Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Missy Byrd received death threats after being on the show
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.
Missy Byrd is tough. That much was clear from watching her play Survivor: Island of the Idols, where the Air Force veteran came out of the gate strong — emerging as an early tribe leader, forming multiple alliances, and setting the tone in challenges. But there's another aspect of Missy that she says we never saw on TV.
"The edit of my actual game moves was cool," says Missy. "But the lack of emotion of my 'character' was not. I cried every night, I am afraid of the dark, and, more often than not, I was naked somewhere dancing in the rain. For my edit to show my strategic game moves only kind of ripped the humanity from me. And, of course, not actually showing any footage of us helping Karishma when she got cut, or asking Jeff what was actually going on with Kellee."
Missy says that due to the fact that she was portrayed in such a one-dimensional light, viewers never got to see the real her, and that led to an often brutal reaction from viewers. "Because of that edit, I and multiple others have received death threats, racial slurs, threats to even my grandma," says Missy. "It is just a lot to deal with when I and everyone else knows that the edited version of the show is not an accurate depiction of the experience, but rather a generalization that grabs views and attention."
And now the only thing that should be grabbing your attention is Missy's Quarantine Questionnaire, in which the 10th place Island of the Idols contestant takes us behind the scenes on season 39.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
MISSY BYRD: What's up, y'all? Since Survivor, I have gone back to traveling! Right after filming, I did a 3-month backpacking trip to Europe. While there, I did a surf camp in Portugal, I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower in France, and I got to run across some pretty cool bridges in Budapest. I love food, so anywhere I go I try multiple different spots.
After that trip, I went back to traveling the States and then eventually my partner and I decided to move to Spain for a year. We left in September 2020 and we have been here for about 8 months now. I do not speak any Spanish at all (haha), so that has been the biggest thing to adjust to, but slowly and methodically I am picking up a few different words.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Winning the necklace with my brother was beautiful, but since we all will say the necklace, I will give another. I wrote a song out on the island and I feel like it brought me a lot of peace while on the beach and being able to calm myself in such a wild, scary, sometimes frightening adventure was pretty cool for me.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret is not having the platform or the voice to express how heavily edited the game show is and that the bullying and threats that players receive is fully uncalled for. If I could show you the unedited clips from our season, I would, but that's not something we have power over, you know.
Regrets from game play? Honestly, you can't leave the game with regrets because you don't know in the game which decisions are the best to make. Play the idol, don't play it, steal that jacket, you can't pinpoint the end of your game to one instance. You just gotta trust your gut and do your best.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Probably that Aaron and I never really spoke at all. Our bond was just natural, and we felt that trust immediately.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
The edit of my actual game moves was cool, but the lack of emotion of my "character" was not. I cried every night, I am afraid of the dark, and, more often than not, I was naked somewhere dancing in the rain. For my edit to show my strategic game moves only kind of ripped the humanity from me. And, of course, not actually showing any footage of us helping Karishma when she got cut, or asking Jeff what was actually going on with Kellee.
To not see these key moments in the show just made it clear that it's a show that needs and wants ratings and clickbait is a real thing even at the expense of the cast and their wellbeing. Because of that edit, I and multiple others have received death threats, racial slurs, threats to even my grandma. It is just a lot to deal with when I and everyone else knows that the edited version of the show is not an accurate depiction of the experience, but rather a generalization that grabs views and attention.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Oh, man, I was messed up, hahaha. My stomach, my sleep schedule, just everything. I had nightmares of losing in the immunity challenges, of not being able to help myself and my friends progress farther in the game. It weighed heavy on me for a very long time. This is actually the reason I planned my backpacking trip to Europe, so that I could have a mental reset while making new memories.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I try not to regret anything in life. We get one life, and it's just our job to go, to live it. If anything, the show brought me lifelong friends, my partner, and the ability to connect with other people that also have suffered from a traumatic brain injury. I would never have made such deep connections with so many other TBI survivors if not for this show, so I am forever thankful.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Aaron and Ronnie will always hold a very special place in my heart. I still owe Molly a hike, and anytime I'm in LA, Lauren is the first person I text. We are all bonded and those ties won't go away. I travel so much that I am normally always close enough to meet up. Esp in Atlanta, I know they aren't on my season, but Davie, Ron, and my girl Sherea are all right next to me.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I am actually and quite literally in love with Kim Spradlin, and even though I am now an alum, I would pay/ do anything just meet her, hahaha. She is just so iconic from her season and the fan in me loves One World so much.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Oh, man, I respect Jeremy Collins so much. It would be an honor to duel.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would… hmmm, loaded question. I would make it more honest to the experience. I would show the reality stars as humans, as contestants, instead of as "characters..
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I mean, I think Hall Brawls are more my speed
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