SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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.

Cristina Coria knows she was portrayed as the "bossy cop" on Survivor: Cook Islands. There's just one problem, she notes, however: "I wasn't doing anything that was bossy." A police officer for almost 14 years when she was put on the show, Cristina says she was cast to be a type, whether that was the real her or not: "I just felt like they were trying to portray me in a certain way and they couldn't get that."

But while Cristina was not originally thrilled with the edit she got from producers on season 13, she ultimately had the last laugh once she talked to her own personal focus group back home. "It kind of backfired on them," says Cristina, "because even when I went back to the school the kids were telling me 'God, they were so mean to you. They were like bullies to you on the show.' So I look back and I'm kind of glad they tried to portray me a certain way because the kids saw past it and they actually respected me for it. They were pissed off on how the show was trying to portray me. So it's actually a good thing."

Cristina's actual game was cut short due to a surprise double elimination, but even though she only lasted 15 days in the game, that was more than enough to collect memories and stories to last a lifetime, including a wild plan to stay warm involving… feminine hygiene receptacles?!? Read on for info on that and more in Cristina's Quarantine Questionnaire!

Cristina Coria on 'Survivor: Cook Islands'
| Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.

CRISTINA CORIA: I started working a job with a police publication so I'm working with 911 Media and American Police Beat Magazine. I'm also working on an app to help first responders and anyone who gets injured. I'm still involved in a lot of charities like Give Kids the World and another charity that's in Texas. I just try to keep myself involved in helping kids or police officers that are injured.

I'm also taking care of myself with a lot of physical therapy because I might need another neck and back surgery. Other than that, things are good. I can't complain.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

I'd probably say when we were doing the challenge where the two girls were trying to pull me off the beam. I remember the first thing that Jeff Probst told me was, "Cristina, no chokeholds, no bar arms, no being a cop. Don't use that here." So I'm like, Oh, that's great, no one can pull me off that wood beam then."Then that's when Flicka and Becky were trying to pull me off but Flicka put her arm around my neck and was trying to pull me off by doing a chokehold, just trying to pull me off. I was now getting pissed and not getting to breathe, and Jeff totally ignored it.

I was like, "You know what, enough is enough. I'm going to get hurt and I'm done with this being nice." That's when I finally got up, picked her up, then picked up Becky, who was on my leg. You can see me pissed. I threw her to the ground and said, "Stop f---ing choking me." I remember Flicka just looked at me and then at Becky, and at that point, I was just spent. I remember Jeff looking over at me and saying "Cristina, you can't do that." And I'm like, "I'm done, I'm over it." My department, the officers, and all my friends were like "That was so hardcore of you. We're so proud of you."

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

I wish I would have known more about the game. Even though I knew Joel Klug from the very first Survivor because I went out with him, but I never really asked him too much about the game. I never really paid too much attention. I thought it was just a game about survival and whoever basically makes it to the end by surviving without drinking water or not eating or finishing the challenges, that was it.

I wish I really would have understood the game in the sense of getting more idols, looking for them, really changing things up. Although I don't think I would have played differently, because I was also still working as an officer, I was still working in the schools, talking to kids about morals and values. Survivor is not about morals and values. Survivor is a cutthroat, deceiving, backstabbing game. It's not anything to do with what I tell the kids. So I'm glad I played the game being what I am about morals and ethics and playing it my way. So I don't think I would change anything there.

What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?

When you have that time of the month for girls, they gave us a trash bag to take care of things. So we had trash bags out there. What's funny is, I tell my group, "Let's use those trash bags and put them underneath our palms to give us some warmth so that way we are not so cold against that sand." So I'm sneaking the bags into our little tent and we're putting them in all the palm leaves. Now we're all freaking outgoing, "Wait, should we do this? Should we not do this? Should we do this?" Now we all feel guilty and we end up taking them away because we were afraid the cameramen would see us doing all that. That probably was the funniest thing. I look back and I'm like I'm surprised we did not get caught for that. We were all so scared we were going to get kicked off because we did that.

There was another one where we had a soda can that we found washed up ashore. So we were like "Hey, we can cook with this because it's metal. All of a sudden, the TV crew tells us no, we can't use it. It was like if you're on a deserted island, things wash up, you're supposed to be able to use things that wash up. They're like "No, you can't use that."

Cristina Coria on 'Survivor: Cook Islands'

How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?

They tried to portray me almost as a bossy cop. They couldn't really do that though, because I wasn't doing anything that was bossy. There was one time that Ozzy was trying to show us how to build a fire. He's like "Hey, we need to build a fire this way." And I said, "Why don't we just build it anyway as long as we make fire?" Well, when he went on his little interview, and he's like "I'm not going to listen to no bossy cop." I'm thinking, how am I bossy? You're telling us to do it one way and I'm just saying let's do it anyway.

There was another time when I was washing the octopus and I was asking for help and no one was helping me and they're like "Oh she lost a lot of octopus so she's out there cleaning it." It was like oh, my God, I'm washing fricking octopus in the ocean. It's not like I'm in a sink and the ocean is just going to be all calm and everything else.

So they tried to portray me a lot of different ways. It was kind of funny. I did everything possible for these people and I just felt like they were trying to portray me in a certain way and they couldn't get that. It kind of backfired on them because even when I went back to the school the kids were telling me "God, they were so mean to you. They were like bullies to you on the show." So I look back and I'm kind of glad they tried to portray me a certain way because the kids saw past it and they actually respected me for it. They were pissed off at how the show was trying to portray me. So it's actually a good thing.

What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

Yeah, it was weird because of not seeing your family for a whole month, also being on an island, and not having all the necessities. It made me not take for granted having all the things that we have. I was very happy now having showers, I was like "I'm never going camping again. I'm definitely going to hotels!" Being a cop, people recognize me because my hair was up just like on the show. When I was at the gym people would recognize me, so that was kind of a weird thing. But other than that, it wasn't really that much different. It was just a little weird adjustment.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?

No. I was nervous about going on the show to begin with. When I was cast, I was nervous and I was trying to get out of it because all I could think about, "Oh they're going to eat bugs!" SoI was kind of avoiding the show. But I'm actually really glad I was part of it. It was a really good life experience. It was definitely a once in a lifetime thing that I would definitely recommend people to at least try it once.

It really made you think about a lot of different things and how you handle things. It also made you open your eyes to how society is, how people are, how backstabbing people can be, especially when it comes to money. Yeah, I was really glad I got to be on the show. Not to mention it opened doors for giving me that 15 minutes of fame to be able to do some charities and raise money for great causes.

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?

Billy. I recently talked to JP. Actually, we did a Zoom call not too long ago where all of us got on.  And I just saw Cecilia in downtown L.A. last year. I actually see a lot of them at charity events so I do keep in contact with a lot of them. The majority of the time it's been Billy and Cece, even Ozzy every once in a while. But everyone else it's been really hard because they all live so far away.

The Rarotonga on 'Survivor: Cook Islands'
| Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images

Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?

I've watched a few episodes. Unfortunately, because of working and my busy stuff going on it's really hard for me to sit down and just sit down and watch TV. I was watching that one with the Dirty 30. And I saw the one where they had their loved ones with them — Blood vs, Water. Actually, I got called to go on that one with an actor I was dating at the time, but I couldn't because I had surgery on my neck and back. It was kind of neat to see the dynamics of all that, with Hayden and how people were voting off their loved ones and things like that, that was interesting. That actually would have been a fun one to be on.

Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?

I think Sandra. I really like how she is. I would have really wanted to build an alliance with her. She knows how to play the game and would have been fun to play with. Other ones that would have been fun to play with would have been Tony and Sarah. That would have been a fun one to also be on, with a bunch of officers and at least you can kind of build an alliance or something. I wonder if Sarah would have thought I was a cop or not. I would have loved to have been on that one.

If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?

I would say make it a bit more challenging to where it is more based on survival in the sense of the elements, not just being the best at conniving. Let's really see who can outlast not drinking too much water, and not eating too much. And I'd like to see even more challenges. The challenges were the best part. I felt like it would be a lot more fun having more challenges.

Finally, would you play again if asked?

I wouldn't play again. I got asked again and I would totally have done it, but because of my injuries, unfortunately, I can't.

To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get all the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub, and follow Dalton on Twitter.

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Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning $1 million, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "Dig deep!"

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