SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed 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 has to be weird to have cameras follow you around 24 hours a day, and then the only footage you ever see of that time amounts to a few mere minutes, or even seconds. And it has to be even weirder when those few moments catch you at your very worst, because when people are at their very worst is often when they are at their most interesting — at least for television purposes.

That explains why so many Survivor players end up frustrated with how they come off on TV, because we only see them at their most dramatic, which often loses any sense of nuance or balance. While the contestants may have said what they said and done what they did, there is always so much more they said and did that are never shown. Considering some of the drama Donathan Hurley created in his final days on Survivor: Ghost Island as he tried to break up the power duo of Wendell Holland and Domenick Abbate, you might think he would count as someone who was not thrilled with how he was portrayed on national television, but you would be wrong.

"The tale of the season was that I didn't deserve the edit I received," says Donathan. "I respect the opinions, but I do not agree with them. I was perfectly content with my edit because they told my story the way I thought they would: lovable, feisty, chaotic. I remember being so nervous about the last episodes because of my attitude. And they didn't stray away from showing that."

Donathan looks at the totality of what the cameras showed off his experience and feels it was more than fair — warts and all: "I felt I did what I needed to do on the show, and that reflected in the edit while watching the season!" What else does Donathan have to say about his experience on season 36 — in which he made it all the way to day 37 and a fifth-place finish? Let's read his Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to find out!

It Is Game Time Kids
Credit: CBS

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

DONATHAN HURLEY: First of all, I would like to say hello to all the Survivor fans reading, and thank you, Dalton, for asking me to answer questions for eveyone! As big as the Survivor experience was, my everyday life never changed drastically. I was so fortunate enough after the show to buy me and my family our very own home, and we have been there for two years now!

I currently still take care of things at home helping take care of my grandmother. She still has her health issues with living with COPD, but other than that she is doing well! This past July, I finally found a man and he is wonderful! I still try to participate at events appearing at Hearts of Reality to raise money for GKTW, and appearing at a few premiere parties pre-COVID! I am so blessed to be in this Survivor family, and one of the best things is making all kinds of new friends within our community! So life has been good to me and I have nothing to complain about!

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

The one moment that stands out to me as one of my proudest moments was the diving challenge in the premiere. When I played Survivor, I was so overwhelmed with a lot — causing my confidence to go down with it. I had to leave my family during a big transition in our life and worried about my Maw Maw a lot. I so fired up and ready to play, but you can't escape real-life problems, even out there.

Before the challenge started, I was adamant about not doing any of the diving. I honestly didn't think I could do it. And we all know what happened there — James couldn't make the 8-foot dive. I was so scared to try, and kind of froze within the moment. My mind telling me I couldn't make it. But with the pressure on me and encouraging words from my tribemates, I went for it and made it happen! The way their faces lit up and hearing Jeff say "Donathan becomes a hero of his tribe" still sticks with me until this day. I conquered a fear of mine and I am very proud of that. It helps me face things today and reminds me to not second guess myself when I can be an asset.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

My biggest regret is opening my mouth! I lived the Survivor experience to the fullest and have no other regrets. I often wonder if I had made it one more day what could have happened. I was in a tight four with Domenick, Wendell, and Laurel. But I also knew I was number four pretty much in any alliance I had been amongst. So I had these days where I completely shut down because I couldn't find an opening anywhere.

I was bad for showing my emotions and being blunt with my answers. I should have carried myself better than I did and let Domenick answer the question!!! I tried, I did, just not in the best way. And I do regret my actions in the final days. [laughs]

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

When I was voted out, I forgot my bag and water bottle. The remaining four were trying to get my attention to let me know, but I would never look back at them while standing there with Jeff as I was taking that moment in. Jeff abruptly spoke up to them and told them to quit whatever they were doing. For a second, I thought I had done something wrong! [laughs] Kinda wish I had looked back though because I never got my bag back!

The Finish Line Is In Sight
Credit: CBS

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

Ah, a question that allows me to explain a few things. The tale of the season was that I didn't deserve the edit I received. I respect the opinions, but I do not agree with them. I was perfectly content with my edit because they told my story the way I thought they would: lovable, feisty, chaotic. I remember being so nervous about the last episodes because of my attitude. And they didn't stray away from showing that.

Before that, I was there to make relationships, and I am happy they were shown on the screen when the show aired. I was in the power four for most of the season and was in the strategy talks with a lot of people out there. I held back on my personality for a few episodes — I couldn't be way likable but needed to make people comfortable with me. I worked hard at camp and had a blast! I felt I did what I needed to do on the show, and that reflected in the edit while watching the season! 

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

It was a strange moment getting back on the plane to go back home. I remember thinking all the way home "Did this happen? Wonder what the big news was?" And turns out being away for that long — you miss a lot! The world is ever-changing and the connected world is constant. It was nice to get back into the swing of things.

I did well after the experience and the only adjustment for me at the time was not being around all the awesome people on the show! I really missed people! But it was nice to be with my family and animals again! I jumped right back into it when I did make it home; I remember Maw was in the hospital when I made it back, so we went there every day the week I made it home! Thankfully, she was okay! That definitely got me back in the swing of things!

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

Never! Even at my lowest moments, I was grateful to be having the experience! To some, it seemed I had given up at the end, and for that, I apologize. That was never the case. It was just a frustrating time in my game that I didn't handle it the best. But never did I ever want to quit, and I never regretted during or after going on Survivor! It was an absolute dream come true!!! 

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

Not many of them personally, but I do enjoy keeping up with everyone on social media! I am so proud of them and the lives that they live! Their posts bring me so much joy! I do tweet back and DM some every now and then. I get to see some at events though, and that is a nice reunion when it happens! I love the cast I was on and they all hold a special place in my heart and forever a part of the awesome memories I made on Survivor!

Survivor 36
Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

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

I am still the biggest fan of the show! As is my Mom and Maw Maw! I love that they are into it and glued to each episode! Makes it so much more fun for me. I miss it so much and I cannot wait to see it back on our screens! My favorite season I wasn't is definitely Winners at War!!! One, it would be nice to be a winner *laughs* and be able to represent Ghost Island on it.

As I said, I am one of the biggest fans of the show! To be able to play in the likes of some Survivor royalty would have been amazing! Sandra! Tony! Parvati! Boston Rob! Like, come mon! I would have been in my own Survivor heaven! I would have been so star struck by them all! It was such a fantastic watch and will be forever one of my favorites!

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

One player who I wish I could have played with from another season would be Kass! There's just something that draws me to her. She's been known to be a bit feisty in her seasons, but I find her to be witty and very great strategically in the game. She is the reason why I got back into Survivor.

I was watching the Big Brother finale right before Second Chance aired — I had seen a preview for it and one of her confessionals aired in it, and I was like I like her I want to see what this is about. I watched the first episode that night and fell in love with the show all over again, and I immediately went to stream Cagayan, cementing my love for the show and eventually getting the nerve to audition. I think we would make a fun alliance!

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

More nighttime challenges. I love seeing all the fire lighting up the challenge set. I thought Chris had a cool set when he visited Ghost Island at night! Fire is life, right? [laughs]

Finally, would you play again if asked?

One hundred million percent! I love the game of Survivor and would never turn it down if I were asked again! There are so many things to still check from the list!!! I love the adventure of Survivor!

Thank you all for reading! Survivor fans are the best! xx

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

Related content:

Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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!"

  • TV Show
  • 41
stream service

Comments have been disabled on this post