Kellyn Encourages Women To Demand What They Want, On Survivor And In Life
Plus, the latest cast-off recounts the relationships she made and where her game took a turn for the worst.
To see the finish line in sight and not be able to cross it is a hard thing to experience for any Survivor castaway, but Kellyn Bechtold has been able to take it in stride.
STREAM: Full Episodes Of Survivor: Ghost Island On CBS All Access
After a remarkably strong game pre-Merge, Kellyn's alliances became murky as she was unable to shift the tide of the game away from Domenick and Wendell, winding up as the latest member of the Jury as the castaways of Ghost Island head into the finale.
We caught up with Kellyn to talk about the relationships she forged, where her game went wrong, and what she's taking away from the experience.
You were kind of a surprising mastermind this season, especially once the idea of "Naviti Strong" came into play. Were you intending to go into this game and take on a leadership role?
Kellyn Bechtold: [Laughs] No, I wasn't. I really wasn't. I think I played the pre-Merge game exactly how I wanted to play. That was my gameplay going in; make friendships, know what's going on, have a strong ally—I think I said early on that I wanted to play with somebody like Spencer—and so there was Bradley!
He was like the perfect person that I was looking for, and he was right there. He and I ended up hitting it off and having a great time playing together. My strategy was to know what was going on but not to appear like I was in control. I really feel like I was at least doing that partially.
People were starting to call Bradley out, "He's the leader, he's the one telling everyone what to do, he's the mean one!" But Bradley and I were working lockstep. So, it was really fun pre-Merge to do that, to kind of be in control, but I think had my shield.
Well, Dom and Chelsea felt otherwise, so once Bradley was gone, I had a lot more trouble figuring out my game plan. So that really unsettled me when Bradley was gone. Post-Merge, I really just got totally outplayed. [Laughs] I admit it.
How do you think things would've shook out differently for you if you hadn't pinned those votes on Wendell at the previous Tribal?
Kellyn: If I had voted for Chelsea wth the boys instead of voting for Wendell? I think they'd already made up their mind. That's hindsight now, but at the time, I went with Chelsea with the hope that Laurel and Donathan would come with us.
It was kind of getting down to the last time where we had the numbers. We knew there were Idols in play, so I was trying to do the math backwards in terms of how many Tribals do we have, with this many Idols, and the chances they could win? If you're wondering when did I screw over my time with Dom and Wendell, it was on the Michael vote, when I actually voted twice for Laurel.
Because I hadn't looped Dom in on the extra vote, so he was blindsided by that, and Laurel was their alliance member. In that moment, me, Dom, and Wendell looked at each other like, "It's been real, but peace out." They had obviously chosen to work with Laurel over me.
They knew that Laurel was voting for me, and so I was out of the Dom and Wendell thing starting with the Michael vote. Going with Chelsea I don't think really changed anything, it was just my last ditch effort of trying to swing the vote.
You mentioned this a little bit, but as a viewer, it seems like one of the reasons you wound up going home is because of Laurel and Donathan letting Dom and Wendell really run the show. Why do you think they didn't want to make a move at that pivotal point of the game? It seems like they'd be better off in the finale with you as opposed to them.
Kellyn: I tried to figure it out in a hundred different ways. A thousand different ways! A hundred different conversations with Laurel. She just felt safer with them. I had written her name down twice, and it was like she somehow forgot that she had also written my name down, I guess? I don't know.
I was willing to put that behind us and be like, "Those boys are pitting us against each other, and they are dictating what we're doing. The only way we can get out of this is to come together." We had Chelsea and Angela willing to working with us. I thought she and Donathan were working together and she could pull him in. I was just not trustworthy enough.
Here's the non-glamorous side of it: Laurel and I met for the first time at the Merge. I met Laurel, Donathan, and Libby for the first time then. Laurel and Donathan had been building a relationship with Dom and Wendell while I was over working really hard voting people out! [Laughs]
I was going to Tribal, they were all bonding and winning rewards and Immunity Challenges and getting to know each other. And I was over voting people out.
There was just no way I could overcome the bond they had made with Dom and Wendell. I'm not making that as an excuse, I should've done something differently. But Laurel was all in with those boys and she just wouldn't pull the trigger.
I felt that in my last few days. I was trying to get Dom to turn on Wendell and Wendell to turn on Dom. I wasn't even really trying to get Laurel anymore. She was further gone than Dom and Wendell were to me at that point.
A lot of your fellow castaways have dropped your name when I asked them who they got closest with or who they clicked with the most. From your perspective, how difficult was it to manage your personal relationships and gameplay while you were out there, especially to make it as far as you did?
Kellyn: That's something that I feel like wasn't shown at all and something I was doing really well. I do think that I built genuine relationships out there, and I do think that some of those people may have been willing to vote for me at the end if I had gotten Dom and Wendell out.
I genuinely love meeting new people, and yeah I was willing to slit their throats, but like, with Michael—he's the perfect example. He and I are super close, we were going hard at each other, you know? But we could still put that aside and become really great friends.
I don't want people to be like, "What relationships is she talking about?" because it wasn't really shown. But I had wonderful relationships. I was extremely close with Sebastian. Honestly, the was probably the hardest one.
When he came and told me that it was my time. I got teary eyed. I don't want to put tears in his eyes, but I think it was a very emotional time. So I think I did a great job of building relationships because I love these people. We had an amazing time out there.
I'm still really close with a lot of them—not everybody—but with a lot of them, and I'm really proud of my social game. I suggest everyone to watch my Ponderosa video, because I think there's a better sense of there relationships I was still continuing to build, even though I had been on the right side of voting a lot of people out.
What would you say you learned about yourself during your time on Survivor?
Kellyn: I learned that I was stronger than I ever thought I was. I couldn't believe that I could keep up with the pack most of the time, until the end there, I was just physically broken down too much.
So I was stronger than I thought I was, [but also] be careful what you wish for. You can manifest things into your life, and you really want to be careful and intentional about how you live your life.
And also, to just ****ing go for it. There are people who are being pretty critical of me this season—there's also a lot of love, so it's a mixed bag there—but you know what? I went out on Survivor, I was myself, I made it 35 days.
And yeah, I'm not the pretty girl who sits in the corner with my mouth shut. That's not what I want for women in this world, and so if people can't handle a loud woman who has emotions, who wears her heart on her sleeves and demands what she wants sometimes, I suggest not following me on social media.
Because that's who I am. And that's who I will stand to be. And I'm proud of that, for women everywhere, that we don't have to be one note.
Watch the season finale of Survivor: Ghost Island on Wednesday, May 23 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.