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 wasn’t exactly the dream Survivor experience. After all, she didn’t win the game. Hell, she didn’t even make the merge. But for Ashley Trainer, her experience on Survivor: Samoa sometimes feels like a dream. “I still can’t believe that I was on Survivor,” says Ashley. “Every time I watch it, I am shocked I was on it. I am so proud that when I was out there, I actually played the game.”

Play the game she did. Ashley formed an early alliance with Russell Hantz and Natalie White on the Foa Foa tribe — an alliance that may have taken her to the very end (where the other two ended up). But Ashley’s perceived weakness in challenges ultimately did her in, and she was the sixth person eliminated in the season.

Instead of obsessing over what could have been, Ashley’s glass-half-full approach allows her to appreciate all that she did accomplish — like the fact that she even made it onto the show to begin with and was then able to remove her rival Ben Browning on day 8. So sit back, relax, and soak up the ray of sunshine that is an Ashley Trainer Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire.

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

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

ASHLEY TRAINER: Since being on Survivor, I came home, got a full-time job where I met my husband and got married. We moved out to the burbs and started a family. I have a beautiful little boy who is 5, and a girl who is 2. I am currently working as a recruiter for a very large company here in Minneapolis!

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

I still can’t believe that I was on Survivor. Every time I watch it, I am shocked I was on it. I am so proud that when I was out there, I actually played the game. I facilitated Ben being voted out, and even though Russell didn’t like that, I was proud that I made that move. Being on the show has really taught me how strong I am, and if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it. I am not an “outdoorsy” person at all, so it’s still surprising that I even did the show! 😊

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

My biggest regret was voting Marisa out first. I think this made our tribe weaker and ended up causing us to continue to lose challenges. In the moment, we had to pick a target since we had lost our challenge and I wanted to be on the right side of the numbers. We did this by pulling in Mike to vote her out. This caused a downfall for our tribe to be weaker from the start. I often wonder if we would have kept her initially if we would have been able to win more challenges.

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

During the eating challenge, Natalie went after me and didn’t drink her smoothie. They didn’t show her participating in the challenge. Not really mind blowing, but something that happened that wasn’t shown.

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

Overall, I liked my edit, minus the episode that I got voted out. Before our eating challenge, Liz was talking about how worried she was that “she” wouldn’t eat coconut. They then showed me. However, I ate coconut and didn’t have a problem with that. This made me seem weaker than I actually was out there.

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

It was so surreal. Coming back, I hadn’t driven a car or listened to the radio, so everything had changed in that aspect, but all my friends’ lives had continued to move on. It was an adjustment being able to do what I wanted, and back to a schedule of daily life. I also got pretty sick from being on the island, so coming home and adjusting to normal food was hard on my system. I couldn’t shake the bug that I had in my system, so I had to get on Cipro to knock it out. Even though I was in Fiji with the pre-jury, I was sick the whole time I was there and it stuck with me.

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

It was hard, especially when it didn’t stop raining for five days. We were all starving and so cold, but I never regretted it.

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

When I got home, I talked to Natalie and Betsy almost every day. However, as time has passed, sadly, it’s stopped. I do however still talk to Shambo. We keep in touch often. We bonded so well out there when she came over and “visited” our tribe. We call and text each other about once a month to keep posted on what is happening in our lives.  I keep in touch with a few people from other seasons as well, from meeting them at reality events.

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

Absolutely! I still haven’t missed an episode. My favorite has been Winners at War. Being able to watch some of my friends and favorite players play against each other was so fun to watch. It was cool to see the dynamic between the “old school” players and how they played and the new school players who have all had advantages and a different way of playing.

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

This is a tough one, there are so many people I look up to who have played the game. I would have loved to have played with Parvati. I watched her before I played and after, and she is such an awesome player of the game. I would have loved to have aligned with her and learned from her.

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

This may not be a popular opinion, but the fire challenge at the end, I have never liked that since they initiated it.

Finally, would you play again if asked?

Absolutely. I would be so excited to be able to play again and have redemption. I feel like if I had another chance, I could make it far. I am much stronger and wiser than I was when I played 11 years ago. Being 22 and playing for the first time, I look back and am so young. I have learned many life lessons since then that I feel like I would be much more successful a second time around. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be asked again though since I was pre-jury.

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

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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!"

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