powell must have sensed she was heading home, so the 44-year-old Texas mortician decided to go out with a bang.
In the latest in which has become a quickly established tradition of Pre-Duel Rants, Stacey exposed her tribe’s core alliance, revealing Coach as the strategic ringleader. But Stacey refused to refer to “Coach,” repeatedly calling him “Benjamin,” much to Jeff Probst’s amusement. [Coach’s subsequent in-camp temper tantrum proved that Stacey had smartly targeted a sore spot.]
Stacey’s actual loss in the Duel with Christine wasn’t nearly as memorable, but perhaps Stacey is best remembered for an admirable effort in the strength competition that preceded her eventual elimination, an effort that remains a clear point of pride.
In our exit interview, Stacey and I discussed Benjamin, Brandon and the failings in her social game.
Click through for the full interview…
HitFix: So how’d you watch your elimination on Wednesday?
Stacey Powell: I watched it with my family, my family, my family and my friends and they were just cracking up! Again.
HitFix: What did they think of your big Duel speech?
Stacey: My Duel speech? They thought that I did a wonderful job, in spite of… It’s just like having a battle. You don’t win ’em all… You don’t win the fight, but the battle still goes on? But they were still happy in spite of how I did and how everything turned out. And they were really happy on how I just spilled it. 
HitFix: How important was it for you to make that stand, even if you knew you could be going home 10 minutes later?
Stacey: It felt good. First of all, you need to know what’s going on over there, who’s doing what over there, and we knew it was Benjamin that was over there just running the whole show over there. I felt it was so important, because if I had had the opportunity to come back, I would have turned, I would have gone Red instead of Blue. I would have moved over. But hey, I thought it was important that they knew that.
HitFix: And it seemed as if Dawn was a particularly receptive audience to what you were saying?
Stacey: Mmm-hmm. Yeah, she’s pretty much an older woman like myself, so she’s listening. Take it in. Listen and understand so you’ll be prepared for what’s gonna come if you’re not gone. So you’d better listen. And it looked like it worked. Didn’t it work? I think it worked.
HitFix: Now when you got to Redemption Island after being voted out, you went to Christine and you revealed to her that Benjamin was running everything. You both seemed a little surprised by this. Who did you guys think was running things with that alliance?
Stacey: We didn’t know it was an alliance, first of all. Honestly, the five? We didn’t know. But the three we thought it was was Mikayla, Albert and Sophie. Those were the three that we really thought that it really was.  But he was always coming into the picture a lot, so then we started to see that every time a conversation came up, he had to speak on every single thing. So “Hmmm…” We were surprised, but we weren’t really surprised. So I just thought it was my best duty to let her know, because it was me or her and whoever goes back, we know what we have to gain or what we had to look forward to and how to work it.
HitFix: Being able to watch the season on TV, how has that perspective let you actually see what was happening with The Five?
Stacey: It makes so much sense to me. It makes so much sense. The things that I was seeing, it was really what I seeing. The things I was really seeing about those five people, it made sense. When you talked to one person or to two people… Let’s say, for instance, that you talk to like Rick or Sophie, they’re gonna kinda shy away from you. They didn’t have too much to say. When you’re trying to talk to them, they’d shy away. So it made a whole bunch of sense. But the main two people, Albert and Sophie, it really made sense and then I saw how Benjamin always kept coming in, but the other two, I really wasn’t too sure about. Brandon and Rick? I wouldn’t have ever thought them two. But the other three? Yes.
HitFix: It looked like almost from the very beginning, you and Christine were on the outs with the rest of the tribe. Why do you think it happened like that?
Stacey: You know what? I don’t know. I don’t know, because we were socializing… Well, let me speak for me. I was socializing with everyone and I don’t know if it was because they already knew who they had, but me, that’s what it seems like to me now that I see it. Know what I’m saying? Me and Christine, we were talking and those five, they already knew what they had, so what they’re gonna do is they’re just gonna briefly come over and short-talk with you and then they walk away. It went like: OK. We talk, we laugh, we giggle, but it wasn’t nothing and all of a sudden you’re trying to talk some strategy with one of them and it’s like they don’t wanna hear it. Well, now I’m on the outside looking in, it’s like, “OK. The whole time you were over there, you were already going back telling everything already.”
HitFix: At the first Tribal Council, there was the lie that Brandon told Coach… Sorry, Benjamin… and then Benjamin confronting you two and at the time, you guys seemed utterly shocked by the entirely thing. Being able to watch it, did a lightbulb go off in your head?
Stacey: Yes! Oh my God, yes. Watching it, when Brandon said he told Coach that he told me and Christine to vote Mikayla. That’s not what happened. We were just talking. We thought he was just shooting the breeze, “Oh, I’m voting Mikayala,” and then him telling Coach that he said that we said that was a shocker. And then for a.k.a. Coach to just sit up there and tell Jeff that he heard that me and Christine were voting off Mikayla? What? And it was just such a “What?” and then the fires just started flaming from that point. “Oh?” “Huh?” It was just so confusing. It was like, “What just happened?” Crazy.
HitFix: How close is the Brandon that we’ve been seeing on TV this season to the Brandon you got to know on “Survivor”?
Stacey: Brandon was OK with me, he really was. He was OK with me. I never had any beef. That’s why I was confused, because me and him talked… Me and him, we’d sit, we walked together, we slept outside together. We just did pretty much things that we did, you know, but you didn’t see it, so I was like, “I’m confused! What the hell happened?” And then, all of a sudden, it was like “OK, Brandon talks too much” and “Brandon is running to Coach too much” and then when Christine was voted out, it’s like, “Who can I tell something to now?” I had to baby-step my way when I wanted to say stuff. I had to watch how I was talking to him. Know what I’m saying? Because every time I’d say something, he’d go run off and tell Coach. So it was just like, “Damn. What am I gonna do?” So it was like, “Oh, my God. OK. Let me try to get over here now.” So then it was me and Rick, but Brandon’s still there and he’s telling me one thing and it’s another. But he was OK, in spite of…
HitFix: You had that terrific performance in the strength challenge. Did you think that was going to convince the main group to keep you around? Or at that point, did you not even think you were in vulnerable at all?
Stacey: I really thought that was going to keep me around, because they would have seen how strong I was and what I could do for the team… But I did not want to lose, trust me. I did not want to lose at all. I wanted that, because I wanted that for *me*. Know what I’m saying? I was on the outside and that was gonna be an “I” win. I wasn’t gonna be running around there boasting, but I was gonna be saying, “Look what I did. It was a team,  but I did it.” So I didn’t want to go home and it was bad that I did. I feel like all that I did out there, because I guarantee you, they may look strong, those other girls, but they couldn’t have done that. That’s 140 pounds. That was a lot of weight, so when they voted me out, I was like, “Well, don’t be too surprised. Just take your torch and go, babe.”
HitFix: Why do you think Benjamin and that alliance viewed you as a threat?
Stacey: Strength. Because you know why? I think that what he could do, I know I could have done better, for he could do. But he went in and telling them these stories, these story things that he’s done and blah blah blah. Man, nobody wants to hear that. But they were buying it. They fed into those little stories he was giving them, but what he’s done, we could have done better. Or I know I have done better than what he’s done, because when they were moving those blocks during that challenge, I betcha I could have pushed those blocks more faster than he could have. So I think it was not even because of endurance or strength, because he goes off loyalty, but hasn’t been so loyal himself, now was he? No.
HitFix: Let’s play a little hypothetical: How do you think the game goes different for your tribe if Coach doesn’t show up. No Coach in the game at all. How do things go differently?
Stacey: I think if hypothetically Coach had not been there, I do believe it could have been like me, Christine, Rick and Brandon. I do believe that. And Edna, she’s just floating like a little butterfly, so we could have just talked her into coming with us. I do honestly believe that.
HitFix: And do you think it would have made a big difference if Ozzy had ended up with your tribe instead of Coach?
Stacey: Probably. I do believe probably so, because he thinks. He thinks. But then once you turn on him, there ain’t no telling what he’s gonna do. But if we’d had Ozzy, we probably would have won all of the challenges, too. Nobody probably would have had to go home at all. So who knows? It went down the way it did and personally, for me, I went down standing strong. But hypothetically, I do believe that if we’d had Ozzy, we’d have had a pretty good turnout. 
HitFix: Your “Survivor” bio suggests that you’ve been a long-time fan. How long have you been watching?
Stacey: I started out watching it from the beginning, from the first couple episodes. But then I fell off. I just got back into it last year, for 22. It was like, “OK. I’m getting tired of this,” but then the year last year, made me really start getting interested again. But now, I’m a lifetime “Survivor” fan. I’ve gotta watch every year now. Every year I’ve gotta watch now, because I was in it and I see how it goes and it was amazing.
HitFix: As someone who had watched a lot of the game before, what surprised you most about playing “Survivor,” how it was different being there that you couldn’t have predicted?
Stacey: You know, it was the social part of it, personally for me. If I could do anything different, that’s what I would have done different. How? It would have had to be a whole different way from how it really went down. They say the most important part of the game is social, but until you’re there and you see how things are done, it’s just like you go in somewhere and you think you’re gonna be able to fit in and you don’t. You think, “OK. I’ve gotta try something else.” Personally, for me, that was the part of it for me, watching the game, it is the social part of it. But when you’re social, you’ve gotta be social by trying to be in with the group, not trying to watch everyone’s clothes and think that’s gonna get you some kudos, you know? That’s not gonna get you nowhere. That’s just gonna make you like, “Oh, she’s just a flunky. We can get her to do what we want her to do.” 
HitFix: You said you’d do things differently, but what would that consist of?
Stacey: What would I do differently? In the social part, I wouldn’t have been trying to wash everyone’s clothes. I was friends with everyone, but not as friends as I thought I was with them.

Previous “Survivor: South Pacific” Exit Interviews…