Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Julia Landauer calls 'Caramoan' reunion 'total and complete BS'
With season 41 of Survivor delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
Julia Landauer knows her legacy when it comes to Survivor is that she was, in her words, "more boring than vanilla." The race car driver decided to lie about being a Stanford student when she showed up to play Survivor: Caramoan, and therefore clammed up out of fear that she might not be able to pull off the ruse. As a result, everything Julia said was super-safe and she disappeared in the edit.
Well, Julia is vanilla no longer. After writing in her Quarantine Questionnaire that her tribe was snubbed by not being shown making fire on the island without any flint, Julia notes, "That was the first snub of the season, the other big one being that the pre-jury folks didn't get to sit on stage for the live reunion. That was total and complete BS."
Ah, reuniongate. The "total and complete BS" to which Julia refers is that producers of the Caramoan finale attempted to mask the fact that Brandon Hantz was not invited to the reunion due to his erratic behavior by not allowing any of nine pre-jury members up on the stage — an insult to the folks who suffered out in the elements for our entertainment yet were not even allowed on the finale stage for their efforts. And seeing as how Julia was voted out seventh, on day 19, she was one of those insulted.
But while the NASCAR driver may have been quiet on the show, she has plenty to say now about her time in the Survivor sun and what she's been up to since. Fasten your seatbelts for the Julia Landauer Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
JULIA LANDAUER: A lot has happened since Survivor! After graduating from Stanford in 2014, I moved to North Carolina to pursue my racing career, won a second championship (in a NASCAR-sanctioned series), and in 2020 managed to race in the European NASCAR series, where I finished fifth, the highest for an American ever.
Away from the track, I've given two TEDx talks and am a professional motivational speaker. I've worked as an advisor for Hyundai, and have had various content partnerships with Shell, Turo, Spotify, and Disney.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I'm proud that I was able to be valuable physical asset in the challenges (which I guess didn't really matter since we lost all but one challenge), and I'm proud that I tried to make a big move to save my ass. It also didn't work, though. And simply surviving Survivor is a huge feat.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret is not being authentic about who I was and concealing that I went to Stanford. I thought it would help me long-term in the game, to not be known as the future Stanford grad… but what I found was that it was essentially a lie I had to keep up, and I didn't want to blow my cover once I started that narrative, so I ended up playing it safe and not saying as much, and coming off as a lot more quiet that I am in real life. But having done that, I learned the incredible lesson of being intentional with who you are. Which is a great lesson to learn at age 20.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I don't know if this will blow fans' minds, but we were able to start a fire pretty quickly without any flint, which is actually really impressive! I think we all watched that first episode expecting to get props for getting fire going, but alas, we didn't. That was the first snub of the season, the other big one being that the pre-jury folks didn't get to sit on stage for the live reunion. That was total and complete BS.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
While I don't love that my legacy is being more boring than vanilla, looking back I see how it could seem like I was. I'm soooooo much more self-aware and comfortable in my skin now, and I think my edit would be really, really different now.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
The weirdest and most humbling thing was realizing that the world went on without me. Kind of puts you in your place! It was also a little hard to get back into physical shape for racing (but I got back in a race car about two months after returning). The other smaller things that were weird were not feeling like I needed deodorant (people quickly corrected me on that) and I stopped chewing gum after Survivor. I just got so used to au naturel while out there.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Not at all. It was such a satisfying challenge. It is SO hard to get out there with no idea of what to expect, to deal with hunger and sunburn and dehydration, to have no sense of time or what day it is, other than what the sun tells you, and to be with some truly crazy people. It's very authentic and extremely challenging, but now I feel like I'm part of this cool club of people who went through the same unique experience.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
It's been nine years since we filmed, and I wouldn't say I'm tight with anyone, but I keep up with Laura, Michael, Matt, Andrea, and Hope on social media a bit. They were the easiest to get along with, and Laura, Matt, Hope and I all bonded at Ponderosa.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I watch on and off, but I'm currently enjoying season 28, Cagayan. Spicy personalities on that one.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Brenda. I always think of her as so nice, but also stealth and sneaky and cutthroat when she needed to be, which is a good combination of traits on the show, and in life too.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
The only thing I can really think of that I think would add to production would be to have more challenges. I think they were so incredibly creative and fun, they were challenging, and they would cause more fatigue overall, which could also spice up game play. But mostly they were just a lot of fun and the off days we have definitely dragged on sometimes.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
1000000% yes. Sign me up. I won't be vanilla.
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