Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Natalie Cole reflects on napalming the competition
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.
It turns out that Natalie Cole was not out of napalm. Natalie had two big feuds out on Survivor: David vs. Goliath: one with Jeremy Crawford and another with Natalia Azoqa. She has become friends with one of those people since returning from Fiji. The other one… not so much.
Natalie Naplam was one of the biggest personalities in one of the best seasons of Survivor ever, and it turns out the publishing CEO is just as outspoken and entertaining now as she was out on the island. In her Quarantine Questionnaire, the Goliath who refused to surrender her jacket after being blindsided on day 15 somehow manages to name names… without actually mentioning one of the names! She also shares plenty of intel and insight while also spilling secrets on what didn't make it to TV. Grab your gas mask for the Natalie Napalm Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
NATALIE COLE: Living my life like it's GOLDEN: It's been an interesting couple of years. I am a presenter and keynote speaker and have been booked to speak at various events, conferences, and corporate meetings. As a newspaper publisher, we've had a huge shift in what people are willing to put out to the world even when people know they are clearly lying. The political news year last year kept me laughing, crying, and super busy. The pandemic allowed me an opportunity to slow my roll and spend more time at home with family. In addition, I've been able to create new and better routines for my self-care, which has encouraged me to live my life likes it's golden… because it is.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Not only did I attend his funeral, I planned it: My proudest moment was when I successfully flipped the script and got the first Goliath, whose name I care not to mention, voted off of the island. Tribal was epic on many fronts, including when the unnamed exclaimed that everyone at Tribal would attend his funeral rather than my funeral because "they are my friends." It took everything I had in me to not literally laugh out loud and shout out… No kidding, bro, as we are at your funeral right now! But I did not want to appear cocky as he did have some sympathizers that night. So I passed on that moment of great humiliation I could have thrown his way.
I knew I had the votes as I had convinced both Angelina and John to vote him off due to inappropriate comments he had made earlier in the day. I appealed to both Angelina and John and shared my why, but communicated it in such a way that showed benefits to the both of them. It worked. Then I sat back over a two-to-three-hour period and watched my plan unfold. I was giddy. In fact, I was giggling to myself as I ascended the stairs to my confessional thinking to myself… I just napalmed the hell out of that guy. Hence, my wonderful vote-off that prompted me to give myself a big hug later that night as I sat under the stars. I was proud of myself for protecting myself by not allowing some dirtbag to bully me while I stood by and did nothing for that the sake of optics. Nope, that's not me.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Missing my mark with my tribe: My biggest regret was not connecting better with my tribemates. It took one comment to Natalia that started the beginning of the ending of my game. She is young, cute, popular, with a mean-girl streak, and everyone fell in with her.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
The Goliath Cyclone Meltdown, hands-down. During the first cyclone, most of the Goliaths hunkered down in the shelter were absolutely terrified and demanding to be evacuated. I was outside of the shelter walking around and taking in the wonder of the cyclone. The sky was beautifully clear one moment and torrential rains poured down the next. There were gusts of winds that prompted me to hold onto the nearest tree. I could hear commotion from the shelter. At least one or two Goliaths were crying, someone was screaming, and a huge fight was unfolding in the shelter. The unnamed and Dan were about to come to blows and had to be separated. A couple Goliaths were openly discussing quitting. And I thought to myself, what a bunch of crybaby Davids! I couldn't be more happy. How many will quit, allowing me to move up the ranks, I wondered?
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
It is what it is: Initially, much of my edit evolved around the unnamed badgering and bullying me and me standing up for myself. His actions did stress me out, as some of his antics never made the screen. People saw it as me being confrontational, but never did you see me approach him. He was like a fly over a picnic table on Independence Day, and I couldn't wait to swat him to his death. If I had the opportunity for a do-over with him, you'd likely see a similar script as I would not tolerate such disrespect in real life or reality TV.
My edit evolved from this starting point, so I was not surprised that it continued to morph into a character that even I did not recognize. My edit saddened me as I watched it, as I am more self-aware than I was credited so I felt very much misunderstood. But, bottom line, it was simply great TV editing. It took some time for me to understand and accept how editing works (I was clueless on the process) and why I got the edit I received. At the end of the day, I am a standout in the crowd, even when I try not to be noticed, people know when I am in the space so I will never be vanilla (no kidding). And I am good with who I am, so my edit is what it is.
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 need all of this stuff: Yes, there was an adjustment. It helped to not return right home, but instead have time in Australia to process "Wait, what just happened?" as that is literally how I felt. Everything moves so fast that you need that time to process being voted off and all that occurred while out there.
When I got home, I had the burning desire to downsize, minimalize my possessions, which shocked my family. I redesigned my space, removed, stored, and sold items to create more of a minimal look. I think existing on so little out there allowed me to see that I had so much stuff… maybe too much.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
No regrets: No. I would have regretted never trying to go on the show as it was something I said I would do while watching the first season. Then life happened, so I never attempted to be on the show or made time for it until 2018.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Mean girls are sometimes fun: Natalia. She is so much fun. She asked me to room with her in Australia, which I agreed to. We found that we have so much in common. We laughed so much that our stomachs hurt. We discussed DvG and Survivor in general that we bored at least one or two others who were with us. I also hear and touch bases with Lyrsa, Dan, and Davie. I keep up with Alison and her lovely mom, Willa Raybould, mostly through social media.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Dope on Heroes vs. Villains: I'm def still a fan of Survivor. Heroes vs. Villains killed it. It would have been dope to be on that season because it was all-out epic with many characters with great story lines played up. I loved several Survivors from Heroes vs. Villains.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Cops aren't us, but: I don't want to be negative as there is no one person that I would say I'd want to play against. But, there are several from "Survivor royalty" whose games were incredible and they seem to be good people who I would have loved to play the game with them. But, since you've asked for only one, I would have to say Tony Vlachos, as he never fell asleep on the game, was tactical, strategical, and oh so damn funny.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Do the right thing: More staffing diversity so that it is representative of our world because it is simply the right thing to do.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Hmmmm. Timing is everything. If you have any pull with management, have them ask me and we will see… @thatnataliecole.
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