Candice Woodcock: “I’m not out here to be a star; I love playing the game”

This is the 11th in a series of interviews with Survivor Heroes vs. Villains cast members.

Candice Woodcock Besides Danielle, Candice was the other person I just didn’t recognize or remember. Her Survivor Cook Islands mutiny was good TV, but listening to the recording of our conversation almost put me to sleep at first. I am not kidding; there’s a reason why there’s been a few days’ break in this series of interviews. But despite being super-quiet and demure, she’s got a really great subtle edge to her that woke me up and made think she could go really far, especially this season.

To start, Candice admitted she’s not well-known. “I didn’t really get that much airtime, I don’t think. People probably have no idea who I am.” Though she’s not high-profile, Candice said, “I like that. That’s good. I don’t need to be. I’m not out here to be a star; I love playing the game.” Perhaps surprisingly, Candice was actually called for Micronesia, but said no because she had to decide about going to school “before they were sure” that they were going to do the season and/or cast her. She also said, “I don’t consider myself, like, a reality star like some of these people walking around with those outfits. What are you doing? You were on a reality show: congratulations.”

The only person she knows is Parvati, and she has no pre-season alliances. “I’m not thinking too hard about strategy right now. I’m going to play the way I played before: be open to as many things as possible and this time I want to make sure I have a relationship with everyone, not just the people I’m aligned with,” Candice said.

Candice’s strategy, basically, is to let the more obnoxious people get attention, so she’ll fly under the reality star radar. “I think those kind of people are going to be loud and getting on people’s nerves, more so than somebody who’s sitting back. I’ll just let them do their thing,” she told me. Instead of being “loud or crazy,” she’ll be “working people” behind the scenes. “I’m going to be quiet, I’m going to try to gain some people’s trust.”

While Candice said, “I’m trying to be open to people that I would normally not like at all, because you can make a decision to hate someone at the beginning,” and while she admitted her impressions might change, she was wonderfully judgmental about her fellow competitors: “I don’t really like Jerri Manthey. Have you seen her today? That outfit she’s wearing?” “I’m a little nervous about Courtney, because it seems like she hates everyone.” “Rob Marino’s out there, talking his face off in the hallway; obviously, he thinks he’s a big-time star.”

For her first appearance, Candice said, “all I had to do to prepare was eat my face off,” but this time she had been “sitting in a library with my face in a book,” so she prepared by “worked out for a month and a half” but stopped to prevent injury. “What am I going to do in two weeks that’s going to matter?” she said.

Candice is a third-year medical student, and before the season filmed, had just finished a rotation and planned to pick up another when she returns, so she’ll still graduate on time. However, she changed her wedding date so she could return for the 20th season, and said, “I’m just a big fan of the game; I love it.”

Although she’s a fan, Candice was open and even critical about some aspects of the production, specifically wardrobe. “They pretty much choose what they want you to wear. If you don’t send them what they want, they make you go out and get it. Last night, they went out and bought a bathing suit for me after they’d already approved my other one. I was like, ‘Really, seriously, guys?’ I had to try it on and they thought it looked fine, so I doubt that you can refuse that. There was one of them that I thought was hideous so I was like, burn that.”

Her clothing will reflect the character producers have in mind for her. “They want me to have the athletic look, so they’re forcing me to have a sports bra. I’m wearing all pink; I don’t know why. Really, guys? Come on,” she said. Candice was also annoyed by the way contestants had to wait until darkness for Tribal Council and not being able to talk during that time, saying she did her best to communicate when she was voted out: “I wrote Yul’s name in the sand with my foot…go down swinging.”

Candice has learned from her previous experience on the show. She told me that, in the Cook Islands, producers were “hinting” at the fact that the family visits were coming up, and said things to her like, “can you try harder to not get voted off?” As a result, she said, “I think I’ll listen more to what they’re asking about.”

Hear Candice discuss why she’s “a little nervous” about competing against people who know each other, and why she’s annoyed by producers choosing her underwear:

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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.