Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Lauren Beck and tribe tried to paddle to the Edge of Extinction
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.
The Edge of Extinction was not accepting visitors during the Survivor: Island of the Idols season, but that did not stop one tribe from trying to go there. That's according to Lauren-Ashley Beck, who reveals that the Vokai tribe decided to attempt a day trip out to that Godforsaken strip of land during season 39. Now, why anyone would want to go to the Edge of Extinction, whether voted onto there or otherwise, is a legitimate question, but since Island of the Idols began filming shortly after the Edge of Extinction season started airing, clearly Lauren and her tribemates were a bit curious so attempted to paddle all the way over to the Edge (or "Reemsland," as it is known to some). Suffice it to say, the trip did not go well.
Lauren tells the story of how her tribe had to be rescued by local Fijians out in the middle of the ocean. And that's not all Lauren tells. She also talks about surprising even herself by winning a challenge, dealing with her fourth place edit, and the difficulty of watching some of the season 39 events play back on TV. She may not have been able to make it before Dean at the final-four Tribal Council, but this Quarantine Questionnaire is ON FIRE!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
LAUREN-ASHLEY BECK: Hi, Dalton! Honestly, just being interviewed by you still feels so surreal and I have to pinch myself and say, "Oh yeah, Lauren you played Survivor too!" Always a treat to catch up with you Dalton, truly!! Since the show stopped airing, I really kicked my career into 4th gear (I know that's not a thing but everyone made fun of me for saying it on my season so might as well as roll with it, haha).
When our season was airing, I was a nanny slash waitress slash wanna be TV host and journalist and I'm proud to say some of that hard work is finally paying off. As a freelance host, I've been lucky enough to represent networks like Variety and NBC out in the field and on the red carpet… and then BOOM, the world shuts down. Rob Cesternino from Survivor even let me represent RHAP on the red carpet at his 10-year anniversary/Winners At War premiere party, giving me an opportunity to interview and fan girl over all of my heroes that I've admired since I was 11 years old.
Then the world came to a complete halt and I didn't know how to keep pushing towards my dreams. So what did I do? I took to TikTok to create my own series called "Survivor Secrets" where I dish about all of the behind-the-scenes things that happen on Survivor. Like I said, I fell in love with Survivor when I was 11, and I think Survivor is really missing the mark with the younger generation. Gen-Z owns TikTok and I like to think that they're now Survivor obsessed because of me. ;)
I love that I can nerd out about a show that I love, while also showcasing my skills as a public speaker and on-air host! Y'all can follow me @laurenashleybeck to get that HOT Survivor Tea! More importantly though, I just want to share my mistakes (practice fire ON the island guys) and give tips that may help future Survivor hopefuls.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
This is going to sound so cheesy and cliché, but honestly the entire experience. I was absolutely convinced I was going to go home first just based off of who I am in the real world. I don't do outdoors - or should I say didn't. If I had to pin-point one specific moment that I am most proud of out of my entire Survivor experience, it would be winning individual immunity.
I had a pulse on the game for the majority of the time that I was there, but after constantly being picked last for schoolyard pick (I don't blame them) and nearly passing out from nerves before every challenge, winning individual immunity isn't something I EVER thought I could do (especially with the challenge beasts on my season). I'm not athletic, wasn't an athletic kid - my family laughs AT me when I run and rightfully so! I BEGGED Elaine to let me win, but ya know what? I'm glad that she didn't! It feels so amazing to achieve something you didn't think was possible.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Everyone is going to say I'm hippy dippy for this, but I don't have any regrets. If I did anything differently then I may not have made it to fourth place, and considering I thought I was going to be the first out, I am so proud of every single thing I did in that game. Of course, there are things that I would do differently liiiiike practicing fire on the island, haha, but I don't live life with regrets, just lessons. Lessons that will prepare me to go back and play again if I ever get another shot.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this so sorry, Jeff! You know how they give us rafts at camp? Well from Vokai's island, you could see Edge of Extinction, and if you know anything about Survivor you know that if there's no immunity or reward challenge the day will probably be uneventful (after strategy is talked about a million times, of course).
So one day we decided to take the raft to EoE (yes, we had full confidence we would make it all the way there) Well, we must've gone too far out because OUT OF NOWHERE these amazing local Fijian people speed out to us in a boat, say absolutely nothing to us, attach a rope to our raft and bring us back to shore. Being out in the water on the raft is where some of my favorite memories come from. The raft was kind of like an escape from the game - we would sing Moana, pretend to catch fish, haha, truly the best of times. One time we were all out in the water just hanging and Kellee threw a GIANT sea slug at my head. It was gross and bloody and Jason slightly blocked it. We all laughed about it for hours, I miss those moments so so much.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I get this question a lot and I never know how to answer. Look, the truth is being a Survivor nerd, the fourth-place finisher is usually the person that people feel is the biggest threat to win and after coming home and watching that helluva edit Devens got I was like. Oh, we LIT. But the only thing that was lit was Dean's fire, and I was sent packing, haha.
In all seriousness, I think people were shocked to hear that I was a threat to win the game, and I think that's because I was so closely aligned with the winner. Not to take away from Tommy's game because he is like a brother to me and I am so very proud of him for winning (IN THE OLD SCHOOL WAY WITHOUT A BUNCHA ADVANTAGES COUGH COUGH), but going into it, I did think more of my game would've been highlighted. I also believe that the fact that there was only one female editor and no POC on the editing room floor also had a large part to do with my edit, or lack thereof.
People tell relatable stories, and there was no one in that editing room that could relate to being a young black woman. However, I do recognize the changes that CBS & Survivor are making by introducing their 50 percent BIPOC rule in front of and behind the camera, and it definitely makes me hopeful! The last thing I'll say is that it's really important for fans of the show to understand that castaways are also human and you are only catching small glimpses of events or conversations.
I remember reading many, many times, that I was "too emotional" and feeling so hurt by that (emotional) haha. I was absolutely 100 percent mentally, physically, and emotionally invested in a game that I wanted to play for 18 years and couldn't understand how that could be seen as a negative? The reverse side of that is people will call you a game bot - slowly but surely you start to realize you can't please everyone and just have to put your best foot forward!
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It. Was. Awful. Coming home was probably the worst part of the entire experience for me and not because I lost final 4 fire-making. Coming off of this high of being in the game and then constantly obsessing over things isn't the best. Technically, castaways aren't supposed to talk to one another after the game, but of course we do, and all we do is talk about the game. If I'm being completely honest. my family & friends were annoyed with how much of Survivor took over my life. Eat, sleep, and breathe Survivor was my motto for that entire year, and it was definitely not good for the mental health. In that same breath, though, it was comforting to talk to my fellow cast-mates because only they could understand exactly what I had been through.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
It pains me to say this. It wasn't until we started airing that I had regrets about going on the show. After falling in love with Survivor for 18 years, the experience I had… definitely wasn't the one I (or most of my castmates for that matter) signed up for. Reality TV is a slippery slope, and I hope that going forward Survivor & CBS' main goal is to protect all castaways.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I talk to Tommy and Elaine at least once a week! Elaine and I are more similar than the show led most to believe (THAT'S MY BESTIE. LOVE YOU, GIIIRL) and like I said, Tommy is like my brother and still needs me to tell him what to do just like I did in the game. ;) These two were my rocks in the game and I imagine we'll be friends for life. Jason is also like a brother to me, and we catch up often! I just sent him a gift for his new babe Rory, she's the CUTEST and I KNOW Jason is the best girl dad.
Noura, or our butterfly as her family likes to call her (which I consider myself apart of) helped me get my health on track - I've been doing her LeanOutNow program and I feel healthier & better than EVER! Janet (a.k.a. my Mama J) will always have a special place in my heart… she just sent me housewarming gifts and Ill love her forever. Ronnie is an AMAZING soul - every time I get a chance to catch up with the kid is truly amazing! America was robbed of the amazingly sweet person that he is… and he can SANG. Not sing… but S A N G. Every now and again I'll get the chance to touch base and catch up with Karishma, Dean, & Jamal. As I'm typing this, I realize I haven't spoken to Molly or Jack & Elizabeth in quite some time, so I'm going to reach out. I LOVE MY CAST and I think maybe that was my biggest downfall.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I will ALWAYS be a Survivor nerd. My favorite seasons of all time have to be seasons 2, 20, and 31. If I could choose a season that I would've wanted to play on it would've been Millennials vs. Gen X. A, because I'm a millennial in every since of the word and B, I REALLY love their cast.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Against is an interesting way to put it. It's funny - while we were out there I never felt like I was "against" anyone (probably to my own detriment) haha. I just looked at it as an adventure that could be completely life changing. If I could play WITH anyone it would be Brice Izyah from Cagayan - he is my true friend and I could only imagine the laughs we would have playing a game that we both love so much.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Jeff and Matt should listen to what the fans want! I think the best thing they could do for Survivor fans is bring back the auction and use Fire Tokens as currency for the auction. Fire Tokens in WAW made no sense and all of these advantages are bologna - its not outwit, outplay, outIDOL and advantages have just gotten out of control.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
The last time you asked me this, Dalton, was on the phone after our weird finale. I think I said "my bags are packed" or something lame like that, haha. They are still packed, HOWEVER I do have reservations about going back on. I'm a bit older now and given all that we dealt with on our season, I'm not sure I'd want to sign up for that again. Actually I KNOW I would not if I knew it was a redo of Island of the Idols. In any event, Survivor is a show I grew up watching and loving and if Jeff does decide for some wild reason to ever call me….it would be REALLY hard to turn down.