‘Survivor’ Castaways Tina & Katie: ‘I May Have to Vote Her Off’


Katie Collins and Tina Wesson (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name: Tina Wesson
Age: 52
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Katie’s Mother
Previous Season: Winner of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “Survivor: All Stars” – first player eliminated.
Current Residence: Robbinsville, North Carolina
Occupation: Motivational Speaker

Name: Katie Collins
Age: 25
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Tina’s Daughter
Current Residence: New York, New York
Occupation: Hedge Fund Support
Personal Claim to Fame: Raising thousands of dollars for the American Lung Association by climbing 55 flights of stairs at Penn Plaza.
Pet Peeves: Grammar misuses and poor manners.

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Gordon Holmes: Tina, you I know. A former “Survivor” champ, a former “Survivor” Power Rankings participant. Tell me about this Katie person.
Tina Wesson: My daughter Katie is this amazing young woman. When they called and said they had this concept to bring out a loved one, she’s got a brother who’s 13 months younger than her, and so I had to pick who to bring out here with me. And, I chose Katie because Katie is one of those people who’s very social, everybody knows “Survivor” is a social game. So, I thought Katie would do great with that. She never quits. I don’t care what they throw at us, my daughter will never quit. She’s an adventurous, independent woman and I’m just so happy to be out here with her.
Gordon: Katie, I was going to give you the chance to agree or disagree, but how could you possibly disagree with such a growing assessment?
Katie Collins: I know! (Laughs) I would disagree if she’d said I was just a rotten child. It is very sweet, but I have her to credit for this adventurous spirit that I have. She told me to be independent and break the mold. We live in the south and you get out of high school and you get married and you have kids. You stay in the same town. She encouraged me to follow my dreams, which is why I moved. I went for a goal that I set for myself. If she hadn’t encouraged me, I don’t know if I would have.
Gordon: You had to choose between your son and your daughter? My mom would never hear the end of it if she took my sister to “Survivor” over me.
Tina: I know! It really was brutal. And you have to be so careful about hurting their feelings. And they have this sibling rivalry of who I love most…
Gordon: And which one do you love most?
Tina: (Laughs)
Katie: I think it’s obvious.
Tina: Oh my gosh…
Katie: Me and my brother have different qualities and we could both bring something to this game. But, me and my mom, we’ve done more together. We’ve gone on trips together, we’ve hiked in Peru. I feel like we know each other really well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we’re a really good team. It’s no knock to my brother at all; I think we’re better suited.

Gordon: How old were you during “Survivor: The Australian Outback?”
Katie: I was thirteen years old. I was in middle school, that awkward stage of your life.
Gordon: Were you embarrassed?
Katie: I was a bit…
Gordon: Or was everyone impressed when she got the rice from the river?
Katie: Oh, that was huge! We would watch the show and during the commercials she’d say, “OK, this is what you didn’t see.” It was cool to have her be the commentator.
Gordon: Numbers-wise that season was a monster. We’ll probably never see anything like that again.
Tina: 36 million viewers, we beat out “Friends.”
Gordon: Tina, what was that like for you? People recognize the cast of “One World”, but Colby (Donaldson), Jerri (Manthey), and Tina were household names.
Tina: It’s crazy. I am not here for the television part of this experience. Besides Katie, I’m one of the few people who are not a television person. So, for me to get that, I had to adjust to it. I wasn’t used to attention and not being able to go anywhere. It was sheer insanity. I kept a journal that documented my itinerary and everything I did, and I look back at it and I’m thrilled and honored, and what a privilege. I got to experience things that nobody else got to experience. Colby and Elisabeth (Hasselbeck) got to have these amazing careers, but nobody got to have a year like I had.
Gordon: And, you whooped up on them. Jeff Probst didn’t hand Colby or Elisabeth a million-dollar check.
Tina: (Laughs) That’s right.
Katie: It’s neat. There were very few reality shows when she was on “Survivor.” Now you have tons and tons of reality shows. But back then it was just starting out.

Gordon: Katie, it says here that your pet peeves are grammar misuses and poor manners.
Katie: I sound like a stick in the mud. (Laughs)
Gordon: Now, it are possible that you could run into some of that out there.
Katie and Tina: (Laugh)
Gordon: Can you let that stuff slide or will that be a problem for you?
Katie: I was thinking more along the lines of when I’m on a date. That’s what came to mind when I was filling out the application. And it’s not like I’m going to throw a table over because someone…
Gordon: You didn’t conjugate that verb properly!
Katie: Don’t end a sentence with a preposition! When someone sends me a text that says, “U R…”
Gordon: You freak right out.
Katie: I don’t freak out. But if I go on a date and the guy sends me a text that says, “U R awesome” without a period…
Gordon: That’s a deal breaker.
Katie: It’s a deal breaker, actually.
Tina: (Gasps)
Gordon: You send him packing.
Tina: No wonder I don’t have grandchildren!
Gordon: This process is meant to introduce the players to the fans, but I feel like Tina’s the one who’s learning.
Tina: I am going to…
Katie: And contractions… and poor manners? I can deal with burping and other things. But don’t fart in front of me.
Gordon: I hadn’t intended on it, but now that I’ve been warned…
Katie: I know there’s going to be ten of us spooning under a shelter and someone’s going to do it. Maybe it’ll even be me, who knows?
Tina: Oh my…

Gordon: Nobody knows this better than you, Tina…winners have automatic targets on their backs.
Tina: I think that in All-Stars I got a really good taste of no winners allowed. I think that the fact that I won so long ago and some of the people were so young, that I’m hoping that I won’t be seen as this person who is a former winner. The bigger threat to me is that I’m an older woman. I’m the oldest woman, I’m almost 53. And when you first go out there you’re playing as a team and if you’re not contributing to help win that challenge, you’re out. So, that’s the thing that I feel more threatened about.
Katie: I’ll give her credit. We trained a little bit…well…we trained for one day before we got out here.
Gordon: That is a little bit.
Tina: One day together, we trained by ourselves before.
Katie: (Laughs) We were running side by side. We had one earbud each.
Gordon: That’s adorable.
Katie: We ran a couple of miles, we went kayaking. I think she’s going to be active until she’s almost 100.

Gordon: Francesca Hogi just set a “Survivor” record by being the only person to be voted out first in two seasons. Does that concern you that you could match that feat?
Tina: Absolutely. If I am first voted out, I don’t even want to say the words because that’s what Francesca did, that would be rough for me. I’m a very competitive person, but more so, I love this game. I love this game.  I feel sorry for every single person who’s ever been voted out first, not because they were voted out first, but because they don’t get to experience “Survivor.” I like that we starve and we’re miserable because it gives us the opportunity to see what so many other people go through. We’re never tested to see what our true grit is. “Survivor” gives us that gift. Katie is going to find out exactly what she’s made of.

Gordon: This is the first time that people are entering the game as pairs. What strategies have you two been discussing?
Tina: We’re not real sure what’s going to happen. We don’t know if we’re apart or separate or what.
Katie: We could be on completely separate tribes. They haven’t told us one way or another.
Tina: I’ve talked to Katie about who to trust, who not to trust. I’ve seen every episode of every season. I love this show. Katie hasn’t had cable since she was in high school. If we’re together, I’ve got her under my wing and we can work together. She can go to the young people, because usually the young people don’t migrate to the older folks. Then, when we’re apart, she’s on her own.
Katie: We have to have two strategies; one as a pair and one as individuals. We don’t know, Probst could throw in 100 different elements.
Tina: It’s not like “Amazing Race” where you’re trying to go deep into the game as a team. There’s only one winner. She may have to vote me off, I may have to vote her off. And I told her, “Katie, don’t get so emotionally attached in this game because it ruins it. If you’re so engaged that you get voted off and you’re so mad, you don’t get to experience everything ‘Survivor’ is. And our love transcends this game. If you can go farther by voting me off, sister? Knock yourself out.” And I mean that.
Katie: Our relationship is not going to hinder our game. What we have to do on the game of “Survivor,” it’s not going to be taken personally.

Gordon: What do you think of the cast so far?
Tina: I think this cast is very interesting. Gervase is here from season one. I haven’t seen him in years. I’m so happy to see him. And then there are people who are villainous…Tyson…
Katie: There are some old-school and new-school people.
Gordon: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to align with?
Katie: We talked about it before we came out here. There are a few people, Aras and his brother. We think they’ll be good to have on our side. They seem like they’re trustworthy.
Tina: Which is so important in this game.
Katie: We’ve talked about Monica and Brad being on our side. And I’m going to try to reel in the younger crowd. I’m great at talking, and I can relate, and I’m hoping I can make some friends out here.

Gordon: Anyone you’re wary of?
Tina: Yes!
Katie: Tina.
Tina: (Laughs) Tyson! Tyson’s one of those guys that I don’t feel like you can trust at all.
Katie: I wonder how his girlfriend is going to be…
Tina: She dates him. That should tell you something.
Gordon: I don’t know. My girlfriend dates me and she’s a wonderful person.
Tina: (Laughs) Oh, stop it.
Katie: They had a stare-off at the airport.
Gordon: Wait…what?
Tina: He was looking at me with that very mean, serious stare and I wasn’t going to back down.
Gordon: Already, yikes.
Tina: But we could get out there on the beach and we could form an alliance. That’s what’s crazy about this show.

Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Katie and Tina: We’ve never had a fight.
Katie: And I know that’s hard to believe.
Gordon: I don’t believe one word of it.
Tina: She was a great child.
Katie: I was terrified, because in the south you can still get spanked with the wooden spoon or the belt. It’s not like, “I’m going to take away your Nintendo DS.”
Tina: Katie was so easy growing up. It’s her brother that was the troublemaker.
Gordon: That’s why he’s not here.
Tina: (Laughs) That’s right.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

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