By Dalton Ross
August 26, 2020 at 12:15 PM EDT
  • TV Show
  • CBS

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.

Dolly Neely only lasted six days on Survivor: Vanuatu. She was the first person voted out of the all-female Yasur tribe after she hesitated in picking a side between the younger and older alliances. Instead of being the swing vote, Dolly’s indecisiveness swung her right out of the game. But what if Dolly could get another shot knowing now what she did not know then — that hesitation in this game equals death?

The farm girl would like to get that shot. “I do think they need an ALL LOSERS SEASON!” says Dolly. “And then I will BE IN IT and I can PROVE I am not a loser now.” Dolly is anything but a loser outside of the game, as her extensive work on the farm shows, but it is clear that Dolly now sees the error of her ways in Vanuatu. We found out that and a whole lot more when we sent the expert beekeeper a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to fill out, and the answers taste like sweet, delicious honey.

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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

DOLLY NEELY: Immediately after Survivor, I had dated the medical director and got to travel to other seasons like Panama and Guatemala, but after we broke up, I was happy to get back to the farm and all things farm-life. I sold the sheep and started over with egg laying and meat chickens and now have everything from turkeys to swans, peacocks, ducks, and parrots!

I started to study other self-sustaining ways that I might bring to the farm and this developed my interest in beekeeping, so I began an apprenticeship at a local beekeeper and now, I manage my own thriving bee business at my farm — Birds Eye View Farm — and am a daily learner of all things BEES! I help novice beekeepers to set up hives in their own backyard.

I have a steady demand for my honey, which this season is sunflower honey, and recently developed a winning secret for making beauty products using beeswax. I am a member of a group of well-known bee experts where we get together and have artificial insemination seminars using a variety of queen bees from different colonies. Also, I am a researcher participating in projects linked to Purdue Univ.  Along with setting up other beekeepers, I teach beekeeping 101. I still haven’t gotten married or had kids, but have become an expert on the birds and the bees!

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

My proudest moment from Survivor is just being chosen and having the courage to participate in the challenge! I’m a small-town girl and when I auditioned for season 9, I had never even heard of Vanuatu! Although I didn’t last long on the show, the process of auditioning and then when Mark Burnett and the producers from Survivor called me to tell me that I was going to be on the show… wow… there’s nothing to describe the head-rush-heart-pounding thrill at that moment! Then when I could reveal to friends and family that I was chosen; I enjoyed another thrilling feeling to see them be proud and excited. It was just awesome!

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

Oh dear God, do I have regrets. So, to name a few, I’ll start with not watching and studying to have a strategy for my game. I was thinking I could just be nice and go far! I now know that if I had studied the past seasons, I may have known better and made an alliance ASAP! Even now it’s hard to watch the current seasons because I feel a sort of anxiety that man, I was out there once and would love to have gone farther! Also, another regret is that I didn’t see any of my demise coming. I was way too trusting, and there were signs I missed because I was still in the mindset that it was too early to pick a side and I actually really did like everybody! And maybe another regret was being on a season with all females. There’s more, but I digress.

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

Since I didn’t last that long out on the island, I don’t have any real mind blowers, but we did all bathe in the stream naked and supposedly there’s footage of that in the so-called “Vault” and that would be hot video because we did have some good looking women on S9. Just being on Survivor blows your mind!

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

I think I got a fair edit. They showed me being put in the middle. Also, I think people could see I was too nice and too trusting.  A lot of my fans call me, “Dolly in the Middle.”

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

When I got back to the States, I had been hanging out in Australia for 3 weeks after the first nine of us were voted out! I remember my mum picked me up at the Pittsburgh airport and she still didn’t know I had been voted out so early. I didn’t want her to know and disappoint her but I think she could tell I wasn’t a skeleton so I hadn’t been on an island starving! It was awkward, but a relief to finally reveal to my friends I had in essence lost, but we just laughed mostly and I told them all I actually had the best time! CBS treated us great after being voted out! I was happy to get back to a normal real-life routine!

One thing many people didn’t know about me was at the time I auditioned, I had just lost my Pap Pap, the rock of my life, and unexpectedly, and then my stepfather and grandmother were diagnosed with cancer.  So everyone was sick and dying, and my mom was working in Washington D.C. So, in fact, I was surviving REAL life being responsible for my sheep and family.  I did grow up on the show and came back from Survivor with more determination to play this game of life and never be voted out again. SO FAR SO GOOD!

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

I have absolutely positively never regretted being a part of the Survivor phenomenon! It’s a legendary show and everyone around the world knows the show, and to think I’m part of it even in a small way is really great! It allowed me to travel and meet people and it certainly created a part of my personality that developed after the show and continuing my life as Dolly! I’m so grateful.

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

I keep in touch mostly on Instagram with Julie Berry. I really dig that chick; she’s not typical in any way and I wish I could have spent more time with her in Vanuatu playing the game! Also, Ami Cusack from my season because I think we could have been good pals if I had lasted longer out there. AND Sugar Kiper — I’ve always liked her even though I didn’t spend any time with her! She’s just a happy blonde, like me! I’m hoping to have them and a few others to play a game of Survivor at my farm and my cabin in Cook Forest one of these days, NOW that would be memorable!

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

I can’t really watch it much because I always get to thinking what I could have and should have done! I’ll tune in from time to time just to see the people on the show and what the challenges look like nowadays, but it has changed quite a bit over the years except for Jeff [Probst]…. He looks the same!

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

My favorite player from another season is probably Jonny Fairplay. His story (a.k.a. lie) about the dead grandma will forever go down in history! He’s such a unique guy and he loves Survivor! When I think of Survivor players, I think of Jonny Fairplay! I did get the chance to meet Richard Hatch during my interviewing days and I enjoyed getting to know him a lot and, nope, I never saw him naked.

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

I wouldn’t change much about Survivor, but it would be neat for them to do urban vs. rural or old vs. young or shy vs. loudmouths…. Change it up in that fashion. But most of all and because fans tell me this, I do think they need an ALL LOSERS SEASON! And then I will BE IN IT and I can PROVE I am not a loser now.

Finally, would you play again if asked?


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

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