Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Jessica Johnston regrets not searching more for 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.
You can't blame anyone not named Ben Driebergen on Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers for wishing they had searched for hidden immunity idols more, especially after watching the former Marine play three idols in a row en route to winning a million dollars. And you can include Jessica Johnston in that camp.
Jessica (who got married after the show and now goes by Jessica Matis) thought her bonds with her fellow Healers would carry her through the game, but her close association with Cole Medders (who kept sharing secrets while not sharing food) eventually did her in, and she was blindsided at the merge on day 19. While her journey didn't last as long as she hoped, she still treasures her experience on the island, noting that "I had an absolute blast." Read on for what else she had to say about her time in the Survivor sun, courtesy of a Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, what have you been up to since appearing on Survivor?
JESSICA JOHNSTON (MATIS): Besides missing the game every day, I've been up to a lot. I got married, moved to Washington D.C. for a year, moved back to my home in Louisville, Kentucky, and then started my own business, Optimize U, this past March. Life is busy and crazy, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I wish I could say my proudest moment was winning! But since that didn't happen, I would say my proudest moment was my ability to have actual relationships with others on the island that I still have today. I'm also super proud of myself and my tribe's ability to win so many challenges - though that did not help any of us in the end.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret was not assessing I had enemies. I knew I had built a great bond with my tribe, and I assumed no one else saw me as a threat. That was a huge mistake. I also regret not searching for idols more.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened in your season but never made it to TV?
I think a bond that no one saw was the one between myself, Dr. Mike [Zahalsky], and Cole when our initial Healer tribe was split. It was strong, honest, and loyal. It's amazing that even in a game full of lies, mistrust, and backstabbing you can really sense who is going to be loyal to a point - because as we all know, loyalty will not always get you to the end.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I didn't mind my edit. I mean, I obviously had more strategy than what was shown, and I wish fans could have seen that. I think most who get the privilege to play want to leave an impression that they left it all on the island, and they played wise and strategically perfect.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment?
I didn't have a hard time adjusting coming home. I was surrounded by love, community, and friends. The hardest thing was just regretting not making it farther in the game.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I never had any regrets. I had an absolute blast. I thrived on the experience and challenges.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with from your season?
My tribe, the Healers. The bond others saw through the screen was real. We all still share stories and life updates with each other. If any of us needed anything, I know each of us would be there. I'm also lucky enough to have a friendship with Ali [Elliott], Patrick [Bolton], and Ryan [Ulrich]. I think it's hard not to have a relationship with people who you share such an experience with.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I do still watch. And it is amazing how I can envision myself playing and what I would do different. If any other players say they don't think about such things, I think they are liars. I really enjoyed season 40! I can't imagine what it would have been like to play with players I grew up watching! Just epic.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Sandra [Diaz-Twine]. I find players like her intriguing. I think I could have made her my BFF until the end.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I wouldn't make any change. I loved every dynamic of the game.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Hands down. I don't know what I would do with my practice I've built, but you better believe I would figure it out!