Keepin' it all together
The Wanda Shirk Interview - Part Two
« on: Dec 21st, 2005, 10:56pm »
The Wanda Shirk Interview, Part Two.
This is the conclusion of my fantastic interview with 'The Singing Survivor', Wanda Shirk. At the end, Wanda discusses TheTsunamiChallenge.org, a charity set up by Survivor: Palau castaway Gregg Carey. Please take a moment to visit TheTsunamiChallenge.org and see what good they are doing. It's a favorite organization of many of the Palau Survivors. A link appears at the bottom of this interview. Also, for more information on Wanda as well as access to a number of her personal 'Loser Lodge' and post boot photographs, please visit her website, www.wackywanda.com.
And now the conclusion of The Wanda Shirk Interview. Enjoy!
MS: Did they send you on a "trip" after were done? If so, where did you get to go and what did you get to do?
Wanda: Everyone who is not on the jury goes away on a trip, so that we do not even know the boot order of the last half of the game. Secrets are kept better when fewer people know them. Originally, eleven of us were going to go to Australia together, but we ended up being broken into three groups, for a couple of reasons, one of which was that there was apparently a rumor about a large group of Survivors expected to leave the Palau airport on a particular night, and the unmistakable diversity would have people taking notes -- if not pictures! -- that would ruin the surprise of the boot order.
My group included Willard, James, Angie, Jolanda, and me. A more diverse group could hardly have been imagined, unless perhaps we had had Coby yet! (Kim, Jeff, and Jonathan were another group, with very similar interests, and the third group was Ashlee, Bobby Jon, and Ibrehem -- three young people of real character who have a lot in common). I loved all the people in my group. We first went to Guam for a couple of days, and then to northeastern Australia, and we had the most marvelous vacation imaginable. We went snorkeling and scuba-diving, sea kayaking, parasailing, horse-back riding, ATV-riding, golfing or shopping, and white-water rafting. I got to take a helicopter ride, and to visit a museum, a crocodile farm and an aboriginal cultural village where we learned to throw boomerangs and aboriginal spears. We went hiking to some marvelous waterfalls, both in Guam and Australia. It was a vacation beyond my wildest dreams. I wrote to Mark Burnett afterwards to thank him. Made me feel like a million-dollar winner, I'll tell you! I could never have afforded a trip like we had, with great food and great entertainment and excursions every day!
MS: It was reported somewhere that Ibrehem called you after the shooting of Survivor: Palau was finished, telling you he was sorry he didn't pick you to be in Ulong. Is that true? If so, how did you feel when you got that telephone call.
Wanda: Ibrehem had the last pick, and he had to choose between me and Angie. Ibrehem is a truly gracious and wonderful young man. He told me that he based his choice solely on who he thought would be the stronger player for his tribe. As it turned out, Angie was a real fighter, and I'm genuinely glad she had the chance to play the game. To clarify, Ibrehem was not telling me that he was sorry he had picked Angie, but he was sorry he could not have picked me as well. We are all friends, and everyone hates to leave one friend behind. I appreciated the telephone call with Ibrehem. He was being kind and just wanted to reassure me that there was nothing about me (such as my singing!) that caused him to reject me -- there was really just the age factor, and he thought a younger woman would be stronger. Ibrehem is very thoughtful and gracious. He wanted to make sure I didn't feel bad or feel rejected.
MS: How has life been since appearing on the show. Has it changed any? For the better or worse? Would you do it again?
Wanda: It's been a HUGE amount of fun! I had never thought about all the stages of being a Survivor AFTER the filming! Here are the stages of the Survivor experience: 1) Interview stage -- exciting and suspenseful! 2) Game stage! - short, for me! 3) "Loser Lodge" stage -- euphemistically "the Ponderosa" 4) the great trip for non-jury people 5) getting home and trying to keep things a secret until CBS releases the names; we had to try to keep the secret from December 10, when we got back, till January 13! 6) pre-premiere stage -- where people in your community wonder whether you won a million dollars and you're a community hero! 7) post-premiere stage -- when I could finally "Tell all" about my personal experience, because I had been "eliminated in broadcast time" -- and the press and others could interview me. I had a fun time telling my stories for several months, including making "my speech" about 15 times. post-finale stage -- where I am very occasionally recognized when I go someplace. For example, my husband and I took a camping-canoeing trip to Algonquin Park in Canada last week. A Canadian in the park office looked at me intently and asked, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" I asked, "Do you watch Survivor?" -- And from then on, it was like John the Baptist paved the way in front of me everywhere I went in the park! It was a blast! At one long portage, a couple guys even carried our canoe the whole distance for us, and all I did was sing for them and pose for a picture with them! Whooooo-eee!
Would I do it again? OH YEAH! I wish you all could hear me do this rap I made up; it's better in person than in print --
I was FUN from day ONE,
And I'm strong and I'm smart,
And I came to play with all of my heart!
But the bachelors came; they were short a rose --
So the oldest gal was sure to get hosed!
Now I'm sorry Coby said that my songs could annoy,
'Cuz I really came to be fun, and bring joy!
And Willard called me a lunatic!
Well, I'm saner than he is, and much more fit!
So I'm still gonna sing, and I'm still gonna dance --
And PLEASE, MARK BURNETT -- GIVE ME ONE MORE CHANCE!
MS: Have you been invited to participate in any Survivor events?
Wanda: I was in Cocoa Beach, Florida, the last weekend of July, when over 30 Survivors had a reunion hosted by Discovery Beach Restaurant. I enjoyed meeting fans and Survivors from other seasons. The second weekend of October I will be in Portland, Maine, where a group of reality TV people from different shows will be contributing to "Reality is Cancer" -- a benefit walk and auction.
MS: Have any offers come up for endorsements, commercials or other TV projects?
Wanda: No, in fact we were told in a sort of "exit counseling" in New York City after we were "eliminated in broadcast time" that in the early days of Reality TV -- say, 5 years ago, there were a fair number of opportunities for people, but by now "Reality TV stars are a dime a dozen," so very few people get any more TV opportunities after the show. This comes as a shock to some people, especially some of the younger ones who don't have established careers and who think that this should be a life-time financial bonanza of everyone wanting to pay big bucks to see them for a weekend Meet and Greet or to do commercials or other shows. Luckily, I have a very busy real life to go back to!
MS: What do you think about the spoilers saying Steph and BJ get to come back this season? Don't you think it would be much more fair to have you and Jonathan back?
Wanda: I don't know anything more about the two Ulongs being back in Guatemala than anyone else does -- so I can't confirm the rumors that are out there, but assuming they are true, it's a marketing thing. It's not about fair, it's about ratings. Steph and BJ were very popular, and keeping Survivor on the air is contingent on bringing the audience back. Steph and BJ can do more for them in that respect than Jonathan and I can. They are both great people, and I don't begrudge them the opportunity for one second -- though of course, I'd love to go back too! Almost everybody would!
MS: What's your favorite style of music? And along those lines, who is your favorite band?
Wanda: I love old Broadway tunes -- singable, positive stuff! I probably listen to country and oldies most on the car radio, unless my husband's with me, and then it's classical! Can't say that I have a favorite band or singer.
MS: In appreciation for your time and participation, we like to help interviewees promote any charitable endeavors they may be interested in. What charity or cause do you throw your support behind and why?
Wanda: Gregg Carey, one of my heroes from Survivor 10, started "The Tsunami Challenge" because soon after we got back, the word "Survivors" was mostly heard in the media in conjunction with last December's tsunami. Most of us from S-10 have gone together to support "The Tsunami Challenge" as a kind of mutual team-project from Survivor Palau. $2500 gives one family a house and a boat to begin fishing again. Every time 100 people give $25,or 25 people give $100, or 50 people give $50, we can help another family put their lives together again, We are working with one town, and our goal is $325,000. We would be most grateful for anyone's contributions to our project to meet the needs of these people whose homes and livelihoods were taken from them. Please check it out at www.thetsunamichallenge.org.
MS: Thank you so much for your time, Wanda, and for giving us a little insight into your experience! Good luck to you and we hope you'll visit us soon!
Wanda: My pleasure, really. I appreciate that you give us a chance to give viewers some background to what they saw on the screen. Thank you!