Hello! This week, I’m really pleased to bring you the first part of my exclusive interview with the latest winner of Australian Survivor; the marvellous Pia Miranda. Pia’s a brilliant and popular Australian actress, who I had the pleasure of working with on three seasons of Mustangs FC, where we we played proud parents of two of the teenage soccer players on the show….
See? There was a lot to talk about with Pia’s recent ‘Sole Survivor’ experience, so I thought I’d better start at the beginning….
SH: Pia, thanks so much for talking to me about your Survivor experience for HowToWinGameShows.com!
PM: My pleasure!
SH: Now, you’ve been a fan of the show for many years….
SH: So how did your getting on the show come about?
PM: So, I did a TV Tonight interview and, as part of it, they asked “what’s your guilty pleasure?” I said “I’m a massive Survivor fan; I’m obsessed with it. I haven’t missed a season since it started”. And then the next question was “if you could be on any TV show, what would it be?” I responded with something quite highbrow, because I thought that’s what people want to hear.
SH: What was the highbrow thing?
PM: I think it was something like The Handmaid’s Tale – you know, a worthy drama. I did also wonder if I should’ve put Veep, because I like comedy. But when I wrote my answer and I looked at it, I had this ‘authentic’ New Year’s Weirdness (it was New Year’s Eve), and I just deleted it. I thought ‘actually, if I’m honest, I always talked about being on Survivor.’ Because I was really obsessed with being on Survivor for years.
SH: Did you ever apply?
PM: I tried to apply for the American one in my twenties, but you have to be an American citizen.
PM: So, I just wrote Survivor. I thought it was actually truthful and it’s funny, and maybe not what people expect from an actor. So I sent off all my responses to the interview questions, and didn’t think any more about it, and then I think the story ran on New Year’s Day and then two days later, they emailed me and said “Come play!” and I was like “I didn’t actually mean I wanted to play…”
SH: “Joking, guys!” So, how did you go from this flippant answer to making the actual decision to dive in?
PM: So, that happened in January and they told me they were shooting in April. So I knew I had a bit of time to think about it. And I was really hoping I’d get offered some great acting roles, so I wouldn’t have to do it. It came in and I showed my husband Luke and he was like “Oh my god” and we both had that weird feeling that “Your lifelong dreams could happen”. My first instinct was to go “No, I’m an actor, this is just a terrible idea”. Because I know what Survivor‘s like; it’s messy, you get grumpy, it’s not the best version of yourself; I mean, do I really want to put that on television? So, yeah, I sort of went “no”, and then “yeah” and then “maybe”… and then we would just sit on it – it was back and forth. Then I had a conversation with the producer Amelia who was pretty convincing about why I should do it (but it is her job to convince me to do it); because I guess I’m an unusual pick for Survivor. Then, as it got closer and closer, and nothing else came along, I really couldn’t get it out of my head. I just kept thinking “I don’t want to do it because it’s so s**t, but then again, this is life-long dream of mine…” I had a great conversation with My agent Tash. We’ve been friends for 20 years and she was really pro of the whole idea. A few other people in the industry wouldn’t have been; they would have thought it was really not a great thing to do. But she just said “you’re 45. Take a risk, do something crazy – what’s the worst that can happen?” And then my husband Luke just said, “This is your lifelong dream. I think you can win it. I’ll hold the fort. Go do it.” And so, we worked out the financial aspect of it. Then it came down to the last week, and I was still back and forth, back and forth… then I suddenly had like 10 minutes to decide. They said, “You’ve got to decide now” and I just threw caution to the wind.
SH: Stepped off the edge.
PM: Yeah. I had to have a chat with the kids.
SH: How old are they?
PM: Lily’s nine and James is six. She loves Survivor, so that was fun and exciting for her. Once I’d said yes, the reality of it really set in for her and it was a bit too much for her and she changed her mind. I said it’s too late but–
SH: You’re going to be away for a long time.
PM: Yeah! We had lots of chats about it, and in the end it was really good for her because it made her really resilient. I think her confidence has gone up since I went away. Now that she sees that Mum can go away, and although that’s not great… I did come back! I think that was really good for her.
And that’s where we’ll leave it for next week. Next week, Pia talks about the pre-show training she did, the difficulty of keeping her involvement secret and the enforced Digital Detox that’s built in to any Survivor experience…
See you then!