Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Val Collins reflects on 'hasty' gameplay in San Juan del Sur
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.
Jeremy Collins is very, very good at Survivor. He proved this by winning Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance. But his biggest mistake came in his very first minute of ever playing the game. Jeremy volunteered at the outset of Survivor: San Juan del Sur to take part in a duel at the marooning. What he did not realize at the time is that by volunteering, he would actually be taking on his wife Val in the competition.
While Jeremy won the duel and procured flint and beans for his tribe, his victory sent Val to Exile Island, where she was forced to spend the first two days of the game. So while the rest of her teammates were busy bonding and forming alliances back at camp, Val was stuck away from them, and the police officer was never able to recover socially, which led to her being voted out of the game on day 6.
Jeremy has gone on to play three times (winning Cambodia and scratching his way to eighth place on Winners at War), but what about Val? Outside of the occasional Loved Ones visit, Val has been laying low when it comes to Survivor. But does that mean she would not consider another trip back out to the island as a contestant? We asked her that and more via our Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
VAL COLLINS: Since Survivor, I had two more kids, Remy and Lenyx. I also became a Sergeant on the police department.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
That’s a hard one, I'm honestly not so proud of my game in Survivor. That’s not a bad thing to me. My game was hasty, and I'm okay with that. People say, "I'm just proud I did it," but really, I could have done better. That being said, I'm fine with it, and believe that's what was meant to happen.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I think I had a harder time than I expected not thinking about what was Jeremy's game plan or his opinion on other castmates. I didn't adapt well after being on Exile right out the gate. So I wish I relaxed more and had more fun.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
This is more shocking to me than fans. When Keith and I were on Exile together, I was surprised how quickly he was willing to eat any bugs or small sea life out the gate. Survivor never shows really all the nasty critters and bugs that become snacks when you are hungry.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I was happy with the edit. I was the second person voted out, so I think for the time I was there they gave a good edit.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
So this I think was the biggest long term surprise. I remember Jeff saying the Survivor experience changes people — sometimes for the better, and sometimes there's negative effects. Despite being the second person voted out, I had a positive experience. I made unlikely friendships and had time to re-evaluate.
I was ecstatic to be reunited as a family when we got home. I really wanted to slow our life down. We decided to expand our family after the show. But there's a lot that comes up after the show. Then the show airs and you feel anxious about what will make it on the show. I think friends and family expect you to be able to go right back to normalcy.
The hardest part was that Jeremy and I were both going through it at same time. We both had different perspectives and experiences. For us coming back, we were processing while trying to get back to normalcy for our daughters. It was definitely hard for a little bit.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I never regretted going on the show. I hated Exile and still don't think I like it on the show. However, I always valued the experience.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I speak with Jaclyn. She is a real genuine person. Also, Nadiya. We spent the most time together and really got to know each other in Ponderosa and after.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
Yes, I still watch Survivor. I loved Second Chance. I really loved idols being found during challenges. I thought voting blocs was a great concept. But I also loved the first Blood vs. Water, because family dynamics in the game are just hard to navigate.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
So I don't really have one. There's people outside the game we are close to, like Savage. I really like Michele, Tyson, and Fishbach. So I would like to see how my game would adjust to either playing with or not with those people.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would make the game always start with 3 tribes. I feel like I know the players better in small groups. It’s harder to pick to get the easy person out. Every relationship matters in small groups.
Finally, would you play again if asked?