‘Survivor’ Castaway Kellyn – ‘Empathy Is My Superpower’


“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Kellyn Bechtold
Age: 31
Hometown: North Manchester, Indiana
Current residence: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Career Counselor

Gordon Holmes: It says in your bio that you got married and divorced within a year. You don’t mess around.
Kellyn Bechtold: (Laughs)
Holmes: What happened?
Bechtold: Nothing really happened. I’d been with this person for six years. He’s on his own journey and I needed to be on mine. We went on our honeymoon to Iceland and I realized it wasn’t where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I wish him all the very best, I just woke up and realized that the life I wanted and things I love about myself, those things weren’t coming out in the relationship. I’m excited to have the things I like about myself out here to play “Survivor.”
Holmes: Were you able to maintain a friendship?
Bechtold: No. I moved out and I haven’t spoken to him since then. It’ll be interesting when he sees me on “Survivor.”
Holmes: So he’ll have no idea? One day he’s going to turn on the TV and be like, “Hey, that’s my ex-wife starving.”
Bechtold: (Laughs) That’s right.
Holmes: Is he a “Survivor” fan?
Bechtold: No. That’s why I had to divorce him. (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t know the guy, but you’re better off.

Holmes: You’ve participated in an MMA Fitness Challenge. Does this involve striking?
Bechtold: Oh…no. That’s so funny. After I moved out and I was finishing grad school, I was wrapping up my final work there. I got a new job, I decided to put myself through this six-week challenge of training in MMA fighting, which is so out there for me. I’m not this buff person. I’m not here to be a physical threat.
Holmes: But if anyone messes with you, you can put them in a triangle choke.
Bechtold: Yeah! No, not really. It was not aggressive in any way, but we did get to punch bags and kick pads and stuff. It was a really fun thing. And I was in the best shape of my life for my 30th birthday. I was in better shape then than I am now, but don’t tell anybody.
Holmes: When this is over, they’re going to ask me what you deal is. I’m going to say, you should’ve cast her six months ago when it was her 30th birthday.
Bechtold: (Laughs)

Holmes: Speaking of, why do you think you were cast?
Bechtold: I wore these black-and-white checkered pants and Jeff said he remember those. So, it might be the pants.
Holmes: That’s the key to that dude’s heart.
Bechtold: (Laughs) Apparently.
Holmes: Away from the show, all he does is play checkers.
Bechtold: (Laughs) I think I was cast because I applied a year ago and nothing happened, so I made a new video and said, “This is what’s happened in my life since last year, I got married, divorced, blah blah blah.” And I think I was so vulnerable and genuine and I had watched videos where people said, “Just be yourself.” And I find the best way to live life is to be yourself and be vulnerable and tell the truth about who you are and where you want to go. That’s how you can relate to people. And people fall in love with you for being genuine. Then they feel like they can be genuine and then they can love themselves more. I’ve been saying that empathy is my superpower. The only thing different about that in “Survivor” is…I’m going to use that.
Holmes: So, you’re fully prepared to lure them in and then slit their throats?
Bechtold: Yeah. That’s the game, right? I couldn’t be fake. I’m falling in love with these people, they’re all little treasure boxes. I can’t wait to see what gems are in there. I will genuinely care about them. But, I know the “Survivor” world enough to know that some of these people might become my best friends for life. And that part will be genuine. And if I never have to do any lying or stabbing to get to the end, then I won’t. But, I’m not above doing that for the game.
Holmes: It is weird to think that these 19 strangers who you’re not allowed to talk to…several of them will be in your life forever.
Bechtold: They’ll be guests at my next wedding! (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)

Holmes: I have a question written down that I haven’t been asking to everyone because it’s kind of dumb. “Is there anything that isn’t in your bio that should be?” And then in parenthesis I have, “Ever kill a hobo?”
Bechtold: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t know why killing hobos is the first place my mind goes.
Bechtold: I don’t know what the bio says, we haven’t seen it.
Holmes: It’s probably what you filled out at casting.
Bechtold: So, you’re trying to get to the deep, dark secrets.
Holmes: Yes, have you killed a hobo, and if so, how many?
Bechtold: No.
Holmes: I swear I will not tell anyone. However, I will publish it next winter.
Bechtold: What do they not know about me? The “Survivor” folks? I’ve been so open and vulnerable.
Holmes: My secret is I almost killed a player during pre-game interviews.
Bechtold: What happened? Should I be worried?
Holmes: Not too worried. In “Survivor: Philippines,” a framed document fell off a gazebo and cracked over Dawson’s head. It probably wasn’t my fault.
Bechtold: Oh…OK, I think my thing is I got out of a speeding ticket once by saying I had a female procedure done and I really needed to get home.
Holmes: What’s a female procedure?
Bechtold: I don’t know, but it worked.

Holmes: Have you set any boundaries as far as what you will and will not do ethically?
Bechtold: Lying, cheating, stealing, I’ll do whatever. But I will not attack someone personally. I’m not saying I won’t call people names in confessionals. That guy is fricking annoying.
Holmes: So harsh, “Fricking annoying?”
Bechtold: Is that bad?
Holmes: No, I’ve been called worse today.
Bechtold: So, I might do that, but if someone shares something with me personally, I’d never use that. I think we should all hold each other sacred as far as personal life. Now, I know not to tell people about super secrets that I don’t want to be said on television. I think people deserve to come out of this game with some bit of privacy.
Holmes: At the end of the day, you’re people and you have to go back to your regular lives.
Bechtold: Yes, I don’t want to go too far. For me it was the Will and Shirin thing. And he said, “I understand why your family doesn’t love you,” or something like that. That stuff is too far. It’s one thing to say, “You’re the most annoying (expletive deleted) person to live with out here.” But to say, “Your mother should have abandoned you” is too much.
Holmes: What about flirting?
Bechtold: In my real life I’m not above flirting, but you have to understand where you are in the deck of cards. It’s human poker and that’s not my hand. This place is Barbie doll central up the wazoo. That’s not me. I don’t have the long blonde hair. I’m not the cute girl, that’s not why I’m here. Will I make people feel good about themselves? Make people feel loved? Flirting in a…this sounds screwed up…like in a motherly way.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Bechtold: That sounds so wrong. But, like in a caring way. I’m going to make you feel good about yourself. I’ve got to live on my social game. I’m not going to win every challenge.
Holmes: Except for the MMA ones.
Bechtold: Yes, if there’s a round kick to the face challenge, I’ve got it.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses?
Bechtold: I can’t figure it out. I can’t put people into buckets. There aren’t enough old people to do “Millennials vs. Gen-X.” I’d love a guys vs. girls theme. But, I don’t think it’s that.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would rather deal with.
Bechtold: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Bechtold: Oh…dear God. A Hillary supporter I would rather spend time with…but a…oh…is this a Republicans vs. Democrats season? If so, then shoot me. I can’t even fake it, Hillary.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Bechtold: Eliminate a juror.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Bechtold: Word puzzle.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Bechtold: I guess a sexist. I play that game all the time being a career woman. You deal with sexism every (expletive deleted) day. I think I’d know how to handle it.
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Bechtold: Final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Bechtold: A tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take along?
Bechtold: Lose.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Bechtold: Caught idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Bechtold: Someone who doesn’t watch the show.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Bechtold: (Laughs) I’d lose both.
Holmes: Too bad, cause that’s this season’s theme.
Bechtold: (Laughs) That would be so fun, but I’d have to pick dancing. Karaoke, I’d be (expletive deleted) because I can’t keep a tune.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Bechtold: I think that I come across as someone who loves life and is happy to be here. I think I’m very approachable. I don’t think I seem like a bitch or cold-hearted. I wonder if people think I’m smart. I’ve been reading a big book. You have so much time. But, I was wondering if I shouldn’t have brought this 600-page book.
Holmes: Hold the book upside-down.
Bechtold: (Laughs) That’d do it.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Kellyn a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.


Bechtold: That girl was reading Malcolm Gladwell and she looks like that? She’s going to do well.


Bechtold: She’s kept to herself. Seems quiet. Will be more of a listener than a talker.


Bechtold: She looks like a blast. If I’m going to the club, I’m calling her.


Bechtold: I’m not sure about her. She seems self-confident and it seems like she doesn’t need me. I like it when people need me.


Bechtold: I can not get a read on her at all. She keeps to herself. I can’t picture her at home watching “Survivor.”


Bechtold: She is going to be the life of the party. Those are the kinds of people I want to have a good time with.


Bechtold: She seems very smart. I’d love to work with her. She’s like a female empowerment person. I’d like her to be my fourth. I can convince people to vote her out because she’s walking around with a Louis Vuitton bag. She does not need the million dollars.


Bechtold: She’s been fairly introverted. She smiles a lot. She looks really young


Bechtold: I haven’t seen her interact with the staff at Ponderosa. She’s not smiling at anyone. She has kept very much to herself. She either needs a friend and will be open to me coming up to her, or she’s a non-emotional person.


Bechtold: I’m scared of him because he seems smart and super friendly. He’s not super buff, so he doesn’t seem like a challenge threat. He seems dangerous.


Bechtold: He’s my favorite. If I had to vote right now to give someone the money, it’d be him.


Bechtold: He seems like a bro/beach guy, but he’s reading this book called “The Four Agreements.” That’s a book I’ve read with my yoga friends. I’m wondering who bought him that book.


Bechtold: My mom is so worried about me. She’s been praying that there’s someone who can provide me food. I think he’s the answer to my mom’s prayers. He looks like he knows his way around the ocean.


Bechtold: He’s my first choice for an alliance. He was there during casting and when I got to the airport. We smiled at each other. I feel like whenever we’re in the same space with each other that it’s like, “I’ve got you.” But, we’ll see.



Bechtold: This guy is “Survivor” super fan. He probably has every show memorized. I may work with him for a little bit. But, I don’t like the idea of someone knowing the show better than I do.


Bechtold: This guy is so sweet. He’s always so put together. His hair is perfect, his shirt is on a hanger. His whole life seems to be incredibly perfect. I wonder how he’s going to handle the elements.


Bechtold: I just don’t know. He seems like a bro, but maybe he has a sensitive side.


Bechtold: He’s really a bunch of contradictions. He has these heavy work boots, but the rest of his personality doesn’t seem like a farm boy.


Bechtold: This is who I think of as a Boston Rob wannabe. He seems like he thinks he knows what he’s doing. He’s going to want to be a leader, and I’m going to let him. Take attention away from me.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

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