Kelley Wentworth’s Survivor career has been anything but easy. She’s pretty much had to play from the bottom in both her outings (Survivor: San Juan del Sur and Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance) — always fighting against the grain and trying to crack the majority. Throw in a so-close-but-just-not-close-enough finish to Second Chance (when she was one day away from the final 3 and, potentially, one million dollars), and you could see how she might be frustrated by her time on the island.
But Kelley is back for her third shot at the money as one of four returning players competing in Survivor: Edge of Extinction (premiering Feb 20 on CBS). Why put herself through this all over again? How has she changed as a person since we last saw her play? How does she think she would have done in Second Chance had the final four fire-making twist been in place back then? And would she consider playing for a fourth time if this one doesn’t work out? We travelled out to Fiji and talked to Kelly just before filming began, and here’s what the fan favorite had to say about embarking on her latest adventure.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kelley, why come back and do this again? Why are you here?
KELLEY WENTWORTH: I don’t know. I think I’m out of my mind.
Yeah, I kind of think you are too.
I’m out of my mind! Enough time has passed, I just feel ready. I feel like you can’t always let opportunities pass you by. And, still no kids. I’m married now, but it’s just like you never know in the next few years what might be in my life and this just seemed like the perfect time. So, ready to try again.
You said it’s the perfect time. What does that mean? How have you changed as a person? What’s different about you coming into this game? Because we all change from year to year a little bit, so how are you different not as a player, but as a person from when you played the first two times?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I am married now so that has taught me a lot about patience. So, I am working with that. And then this past December my grandmother passed away, so I feel like that taught me a lot about just kind of handling emotions, and relationships with family, and being more vulnerable in some ways and just talking through things. Like, I’m a very closed-off person, I don’t tend to say how I feel all the time. I would rather run from an argument than be involved in it, so I think I’ve just learned how to be more open and emotional. I think that’s going to help me in this game too just with my relationship with people.
All you really know as we sit here about this season is that David Wright is playing, because you two traveled out here and are staying together. What or who else is awaiting you out on the island? What do you think they have cooked up for you in terms of other players or a theme?
I never know what the heck is coming my way. And there’s this weird, now call me crazy, there’s this weird part of me that feels like they’ve got two more people somewhere — like they’re trying to make David and I think it’s just us, but there might be more. That’s how I feel. Is that weird? I don’t know.
When you say “two more people,” what do you mean? You mean two more returning players?
Yeah, returning people. I don’t know why, I just feel it. I could be wrong, and I hope I’m wrong.
Why do you hope you’re wrong?
I feel like if there are more returning people, that’s bad for me. I don’t want to start in a tribe with anyone. I don’t want to be associated with anyone. I want it to just be me, and the new people just get to know me and not have to worry about any other relationships.
So, what’s your relationship then with David? What do you think about him as a player and how do you feel about working with him?
I have never met David, I’ve never talked to David. I think we’ve had a few interactions on social media at one point when he was fourth out. I get good vibes from him, so I feel okay in saying that I would work with him at some point. But I don’t know what he’s thinking so I don’t want to just say all out “Yeah, I’m going to be besties with David!” But, initially, he’s got a good aura, I feel good about him. And I kind of know his style of play, I think it’s a little similar to mine. So, we could maybe connect on that.
Well, if you guys are returning players coming into a season against new players — if that is in fact what’s happening — is that an advantage for you guys, or a disadvantage, or both? How do you feel about that dynamic?
There are a lot of ways to look at it. I initially think it’s a disadvantage because I think people have seen our game. These other new people I have never seen their game and I have no idea what they’re going to do. They know what I’ve done, idols I’ve found, things I’ve said to other people, alliances I’ve had. I would love to spin it into an advantage like “Hey, here’s how I can help you guys,” and make them feel calm, and express my experience in the past, and hopefully have them want to work with me. So, I think it really depends on who is out there. It just depends on the personalities, the tribe I start on. Anything can happen.
If that’s the case and there are a bunch of newbies out there, do you think they’ll be starstruck by Kelley Wentworth?
I wanted to say to Jeff when I saw him earlier today, I wanted to say, “Now, you’ve got some Kelley Wentworth fans, right? You did make sure that on the application they said Kelley? So, I hope so. That would be ideal.
You made it to the final four your last time, and then you got voted out. So, I’m very curious of what you think of that new final four fire-making challenge twist?
How did I know this would come up?
Of course it’s going to come up!
I think it’s interesting. I think Survivor always has to add in new things. I mean, I understand why they did it. I think I would have liked it in my season.
How would you have done in your season?
I think I would have probably gone against Spencer, and I think I would have pulled it out. And then it would have been me and Jeremy battling it out at the end. But, can’t think about that, it doesn’t matter.
Oh, come on! How would you have done against Jeremy at the end?
[Kelley clenches mouth and makes a look like she wants to say something but is holding back.]
I think it would be close. I think it would be close. I would hope I would win, but it would definitely be close. I mean, Jeremy’s a great player, he’s a great person. If I couldn’t win, I would want him to win, and he did. But yeah, I think the fire twist is interesting. It’s something that I’m thinking about, but I can’t concentrate solely on because I need to think about the beginning of the game first.
So, which of your previous seasons did you enjoy more?
Enjoy is a tough word. I guess I would say overall Cambodia just because I got to do more and experience more, and I made it further. But it was also very hard. Very hard.
It’s your third time doing this. Will this be the last time you play? Could you see yourself being a four-timer? A Cirie, an Ozzy, a Boston Rob, or Rupert — could you join those people?
I don’t know if I could do four times. This game takes so much out of you, so my only goal this time is to win so that I don’t even have to entertain the thought of coming back.
Let’s say you were playing against Kelley Wentworth. Would you want to work with her? Would you want to get her out early? What would your book be on her?
I feel like I want to work with Kelley Wentworth. Here’s one important thing I think to note is that I really was loyal to the people that I was with in Second Chance. I really was. I worked with freaking crazy Abi-Maria for how many days? I do love Abi, she’s great and Survivor is very tough. I made the moves I made because I was playing from the bottom. I didn’t have a choice really in order for me to stay alive. So, I would play with me, yeah. Hell yeah!
For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.