‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Whitney Duncan and Dawn Meehan

I’ve always kind of wished “Survivor” would take a page from “Big Brother” and show bonus footage on Showtime.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season and I think Brandon, Cochran, and Coach are worthy of our attention, but I’d have loved to have seen more from TV’s most adorable bully Whitney Duncan and crybaby-turned-challenge-warrior Dawn Meehan.

I spoke with Whitney and Dawn the morning after they were eliminated from Redemption Island to find out about the moves they were making that we didn’t see, why Cochran turning on Savaii was different than Savaii turning on Elyse, and an unfortunate Power Rankings controversy…

Gordon Holmes: Dawn, you went from crying to Ozzy on Day One, to kicking some rear in the strength challenge, to acting like you’re someone who was born to spend her time in the Samoan wilderness. What changed?
Dawn Meehan:
I almost felt like a pet who switched homes. I had a new habitat. The experience in the game is so different from my life. I know it is for everyone, but really for me. It took me a little bit of time for me to get my bearings. But also, since Whitney is with me, a big thing for me was I’m close to Whitney. I went to her before I went to Ozzy and after and said to her, “I want to play this, I know how I want to play this game and that’s not happening.” I think from that point on I was able to clear my head. I got my confidence back.
Holmes: Did it bother you that Whitney was such a horrible bully?
Whitney Duncan: (Laughs) Oh yeah, you know me!
Meehan: I though the exchange they showed with Whitney and the earrings was a good representation of what camp life was like. There’s a lot more human kindness in the game than people realize.
Holmes: OK Whitney, I don’t want you bullying me. I’m sensitive.
Duncan: OK, I’ll try not to, Gordon.
Holmes: As I said to Keith and Jim, I didn’t see much actual bullying during the show, and I know how much “Survivor” editors love to show bad behavior.
Duncan: The word “bully,” who did that come from? It came from Coach. Cochran never actually said those words, so I’m not going to be hard on him. But, he did let that term be thrown around. But it’s disappointing because I really liked Cochran. I hung out with Cochran on the beach. I was never rude to Cochran ever and I actually trusted the guy. So I felt very betrayed. And even though it is a game, feelings do get hurt. The only thing negative I ever said about Cochran is he definitely tossed and turned a lot in the bungalow. I’m not going to lie. I was caught in the middle of him and Keith and they’d rip the covers off of each other every ten minutes.

Holmes: Now, it seems like a lot of the Savaiians took Cochran’s flip personally. How is that different from when you guys blindsided Elyse?
The difference is; Elyse wasn’t really involved in any strategic conversations. I tried so hard to talk to Elyse about the game. I liked Elyse. I didn’t want Elyse to go. But, at the same time that’s very scary when a returning player has somebody like that in their back pocket. She’s not talking about the game to any of us, so who is she talking to? She’s talking to Ozzy. I guess you can call it a blindside, but we didn’t technically vote for Elyse, we just let it happen.
Holmes and Meehan: (Laughs)
Meehan: Yeah, let’s talk about that Whitney!
Duncan: (Laughs) Yeah, I definitely had some smoothing over to do with Dawn afterwards. But I never said Elyse was in my final five. I never led Elyse to believe she was in my final five. So, therefore I didn’t really betray Elyse.

Holmes: Now Dawn, I know you’re a Mormon. And Whitney, I know you love Jesus and Elvis…
(Laughs) I wouldn’t make those two equal. But yes, I do love them.
Holmes: Upolu made a very big show of their religious beliefs. Was that off-putting at all? Did that seem genuine?
Meehan: I didn’t see it as necessary in the game.
Meehan: I think that the “Jack & Jill” challenge, that was just the pinnacle of having a really difficult time with tolerating it. We saw it at every challenge, a lot of…you know…who’s on the Lord’s side?
Duncan: Yeah, I’m sorry, but I do not think the Lord favors any one team on “Survivor.” I know the Lord has better things to do. And obviously I’m a Christian, that doesn’t mean I’m perfect in any way, but I definitely prayed when I was out there. Sure, you have a lot of time to yourself. But I didn’t make a big spectacle out of it. And I think that’s a lot of what that was, a spectacle. I feel like Coach used that to help manipulate people.
Meehan: I think Coach has a good read on people and that worked, so he used it. I think what surprised me more is that really, outside of Sophie, does anyone see it? It seems so transparent to me.
Duncan: Yeah, I agree. When they’re praying about a hidden immunity idol that’s actually in their pocket? It looks bad for Christianity. That’s not something to be prayed about.

Holmes: Were there any cracks in Upolu that you could have exploited?
Rick and maybe Albert for us. I think Whitney and I just felt like we needed more time. Once we were on the downside of the numbers we were close to working something with Rick, Brandon, and Albert. We really wanted to take out Coach with Albert. Not the tail of the snake, the head of the snake. And it just didn’t work.
Duncan: I think Albert just wanted to injure the snake by taking out Edna. But you had to be so careful about what you said in the game. They would tell on you.
Meehan: It was like tattle-tails in school.
Duncan: It was never good for me and Dawn if word leaked back. But I never felt like Rick was going to flip. He’d given his word to Coach and he was going to stay true to that.
Meehan: I think Jim was close to getting Rick to flip at the merge. We made an agreement; Jim, Rick, and myself for final three. That was very close.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Ozzy.
Duncan: Strong.
Holmes: Coach?
Meehan: I actually don’t have words for Coach.
Duncan: Creepy.
Holmes: Albert?
Meehan: For me, Albert is kindhearted.
Duncan: He’s a nice guy.
Holmes: Sophie?
Meehan: Talented.
Duncan: Sophie’s smart.
Holmes: Brandon?
Meehan: Intense.
Duncan: Loose cannon.
Holmes: Keith?
Meehan: Genuine.
Duncan: Amazing.
Holmes: When I asked him “Whitney” last week he said “Beautiful.”
Duncan and Meehan: Awww…
Holmes: Adorable. OK, let’s finish this with Cochran.
Meehan: He is a complete character. He’s almost like a caricature.
Duncan: Yeah, I’d actually go with that. But I’ll say this…fearful.

Holmes: Whitney, you have your country music fan base and Dawn I know you have a devoted six-kid fan base at home, what have been their reactions to seeing you in the game?
My fans, they know who I am. I’m a nice person, but I have a little fire in me and I get a little spunky some times. I think they got a kick out of seeing my temper come out. They got a good laugh out of it. My family too, they’ve seen that side of me too.
Meehan: It was just awesome to be able to show them. Maybe not day one, but that was real, but to see me overcome.  For me, the overwhelming feeling that I have with the game is it taught me you have to go after the big things in life. The kids have loved watching it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s made them more fearless. I’ve got my eight-year-old going off of the high dive. It’s taught them to go get life.

Holmes: Now, I hate to bring this up, but there was a big controversy this season…and I just want to know if this is true or not… Dawn, is it true you tried to bribe the Power Rankings judges with home baked bread?
Meehan: It’s absolutely true!
Holmes: Dawn, I adore you…but you have to realize that the Power Rankings judges, myself and Andrea Boehlke are incorruptible.
Duncan: There’s no bribing? I’m telling you that bread is good enough to bribe with.
Meehan: I just need your P.O. Box because I sent Andrea her bread for real.
Holmes: Whoa! Hold the phone…you sent Andrea bread?
Meehan: It got there. Sophie took it to her. She was my courier.
Holmes: This is a nightmare.
Meehan: I love reading those Power Rankings, so for me that was so fun.
Duncan: It is fun. I like those.
Holmes: And you have sullied the entire process.
Meehan: And I’m happy to have done so.

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


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