This is the eighth in a series of interviews with Survivor Samoa cast members.
Although I realize that the Survivor cast member’s bios are written from their applications, and highlight things that are not necessarily representative of who they really are, I rolled my eyes when I saw the way Laura Morett described herself as a “fit version of Sarah Palin.” (Fit? Of all the ways one would want to differentiate themselves from Sarah Palin, her physical fitness is probably the last. But I digress.) Actually, Laura deserves a better comparison. She’s conservative and religious, and that does define her in many ways, but there’s more to her than that.
But to be sure, she is conservative and has “a really strong faith,” studying “women’s ministry and theology” at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s school. But she doesn’t want to be a minister. “The goal is to speak at women’s events. Encourage women to be confident–like, to be happy, if they’re a mom, be a great mom. You’re just as important and valuable as a mom as a doctor saving lives,” Laura told me.
Laura applied for The Amazing Race with Jodi Wincheski, who she knew since high school. If you recognize the name, it’s because Jodi was on last season of The Amazing Race with Christie, not Laura, because producers “wanted two flight attendants, so I got cut,” Laura said. But since the same people cast both shows, they called her for Survivor.
That’s okay with her, since she’s looking forward to the challenge–and particularly the challenges for their “physicalness.” Laura said, “I’ll do anything. I’m freakishly strong. … We’ll see if my body follows along with my mind.” She is concerned because she recently “tore apart my Achilles,” so “I’m going to have to be really smart about my challenges. … I don’t have to be the fastest one, I just have to be faster than the slowest guy.”
Beyond performing well in challenges, Laura has an intriguing strategy, one she described all through casting using a metaphor that turned out to be very appropriate once she learned she was going to Samoa. Laura plans to be the “huge Samoan center,” and said, “my job is to protect the MVP of the game.” She will then “step to the side and my quarterback will get plowed, and that will just leave me.” In the comparison, the quarterback is “the one everyone portrays as the leader, but ultimately, I’ll be the one deciding which way he or she goes,” Laura said.
Basically, she plans to make other people a target instead of herself. “As long as somebody else is the target, then I’m safe. … I have a good sense of discernment, kind of discerning who people are kind of getting–hopefully, it won’t be me–annoyed with or possibly threatened by,” she said. Then, Laura will “fan that flame … so that it amplifies their irritability or their threat to somebody else.” Laura told me that her kids told her, “Mom, just don’t annoy anybody. I was like, all right, that was just rude,” she joked. But Laura did take away something from that: “They vote out the annoying people before the threats. … I think I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and be more of a listener; be more of a counselor than one who’s monopolizing the conversation.”
Laura, who would have turned 40 shortly after arriving home, is a mother (her kids are 20, 18, and 15) and a grandmother (her granddaughter is 2) and works at the state capitol in Oregon, running the office out of which lobbyists work. That’s relevant to the game because Laura has very strong convictions both religiously and politically, but she told me she can interact with people who have differing points of view. “I totally was prepared for this when I was working at our state capital. I’m from Oregon–we’re the most liberal, crazy, ridiculous state, based on some laws that we’ve had,” she said, and “90 percent of the people I work with are left-wing, strong liberals.” But although she had opposite beliefs, Laura said, “I sincerely cared and appreciated every single one of them. Just as convicted as I am that I’m right, they’re convicted that they’re right. And I get that. I get that that they have the same convictions I do. It’s not my job to change somebody, my job is to just be an example.”
That answer was indicative of the Laura I liked: rational, smart, unpredictable. The Laura that was not as interesting was the one who quoted scripture about lying but then talked her way out of it–although that certainly may be a helpful ability in the game. Talking about a story from Jacob in the Bible (hear it below), Laura said, “Clearly, you’re not supposed to lie. Is there ever a time to possibly bend the truth or not tell the truth for the sake of possibly saving somebody else or the sake of possibly save your own life?” Just before I pointed out the obvious–no one’s life would be at risk on Survivor–she amended that story’s lesson to apply it to the game: “for the sake of saving my own life in the game, I would.”
Ultimately, Laura said her behavior and game play “depends upon the situation” and “what it would require me to do. … If it’s going to require to me to do something that would possibly mar my character or mar Christ’s character, I absolutely wouldn’t do it.” She cited Dreamz’s lie about giving up the car as an example of unacceptable behavior.
While her speech includes a lot of references to her faith and religion, Laura said, “I’m not going to give the sermons every morning, do a morning devotion,” but she quickly added that “anybody who knows me at home knows that you can’t be around me more than 30 seconds without knowing, okay, that girl loves the lord.”
Hear Laura talk about the consequences of “when you confess a faith,” and the biblical story that informs her opinion about lying: