I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Fans vs. Favorites” competitors the day before they left for the Caramoan Islands. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each contestant every weekday until we get through all of them. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for tons of updates.
Name: Julia Landauer
Hometown: Stanford, CA
Occupation: Race Car Driver/Student
Note: The “Survivor: Caramoan” pre-game interviews are unlike the pre-game interviews we’ve done in the past. Usually, the interviews take place on location, this time they took place in Los Angeles before the players flew out. At this point, all the “Fans” know is that they’re flying out in the next few days. They have seen each other, but haven’t seen the returning players. They don’t know for sure where they’re going, and they don’t know any of the season’s twists.
Gordon Holmes: You think you’re like the lead character in ‘Monk’?
Julia Landauer: (Laughs) Yeah. I’m a little compulsive, not OCD. I’ve got little quirks, little things that bug me. Anything from shoelaces needing to be the same tightness…
Holmes: Mine or yours?
Landauer: (Laughs) Just mine.
Holmes: OK, does my recorder need to be at a right angle?
Landauer: No, but I do align things with right angles. It’s really hard to hang pictures and calendars because I need it to be equal. My friend and I had a bunch of posters in our room this year and it took forever to set them up. My desk has to be neat. So, those little quirks, if I’m focusing on them when I’m away, are going to take away from my game. So, I’ve been working on making myself a little uncomfortable and just dealing with it. And, I’m making progress.
Holmes: You’re in the middle of nowhere. There isn’t a right angle to be found.
Landauer: Yeah. Also, tan lines have been an issue for me. I don’t like having them. So, I’ve just been out in the sun a lot, not that you can tell because I’m fair skinned, but now I have tan lines. I’ve got to embrace it. I’ve started to learn how to make fire, and when I was on the ground I let ants crawl on me. My dad was watching and he was like, “Oh my God. She had bugs on her!” So, I’m making progress.
Holmes: That’s good, there’s a good chance you’ll have bugs on you in the near future.
Landauer: Probably. Q-tipping, or lack thereof is going to bother me. Like after my ears get wet.
Holmes: You are a race car driver.
Landauer: Hells yes.
Holmes: Hells yes, indeed. I know very little about race car driving, could you explain to me what the Skip Barber Racing Series is?
Landauer: It’s basically an amateur racing school. They teach you everything from how to drive the proper line, proper braking, they have a racing series. It’s “Arrive and Drive” so you don’t own your car. They mix up the cars every week. You pick your car out of a hat to make it as equal as possible. When I was thirteen I got into the car for the first time and did some practice. When I was fourteen I did a full series and I won the championship. I started in go-carts when I was ten. It was a family sport, I have a younger sister and a younger brother. It’s where boys and girls can compete on the same level. My parents thought it was very important to learn how to interact with the opposite sex. I fell in love with it, and I told my parents I need to keep doing this and if you support me I will give it my all and you will be proud parents.
Holmes: And they are proud parents? You’re a woman of your word?
Landauer: They are proud parents.
Holmes: Is racing a male-dominated sport?
Landauer: It’s definitely a male-dominated sport. But, there are a handful of women in every given series, and you’re definitely seeing more girls doing go-carting. I think it’s going to be a while before it’s equal, if it ever makes it to that. But, we’re seeing steps in the right direction.
Holmes: I’m betting you’re probably going to run into some alpha males pretty soon. Has racing taught you how to deal with those types?
Landauer: Yeah, my biggest pet peeves in personalities are alpha males and airheads.
Holmes: You might be in some trouble.
Landauer: I’m going to run into them while on the show. It’s going to be hard for me to contain my disgust with that behavior.
Holmes: You practiced with ants, you didn’t practice with any airheads?
Landauer: I guess I’ve chosen surroundings that don’t really have them. At Stanford you don’t have a lot of alpha males because we’re all told that we’re phenomenal people.
Holmes: Isn’t that how you make alpha males?
Landauer: No, it’s very level-headed. I figure I’ll have to buckle down and make it work while I’m out there.
Holmes: Are you a big “Survivor” fan?
Landauer: Yeah. I had watched a couple of episodes before. But, when I was recruited for the show, I have since become a huge, die-hard…
Holmes: You have basked in the glory that is “Survivor.”
Landauer: I have watched so many seasons. For the past couple of months my days have been doing my schoolwork, doing my racing work, eating, and watching “Survivor.”
Holmes: With the exception of all that work, that sounds awesome.
Landauer: (Laughs) It’s such an amazing show. And, the fact that luck plays into it, makes it incredibly terrifying for me. I feel like I have all the skills to go be the sole Survivor, but then there’s luck involved. It provides this X factor. And, it’s very authentic, which you don’t see in a lot of reality TV.
Holmes: Like “X Factor.”
Holmes: Luck is a huge part of it. I’m a big believer that if you play the game with the same cast and the same twists 100 times, you’ll get 100 different outcomes.
Landauer: People’s moods might be off one day and it gives you the false impression that they’re a good alliance, and they’re not. Anything could happen.
Holmes: What do you think it was about you that made them reach out?
Holmes: That was the worst wording ever.
Landauer: (Laughs) Yes, but I know what you meant.
Holmes: This is what I do for a living, by the way.
Landauer: You’re off to a great start! I think there’s this bad ass mentality with race car drivers.
Holmes: You do seem somewhat bad ass.
Landauer: Thank you, I tried…despite the floral dress I’m wearing. There is that tough mentality, but I feel like I have a weird combination of skills that unlike other Survivors, I feel they could make me really relatable to people. I could also alienate people. I could be a swing player.
Holmes: You’ve got the tools, you just need to know how to use them.
Landauer: Yeah. And I am really smart, and don’t try to hide that I work really hard. I love learning. That nerdy aspect with this bad ass race car driver doesn’t seem natural. I think I’m a weird personality. Difference is cool and stands out on TV.
Holmes: I totally agree, there are so few nerdy bad asses like us.
Landauer: (Laughs) Love it.
Holmes: You just rattled off a long list of reasons of why I’d want to vote you out.
Landauer: Here’s the thing though, I’m also very young and people tend to underestimate the young people. Especially Kat on this last season, “I’m 22, I’m just having fun.” At 22 you’re not young enough to just be having fun, you need to be an adult.
Holmes: (Laughs) You’re an old soul. You remind me of Sophie from “South Pacific.” Is there anything you’re going to downplay?
Landauer: I think I have to downplay Stanford. I think that’s the least relatable aspect of my personality. I’ll play up the race car driver because I think people generally think of drivers as rednecks who aren’t very smart. Which is false, you can’t operate heavy machinery at those spends and not be smart. If people think I’m this young, rash race car driver, they could underestimate me and BOOM, I’ll go out and win “Survivor.”
Holmes: Have you prepared for what happens on Day One if I ask, “Where’d you go to school?”
Landauer: I’ve been going back and forth on this. I think I’d say Stanford, but I’m definitely emphasizing the race car driver thing more. I’m not going to advertise it, but I’m not going to lie about it.
Holmes: Do you have issues lying in the game?
Landauer: I think when you’re out in such a weird, new environment, to lie about a lot of things in addition to having to deceive other people in the game could get overwhelming. But, you do what you’ve got to do. These answers could totally change.
Holmes: So, push comes to shove, you’ll lie?
Landauer: I would lie. In the real world people lie.
Landauer: I know, weird right? But, I want to make some enemies. That’s part of my strategy.
Holmes: That’s unique.
Landauer: Not a lot of enemies. But someone who is voted out early or maybe part of the jury. One of the biggest problems with Amanda, she was on “Micronesia” and “China” and one other…
Holmes: “Heroes vs. Villains.”
Landauer: Right, one of the biggest things in all three of her seasons was she didn’t have any enemies on the jury. She played in three seasons and never won. I don’t want to be in that position. I want people to see that I took risks and made moves and part of that was making enemies.
Holmes: Some people flirt to get ahead. Is that an avenue you might pursue?
Landauer: I’m not a good flirt. That’s the problem. I feel like the youth factor will play in more that flirting. I’m just not good at it.
Holmes: What’re we doing with the million dollars? I’m guessing race car parts.
Landauer: There are two possibilities. One is fund my racing career. Two is pay for college. I wouldn’t say I’m paying for my education until the end though, because I don’t want it to come off as a sob story.
Holmes: Do you have any experience roughing it?
Landauer: So…I have a fear of the dark. I should also mention that. It’s a genuine fear, don’t laugh at me.
Holmes: I’m not here to judge, I’m afraid of zombies and I’ve never actually seen one.
Landauer: (Laughs) I face the dark every day. So, I’m trying to get over it. I’ve practiced camping. We’re taking baby steps.
Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it will be?
Landauer: I feel like we could see some past Survivors returning. Other than that, I’m not sure. That’s the most common one. I think that’d be super cool, but a little intimidating. You could learn from them. And if you’re smart you vote off the returning people.
Holmes: You’ve been with this cast for a day. What are your first impressions?
Landauer: I think it’s a really intense group. You can see a lot of fire in people’s eyes. And then there are people where the intensity is not there. I’m not going to write them out just yet, because you never know. I think it’ll be a good season. They’re all kind of young too.
Holmes: What do you think their first impression of you is?
Landauer: I think I have a stern, natural look. But I also don’t think I look particularly old, I hope they think I’m a young kid. And I’m antsy and move around a lot, that adds to that youth factor. I hope they think I’m this kid here to have fun and then BOOM!
Holmes: The most bad ass nerd to ever win “Survivor.”
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.