Desiree Williams is so totally done with Chrissy Hofbeck. In fact, Desiree says Chrissy is one of her least favorite people in the entire world. But what went wrong between the two Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers castaways? Desiree explained it all in our one-on-one interview. Plus, she revealed why she stayed so loyal to Joe Mena when everybody else hated him. She also discussed how a casting director randomly found her online and approached her to be a contestant on the show.
SheKnows: What did you think was going to happen at the Tribal Council in which you were voted off?
Desiree Williams: I kind of thought exactly what happened was going to happen. Going to Tribal I had a pretty good inkling I was going home. We had confirmed the other alliance would be splitting their votes between Joe and me. I sort of knew, or at least felt, if I could just write down Joe’s name that I would be safe in the game. He would’ve had the votes to go home. On the same token, I could not morally bring myself to write down his name. I had conversations with just about everybody, and everybody had lied to my face about who they’re working with. Joe, I felt, was the only person who was being truthful at that point. He was the only person I still trusted in the game. It became something so much bigger than the game of Survivor.
SK: What gave you that feeling you were going to be voted off?
DW: I had tried to have a conversation with Chrissy, and it was very clear that she didn’t want to work with me. It was clear that the Heroes tribe was staying strong together. Secondly, I knew that I was a huge physical threat in the game. No ifs, ands or buts about it, even going into the merge there were too many challenges I had made look too easy. I knew people would be gunning for me for that reason.
SK: Lauren had a secret advantage that she used at Tribal Council. It involved her sacrificing her vote to gain an extra one later in the game. How is it that nobody noticed there was a vote missing when Jeff Probst revealed each one?
DW: I know. It’s so easy to see it from the outside looking in. “Oh, duh. Only 10 votes were read.” But when you’re in the moment, we were sleep-deprived and hungry. I truthfully didn’t even notice only 10 votes were read. Even further than that, I was still dumbfounded about where all the Healer votes went because I thought we were all voting for Lauren. We had all agreed upon that going into Tribal as a way to keep us safe. I was super-confused about the Healer votes, so I wasn’t even thinking about the fact only 10 votes were read. It’s so easy at home to say, “That makes no sense.” If it had been five votes for Joe and five votes for me, it would’ve been very clear, but the votes were all over the place.
SK: When did you learn Lauren didn’t actually vote? Did you find out about it while watching the episode?
DW: No. I found out before the episode aired. Truthfully and embarrassingly, it wasn’t until other people came to Ponderosa that I knew that. Once it was done, I was thinking about all the food I was going to eat, brushing my teeth and taking a shower. I wasn’t ruminating over how many votes went where. It didn’t cross my mind.
SK: You said you couldn’t morally cast a vote against Joe, but almost everybody else seems agitated by his strong personality. What is it about Joe that kept you so loyal to him?
DW: It’s funny because Joe wears his cards on his sleeve. If he doesn’t like you, you know he doesn’t like you. It rubs people the wrong way because they’re used to just being fake all the time. Joe is very clear in what he likes, what he’s going to do, says what he thinks and does what he says he’s going to do. For me, I respect that. Although I’m not as abrasive in my delivery, I’m also that type of person. I do what I say I’m gonna do. We don’t have to keep having these conversations and insecurities about what you’re thinking about me. This is what I think, and you can’t change the way I think. He’s much more vocal, but I think he and I are similar in the way we think and operate in the world.
SK: But with the negative feelings surrounding him by the other contestants, did you ever consider distancing yourself so you weren’t so tightly connected to Joe?
DW: I don’t think my partnership with Joe is why I got voted out. I think if you ask anybody else who played the game, they would say the same thing. I was a challenge threat. People liked me well enough. That’s why I was voted out of the game, not because I was working with Joe. If anything, my partnership with Joe would’ve helped long-term because if both of us get further in the game nobody wants to keep him around.
SK: You mentioned that Chrissy had no interest in working with you. What is your take on Chrissy?
DW: Chrissy is one of my least favorite people in the world. These are very strong feelings, but now you’ve got me worked up [laughs]. Chrissy does not like women, and that’s very clear, at least women who she feels threatened by. You can see back-to-back-to-back women were voted out, and Chrissy was at the helm of those decisions. She either doesn’t know how to work with women or doesn’t care to work with women. It might be easier to manipulate guys with her “good looks,” big boobs, teeth or whatever. My take on Chrissy is she’s good in this game because guys are dumb and fall for big boobs and teeth. I think Chrissy crossed the moral line in this game more than once, and for that reason I have a hard time with her as a person.
SK: What did she do to cross the line with you?
DW: It was not shown because it would’ve aired in my elimination episode. There was a point Chrissy swears on her kids about something she is in fact lying about. That, to me, draws the moral line. At that point, it was not something that even needed to be lied about. We all saw what went down. The fact that you’re swearing on your kids’ lives about something that you are actually lying about. It was something that doesn’t matter because we all saw it go down. You can’t even lie. It felt stupid and she had gone too far.
SK: Can you tell us what happened?
DW: It was the whole digging for the Idol thing. It was something about seeing the clue and then digging for the Idol. It was all in that whole thing that went down where she and Cole were wrestling in the sand. It all surrounded that moment with that clue they found in the group reward.
SK: So there’s no future friendship between you and Chrissy once this is all done?
DW: It’s weird, actually, because sometimes she texts me. I’m like, we’re actually not friends. I don’t know that she has a good read on how much I don’t like her. I don’t like her.
SK: At this point, who do you think is playing the strongest game?
DW: I think Chrissy. We’ve seen Chrissy lead four votes in a row. So while I don’t like her as a person, she’s playing a hell of a game. She’s still winning through the game by manipulating these men to vote her way time after time. For whatever reason, they don’t see her as a threat even though she’s controlling all the moves. It’s an interesting thing that’s going on. I don’t like Chrissy one bit, but she’s playing a hell of a game.
SK: Did you have a plan on who you wanted to go to the final three with?
DW: I definitely had a plan on who I wanted to sit next to. J.P. is one of them because he was confused always. I went back and forth between Cole and Devon. Cole made fatal flaws over and over and over again. For Devon, when the final three talks at that final Tribal Council, he wasn’t going to form a sentence that made it convincing to vote for him.
SK: But not Joe?
DW: No. I would not go to the final three with Joe. At some point in time, I would’ve had to flip on him. If Joe pisses off that many people and makes it to the final three, he’s playing a good game.
SK: How did you get on the show?
DW: Truthfully, I wasn’t a hardcore Survivor fan. I, of course, watched it the first several seasons that all of America watched. I fell out of it in high school and college. I actually received a random message on Facebook. There was a random message from a casting director from Survivor. He was like, “I know this is crazy, but just hear me out. Watch Survivor for a weekend. Call me on Monday, and let me know if it’s something you’re interested in.” So I binge-watched Survivor for an entire weekend. I mostly saw the physical challenges and was like, “I’m a competitor. I’d love to fucking play that.” I then recorded an audition tape and sent it in. A couple weeks later, I was flown out to LA for in-person auditions. It’s sort of something that fell in my lap to be totally honest.
SK: How did they find you?
DW: He said that he sometimes looks at the Miss USA website and reads contestant profiles to see if any of them would be a good fit. He came across my profile and thought I would be a good fit. At least that’s the story I was told. That’s how he found me.
SK: Would you play again?
DW: Absolutely. I think it’s sort of like how people describe childbirth. In the moment you’re like, “Who did this to me? I’m not up for this shit. How the hell did I get here?” Then afterward you’re like, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad. I think I’ll have 10 more.” That’s kind of where I am. In the moment, I was miserable, especially when I was hungry, dirty and my breath stunk. Reflecting on it now, I would absolutely go back.
SK: But if you knew Chrissy was going to be back in the game with you, would you still want to play again?
DW: Oh, gosh. That’s a tough decision. I wouldn’t let her rain on my parade. I’d still go back.