Before Survivor: Game Changers even began, host Jeff Probst predicted that Ciera Eastin was a strong contender to win the $1 million. Sadly, her torch was the first to be snuffed out during the Season 34 two-hour premiere. We had the opportunity to chat with Eastin about her three seasons on Survivor when she explained why she originally didn’t want to play again. Plus, she revealed which castaway is already standing out as the game’s best player and dished her opinion on who doesn’t really deserve to be considered a game changer.
SheKnows: Did you have any idea at that first Tribal Council that you were going to be voted off?
Ciera Eastin: I knew going into Tribal Council that it was either me or Michaela. It wasn’t until Hali made the comment and said “loose lips sink ships” that I knew it was me. It was surreal. I honestly don’t even think it hit me until the next day. I just felt like I was in a nightmare.
SK: What strategy did you have going into the game?
CE: I kind of wanted to play middle-of-the-road a little and really get to know everybody and make them think I was their best friend. It seems like such common-sense strategy, but it’s the thing I struggle with because I tend to just cling to my friends or whoever I find.
SK: Who did you gravitate to the most those few days you were out there?
CE: Definitely Troyzan and Sandra. Troyzan is so genuine, and I really love his light-hearted spirit. It makes it so much easier to last a long time in the game with people that you genuinely enjoy being around. Obviously, Sandra is the queen. She’s so charming, funny and good for camp morale. We just really clicked. I kind of just followed my gut. Like I said, it’s such a long game you don’t want to be stuck with people you can’t stand.
SK: Going into the game, it was clear that Sandra and Tony had the biggest targets because of their status as dominant winners. Is it tough for you to understand why you were targeted first instead of them?
CE: I think there’s so much of people wanting to keep the bigger threats around to keep the limelight off themselves. It’s a great strategy to have. For somebody like Malcolm, those are great shields for him. I get why Malcolm wanted to get rid of someone like me, Aubry or Hali.
SK: How did you end up competing for a third time? Explain how you got on Game Changers.
CE: Oh, geez. When I got the call to potentially come back and film again, I actually said no originally. At that point, it was my third time in four years, and I was just having guilt about leaving my children again for another summer. My son is only 5, so three of his five summers I have spent away from him. I was like, “I can’t do it. I need a break.” Something was telling me, “This is not your season, Ciera. You need to take a break.” My body was still adjusting, but I gained a lot of weight between Second Chances and Game Changers. My body hadn’t fully got back to where I normally am yet. I needed a longer break, but I did it anyway. Part of me thought I didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity again. I’m super-grateful to even be asked, so I did it. Obviously, now it’s something I struggle with because my gut was telling me that I needed a little more time. I definitely think time would’ve done me good and will do me good moving forward.
SK: Would you do it again?
CE: I really hope and pray I get the opportunity to do it again. I know people are probably sick and tired of seeing and hearing from me. I know I have more to offer, and I think being voted out first really was a lesson for me. It put things in perspective for me, and I think it was just what I needed to come back in the next few years so I can win a season.
SK: You’re the castaway most known for voting out your own mother in Season 27. After playing three times now, do you think that’s your defining Survivor moment?
CE: No. I would like to think my defining moment is when we went to drawing rocks in Blood Vs. Water. That moment, for me, I went into that Tribal Council expecting to do whatever I needed to do to get me one more day. That’s when I really transitioned because I don’t want to play to last one more day. I’m gonna swing for the fences, and if I lose I go home. But if I get on the right side of this and it ends up good, I win. That was a total transition point for me and how I played my game. I don’t want to play to last 38 days just to go home. I want to win. That, for me, was my favorite, defining moment for myself.
SK: Are you tired of hearing about the fact that you voted your mom off?
CE: No. I think it’s funny. It’s super-funny. It is the first time it’s ever been done. I just think people didn’t really expect it from someone like me. My mom wasn’t this big character, and some people didn’t even remember her. We’re just two little women, so for us to make such a big statement that season, I felt like was pretty cool.
SK: The theme for this season is Game Changers. When you saw the other previous contestants selected to compete under that title, were you questioning if some of them even deserved to be there?
CE: For sure. Without a doubt. Michaela and Zeke, we didn’t really know what they did. Then there’s people like Debbie, Hali and, no offense, Brad Culpepper who I freaking adore, but these aren’t people you would really put in the category of a game changer.
SK: On the flip side, do you think Sandra could actually win for her third time?
CE: For sure! She is the queen, and she freaking kills it. I’m so glad I got to play with her for the time I did to see what she does so well. On top of being charming and happy to be around, she has such a quality about her that people want her around. She can make these extreme comments and call herself the queen, and people just laugh at it thinking it’s the funniest thing ever. She’s so smart in the game and knows how to maneuver people and is in every relationship she needs to be in. If somebody is dumb enough to take Sandra to the end, she’s winning it.
SK: That being said, who is the most deserving player to win at this point?
CE: Malcolm. He was the one who pretty much controlled the vote. Everybody was going to Malcolm. He was in every conversation the first three days. Sandra was as well, but she wasn’t as in control of this vote as Malcolm was. Based on just three days, Malcolm deserves to win. Who am I rooting for? I’m rooting for Brad Culpepper. I just think he’s a great guy. I love his family. I think he has it in him to win now that he’s not playing with Monica. He doesn’t have that distraction this time. I think people aren’t scared to take him to the end because they think he can’t win. We’ve seen Brad rub people the wrong way, so maybe he’s the person that people want to take to the end. I think they would be fools to because Brad could own his game. He had a lot of help from Monica on the social aspect, and I’m rooting for him to take home the win.
Do you think Ciera Eastin was the right person to vote off first? Join the conversation and leave a comment in the section below.
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