Wait. Did you know there was somebody named Chelsea Townsend playing Survivor: Ghost Island? Seriously, if you blinked, you may have missed her. Chelsea was nearly invisible throughout the show since her entire game was left out by the editors. Bummer. In our one-on-one interview with Chelsea, she expressed her frustration with the edit while explaining how she was playing the game harder than anybody realized. Plus, she revealed why Angela and Laurel are the perfect players to beat.
SheKnows: What was going through your mind at that Tribal Council when Donathan started dropping bombs? Did you really think Wendell was going home, or did you know the votes were going to fall against you?
Chelsea Townsend: I was mortified… I felt hopeless after Donathan stirred up Tribal because I looked back at Wendell and could see the expression on his face. I was positive he was going to play his Idol. I was honestly shocked he did not play it. I felt my hope come alive again that I just may pull off a huge blindside, but unfortunately Laurel decided not to pull the trigger.
SK: Your edit was very limited despite the fact that you made it this far in the game. What has it been like watching the show and seeing your experience mostly hidden from viewers? Does it hurt your feelings? Are you surprised your story has been mostly omitted?
CT: It was very frustrating to watch back. I was very proud of the game I played, and I played really hard. It was difficult to not have any of that shown. I definitely was surprised with my story as I felt I played a large role in the game. Nobody just happens to vote the right person out almost every time. I created good relationships and plotted strategies and was able to see a majority of them through. Unfortunately, the edit portrayed me in a backseat role when that is definitely not where I was. However, at the end of the day, it is about my experience on the show and my journey. I’m very proud of the way I played, and I played exactly the game I wanted to: cool, calm and calculated.
SK: Since we didn’t get to see much of your game, tell us some behind-the-scenes details about what you were doing strategically. What was your argument going to be to win the game?
CT: My argument comes in three parts. Physically, I was a huge threat in the challenges. My teammates nicknamed me the “challenge beast.” I won multiple individual Immunity challenges and placing top three in the others, as well as winning the Reward challenges in between. Socially, I created very strong bonds with most of the players, and this was a big part of my strategy pre-merge when I was trying to fly under the radar. I focused very hard on my relationships early on, fostering common ground and trust. Strategically, I voted correctly almost every single time I went to Tribal. I had a large say in who went home each week. During the Brendan vote, I came up with the idea to take out a boy instead of a girl as I know that was the common move in Survivor and betted they would therefore try to save one of the girls with an Idol. I teamed up with Domenick to throw the last pre-merge challenge without getting my hands dirty if there was fallout to take out Bradley before the merge, as I knew he was aiming to take me out after the merge. During the Libby vote, I got wind she was throwing my name out there and needed to get her out of the game and my name out of the discussion. I teamed up with Des to set a split vote in action as a backup plan if Michael had an idol, with Libby being the collateral damage. I hoped he had one and he did, sending her home. I was constantly reevaluating and played very hard. My goal was to be the person nobody saw coming.
SK: What was your end-game plan? Who did you want to take to the final Tribal Council and why?
CT: If the Wendell blindside had worked out, my next target was Dom. I knew he had an Idol ’cause he told me the day he found it, and well, he told everyone [laughs]. I knew it could potentially take a couple Tribals to get him out, depending if I could steal individual Immunity wins out of his grasp, forcing his hand. I would take out other threats in the meantime and ultimately hoped to end up next to Laurel and Angela at the end. Angela was very loyal to me and we were extremely close. I knew I could trust her to the end and probably beat her based off strategic game because she had been left out of so many votes. I also wanted to take her because she was so loyal and I was so fond of her. I wanted to take Laurel because everyone knew her to be a GOAT. She was very passive throughout the game and basically just rode Dom and Wendell’s coattail. I knew a cast of big Survivor fans wouldn’t respect her gameplay.
SK: Explain how you got on the show.
CT: I made an audition video and was lucky enough to be selected for interviews. I went through a very long week of casting and then waited for what seemed like forever. I remember I was in the car headed to lunch with my mom, who was out visiting me in California, when I got the call that I had been selected to be on the show. I remember my heart racing and being so excited. I couldn’t wait to play the game I had been watching for years. I never thought it was a possibility, and I am so completely humbled and grateful to have been chosen to live out my dream of being on Survivor.