Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Sydney Wheeler was taunted with hamburger pants on 'Tocantins'
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.
The Survivor minx is a tired and true stereotype as attractive female contestants are often portrayed on the show as using their feminine wiles to get ahead in the game. And, for producers, Sydney Wheeler fit the bill to a tee when she showed up to compete on Survivor: Tocantins, even if she had no intention of doing so.
"I think the edit I got on Survivor was eye-opening," says Sydney. "First of all, using my looks to my advantage was not my thought-out strategy, but I can see how it looked that way!"
While Sydney showed up in Brazil intent on proving that she was more than "just a pretty face" as she wrote in her pre-game bio, it often seemed the pretty face is what producers wanted to craft her storyline around.
"Around day 7, I started to see what role the producers wanted me to play," says Sydney. "Their questions became targeted, and if they didn't get the answer they were looking for, they'd ask the same question in a different way. I could tell they were going to play me the way it came out. That's when I became annoyed with the process and the production side of it."
No doubt, Sydney was also annoyed at being voted out on day 18 just before the merge, where fortunes can flip and everything can change. Sydney never got a chance to see what she could do in the second phase of the game after J.T. Thomas and Stephen Fishbach chose to move forward with Taj George instead. But you by all means should choose to move forward with Sydney's Quarantine Questionnaire, where the model and interior designer looks back at her journey, including that time she and the Jalapao tribe were taunted with, yes, hamburger pants.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
SYDNEY WHEELER: My brightest accomplishments since Survivor have been marrying my better half and having our three sweet girls. They are thoughtful, kind, goofy little humans with so much love and life. They make my life shine. I'm still working as a model (starting to pick back up after quarantine) and I've also started my full-service interior design company, Fresh Paige Designs.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I was most proud of myself for taking on such a unique experience. Just simply living out those 18 days, enduring the elements and pushing myself to stay positive. In terms of the game, I was most proud of the contributions I made to the physical challenges. Even though I didn't have the brawn, I still gave my all and stayed intensely competitive.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret from Survivor would have to be not doing my research before I went on. I didn't know much about the game or the cunning side, like making alliances and finding the hidden idols. During the interview process, I was asked by production to binge watch Micronesia because of Parvati (someone who I was similar to) but I didn't study it like I should have. I watched it before I knew I was going on, never thought I'd actually make the cast. If there was ever a next time, I'd plan ahead and have a strategy!
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Towards day 6 of being out in the middle of the Brazilian highlands, with no clean water source and food was SCARCE, we were all sitting around the camp, doing nothing. The camera crew was switching out after a long shift and this camera guy, who aren't allow to speak to us, comes walking up with freaking HAMBURGERS on his board shorts. He had the balls to wear meaty, delicious hamburger pants in front of a group of severely hungry people. Really?!? Needless to say, my first meal when I was voted off was a fat, juicy hamburger and a beer.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I think the edit I got on Survivor was eye-opening. First of all, using my looks to my advantage was not my thought-out strategy, but I can see how it looked that way! Growing up, I never looked at myself as pretty and I was teased about my physical appearance that I couldn't control. That has stuck with me my whole life and I try to remind myself where I came from.
Also, around day 7, I started to see what role the producers wanted me to play. Their questions became targeted, and if they didn't get the answer they were looking for, they'd ask the same question in a different way. I could tell they were going to play me the way it came out. That's when I became annoyed with the process and the production side of it. That's just not how I see myself but hey, I get it, it's what I signed up for. ;)
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
The biggest adjustment to coming back was finding a balance with food. I ate everything in sight for maybe three months afterwards. I gained all the lost weight plus 15 lbs. more. Girl was hungry! Haha. Also, I insisted on making my bed at home the most comfortable, soft, dreamy situation.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I've never regretted it! It was a rad experience, and I am proud and grateful for it! I learned a lot about myself and made some pretty awesome friends. I could never regret something so impactful.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Right after the show, Stephen and I would meet for coffee dates. Conversation always came easy with him. We don't talk as much now that we're on separate coasts and have families of our own. Taj has always been someone I could pick up right where we left off. She is a beautiful person, inside and out. Candace and I know how to have a good time, she cracks me up and dang, she is hot! Spencer and I comment on social media every once in a while and he holds a special place in my heart.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I'm a bad alumni, I don't watch Survivor. Kind of embarrassing saying that out loud! I should! I did enjoy Micronesia a lot. It was a beautiful location.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I would probably like to play with Paloma. She seems like someone I would befriend in real life and make an alliance.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
What I would change in Survivor? That is hard to say. I truly loved my experience and I'm not sure how I would have changed it. I think if anything, get rid of the 2 "tribes" and make it one big free-for-all. I think it would be interesting to watch the multiple alliances made and individuals competing to save their own positions in the game.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Would I do it again?!? Yes, I couldn't say no to what I believe to be an opportunity of a lifetime!
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