Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Francesca Hogi on being 'the biggest loser in Survivor history'
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.
There is nothing a Survivor player fears more than getting voted out first. Not only can it feel like an immediate rejection by your peers — on national television, no less — but to watch all those hopes and dreams of glory and money dashed after 72 hours is almost beyond cruel. So imagine having to endure that indignity not once…but TWICE!
That’s what happened to Francesca Hogi, who was the very first person voted out of both Survivor: Redemption Island and Survivor: Caramoan. How can someone possibly survive such a public embarrassment? Just fine, it turns out, thank you. I reached out to Francesca (who was immediately one of my favorite pre-game interviews ever when we met in Nicaragua before season 22), and the woman who dubs herself “the biggest loser in Survivor history” has found a silver lining to all her reality show disappointment. In fact, what may have crushed a more fragile victim only served to make Francesca even stronger. She explains in her Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
FRANCESCA HOGI: I left New York and a legal career I didn't enjoy and started my own company. Now I teach people how to fall in love without settling and to engineer lives they love. I have a podcast called Dear Franny and a membership community called The True Love Society. I moved to L.A. where I live with my boyfriend and our dog, Toast.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I’m most proud of what came after Survivor. I didn’t allow it to define me, and that, if anything, it propelled me to take control of my real life in a new way. But also — I really did take down Matt Bischoff in our first challenge in Caramoan! Someone shared that clip on Twitter recently and I hadn’t seen it before. I was impressed!
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?
Oh man… as a general rule I try not to regret anything, because that’s not very useful for life going forward. However, I do regret thinking I have good social skills in life, so Survivor will be a breeze! I’m a true believer that everything does happen for a reason, so I see my Survivor failures as necessary for me to grow. If I had made it further in the game, especially my second season, I legitimately believe my life would be worse now.
Before Survivor, I was very stagnant in a lot of ways. And I think I needed something so drastically bad to happen to shake things up. Being first out is THE worst thing in terms of the game. But if I had made it further, I’d be disappointed not to have won, but I doubt I’d have made many changes in my real life. And if I had won, I think I would’ve run the risk of resting on that accomplishment too much. I might have said well, I hate my job and I don’t have a fulfilling relationship, but at least I won Survivor! Put that on my tombstone! Losing in the way I did led me to say This doesn’t define me, and it’s time to figure out the career and the love life, because this is just too depressing! In other words, I needed to be the biggest loser in Survivor history in order to go on and live my best life.
What’s something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?
Maybe it’s that I was so dehydrated by day two that I was throwing up (I didn’t know that was a thing!) and medical was like Sorry! Hope you don’t die. I’m sure there’s a better answer, but I don’t remember too much to be honest… Did they show how sunburned Cochran was on day one of Caramoan? He was physically debilitated. I gave him my scarf to help shield him from the sun. Big mistake on my part. Huge!
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
People probably won’t believe this, but I didn’t watch myself on the show. The only thing I watched was my Redemption Island duel, because I legitimately was so curious as to how I lost it! I was so close to victory! But other than that, with the exception of a few clips that circulated online I haven’t seen myself on the show. But it seems like I got a good edit, based on what others tell me! Maybe it was too kind? I don’t know. I don’t have a desire to watch it, but maybe when I’m old and gray I’ll feel nostalgic and want to check it out.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It was definitely weird to be back online, on social media, and just having freedom of movement. But I wasn’t in the game long enough to forget what life was like! At first, the worst part of being out of the game is all of the woulda-coulda-shoulda, and worry about other people’s expectations. I tried to pretend it never happened. I didn’t talk about it. The night Redemption Island premiered, I pretended it wasn’t happening and threw a party in a private karaoke room, simply because everyone would be trapped away from a TV. So it took a little while to stop caring.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Yes! Absolutely. After Redemption Island, I definitely felt like it was a big waste of time. That feeling didn’t last long, but in those first months after Jeff burned my buff, I felt like I’d made the stupidest decision ever. I was especially kicking myself because I didn’t aim to be on Survivor and I initially didn’t want to do it. I wanted to be on The Amazing Race. That was my jam! And because that ship has sailed, I can now forever tell myself that I would’ve won if that show if I’d had the chance!
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?
Another huge reason I could never regret Survivor at this point is my amazing friends. I’m closest to Eliza Orlins, Corinne Kaplan, and Matt Elrod. Eliza is just an incredible person (and every please support her campaign for Manhattan District attorney!) and we’ve traveled the world together. We summited Mt. Kilimanjaro together! Corinne is the most hilarious and fiercely loyal friend, and Matt and I just connected on a really deep level in the game (despite what happened!) and we’ve continued to cultivate that connection through the years. So they’re the ones I’ve spent the most time with and talk to the most. I’m in near-daily contact with Eliza, Stephen, Courtney, Sophie, Brian, and Charlie thanks to our epic group text that’s been going on for years! I’m also friends with Max Dawson, Andrea Boehlke, Sabrina Thompson… I’ve got a solid Survivor community.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I don’t, and I feel badly about it when I meet new Survivors because honestly, I have zero clue who they are until someone tells me or I Google them. The exception is Winners at War, which I had to watch to root for Sophie! Of the seasons I have watched, Heroes vs. Villains was just the best. Everyone really brought it that season!
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
In the universe where I would wish anything different, I’d choose Eliza. Because she’s smart and hardworking and loyal and not a follower! I had tribes of followers in my seasons. But if it’s based on current relationships, I’d choose Eliza, Matt, or Corinne. Because I would actually trust them with my life.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Obviously, the lack of diversity is problematic. I feel strongly that I was the easy vote in part because I was the Black woman, and people automatically felt less empathy towards me because of it. I truly believe that. And in general, it’s time to retire some of these returning players. Otherwise, I don’t think I have an educated enough opinion about this question! Maybe fewer idols? Maybe? I don’t know! Whatever Dalton and Stephen say.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
To my great shock and honor, I have been asked to play again. It was an easy no. It becomes an easier no with each passing day! Even if I wanted to play again, I promise you I’d go home first again. I’m the easiest vote ever, and I’m 10 years older, which matters because my tolerance for foolishness is diminishing by the day.
I really don’t have the personality for the game. I just can’t pretend to like people I don’t like, not even for a million dollars. I have no talent for lying or intentional manipulation. Not saying I’m some saint, but those aren’t in my skill set. And I really love my creature comforts. I have a Japanese toilet with a heated seat, and every time I use another toilet (even in my own home), I recoil from the cold seat. That’s how much of a princess I’ve become. My point being, why would I want to subject myself to Survivor? Even if I were to win, that would be great, but what would it prove? That I have the ability to win Survivor? I already know that I do. Under the right set of circumstances most players do! In conclusion, I would not play again. My Survivor days are definitely behind me.