Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Sierra Reed revisits fighting back on Tocantins
With Survivor filming for season 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.
For Sierra Reed, Survivor was a constant uphill battle. Just minutes into playing Survivor: Tocantins, the then-23-year-old model — already suffering from a flu bug — thought she had been voted out of the game. Instead, that early vote actually sent her to her tribe camp via helicopter ahead of her tribemates, who had to hike for four hours. Once there, Sierra had to decide between looking for a hidden immunity idol or building a shelter for her tribe. She chose the latter… and yet members of her tribe still wanted her gone.
Doing so would not prove easy, as the resilient Sierra weathered feuds with Tyson Apostol and Benjamin “Coach” Wade to last all the way to seventh place, outlasting her nemesis Tyson along the way. Sierra was a breakout personality on that 18th season, yet has not been seen on the show since. What stopped her from coming back? How does she feel about her tumultuous time in the Brazilian Highlands? And what is she up to now? We sent our Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire all the way to Australia to get answers. So grab a glass of shiraz and enjoy the triumphant return of Sierra Reed!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
SIERRA REED: I have been traveling the world making wine for many well-known producers since I was on the show, as well as filming a travel show in New Zealand from 2009-2010. I married my Australian husband in 2013, and we had our daughter in 2016. These past five years, I have been making wine under my own label in Australia where we live. I just bought a winery a few months ago near the coastline of Torquay in Victoria, Australia. You can find me here these days at Reed Wines.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My proudest moment would have to be when I denied Debbie and Coach the ability to use me to gain numbers. They treated me so bad in the end, and I wasn’t going to let them use me. It was the moment I finally fought back for me. I’m also very proud of myself for choosing to build shelter over looking for an idol. I was never in it to win, I was there to do the right thing and be me, and I think that showed.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret would have to be believing that people do what they say, and they can be good and still win. I’m a person who lives by my word, and I thought that would help me, but in the end it’s what got me s--- all over by everyone. Sad, but true. People just couldn’t believe I would be so transparent so they were determined I must be bad.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Something that didn’t make it to TV was when Brendan and I planted the clue we were using to find an idol that time we dug the “fire pit.” We ended up planting it in Tree Mail and Erinn actually found it and went digging for clues. We could see her hands were dirty when she came back from digging for hours. It never panned out, so it didn’t make TV.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I feel my edit was good. It showed who I really am and I’m proud of that. Sadly, it seemed a bit like everyone hated me and I wasn’t wearing undies half the time, but that’s because the producers like drama and someone’s balls got exposed on TV the season before, so mild butt cheek was out. [ED NOTE: Marcus Lehman’s penis peeked out during a challenge on Survivor: Gabon.] Those moments look very frequent, but they were condensed in edit.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It was a massive culture shock coming back to society. I think I spoke about being in the game for at least a year. Music, colors, and large populations of people seemed so intense. There was something special about the seclusion, I think we were all forever changed by it. My mom handed me an In-N-Out burger when she picked me up and I asked what I had to do for it — that was funny.
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 got so many great life experiences from it. I have just moved on and I find it weird that many others haven’t. It’s like holding on to something that is fantasy, maybe they haven’t created anything better in their real life if they are still relying on “the game” so many years later.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I like Insta posts of Debbie and Brendan, and that’s about it. I have moved on well and truly, but I will still always have a connection to them.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I don’t watch much Survivor, but when I do, I’m loving the Australian version.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Wish I could have played with anyone who was true blue on and off the show.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would take out the idols, because they create misguided power, and in the end they save you once. I always felt like there was such a focus on them and I even fell for it myself, but in the end, they are rarely played and shift the game in an unbalanced way. Idols are about playing not SURVIVING! So much of the game feels rigged when idols are in play.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I was asked to do Heroes vs. Villains as a hero and I said yes, but because I got engaged to a producer from my season after the show, I had to stand down.
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!"