QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
Name: Stephanie Gonzalez
Hometown: Aguada, Puerto Rico
Current residence: Ocala, Florida
Occupation: Graphic Sales
Gordon Holmes: You’re in sales, I’m assuming you’re constantly meeting people, getting them to like you…
Stephanie Gonzalez: Every single day. I’m in and out of networking events where I’m trying to meet people. Constantly shaking hands with everyone I can. Make a good impression, get some business cards, set up some meetings.
Holmes: That feels like it would lend itself to a game where you’re about to meet nineteen strangers.
Gonzalez: Definitely…of all ages, all kinds, all ethnicities.
Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Gonzalez: I think it’s my unique personality. I’ve got so many different dimensions to my personality. I’m this girly girl, but I can transform into this super tomboy. Hang out with the guys, go to a game, grab a beer.
Holmes: Is there anything about your background that you’re going to keep a secret?
Gonzalez: That’s a tough one…I was a rebel. (Laughs)
Holmes: How so?
Gonzalez: I would run away from home, I got this tattoo at sixteen years old, pierced my own belly button. I was kind of a rebel in that sense. They’d tell me not to do something and I’d be like, “OK, watch me.”
Holmes: They should’ve used some kind of reverse psychology. “Stephanie, get a tattoo.”
Gonzalez: (Laughs) Oh yeah? I won’t get a tattoo.
Holmes: Someone’s going to figure that out and play you like a fiddle in this game. “Stephanie, vote me out.”
Gonzalez: I’m not going to vote you out. (Laughs)
Holmes: Have you set any boundaries as far as lying, deception, etc.?
Gonzalez: I’m not going to physically hurt someone.
Holmes: Well, you’re totally not allowed to do that.
Gonzalez: (Laughs) That’s probably my only boundary. The lying and the backstabbing, I think there’s a way of doing it so it’s not so abrupt to that person. You don’t do certain things so it’s putting salt in the wounds.
Holmes: What about flirting?
Gonzalez: Yeah, I don’t call it flirting. I call it charm. You bring out the smile, you bring out the eyes, the shoulder rub.
Holmes: The shoulder rub?
Gonzalez: That’s the move. (Laughs)
Holmes: That’s the move. Is there anyone back home who will be upset if they see you busting out the charm?
Gonzalez: Not at all.
Holmes: So, you’re single?
Holmes: OK, so there is someone, but they won’t get upset.
Gonzalez: Yes. He trusts me 1000% and I analyze things to a tee. I’m good at sales, so I know how to speak to people. When I meet with a husband and wife, I know to always charm the wife first. It’s all about making feel comfortable. So, the boyfriend knows exactly how I work. He thinks I’m a masterpiece.
Holmes: He’s not wrong. That’s a smart strategy. I started dating this girl and her male friend was not happy about it because he was interested in her. So, the first time we hung out, I was all over him. Using the charm. And it worked. We’re buddies now.
Gonzalez: You’ve got to know how to play it.
Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses?
Gonzalez: I think there’s a little bit of a “Heroes vs. Villains” kind of theme. But, I’m not sure.
Holmes: Are you a big “Survivor” fan?
Gonzalez: I am. I watched it in Puerto Rico growing up. And then I moved to the States and didn’t watch TV for a couple of years, but got back into it about six years ago.
Holmes: Do you ever have “Survivor” stress dreams?
Gonzalez: Oh God, yeah. Probably for the last two months. I’m sitting with four other people and Jeff is walking to me with a paper which is the check. It’s great. And I’m crying. It’s awesome.
Holmes: That’s not a stress dream. That’s a wonderful dream.
Gonzalez: That’s a great dream. It’s stressful because I haven’t even started yet.
Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would rather deal with.
Gonzalez: Let’s do it. I love these games.
Holmes: That’s basically my whole gimmick. Would you rather align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Gonzalez: Hillary supporter. I hate Trump. All he cares about his power. He scares people into voting for him and he’s extremely racist. And coming from a Hispanic background…he’s pathetic.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Gonzalez: Steal a vote, it’s pretty powerful.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Gonzalez: Word puzzle.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Gonzalez: Sexist…it doesn’t phase me.
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Gonzalez: Final Tribal?
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Gonzalez: An adulterer…I don’t know why.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide to who to take along?
Gonzalez: Win and decide.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Gonzalez: Idol hunting. It’s “Survivor.” That’s kind of OK.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show.
Gonzalez: Super fan. That’s a given.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Gonzalez: Dance challenge!
Holmes: What’s your go-to move? Is it the lawnmower?
Gonzalez: The sprinkler. (Laughs)
Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Gonzalez: Girly girl. She’s a girly girl. She’s got her hair done, she’s got her makeup on. Look at what she’s wearing. She has bright, happy colors. She’s in sandals. She’s probably educated, because I speak kind of proper.
NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Gonzalez a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.
Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes