Kelly Sharbaugh: “I expect there’s definitely going to be some romantic flames brewed”

This is the 10th in a series of interviews with Survivor Samoa cast members.

Kelly SharbaughKelly Sharbaugh seems like she should be less forgettable than she is, which could very well help her in the game. Although Kelly’s bio describes her as “spontaneous and passionate” with “a highly addicting and sociable personality,” I didn’t find her to be really outgoing, at least not compared to her fellow competitors. Instead, she’s calm and collected, which, again, might be really beneficial–or she’ll go home week three and we’ll forget about her by the end of the season.

Kelly was recruited for Survivor Samoa while walking around Santa Monica and “one of the casting people came chasing after” her,” she said. After being recruited in January, she had “plenty of time to think and train and prepare,” and told me that the experience “doesn’t sound that bad to me” in part because she likes to be outside. “I don’t have a major underlying fear about anything at this point.” Kelly works as a hair stylist in West Hollywood but left her job recently to travel, and said, “I work hard to be able to travel … some people buy expensive shoes, I like to travel.”

While she’s watched the show, “I haven’t necessarily been a life-long fan,” she said, and her favorite cast member and role model in the game is–wait for it–Parvati. As such, her primary strategy involves a battle of the sexes, sort of. “My initial strategy is going to align with a guy or two,” she said. But, Kelly added, “this is a really strong group of girls, I think, and if the girls come together in the end, we could totally pull this off. Use them [the men] until we don’t need them any more.”

Although with her desire to use the men, Kelly actually thinks she will have a romantic connection with someone. “We’re out there for 39 days in paradise. I expect there’s definitely going to be some romantic flames brewed,” she said, although she realized “you have to be careful” about the effect of that on the game, because if she’s being flirty, for example, other women might think, “she’s getting all the attention; she has to go.”

While she praised the cast’s attractiveness, Kelly said, “It’s been my experience that really good-looking guys tend to be tools.” That’s funny, but she said it and things like “I have a lot of fight in me” in the same quiet, near-monotone voice. I didn’t get much passion or fire from her, but perhaps that’s just the way she is in an interview. “In real life I’m very blunt. I’m very open and honest,” she said, but also added that she doesn’t expect to be that way in the game.

Still, her plan is “to be myself in the game, because I feel like in normal life I’m pretty likable, pretty easy going,” although she said won’t be as open because “you can’t totally be yourself. … I’m just going to try to be me and be pleasant and easy going. I guess if that’s a strategy, that’s where I’m going to begin, and I’m sure it’s going to evolve every day.”

That said, she’s not here to make friends. “Like JT and Stephen, that was cool, but … I have enough friends,” Kelly said. “I came here to play a game and I came here to win. … I didn’t come here to make friends. I imagine I will leave with friends. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings; I’m not trying to be rude or vengeful to anyone, but at the end of the day, this is a game. I’m here to win, so if I hurt your feelings in the process, I’m sorry, but I don’t care.”

While she was open to the idea that her first impressions of others might change, she said there are people “I don’t even want to sleep near,” specifically Mike, because he “coughs” and makes “weird bodily noises.” And Kelly told me that the there were other things that could annoy her. “I don’t really see myself as a tomboy; it’s more like I think like a guy sometimes. … I don’t take three hours to get ready. I’m kind of a little bit annoyed by people that are like that. It’s like, ‘Why are you trying to be fake? Just be who you are, and people will like you better.’ The people that aren’t genuine are definitely going to rub me the wrong way.”

As to being fake or lying as part of the game, Kelly said, “in real life, I don’t even lie. I call it a fib, like bending the truth or just not saying the truth.” But she also admitted, “I think there’s definitely going to be points where I’ll manipulate people; I don’t think anyone will ever know I’ve done it, though.”

Listen to Kelly talk about why her friends think she’s “a little shit,” discuss lying and aligning with others, and describe what happens when you “worry or stress too much.”

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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.