Carolina Eastwood: “you can’t really bullshit me”

Carolina Eastwood is a 26-year-old bartender from West Hollywood who once wanted to be an actor and was reluctantly recruited to be on Survivor Tocantins. That doesn’t make her sound like an ideal cast member, but Carolina had a way of surprising defying expectations and revealing complexity behind her pleasant exterior.

For example, she insists she’s not on Survivor for fame. “I don’t really care about that, to be completely honest with you. Survivor’s going to bring something into my life that’s for my own personal game. It’s going to show me that there are so many things in life that aren’t worth stressing about. Yeah, if something comes out of it, that would be a blessing, but that’s not why I’m here on the show because I’m getting stripped away of everything that what in the United States we call important, but it really isn’t, if you really think about it. And I’m getting stripped away of that, and I’m really getting back down to challenging myself, showing myself that I can do this,” she told me.

Carolina calls herself a “huge, huge fan of Survivor” who started watching around the eighth season, but she was recruited by “Erika Shay–wonderful Erika Shay, is the one that found me,” Carolina said, insisting she was initially skeptical. “I was like, yeah, whatever, because I live in Hollywood,” and thus “kind of took it as a joke.”

She decided to do the show, however, for both the game and the chance at $1 million, but also “to really prove it to myself, to really see if I could really do this, and I know that I can. Just to take away all of the materialistic things from the outside world and be able to survive.”

Carolina–“Caroline or Carolina, same thing,” she said–was born in Panama and grew up in Florida, where she became a citizen at 13. Eventually, she moved to California with just $250 because “I want to be able to be like, ‘I don’t need anybody for anything.'” Why L.A.? “Since I was younger, I wanted to be an actor; I’ve studied it, it’s one of my biggest passions. I wanted to get into hosting as well. I still would love to do hosting, now I kind of want to do behind-the-scenes stuff. I eventually do want to own my own bar,” but probably in Florida, not California, Carolina told me.

Unlike Ben Wade and his clearly defined, game-changing strategy, Carolina doesn’t have a strategy. “I can’t tell you this is how I’m going to play because I haven’t met the other cast members, I haven’t had a conversation with them. So I’m not going to bullshit myself and be like, ‘This is what I’m going to do, and this is exactly how I’m going to play the game,’ because I hadn’t met them,” she told me. “We’ll just have to wait to see how I play, but it will be very much a social game.”

Ultimately, her primary focus seems to be on forming relationships, which, of course, is pretty vital to the game. “If you want to make it to the merge, you have to play as a team, and it can’t just be about yourself,” she said. Carolina said she can read people well–“you can’t really bullshit me even if you’re looking at me straight in the face”–and discussed a few of her fellow cast members. The “country bumpkin'” (JT, most likely), has been consistently rude to others, so she’s “not too fond of” him, while Sierra had been “making it very apparent, very obvious the things that she can do,” but Carolina still said Sierra is “someone I know I’d seriously get in some trouble with.” She called Sydney (the blonde with the blue eyes) “somewhat of a threat.” Beyond that, she wouldn’t really identify people, like the contestant who always gets in line first for food or those who hoard food.

As to her challenges, Carolina only cited her tendency to be honest. “I know in the beginning I’m going to have to watch my mouth, because my mouth will tend to get me in a little bit of trouble. And I’m very sarcastic, and just the way I say jokes, so I know I might hurt someone’s feelings, and that might come back to haunt me, so I need to be really careful,” she told me.

She’s also aware of the way she talks a lot, apologizing at the end of our conversation. “Sorry I was rambling on,” she said. And while the does ramble, what she’s saying is usually substantive, it’s just that she gets to a related idea before completing the initial thought. And she’s certainly not a Sandy Burgin-like talker.

Carolina’s past has clearly affected her, and while she discusses it openly, it doesn’t seem to weigh her down. “I’ve lied, I stole, I cheated but only to my parents…telling them, basically, to fuck off,” she said while discussing a fraught relationship with her mom that resulted in “anger” “when my mom couldn’t provide.” But Carolina now realizes, “If I look at the life my mom did give me, it’s more than I ever would have had in Panama.”

Carolina also talked about a traumatic event that led her to face “inner demons.” “I was sexually assaulted, and that could have ruined my life, and for a while, it did,” Carolina said. “I took that assault and I made it into a positive. It’s the best and the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my life, because it made me wake up. In a way, that asshole kind of gave me a gift, but I think I gave that gift to myself. So now I do look at life in a very positive way.”

Hear Carolina talk about why she moved to L.A., her relationship with her parents and the effect of the sexual assault, and reading other people:

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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.