Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Julie Berry on her culture shock after playing Vanuatu
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.
The adjustment for people giving up all their creature comforts to the bare-bones lifestyle of Survivor can be massive. But for many, the adjustment back into regular society can be just as jarring, and Julie Berry is one of those people. “It was shocking,” says the fifth-place finisher from Survivor: Vanuatu. “I couldn’t believe all the excess of daily life. Why are there so many products in the shower? How on earth do we keep animals captive inside? Why are we so insular within our families and community? It's so strange we stay inside most of the day! Holy s---, there is endless cereal to eat!?”
As someone who is always seeking growth, adventure, and enlightenment, Julie looks back on her Survivor experience more as something that has helped inform who she is as a person rather than having doubts and regrets about her gameplay. Was she even there to win? Julie herself has doubts. Read on as she explains more in her Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
JULIE BERRY: Whoa, a lot. Survivor was eons ago. I've done a few “on paper” things; went to graduate school, become a licensed MFT, started a career as a TV producer (currently working on Love Island), became an associate professor at CSUN, left all that to travel around the world solo for a year, and ended up getting a Guinness Book of World Record for “Fastest to touch all 7 continents.”
Through those adventures, what emerged is the undercurrent of intention to walk a conscious path of evolving as a human. I’m not sure what is more important in life than pondering what it means to be alive and how can I do it more raw, loving, and in integrity to spirit. I've always had “guides” and teachers along the way, but I've been honored to be studying with an Amazonian Taita the past several years. It's been humbling and remarkable… the biggest game-changer thus far.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I’m diggin’ how this questionnaire is having [me] look back. It's been a while. I’m going broad on this, when I close my eyes right now and draw on a proud feeling what comes up is simply doing it. Proud to have had such a unique experience, proud to have had such an adventure… Proud to have laughed and love along the way. People often ask me if Survivor was what inspired me to travel solo. The truth is that I’ve always had a thirst for banking peak experiences in life. At the time of being cast for Survivor, I had been accepted into the Peace Corps… I was just ready to jump into adventure. I’m never going to see enough of this world.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
This is tricky. Regrets are for the wise in reflection. At the time, I legit did my best! Ha. I was so young, I was finding my voice, I was unknowingly healing parts of my heart… If I look back, was I ever really trying to “win?” I was talking with Aras (Survivor winner), and he pointed out that I went on for love… and that resonated.
My whole Survivor thread is about love, but I was more concerned about my relationship with Chris than I was with winning. I was more invested in the daily adventure than actually winning. But for the sake of the question… If I had a wand and wanted to change my narrative to wanting to win, I wish that I could have seen that Chris was playing so well and I would have gone to Scout and Twila to blow his cover… and vote his ass out.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I wish I had a similar story to Shane Powers about drugs washing up on shore… but alas, I don’t.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
TV is wild. It’s strange to see a sliver of who you are filtered through someone else narrative… how encompassing can that be? Being on Survivor isn’t about what you end up watching months later, it's the real live experience. No edits there!
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It was shocking. I couldn’t believe all the excess of daily life. Why are there so many products in the shower? How on earth do we keep animals captive inside? Why are we so insular within our families and community? It's so strange we stay inside most of the day! Holy s---, there is endless cereal to eat!?
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Chad FaceTimed me as I was writing this. I love that guy. Top three most funny people I know. Chris, of course, will always be in my life. Ami, Leann and Eliza, and I did a trip to New Zealand, which was special. I talk to Dolly and plan on visiting her this fall — who is more interesting than that girl?! Aras (Survivor winner) is family to me, I’m godmother to his son! Natalie Tenerelli is one of my besties too, she just started peaches.la (get yourself some if you love peaches)!
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I do watch Survivor! I loved Winners at War! But I don't qualify for that season in this hypothetical. But that was the season to be on!
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Shane Powers. He's a hilarious wildcard, who never filters, and is a lunatic. I would be laughing the whole time.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I wouldn’t mind seeing some different locations again!
Finally, would you play again if asked?
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!"