Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Cirie Fields was 'salty' about not being on 'Winners at War'
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.
Season 40 of Survivor was a clash of former champions battling it out for ultimate bragging rights. Everything about the Winners at War season was epic, beginning with a landmark champagne toast and ending with a record $2 million prize. As amazing as it was for the winners that were at war, and as fun as it was for fans to watch, the season could not help but be a bit triggering for former players that came close to winning but could never seal the deal. So just imagine how it felt for Cirie Fields.
Not only does Cirie hold the title for most popular Survivor player to never win the game, but she has experienced some crushing losses in her four appearances on the show. Cirie's first time out, on Survivor: Panama, she lost in a final four fire-making tiebreaker to Danielle DiLorenzo — a tiebreaker that ended on a cliffhanger that led into the finale because Cirie was so popular that producer Mark Burnett was scared people would not tune in for the final episode if she was eliminated in the one before it.
Her next appearance, on Survivor: Micronesia, was even worse. Cirie made what was supposed to be the final 3 (where she would have most likely prevailed over Parvati Shallow and Amanda Kimmel and won the million dollars), but because there were so many medical evacuations and one player quit that season, they had to eliminate one extra contestant to make it to day 39, and Cirie was cut loose one day short.
After a brief (for her) 11 day stay on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Cire returned for what would be not only her most brutal exit yet, but some would say the most brutal elimination in the history of the show. On Survivor: Game Changers, Cirie had her torch snuffed on day 36 without having a single vote cast against her. That's because the five other active players all had immunity due to either hidden idols, a Legacy Advantage, or winning the challenge. Even though Cirie received zero votes, she was sent to the jury.
So it is no wonder Cirie had mixed feelings about watching Winners at War. While, as a self-proclaimed super-fan, she picks it as one of the best seasons ever of the show, that doesn't mean it was always easy to watch. "I was jealous," says Cirie. "First of all, season 40 — I wanted to be there for that. Just to be on that season, being a fan of Survivor. Then, being on Survivor so many times and not being on Winners at War, I'm a little bit salty."
It didn't help watching that big celebration of the franchise to kick off the season. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? They have champagne?!'" laughs Cirie. "And then to have your entire family out for the Loved Ones visit? Oooooooooooh!!! Yeah, I was salty. I was salty."
Thankfully, the fan in her could not resist. "I got over it though," Cirie says. "At first, I wasn't going to watch it, but I was in my feelings, and I was like, 'Come on now, you love Survivor.' And I watched the whole entire thing."
Now, for our 200th Quarantine Questionnaire, we sat down with the Survivor legend to get Cirie's take on the highs and lows of her reality TV journey, the stuff you never saw on TV, and why when it comes to possible future appearances, she "would play every time."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
CIRIE FIELDS: When I started Survivor, I was the assistant manager and now I am the Periop Systems Director for a three-hospital system in New Jersey, which is running me ragged and driving me crazy. Watch what you ask for, because you just might get it.
The family's all doing well. I am now a Lola times two. Lola means grandma Filipino, and because I'm so hot and you know, who I am, I couldn't be called Grandma, Nana, or anything like that right now. So my Filipino friends told me I should adopt the name Lola, and I think it fits perfectly. So I have two beautiful grandchildren. One is five, and I just had a grandson a year ago. And they are running Lola crazy.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I think my proudest moment was for my son Jared to come out and see the conditions that we live in, and just to see the fact that his mom would be able to endure something like that. I tell them about it, but you know, you don't ever really get the real feel of it unless you're there to see it, smell it, experience it. And for him to have come, and just this shocked look on his face when I explained where we went to the bathroom, where we slept — that made me feel so proud that he can see that his mom is able to endure pretty much anything after this.
So, me making it long enough for him to come, because I missed his graduation. Then I promised him going to come to Fiji for your graduation present since I'm not there. And for me to had made it for him to come and then for him to see me there, I think that was it for me.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?
Honestly, my biggest regret is that I never put in a thousand percent effort and preparation as far as physically. I'll do something and I'll start running just so I don't die, but to be able to really, really be a physical competitor — I've never really put that thousand percent effort in, and it shows.
I know my goal is to win Survivor, and I know that at some point it's going to come down to me winning a challenge in order to push myself to the end to sit in the final and speak to the jury. And I just never really go the extra mile to be a hundred percent prepared, and I guess that would be the only thing I regret.
What's something that will blow fans minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?
In Panama, there was a challenge, and you had to go in the water, dive down, get puzzle pieces, bring them back to this circle, put the puzzle together to win the challenge. Originally, my team lost the challenge, and Aras, being the big brain that he is, started saying, "We couldn't have won the challenge. It's not fair because one of the pieces is wrong." And Jeff, because you know, Jeff gets it a lot of times from a lot of us, Jeff was heated and was like, "Well, go get it! If you're so smart, go get it and show it to me!" And he did, and he was right! So we repeated the challenge and we won. So thank God for Aras' brains on that one.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
Honestly, I feel that I was blessed and I feel like they were super, super, super generous in the edit because when they asked me about Heroes vs. Villains, I wasn't really sure what side I would be on. Because I know me and I know that I could have been portrayed either way, in my own opinion. Yes, I do everything with a smile because I'm a likable fun-hearted person, but am I thrilled all the time? Am I the nicest person all the time? If you asked my husband and kids, they'd probably say, "eh." So I think my edit was very gracious and I feel like I was very blessed to receive the edit that I got.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
I don't know if it's being from New Jersey or is it the parents that I have, but I feel super adaptable. I can adapt, I can go hang out with people in million-dollar mansions, but I can also go and hang out with people in the projects. I just can roll with the punches either way. So when I got home, I just snapped back into this life. Survivor was my life while I was there. I adjusted to that and I focused on that and I got pretty much almost comfortable with that. But then when I got back home, I just snapped back. Okay, I'm back into this light. I'm like a chameleon. I can just go either way. Whatever way you're going, I can pretty much adapt to it. So I didn't really have any issues coming back any time. My only trouble with food is that I ate too much of it. I gained all the weight back quickly.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
No, I never regretted going on the show. I wished I was on the show more. I wish I had more of an opportunity. I wish I was on Winners at War. I wish I had won so I could be on Winners at War. But no, no regrets at all — only just excitement and the feeling of being blessed. I talk to people every day that would love to be on a show. I get inbox messages of people trying out. So my only regret is that I didn't go on more, but I wasn't asked to go more. That's it.
Whom do you still talk with, text, or email the most from your seasons?
From one of my seasons, I think I might be Eliza. I talk to Eliza a lot. I talk to Michaela a lot. Believe it or not, I just talked to Shane yesterday. After Shane got over his feelings and picked them up, put them back together, me and Shane got pretty cool. So I talk to a lot of people, some sporadically, but I talk to Shane quite often. And Eliza's right here in Manhattan, running for district attorney. So I talked to her a lot.
I've stayed in touch with a lot of people via Instagram and other social media, but some of them are texts. I just got back in contact with Aras. Even Russell! Russell reaches out to me here and there. There are other ones you would not expect, like Randy from the Gabon, and Max Dawson, which is my love. I stay in contact with quite a few people.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Of course, I still watch Survivor. I'm a super fan. I would pick David vs. Goliath and Winners at War. Winners at War because it was great to see how the most elite Survivors would act when they're surrounded by just the elite. You're the big man on campus when it's fans vs. favorites or with some returnees, but not winners. But when it's all winners, there's no way to hide. So let's see who really shines. So I really enjoyed Winners at War.
I was jealous, though. First of all, season 40 — I wanted to be there for that. Just to be on that season, being a fan of Survivor. Then, being on Survivor so many times and not being on Winners at War, I'm a little bit salty. And I was like, "Are you kidding me? They have champagne?!" And then to have your entire family out for the Loved Ones visit? Oooooooooooh!!! Yeah, I was salty. I was salty. I got over it though. At first, I wasn't going to watch it, but I was in my feelings and I was like, "Come on now, you love Survivor." And I watched the whole entire thing.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
You know what, I would've really liked to play with Cochran because Cochran is so damn smart. I don't know, the smart people I usually do really well with like Aras. And Cochran is not only smart, he's funny too. So I think we would've made a great team. We would have been hilarious together. Also, I would have liked to play with Max Dawson. I think I could have helped Max along. When I met Max, I told him he was going to be my new Aras, and I could have maybe dragged Max a little further. We had great chemistry just on site, so I would have liked to play with him.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
That's a hard one because I think it's pretty perfect right now. They've already changed the format of final Tribal Council to more of a discussion, which I think was a great idea. They got it down to a science right now. I wouldn't really change anything.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Oh, Dalton. I am a crackhead with Survivor. Especially because I haven't won. But even if I won in Panama, I think I would have continued to play because I'm addicted to it almost. I was addicted to it as a fan, right? So now to be a part of it… I would play every time, Dalton. You know why? Because the experiences — those are things that you never would experience in your normal life. Well, not me anyway. So just to be a part of some of those experiences and some of the rewards and going to other countries — that in itself is worth it to me to play every time. So yeah, I would definitely play again.
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"