David Wright was a Survivor force unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. He went from fearing literally everything to growing into the game’s biggest threat. He finished in fourth place, just one vote shy of making it to the final Tribal Council, where he very likely would have won the $1 million prize. During our one-on-one red carpet interview with David at the finale, he expressed why getting eliminated — even that deep in the competition — was such a relief. Plus, he dished the dirt on how playing Survivor has helped him battle anxiety and revealed why he truly believed Ken would never vote him out.
SheKnows: Had you made it to the final Tribal Council, it is clear you would have won the game based on comments from the jury. How does it feel knowing you were so close?
David Wright: It feels amazing, really. I never thought I would have made it as far as I did. I thought for sure I would be a first, second or third boot. To actually make it as far as I did, even though I didn’t make it to final Tribal, it’s a huge sense of accomplishment for me. I just didn’t believe in myself because I never thought I could make it that far. I underwent all this personal growth. No one is gonna believe this, but when I got voted off, there was weirdly a sense of relief. I tried to get into final Tribal, but when I didn’t, I just felt like with all the personal growth I had undergone, throwing $1 million on top of that would’ve done damage to me. It really was a relief to actually get voted out.
SK: You had many memorable moments throughout the game. One that stuck out during the finale was the fake Idol you crafted, which Jay found.
DW: I knew that he had found it because I saw him spot it. When I went back later, the coconut had been split open. He knew that his name was being tossed around on the chopping block for many Tribals. I knew he was going to use it. Going into that Tribal, I felt pretty confident we would see him play the fake Idol. It’s just a fun Survivor moment when Jeff holds it up, says it’s fake and throws it in the fire.
SK: Throughout the game, you openly discussed your anxieties and fear of death. Tell us a little about that.
DW: I was afraid of so much out there. There were fruit bats the size of dogs. The cyclone was scary. I thought I was gonna die when they were evacuating us because the winds were whipping and the waves were crashing. There wasn’t really much that I wasn’t afraid of out there. The bathroom situation, I was afraid. It was just awful, but I love the game so much, I was willing to put up with all those things to play my favorite thing in the world.
SK: Have you overcome those fears because of Survivor?
DW: Absolutely. More specifically, my fear of death I said on the show became a fear of life. Coming out of this game, now I’m putting more energy into living my life and I’m reaching out for those things that I want that I have just been kind of afraid to reach for. It’s life-changing. I’m a work in progress, but I feel I’m a better person walking out of the game than I was walking in.
SK: The final vote was a blowout victory for Adam. Did you know you were going to vote for Adam to win before even going to that final Tribal Council?
DW: I definitely had to debate because I didn’t think Ken or Hannah played terrible games. I thought they played good games, but I just felt Adam played a great, better game. His game kind of reminded me of my own. He found two Idols. He’s very likable. I just felt like when I was writing his name down that, in a way, I was kind of writing my name down.
SK: There was a moment at Tribal Council where Adam was using his hand to show how highly strong your game was. Then, you lifted his hand even higher to illustrate how you believed your game was much stronger than even he was implying. Thoughts on that moment looking back?
DW: I hated myself the second I did it. I was doing it for a strategic reason, but I think it came off a little cocky, which really isn’t me. I thought, if I really can lean on Ken’s trust and he would save me to force a tie — I thought, if I end up at final Tribal, why not let this guy [Adam] make my case for me? I was having a little fun, too. [laughs] I do wish I wouldn’t have done that, though.
SK: Your bond with Ken was very strong throughout the game. On the night you were voted off, you boasted about feeling safe in the game. Were you truly that confident Ken wasn’t going to flip on you, or did you know it was coming?
DW: I’m sure this sounds incredibly naïve, but I really did believe I had Ken’s loyalty and trust walking into Tribal. I will say that a minute into the Tribal conversation, I realized it wasn’t going my way at all. I tried to appeal hard in that moment to Ken’s trust and loyalty, hoping that I could maybe guilt him a little bit. Ultimately, he made the move he had to make for his game. I don’t resent him for it at all. We’re still best buds. He stayed over with me a couple weeks ago. He made the right move for him. I love him. He’s a great guy.
SK: How does somebody like you end up on a show where you’re forced to face your fears?
DW: I was fearful going into this game. I was very anxious about the elements I was going to have to face. I just love the game so much that I was willing to put up with all that stuff and go through the struggle. I’m so grateful for the experience whether I won the million or not because I came out a better person.
SK: How did you get on the show?
DW: This was my third time applying. I sent in a video, and a week later I got a phone call from Survivor casting. Then you get into this really long process. I did it the normal way by putting my video on their site. It worked out and I’m so happy.
SK: Would you do it again?
DW: In a heartbeat, I would play Survivor again. It’s the greatest experience I’ve ever had. It’s the most fun you can have. You meet so many interesting people that you’d never meet otherwise.
SK: You’re a TV writer, so what’s next for you? Any projects you’re working on that we might know?
DW: I actually just sold an animated TV series with Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords to TBS. We’re gonna find out in a few months whether or not they’re going to pick it up to a full series.
If the final three was David, Ken and Adam, which player would you vote for to win? Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the section below.
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