“Survivor” Champion Parvati Shallow – “Now I Have Something Bigger Than Myself to Play For”

“Survivor: Winners at War” (CBS)

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Editor’s Note: The players were separated by gender and didn’t officially know the theme of the season when this interview took place.

Another Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted across from the giant “Boston” Rob and Sandra heads at the Island of the Idols.


Winner of “Micronesia – Fans vs. Favorites” (2013)

Name: Parvati Shallow

Age: 36

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Current Residence: Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Yoga teacher, life coach, and speaker


Gordon Holmes: What do you think of those cool heads out there?

Parvati Shallow: No…

Holmes: Yup.

Shallow: (Laughs) No wonder!

Holmes: Play your cards right…two-time champ, three-time finalist…we could be looking at a giant Parvati head out there.

Shallow: (Laughs) Let’s just put that into the universe. Do you have a stick of dynamite that I can hurl at those heads?

Holmes: That would be quite a toss.

Shallow: I’ve been working on my range.

Holmes: How was that not in their contract? If that’s me, the second the season is over that thing gets air-lifted to my backyard in Pennsylvania.

Shallow: I want that forever so my child can climb on it, stick a flag at the top of my head.

Holmes: Get down! You’re going to fall off of your mother’s head!

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: Speaking of which, congratulations. New mommy!

Shallow: Thanks, Gordon!

Holmes: She’s adorable.

Shallow: She’s just a little squoosh. Like this little monkey on your keychain. I call her “monkey.” John (Fincher) calls her “Dootie.”

Holmes: “Dootie?” Where does that come from?

Shallow: “Dootie Wootie!” His aunt is from Brazil, she’s from South Africa but she lives in Brazil. She’s in her ‘80s and she’s the most vivacious woman I’ve ever met. And she says, “Aww…my Dootie Wootie!” So now, John calls her that.

Holmes: That’s adorable, and I don’t want to ruin that, but I thought when he took off a diaper he was saying “Doody.”

Shallow: (Laughs) No! It’s a little less cute when he takes off a diaper.


Holmes: OK, during “Survivor: Worlds Apart” you and I did this thing where we talked about how we would play with the other players. And, I included some all-stars in that, including the both of us. You said horrible things about me, because you’re a horrible person.

Shallow: (Laughs) No…

Holmes: It’s true. But here’s what you said about yourself regarding a potential fourth time around…

“I would play with Parvati because I would think she’d already burned her flirt identity, played out her Black Widow persona, and outlasted as the underdog. What’s left? The lovable mother.”

Shallow: I said that?! What? You’re giving me goosebumps.

Holmes: Right?

Shallow: No way! OK, this is really weird, Gordon. The first time I played this game, after the show had been filmed, but before the cast had been announced, my friend calls me and says, “Hey, do you want to go see a psychic in the valley?” Definitely, who says “No” to that? We split our session, it’s like $15. She pulls out some cards, they’re all worn down. I can’t even read what’s on the card.

Holmes: Dootie…

Shallow: Wootie… She says to me, “You’ve just been filming some show on a beach. I see a lot of young people and fires.” I was like, “Yeah…” She says, “You’re going to go again and you’re going to win.” I was like (explosion noise). This was after Cook Islands had filmed, but before the cast was announced. So, nobody knew. And I was like, “Lady, you’re out of your mind. They don’t bring people back.” And then, I got a call from Lynne Spillman for sixteen, and I was like, “The prophecy!” I had to because I was going to win. And now you’ve made me my own psychic. This is really weird. Last night I was thinking about it in my tent. Now I have no psychic.

Holmes: How do you not go to that person every day?

Shallow: She’s really expensive now.

Holmes: How did you not invest that million you won into her advice?

Shallow: Clearly she’s good. She’s a psychic to the stars now.

Holmes: Now I’m the psychic to the stars. Actually, you’re the psychic, I’m just the reporter.

Shallow: Thank God you’re here, Gordon. I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Holmes: You’re so lucky to have me.


Holmes: Alright, for the folks back home, what’ve you been up to since we saw you last?

Shallow: It’s been ten years, there have been some massive changes. We moved to New York, I worked for CBS News for a while. I moved back to LA, got married, have a baby, and started a business. Now I’m working as a life and business coach and a yoga teacher. I take people on retreats and help them to live the lives that they love.


Holmes: Whenever we talk to Jeff about you it’s always, “Sexy Parvati the flirt.” And yeah, you’re attractive, but to me it’s like you’re a more positive Regina George from “Mean Girls.”

Shallow: (Laughs) I love that comparison.

Holmes: And by that I mean; you’re somebody that people want to like them. It’s not a sexual thing, or a love thing, it’s wanting someone’s approval.  Heading into this, some still see you as this sexy flirt. Do you lean into it? Do you play against type? What’s the move?

Shallow: I’ll never play against type. Whatever you think of me, I’m going to lean into that. I want to validate you and what your belief is. I want you to feel good about yourself and I want you to feel right. I’m going to reinforce that.


Holmes:  They haven’t told us what the theme is…any guesses?

Shallow: I think it’s Exile Extinction Idol Island.

Holmes: Nailed it.

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: You are psychic!

Shallow: I think I am! I think they’re going to throw every twist in the book at us. When Jeff came out and thanked us all for being here from the bottom of his heart? I knew they have a lot of trickery up their sleeves.

Holmes: You think he’s apologizing in advance?

Shallow: He’s getting some goodwill going.

Holmes: So, you think it’s ten random women on an island and that’s it?

Shallow: (Laughs) No way! Ten incredible, powerful women who have won this game before.

Holmes: Oh, that’s true. Hadn’t thought about that.

Shallow: It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to think that on the other side of this island…there are ten very capable, strong, powerful male winners of this game. Am I blowing your mind?

Holmes: That’s a hell of an idea. How’d I miss that?

Shallow: (Laughs) You’re making me feel really smart, by the way.

Holmes: I have that effect on people.

Shallow: It’s making me drop my guard, I feel so open with you.

Holmes: That’s the trick, I lure you in with my not smartness. There’s probably a word for that.

Shallow: Dumb dumb.

Holmes: Dootie…

Shallow: Wootie. No, our Dootie is very smart.

Holmes: Future “Survivor” champion. If there are any guys, who do you think we could see?

Shallow: I think we could see Tyson because he is hilarious and everybody wants him back. I think Jeremy is back, he’s a super threat. If Sandra is here, then Rob is here. Amber is here, so I doubt Rob has sent her here without any form of protection. I bet Ethan is here. Who else is good? I have a whole list. I made a whole list! Now I can’t remember half of them.

Holmes: Anyone you want to see, you don’t want to see?

Shallow: I’d rather not see Tyson out here, because the last time we played together things didn’t go so well for him because of me. I don’t know if he wants to settle the score. But, I bet he’s here.


Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-game alliances in these returnee seasons. Got anything to confess?

Shallow: I try not to. I don’t think there’s a lot of benefit to setting up your alliance before the game starts. You just don’t know how things are going to shake down. In Micronesia, people did this and I was the first target. People did this in “Heroes vs. Villains” and I was the first target. And both times I didn’t make pre-alliances and I made it to the end.

Holmes: Have you heard whispers or rumors of other alliances?

Shallow: I really haven’t, Gordon. I don’t know if it’s the best thing or the worst thing that I’m out of the loop here. But, I’m Instagram friends with Kim Spradlin. I’ve never met her in my life, but I have a huge Instagram crush on her. And Michele has Instagrammed me a couple of nice things, but nobody has said, “Oh, I’m working with this person and we’re doing this.” And I haven’t heard about anyone else working together, because why would they tell me? And, I’ve been in this new mom bubble where I’ve been insulated. This wasn’t a seed in my mind that I’d be back here.


Holmes: Speaking of new mom bubble, your Dootie is brand new.

Shallow: It’s so hard. I already cried in my production interview yesterday. Then I was like, “Lock it up, Shallow.”

Holmes: Do not cry in front of Gordon, he will eat you alive.

Shallow: He’ll use it against you.

Holmes: That jerk has no sympathy.

Shallow: He’ll never give you the credit you deserve.

Holmes: Someday she’ll be explaining this to a psychiatrist that her mommy left her to play “Survivor.”

Shallow: No! Don’t say that! (Laughs) Gordon! You’ve tapped into my worst fear!

Holmes: Nope, that Dootie is like, “Bring home that check. Baby shoes are not cheap.”

Shallow: She’s a little monkey!

Holmes: That little monkey is going to need a college fund at some point.

Shallow: That’s really why I’m here. I think, not only will this be so much fun to play with these people, but now I have something bigger than myself to play for.


Holmes: This isn’t your first rodeo. You’re in lockdown, you’re not supposed to talk. But, there’s winking and nudging and whatnot. Who are you winking at?

Shallow: I’ve been winking and nodding at Kim. I had a sly wink/nod with Sarah today. I think she’s the biggest threat of all the women. I’d like to not let her think that I’m coming after her. And, I’d like to use her as camouflage. She’s just brilliant and really crafty.

Holmes: Who seems to be communicating?

Shallow: I’ve seen Sandra and Natalie sitting very close. They’re looking pretty chummy. Danni and Kim…Denise kind of smiles at everyone. But, I know that Denise and Sarah both come from Iowa. They’re both super proud of where they come from. I think the people that have deeper connections are not exposing that. They’re taking precautions. I’d love to play with Denise. She was loyal last time, she played with Malcolm (Freberg) the whole time and he deflected the heat off of her. I know Michele likes me. I’ve interviewed her as press. I hope she’d want to play with me, but she’s not communicating with me. And, I know Sophie from New York. She’s a stone wall. I’m like, “Hi, Sophie!”  And she’s stonewalling me. I don’t know if that’s a bad sign or she doesn’t want to let on that we know each other.


Holmes: How are returnee seasons different from newbie seasons?

Shallow: Everyone is a pro. In previous all-star seasons you had a few of the characters that are like roman candles. You let them light up and they’ll blow themselves up. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time. I think this group of players is really savvy. And, everyone has won once before. So, is someone going to play like they have nothing to lose and just go for it? Just play the most extraordinary game they can.

Holmes: I was wondering this. All you can do is trust someone to work in their best self interest. And that tends to be playing to win the game. But, if someone’s out here to be a big personality, there’s no telling what they might do.

Shallow: I think that’s a valid assessment. I’ve been ranked the list of top “Survivor” players for so long…

Holmes: We know, Parvati. Jeez…

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: Top vote getter in the first ever “Survivor” Hall of Fame ballot…I oversaw the whole process.

Shallow: Before this game was even invented, I was the best player. So, I’m certain there are people who are eyeing that coveted spot.

Holmes: The first class of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame was you, Sandra, Russell Hantz, Richard Hatch, and Rob. But, say all things are equal and you have the chance to take out Sandra or someone lower in the rankings, is it important to you to do better than someone on your level?

Shallow: No. I’m going to do what’s best for me. I don’t need to avenge myself for the last game I played with Sandra. I think the universe will take care of that for me. The scales were tipped in an imbalanced way when she won that game. And it is the universe’s intention to right that wrong, I don’t have to do it.


Holmes: You were once a member of the filthy press corps.

Shallow: (Laughs) Ugh…you dirty…

Holmes: Awful human beings. Does that bring you any kind of advantage? You’ve been to the puppet show, you’ve seen the strings.

Shallow: Hmm…

Holmes: You know Gordon Holmes personally.

Shallow: I know Gordon, so, I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to be flashing your name as soon as we hit the beach.

Holmes: It’ll be sad when you’re the first one out.

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: Actually, don’t say, “Gordon told me this thing about you,” because I don’t want to get into trouble.

Shallow: I won’t jeopardize your career, but I will say, “I was at Gordon’s wedding.”

Holmes: Aww…that’s true.

Shallow: I got to see you perform…

Holmes: “Ice Ice Baby.” So embarrassing.

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: OK, I feel the need to explain. That’s one of my karaoke songs, and I was pulled up to do it at my friend Bob’s wedding. So, at my wedding I specifically told the DJ not to play it. But, my groomsmen had apparently learned the background dance and talked him into it.

Shallow: It wasn’t hard to do, they just threw him a five spot.

Holmes: I don’t want people to think I planned to cover Vanilla Ice on the most important day of my life.

Shallow: Sure…


Holmes: OK, let’s play a game. (Gordon digs through bag, pulls out a pack of AAA batteries) It involves AAA batteries.

Shallow: Really?

Holmes: No, those are for the recorder.

Shallow: (Laughs) I thought you were going to ask how many AAA batteries I can swallow.

Holmes: OK, forget the game. How many AAA batteries can you swallow?

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: Why did Parvati puke her brains out on day one? OK, we’ve got ten former champions in this deck of cards. We’ll take out the “lovable mother.”

Shallow: Aww…I bought my little Dootie the cutest outfit for the family visit.

Holmes: They’re having kids out for the family visit?

Shallow: That was part of my thing. If I come back, my baby is coming to meet me. I bought her the cutest outfit. It matches mine. That’s all I’ll say.

Holmes: Aww…OK, let’s do some classic Align or Malign. Give me four people you’ll work with and five people you will not.

Shallow: These are tough! OK, Kim is cool and I just want to play with her. I think she can make relationships with other people and tell me if they’re coming after me. Sophie and I are friends from New York. I think she’s a strategic, brilliant mastermind. And I would love to pull off some major heists with her. And she won’t be targeted as a big threat. Michele is cute, she’s fun. I don’t know much about her. She’s a fan of mine…

Holmes: Well, who isn’t?

Shallow: (Laughs) OK… But, that makes me fairly comfortable to work with her. I can be the older sister. I think I can trust her. And Denise, the unexpected alliance. She’s a little ball of energy. I’ve been watching her and I’m fascinated by her. She’s a sex therapist and my cousin is a sex therapist. I want to have conversations with her that are real and fun and interesting. And I think with Denise, she’ll be an outlier. She’ll feel like she’s on the outside. She’s one of the older players and she’ll need a Regina George to bring her into the inside of the circle. Those are my people.

Holmes: Cool, tell me about your five not people.

Shallow: My not people…Amber…I don’t know much about her and I didn’t watch the season where she won. That is a strike against me and her working together. And what I said about Rob, he’d never send her out here without protection. So, I bet that Rob has Sandra up to help Amber. And Rob and I didn’t work together last time we played. I like Rob, he’s funny and fun to be around. But, we were on opposite sides last time. So, there’s probably some weirdness around that. Maybe a little bit of bad blood. Sandra…she’s just too loose of a cannon. She’s only ever out for herself, she’s never made any loyal allegiances. And, I want to play with people who are willing to become a team. The more people you have that you can trust, then you become a force that can really make moves. Sandra’s not going to be one of those people. Sarah is terrifying. She’s freaking terrifying. She’s good, man. A little too good. She’s hard to read. She’s too much of a chameleon. Also, she’ll be a huge target. I like Natalie. She’s really fun. But, I haven’t gotten any kind of vibe from her. I would work with her, but I also think that Natalie has a strong connection with Jeremy because they’ve played together. She’s really strong physically. Once the game merges, she’ll be hard to beat in challenges.

Holmes: You’re so sure there are guys here.

Shallow: There are definitely guys here. Are you kidding me? “Survivor” has had more guy winners than girl winners. Danni’s another one I’d work with, but I’m putting her in my pile of five because you made me. I think she’s cute and likable. I think she could be a fish out of water because she hasn’t played in a long time. That might make her nervous and lean toward aligning with Amber because they haven’t played in a long time. But, Amber has more support than Danni.

Holmes: Of these five, who’s the first out?

Shallow: I have to pick Sarah. She’s too close to Denise and Denise is my under-the-radar alliance.

Holmes: Of the four, who is your ride-or-die.

Shallow: I won’t know until the game starts.

Holmes: This is based on your impressions now. I’m not going to call you after the game and be like, “What the heck, Parv?!”

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: “You said…”

Shallow: Don’t you dare do that. Each of them has their downfall. If Cochran is here I know Cochran and Sophie are really close. If Tyson is here, I know that Kim and Tyson are very close.  I don’t know if Michele is close to anyone and if I take out Sarah, I think Denise could also not be super close to anyone. So, Michele or Denise. I don’t want to be tossed aside for someone else’s pre-game alliance with a boy.

Holmes: OK, Michele or Denise?

Shallow: Do I really have to choose?

Holmes: The rules are extremely strict.

Shallow: Dang…I’m leaning toward Denise.

Holmes: See, was that so hard?

Shallow: It was hard!

Holmes: And now you can forget all about it. And when you, Danni, and Natalie are the final three I’ll be like, “Shallow!”


Note: A CBS representative showed up at this point to hurry us along.


Holmes: You’re already getting me into trouble.

Shallow: (Laughs)

Holmes: OK, real quick…If an alien landed, and you had to show them a scene that showed how awesome “Survivor” is, which scene would you show them?

Shallow: I loved it when (Rick) Devens was running around like a lunatic and everyone was following him looking for an idol and he’s already got it.


Holmes: This is like the lightning round. If Jeff let you pick a twist, what would you choose? And it can’t be Parvati gets permanent immunity.

Shallow: (Laughs) But that’s such a good twist!

Holmes: Nope.

Shallow: I think it’d be really cool if when people are voted out, they’re able to come back and do some kind of dastardly deed. Like the little fairies in “Game of Thrones” that created the Night King’s army.


Holmes: OK, let’s play Best Defense. I’ll give you reasons people will use to vote you out, you need to counter.

Shallow: Got it.

Holmes: In “Heroes vs. Villains” she was always on the ropes, and she still managed to get to the end. Too versatile, too able to get out of trouble. Let’s get her out.

Shallow: I hear you, but I’ve been out of the loop for so long. I’m so soft now, I hardly even know what’s going on in this game anymore. The only reason I was able to get to the end of “Heroes vs. Villains” was because I had someone who was willing to risk his life for me. I don’t have that this time. Nobody’s even willing to work with me or even talk to me. I’m a lone force and you can use me as a vote.

Holmes: I read this oral history from Dalton Ross at Entertainment Weekly where Parvati destroyed Erik Reichenbach. Such a sweet fellow. Clearly she’s heartless. I don’t want to deal with that.

Shallow: (Laughs) Dalton really foiled me by timing the release of that article the way he did. Yeah, and I had a team. My intention wasn’t to hurt him, it was to keep my team intact. The reason I did that was to complete what I’d started out with, to take my team of women all the way to the end.

Holmes: Parvati has the press in her pocket. She used to be one of them. Who knows what information she got out of them.

Shallow: Ugh… But does the press really know anything? What’s the word for “unintelligent”?

Holmes: Dumb dumbs.

Shallow: They’re just a bunch of dumb dumbs.


Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Winners at War” – Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 8 pm ET.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes