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: Laura Alexander
Hometown: Washington, DC
Occupation: Administrative Officer
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 used to live in Beaver County, is that where Amber Mariano is from?
Laura Alexander: It actually is.
Holmes: Is she a big, huge legend out there?
Alexander: Well, for me at least because I’m a big fan of the show. I actually met her once. I was in high school and I was in a small-town pageant called Miss Beaver County Outstanding Young Woman…it’s really embarrassing. But, she was a judge.
Holmes: And how did you do in that competition?
Alexander: I was the second runner-up. So, I did pretty well. There were twenty of us.
Holmes: Do you hold a grudge against Amber for your finish?
Alexander: (Laughs) No, I was super excited to get a picture with her.
Holmes: Is your goal to come out here and show her up?
Alexander: (Laughs) No, I’m a huge fan of Amber and Rob.
Holmes: One of your pet peeves is overtly religious people. We’ve seen a lot of that on “Survivor” recently.
Alexander: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Holmes: How are you going to handle it if someone comes to you and wants to pray before an immunity challenge?
Alexander: I grew up in a very small town. Everybody is Christian, not a lot of diversity. But, I have traveled; I’ve lived in Muslim countries for about a year. I’m open to different religions, I just don’t like when it’s pushed on somebody. If religion plays a theme in this season, you have to find a balance of going along with it. It’s obviously not my preference. But if it comes to that, I can sit, stand, and kneel with the best of them.
Holmes: You would all of the sudden become very religious.
Holmes: You also don’t like arrogance. Are you familiar with the show you’re about to go on?
Alexander: (Laughs) Absolutely. I can find humor in it, at least. And I think the interviews will show that. Just from first impressions I think we are going to have a lot of egos on the island. It’s a part of the show. I think the show casts so you have a lot of A-type personalities clashing with each other.
Holmes: You’re on to them.
Alexander: Yes, I am.
Holmes: Are you an A-type personality?
Alexander: I’m definitely a type, I don’t know if I’m A-type. (Laughs) I think I have a strong personality. I’m pretty aggressive in my day-to-day life. I get what I want because I work for it. I think a lot of other contestants might have some undeserved confidence and that’s where the difference is. And honestly, someone with an ego is the easiest to work.
Holmes: Your bio says you are obsessed with “Survivor.” When did this obsession first consume you?
Alexander: I caught on at the end of the very first season because that’s when it really started to boom. And it just became a thing that me and my mom did growing up. The rest of the family wasn’t really interested.
Alexander: I know, I know.
Holmes: Do you still talk to those family members?
Alexander: (Laughs) I do. It’s an embarrassing thing.
Holmes: I’m embarrassed for you.
Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Alexander: For a few reasons; I think what you see is not what you get. I’m blonde, I look like a couple of the other blondes out here. But, I was not cast for the same reason they were cast. I’m very ambitious. I’m smart on paper. I think they compared me to Sophie a little bit and asked, “Why are you different?” I’m a bit of a smart ass. I do have a sense of humor. They see me as a fireball a little bit.
Holmes: Before “South Pacific” I remember thinking that Sophie was super young, but she was mature enough that she could relate to people who were much older. Do you relate to people older than you?
Alexander: Absolutely. I think growing up I was mature for my age. So, it was easier to relate to someone older. I’m 22, but I have a lot of experience under my belt so far. But at the same time I have a young spirit and I can understand people my age. Even if I don’t like them, I can understand their goofiness. If I need to play sorority girl, I can. Visually that’s what people are going to perceive.
Holmes: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but people tend to lie in this game.
Alexander: (Laughs) Oh no.
Holmes: It’s horrible. Are you prepared to lie to get ahead?
Alexander: Absolutely. You have to come into this game knowing what it’s about. I’m not going to be one of those people who shouts about integrity and morals.
Holmes: Unless it works in your favor.
Alexander: Exactly, but that’s the thing, it’d be a lie.
Holmes: You would lie about being offended by lying. That’s brilliant.
Alexander: (Laughs) Exactly.
Holmes: You are a very attractive young woman.
Alexander: Thank you.
Holmes: Some people flirt to get ahead in this game.
Alexander: What? Strange.
Holmes: It’s weird, but it has happened a time or two. Is that a weapon you’re prepared to use?
Alexander: Absolutely. Just from being a 22-year-old woman…if being in a bikini makes someone else want to keep me in? Sure. Go ahead. I’m not going to be one of those girls jumping in the hammock on day one.
Holmes: I’d wait till day two, but I’m shy.
Alexander: (Laughs) But, I don’t want people to assume because I’m young and blonde that I’m going to be riding on someone’s coattails. I think I’d like to play a bit more aggressive than that. But visually, the way people perceive, if that’s going to cause them to underestimate me, then so be it. Flirting, yes, but there’s definitely boundaries. I don’t think it’s one of my strengths.
Holmes: You’ve said a few times that people will view you one way when you’re actually another way. Are you worried that you’re underestimating them?
Alexander: I think everyone out there is nervous, they all have a straight face on. Nobody is smiling, nobody is reacting. I think there are a couple of people that look really smart, really strategic. But, never underestimate stupidity either. (Laughs) You might want to align with someone who’s an idiot, but at the same time, mouths run.
Holmes: After you’ve won the million dollars, what do you intend to do with it?
Alexander: That isn’t something I’ve planned out. I have a life ahead of me, I’m 22, but I’d be smart about it. I’d invest a huge portion of it. My parents have done a lot for me, they made sure I had every opportunity growing up, so I’d like to pay my respects to them, in a sense. I definitely wouldn‘t be blowing it. I’m very cheap day-to-day. Maybe a nice vacation.
Holmes: Do you have any experience roughing it?
Alexander: Well, this won’t be my first time squatting if that’s what you’re getting at. (Laughs)
Holmes: I wasn’t trying to be that graphic.
Alexander: (Laughs) I lived in Morocco for four months. I lived in Israel for four months. The lifestyle is completely different and you have to get used to it. I hike, I climbed the highest peak in north Africa. I can absolutely rough it. There’s a part of me that’s a girly girl, I’m not excited about the bugs. But, I can do it.
Holmes: Are you worried about the lack of food?
Alexander: A little bit, because I’m a tiny person. On average they usually drop 15 pounds. If I drop 15 pounds it’s going to be a huge difference.
Holmes: Did you try to put on weight before coming out?
Alexander: I did. I gained probably eight pounds. It’s difficult being a small person. It’s the same as losing weight I guess. But I’m definitely going to feel the hunger pains. I like to eat, I get cravings a lot. I’m not exactly a health freak. I’m going to be all over those food rewards.
Holmes: What are your first impressions of the cast?
Alexander: We’ve got a boy who looks like he’s from “Jersey Shore” and has his mom do his laundry. We have a gentle giant who reminds me of James. He seems really friendly, but he’s huge. We have a couple of blondes, just like me, but I’m going to guess they weren’t cast for the same reasons. We have a curly, brown haired girl, she looks super sweet. Maybe she’s the next Sophie? Maybe a little bit of a bookworm. We’ve got a fun-looking hippy. He has long hair.
Holmes: If there’s a twist, what do you think it will be?
Alexander: I was trying to count in the van. I think they’re going to bring a couple of people back. I also think since season 25 is in the Philippines, that they’re going to try to save production costs and do this season in the Philippines. I think they’re bringing a couple of people back which I think is getting old. I guess it depends on who they’re bringing back. Honestly, I think it’s great for me because the first time my tribe loses the skinny girl is going to be a target. But, on the flip side, I can say, “They’ve already had their chance, let’s get them out.”
Holmes: If people come back, who would you like to see?
Alexander: Oh jeez, I don’t know. I guess somebody who just causes a lot of drama. I’d love to see the people that are super weird, super annoying, old.
Holmes: You lumped old in with weird and annoying.
Alexander: Those are the people who are going to be targeted off the bat and I need to keep people focused on something other than the skinny, little, blonde girl.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.