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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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.

When Ghandia Johnson showed up to play Survivor: Thailand and saw how the contestants were all separated by gender when they first arrived on the island, she was immediately excited to play on a tribe of all women. And while that was merely a ruse and the franchise's first-ever schoolyard pick for tribes put men and women together, Ghandia wishes 20 years later that she had continued to rely solely on women, noting among her regrets that "I should've fostered an all-female alliance."

Her biggest regret, however? "My biggest regret was aligning myself with Ted." That would be Chuay Gahn tribemate Ted Rodgers Jr., whom Ghandia accused of grinding against her in the middle of the night in the shelter, to which Ted responded that he mistook her for his wife. The ensuing drama — well before the era of #MeToo — split the tribe and turned Ghandia's dream of playing Survivor into a personal nightmare. It also helped contribute to her ouster on day 12 of the game.

Which is a shame on many levels, one being that — as her Quarantine Questionnaire shows — Ghandia (who now goes by Ghandia Bundhi) had so much more to give. The legal-secretary-turned-actress shows off her A-game, revealing the contents of a secret Survivor medical box, sharing an amazing post-Survivor sweets combo, and suggesting a genius plan for future casting that would truly take tribal diversity to the next level.

Survivor: Thailand
Ghandia Johnson on 'Survivor: Thailand'
| Credit: CBS

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

GHANDIA BUNDHI: Since being on the show, I've built a successful acting career in Colorado performing in live theater and commercial productions. Most recently, this summer, I starred in a Colorado Lottery campaign. I've also been raising my sons, and they both are in college and living successful adult lives. I am officially a parent of two extraordinary young men. 

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

My proudest moment ever on Survivor is when I finally got that DAMN puzzle. Even though my team was SO BEHIND, I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I finally "got that muthaf---er"! Also, I was just so proud of being picked out of over 60,000 applicants for my season.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

My biggest regret was aligning myself with Ted: In hindsight, I should've fostered an all-female alliance.

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

The one thing that happened behind the scenes that never made it on air was "the medical box." This was the box that was in the bush that had feminine products for the females to take care of their cycles while in the jungle. Worst period EVER!

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

I feel the edits were done for what they were meant to do: make the show interesting. I said what I said and did what I did, and I feel that the edits reflected what happened on the show. I mean, it's reality TV, and TV shows desire to make ratings. And that's what the edits do for the show: to make it interesting and to get ratings.

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

Have you heard of the pandemic? It wasn't like that, but it was a shocking coming back to civilization after being isolated on an island for 14 days. However, since I got voted off early, it was a great vacation in Thailand! When I got back, I ate all the American junk food that I couldn't get in Thailand, like Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Snickers, snickerdoodles, hamburgers, pizza, Cheez Whiz, Red Vines, and Twizzlers. (I twisted them together and ate them at the same time — if you haven't tried it, you should, I call them Twizzle Vines.)

Survivor: Thailand
Ghandia Johnson on 'Survivor: Thailand'
| Credit: CBS

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

NEVER. I'd go back if I had the chance. I still feel a need to prove myself because I know I have the tools to win this game.

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

No one. I dropped out the public eye for Survivor for over 20 years. I just resurfaced this past year (2020), and I don't really talk to my fellow castmates that often, although I do still adore most of them.

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

I did not watch any seasons after my season. I was too shell-shocked to watch any future shows.

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

Missy Byrd, 'cause she's a boss, and Ben Henry, cause he's cute as hell with his Abercrombie & Fitch-model-lookin' self.

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

I would definitely change the game up by casting at least 60 percent people of color and LGBTQ+ contestants. I would make it 100 percent diverse, where there would not be duplicates of the same nationality: one Black girl, one Black guy, one Asian girl, one Asian man, one LGBTQ+ female and one male, one transgender person, a female and male over 60, and one mom, one dad, one grandma, and one grandpa. I would cast it to more accurately reflect the population, who watch and love the show.

Finally, would you play again if asked?

HANDS DOWN. One hundred percent! In my heart, I'm still a true Survivor fanatic. I still love the show and my time on the show, albeit short.

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

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Survivor

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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