Interview with Amber Brkich
« on: May 22nd, 2005, 9:23am »
I'm the luckiest girl in the world
Scott Tady, Times Staff
CBS won't let Amber Brkich talk publicly about her April 16 wedding until after the Tuesday night broadcast of "Rob and Amber Get Married."
But the Brighton Township woman is free to discuss her other recent reality show adventures, including her and husband Rob Mariano's controversial second-place finish in CBS's "The Amazing Race."
In an e-mail Q&A with The Times, here's what Brkich, 26, had to say about her image as an "Amazing Race" villain, her life with Mariano in Florida and her advice for Beaver County's latest "Survivor" star, Ian Rosenberger.
Q: You truly took part in an amazing race around the world. What was the most incredible moment of your journey?
A: For me, it was Africa. I loved going to Botswana and seeing all of the animals. I'm used to saying 'Watch out for the deer!' but never 'Watch out for the giraffe!' Rob's favorite was driving through the Andes Mountains. It took us several hours and was a beautiful drive.
Q: What was the toughest part of the race?
A: Sleep deprivation. You race for three or four days at a time and when you get to the Pit Stop, you have to do routine check-ins, interviews, eat and shower. By that time, six of the 12 hours is gone.
Q: You and Rob obviously played hard to win. Now that you've had time to reflect, how does it feel to have come so close, only to finish in second place?
A: It's horrible! Especially because we had it in the bag. Thanks to American Airlines and whoever that pilot was ... well, put it this way, they owe us a million bucks.
Q: We're hearing conspiracy theories suggesting that "Amazing Race" winners Uchenna and Joyce were allowed to board that American Airlines flight just to keep the race close. Do you think "Amazing Race" officials conspired to help Uchenna and Joyce to keep the race close?
A: Well, I won't say much, but I guess it wouldn't have been all that exciting for the final 20 minutes of the show without two teams racing to the end.
Q: You've always been a big "Amazing Race" fan. Now that you've appeared on that show and on "Survivor," how would you compare the two shows?
A: It's like comparing apples and oranges. On "Survivor," it's an individual game, even though Rob and I pretty much re-invented that and made it a partner game. You are forced to interact with the other players. You're secluded from the real world. You have days to make decisions. You're never rushed unless in a challenge. On "Amazing Race" it's a partner game. You basically never see the other teams. You're thrown into the real world but in different countries so it's totally different than what you're used to. You have seconds to make decisions. You're always rushed. You're always stressed.
Sleep deprivation they have in common. On "Survivor" you can't sleep because the bugs are eating you alive all through the night while you're trying to act like it's comfortable to sleep on logs. On "The Amazing Race" you only get four to five hours of rest every three to four days. I lost weight on both. On "Survivor" I lost a lot more, but on the race you don't eat much because you don't want to spend your money on food.
Q: Which show was more fun?
A: Once again, two totally different types of fun. I loved them both.
Q: In which show was the competition more challenging?
A: Neither. We dominated both shows!
Q: If given a choice, which of those two shows would you do again and why?
A: I'd do "Amazing Race" again in a second. "Survivor" is pointless for me to do again. I've already gotten everything and more that I could possibly ever get out of it. I won, I fell in love, got engaged. Doing it again would be a letdown in comparison. Plus, I'd be the first person they'd want to vote out. On the race, they can't vote you out!
Q: A few of your "Amazing Race" opponents were very critical of the way you and Rob played the game. Others picked up on that, including the Chicago Tribune, which called you and Rob "Millionaire Meanies," and the New York Times, which called you "reality TV's perfect villains." Are you worried about how your image has been affected by "The Amazing Race"?
A: Not at all. I'm not on these shows to "be on TV." I go on these shows to try to win a million bucks while having an amazing experience. It's not summer camp. You're not going to meet friends. You're going to win a million bucks. Rob explained it well when he said, "In poker, you don't give people money so they can stay in the game."
Q: You previously have said you would love to be a TV talk show hostess, a la Kelly Ripa. Do you worry that the way "Amazing Race" portrayed you might make such a career transition difficult? For instance, look at "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck, your former "Survivor" tribemate, whose image is sugary sweet.
A: There may be some people who don't like me, but there are many who do.
Q: OK, some fun questions. What was the inspiration for your red shirt with the big white "@" for Amber you wore throughout "The Amazing Race"?
A: Yeah, "A" for Amber. It was an old shirt that I got at Wal-Mart or something. I can't believe how many people wrote me about that shirt. I had no idea it would be so popular. I guess it was a good choice.
Q: Did it surprise you that people in Peru, South Africa and other faraway "Amazing Race" destinations recognized you?
A: It was completely surprising to be recognized. We really only got recognized in those two countries, in which we placed third and fifth. People keep saying we had an unfair advantage because we were recognized. Every other country we found those people who helped us. It had nothing to do with our "celebrity status." It's stupid that the other teams didn't catch on and do the same thing.
Q: Did you and Rob learn anything about yourselves or your relationship while running around five continents?
A: It just reconfirmed everything we already knew. We work so well together as a team. We know how to compromise, and we love adventure. We had a blast and loved running the race together.
Q: Is the Rob we see on TV like the Rob you see at home?
A: Yes and no. Rob is who you see and so much more. He's the most generous, protective, loving, sensitive, strong, smart, creative, funny, silly partner anyone could have. I'm so lucky to have him as my husband.
Q: How are you enjoying living in Florida?
A: Florida is warm and sunny. Need I say more?
Q: Besides your family and friends, do you miss anything specific about Beaver County?
A: Of course. It's home to me and always will be. There are so many memories at home that will always be special to me. I could definitely go for some Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe right now. Some Ray's BBQ would be awesome, too. I miss the familiarity of everything, too. I'm slowly learning my way around down here. I miss playing with my niece, Emma, too. I miss going to church with my family and then going down to Thursday's afterward for dinner.
Q: After Tuesday's televised wedding, what's next for Rob and Amber?
A: Who knows? There are lots of conversations going on right now that I can't say much about. But besides that, Rob and I are just really looking forward to married life and making a home together.
Q: Jessica Simpson and Nick have their own reality show. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne had a reality show. That tattooed guy from Blink 182 and his wife have a reality show. What would it take for you and Rob to agree to have a camera crew follow you around during your day-to-day married lives for a new reality show?
A: It would be an extremely tough decision. You'll just have to wait and see.
Q: Anything else you'd like to say about "Amazing Race," "Survivor," your televised wedding or life in general?
A: I love my life. I'm the luckiest girl in the world. I don't take it for granted.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give Economy resident Ian Rosenberger, now that his post-"Survivor" life has begun?
A: Have a blast with life. Make the most of whatever comes at you, but always remember who you are and where you came from. Stay close with those you were close with before "Survivor." They loved you then and love you now. And that is priceless.