Jacquie Berg: “I kind of just want to sit back so that people can’t judge me, good or bad”

Like Survivor Gabon cast member Paloma Soto-Castillo, medical device salesperson Jacquie Berg was totally nice–and totally forgettable. I continually forget she’s even on the show. Our conversation was the shortest one I had with any contestant, and while Jacquie has a relatively interesting strategy, it was kind of boring to hear her talk about it because she’s so restrained. At one point, she said, “I’m trying not to be right now, but I’m very high energy,” and I almost laughed at the second part because of the subdued way she said that and everything else.

Jacquie “applied the day before applications were due” because “I needed a change; I was working 80 hours a week for the past three years, and I needed a vacation, to say the least,” she said. She’s watched the show for the “last few years,” and as a role model in the game, cites a “mixture of, like, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and possibly Jenna Morasca, just because I think they could play off people’s emotions really well and get instant rapport with people.”

While she’s “super, super competitive,” her strategy is to attempt to fly under the radar, even to the point of throwing challenges, so she doesn’t come off as a threat and conceals her strengths, such as her athleticism (her CBS bio said she “[competes] in several sports such as gymnastics, water polo, crew, track and swimming”).

“This is going to be really, really hard I’m going to hold back. I don’t want to be a dominating leader in the group, which I tend to do when I’m doing team sports, because I have this intrinsic need to win. But I’m going to try to hold back as much as I can,” Jacquie said. “I kind of just want to sit back so that people can’t judge me, good or bad.”

I asked how she could win with that strategy, and she said she’d wait until after the merge and then start “winning all the immunity idols that I can.” That said, she also intends to strategize while using others as a shield. “I’ll probably try to instigate a couple vote-offs but not make it seem like it’s coming from me, make it seem like the other person–they’ll be the voice,” Jacquie told me.

Other parts of her strategy seemed to be completely obvious. For example, she said, “I probably don’t want to befriend or make alliances with those people that are going to backstab me,” she said. As to how she’d know that, she had pre-judged the other contestants. “I think I’ve pretty much pinpointed those that I feel are genuine and people who I can trust, and I can already see people who are trying to scheme a plan and, you know, have a front. So, stay away from those people,” she said.

While Jacquie had clear ideas already about who she could trust and who she wouldn’t because she’s “a really good reader of people,” she refused to identify those people (by description, because of course they didn’t yet know each others’ names). “I can’t say; I’m not going to say,” she said after discussing trusting “those people who can’t hide a smile” and “have true emotions,” and not trusting those who are “seclusive” and “hide behind rocks and stuff.”

Hear high-energy Jacquie talk about her game-play strategy in these three clips:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.