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.

Wendy Diaz's Survivor story appeared to end when she and Keith Sowell raised the sail on the Edge of Extinction signaling their desire to quit the game on day 17. But there is so much else to Big Wendy's story that viewers never learned. Like, say, the fact that Wendy and Keith actually broke the Edge of Extinction mast when they attempted to raise the sail. It even came crashing down on top of them.

While that indignity would appear to be adding almost literal injury to the insult of having been voted out of the tribe and forced to live at the Edge, the truth is, Big Wendy had already accomplished her mission for appearing on Survivor: Edge of Extinction. And that mission was… SABOTAGE!!!

In her Quarantine Questionnaire, Wendy reveals how she specifically applied for Survivor with the sole intention of disrupting a key aspect of the game, and disrupt it she did. She also takes us through the big broken mast mishap, explains why she doesn't regret quitting but wouldn't do it again, and reacts to her "whackadoo edit." Big Wendy certainly comes up big with her answers in this must-read interview.

One Of Us Is Going To Win The War
Wendy Diaz of 'Survivor: Edge of Extinction'
| Credit: Timothy Kuratek/CBS

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

WENDY DIAZ: What haven't I been up to?! Not much, haha. I continue to run my small business, now solely online due to the pandemic. I started a brand new Twitch channel where I stream my shenanigans (BigWendyyy). I have broken a World Record, and I have become a Rubik's Ambassador where I make Mosaic Portraits out of Rubik's Cubes. You know, same ol' same ol'.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

I think my proudest moment was when I helped Manu 2.0 win immunity. Up to that point, I felt like I wasn't being utilized enough in challenges and after such a long losing streak, it was unreal when my tribemates pushed me forward to grab the immunity idol from Jeff. I couldn't stop smiling at that moment.

My other proudest moment, you guessed it, was when I completed my master plan! Nyaka Nyaka. I really don't like how the chickens are treated on the show, and watching them get thrown off the boat in Game Changers is what discouraged me from applying years earlier. My boyfriend (Janny) had jokingly suggested that I should get on the show just to help them, and in that moment, I had a sparkle in my eye.

Janny looked on in horror when he realized I had taken his suggestion to heart. Despite what some people thought, I didn't do this for the money and actually had it planned way before, and my winning the game would have come second to me releasing the chickens. Also, to answer you all — yes, I have been a vegetarian since getting home.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

I don't think I have any regrets. As everyone saw, I played like myself and that was what was most important for me. I could have easily played a UTR game and gotten further but for me, there is no fun in that. When I'm a lil ol' lady looking back on my season, I want to see my happy self doing what I wanted. Money is just temporary, but experiences are forever! 

I will mention that although I don't regret leaving the Edge, if I were to get back on a season that had it, I would stay. I didn't know everyone would make such a big stink about me leaving. It's not that I couldn't do it, it's just because I didn't want to do it. I was going to be bored out of my mind just sitting and rotting on that island and to me, that wasn't Survivor.

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 it'll blow their minds but something funny that didn't make the show was when Keith and I were leaving the Edge, they wanted us to raise the mast. So we started tugging on the rope, and towards the top, it got stuck. The crew just told us to pull with all of our might, so when we did, we just heard a crack, the rope went slack and the mast came crashing down on top of us. We started cracking up because we thought we were gonna leave the Edge in body bags. So Keith and I actually broke the Edge mast on our exit. Maybe that's why nobody else left after us. :p haha

There's Always a Twist
Wendy Diaz of 'Survivor: Edge of Extinction'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

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

Overall, I think the edit I received was fair. Everything they show are things that I did, just in a concentrated amount of time. I'm a ball of energy and I can see how people found me annoying because all of my most over-the-top moments were put out there as my whole personality.

I also wish they would have shown a little more of my strategy. For example, I didn't just sit there and stare dumbfounded when we were planning the Aubry vote. I knew the whole time we were voting her out, I just wanted to look like the easy vote and make Aubry feel more comfortable with her position. If you rewatch her vote out, I think that's the reason she looks at me so shocked. Also, when I was going to be voted out, I even told the producers no one was going to go to rocks for me and that my goose was cooked, but I understand that it wouldn't have worked in the grand scheme of the season, so I take my whackadoo edit with stride!

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

There wasn't much of a shock for me, but more of an adjustment. Since I was the one who tended the fire the whole time, I kept wanting to pick up "dry stuff" off the floor because that was literal gold out on the island. I think the biggest thing for me was my junk food withdrawal. I ate like 10 bars of chocolate in ponderosa, haha. But it was so weird looking at myself in the mirror after that. I looked so emaciated and my thighs were the smallest I have ever seen them be, haha.

I gained all my weight back by the third day. My family didn't recognize me in the airport because I was so tan, chunky and I had chopped all my hair off by the time I got back. I think I'm the only Survivor player that had their family asking why I was chunkier than when I left.

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

There was a point in the game where I was really sad because I felt like I had left to go on an adventure that I wasn't having. Out there is completely different than the show you see on TV and no one will understand that until you're actually out there. I'm a very hyperactive person and there was so much down time and there's only so much you can do to keep yourself busy.

I remember opening up to Aubry and asking her how she could come back three times, and she said when you get back home, you start to forget how horrible it is. I'm laughing at this now because it's very true. Before the show, I would always tease at the people who would cry during family visits, but I totally get it now. You are so lonely out there, surrounded by people you hate (haha jk) and you just so desperately want to hug the people you love. Despite this, I still don't regret having this experience.

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

My baby girl Reem will forever be my best friend from the show. I meant everything I did from the first episode and wish I could have done more to save her. We talk on the phone and text, she even came for a work thing in Cali and we met up and had a day o' fun in San Diego. I'm very happy I got to meet her and have her in my life. I also love Keith, we got to bond so much after we left the Edge together. He is so talented, smart and a darts champion!

It Smells Like Success
Wendy Diaz of 'Survivor: Edge of Extinction'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

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

I haven't watched my season since it aired but I think that's pretty normal for most Survivors to say that. I think my favorite season now is Heroes vs. Villains because the characters completely make the show.

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

I wish I was able to play against Tai. He seems so lovable, and I think we would have a lot to bond over. From what I've seen, he has a great outlook on life and I would love to be around his positivity. 

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

I know the Survivor community hates twists, but it's honestly such a luck-based game that when you're out there and know you're leaving the game, you feel so hopeless that there is absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself. so definitely, MORE IDOLS, jk. The game is fine the way it is and I accept that I'm not good at the social aspect of it, hahaha.

Finally, would you play again if asked?

Of course. No hesitation. I love adventure and I will always say yes to an opportunity as great as this one.   

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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