Quick Note: We’ve already inducted two members into the ‘Survivor’ Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011. Click here to find out who and come back Friday to meet the third member.
“Survivor” has a long history of people who have played “Under-the-Radar” games and managed to walk away with the million-dollar check. In many seasons Edna Ma could have snuck her way into the finals and been viewed as a winner when paired up with kooky Coach, brazen Brandon, or ambitious Albert
But this wasn’t that season.
The Upolu five stayed strong to their first-night alliance and rode it all the way to the end. Good news for them, bad news for Edna. I spoke with the doomed sixth person the morning after her elimination and found out where she thought she stood in the alliance, how she feels about the way religion is being tossed around, and why my “Survivor” word association is so darn intimidating…
Gordon Holmes: Last night was…uh…something. How do you feel about the way Upolu was using religion to justify their decisions?
Edna Ma: I find it was much more heavy-handed then I realized when I was inside the game. I mean, obviously there was a lot of praying in the game when I was present, but I didn’t realize that there was all this other praying that was going on when they were by themselves. I think that when you’re in the game of “Survivor” there’s not really much you can hang onto except for your spiritual thoughts. But, that being said, historically in the thousands of years of humankind, religion has been used to control people and their behavior – for good and bad reasons. But, it’s not an uncommon tool that people have used.
Holmes: Do you consider yourself to be religious?
Ma: I’d consider myself to be more spiritual than religious.
Holmes: Did it bother you to see things like Coach praying for an idol that was in his pocket?
Ma: It was very disappointing to see Coach praying for an idol that was in his pocket. And then to see that he said something like he prayed three times and each time God gave him the same name. Wasn’t he saying Brandon’s name before he started praying? It seems so hypocritical in that instance.
Holmes: What was your relationship with Coach like? Obviously you two got along before the merge, but did he continue to be someone you trusted?
Ma: He’s very much a coach. His name is very much how he is. He was trying to coach Brandon on how not to be so disruptive and he got along very well with Sophie and Albert because they all played sports and Albert was a coach himself. I think later on after the merge my relationship with him became a little more unpredictable. It wasn’t as strong. That’s why I refused to believe I was sixth in the alliance.
Holmes: You were criticized for seeming to be OK with being on the bottom of the Upolu totem pole. Was that how you saw your standing during the game?
Ma: The game of “Survivor” is very dynamic. Everything changes on an hourly basis. So, I didn’t think people would be holding onto that first-day, five-person alliance when it was day thirty. And I actually thought they’d be a little more fluid.
Holmes: Once it was out in the open that you were the next to go, were there any cracks that you could have tried to manipulate?
Ma: I knew that my leverage in the game would be obliterated once Cochran was gone. So, I did my best to try to save him and try to engage Albert and Coach in a vote to save him. I knew if we saved Cochran that I’d have more control over the game. And Cochran really made a big sacrifice. I tried to get people to evaluate what their plan was after I was gone. It was going to be an Upolu implosion. It was very frustrating to get people to try to think differently.
Holmes: Now, this is a family site, but I wanted to discuss a point in the game where you’d promised to eat Coach’s…fecal matter if things didn’t go your way.
Ma: (Laughs) I think that was technically blurred, so that could have been Coach’s toenail or something like that.
Holmes: OK, good. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t forced to live up to that.
Ma: Of course not. Most verbal contracts in the game of “Survivor” cannot be enforced.
Holmes: I know you’re an accomplished inventor with your BareEase & Cream and Numb Nuts numbing creams and your sweet Tree Mail hat. Were there any other “Survivor” innovations you were responsible for during your time in the game?
Ma: I sewed up Albert’s trousers which he broke during the weights challenge. He was walking around with his pants open…um…it was not a family show. But I helped fix his trousers with some fishing line.
Holmes: Alright, we do a word association here…
Ma: I’m familiar.
Ma: I’ve been anticipating it. But, I do have a question for you…
Ma: I have been omitted for the last two weeks.
Holmes: What?! Oh…that’s embarrassing. But know going forward that you’ll totally be included in the finale interviews.
Ma: (laughs) I just wanted to tease you a little bit.
Holmes: God told me to leave you out. Alright, let’s start with Sophie.
Ma: Sophie is a very confident individual.
Ma: He’s a bit of a mystery. It was hard to engage with him regarding the game. If it didn’t involve his ranch I didn’t know what to talk to him about.
Ma: Cochran is very endearing.
Ma: Free spirited.
Ma: God fearing.
Ma: A paper tiger. Idle.
Holmes: Now if I remember correctly; getting on “Survivor” wasn’t your first goal.
Ma: Getting on “Survivor” was an accident. I’m friends with Mick Trimming (“Survivor: Samoa”), he and I took residency together and I was trying to inquire on how to get on “Shark Tank” so I could bring more awareness to my business. And he suggested that there was a final casting for “Survivor.” I figured I’d try it out, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I could get cast on “Survivor.” And that’s exactly what happened!
Holmes: What was it like to end up with this totally different experience?
Ma: I think I surprised myself and my entire family when I got as far as I did. I thought it’d be smooth sailing once you get to the merge because usually after the merge you keep the people who are physically less threatening. What I did learn is that you can’t control everything around you and you can’t control the actions of an individual or the system. But I also did learn that I’m capable of more things if I just put my mind to it.
Holmes: Thanks for your time; I can’t wait to see how you do on the jury this Sunday.
Ma: This interview was actually not so painful. I was afraid of yours actually.
Holmes: Really? Why?
Ma: The word association.
Holmes: Understood. I’m very intimidating.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes