Sarah Dawson was a contestant on the recent “Survivor: Philippines” and was voted off the island on day 13 of the show. She was also the first contestant in the show’s 25 seasons to have ever kissed the host Jeff Probst. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Sarah about her time on the show and, of course, the kiss.
Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in trying out for the show?
Sarah Dawson: I have always been inspired by the show. Growing up in a conservative household as a vegetarian who spent most of her time camping, living outside and procuring degrees in a BA in Strategic Public Relations and a BS in Psychology really reflected to me the passion that I have for everything “Survivor” is about. I love it all, the scheming, the travel, the excitement of having all of my worldly possessions stripped away from me. I wanted to see how I could perform once all of the social constructs I have in my life were taken away
AL: Can you tell us about your audition process?
SD: I have been a HUGE fan of “Survivor” for years. I spent about 5 years trying to get some of my friends cast on the show and despite getting close, it didn’t work. In January of 2012 I decided that if I couldn’t get myself on “Survivor” I had no business giving anyone else advice on how to get on the show. That Sunday I recorded a one minute video and submitted it online within 10 hours, casting was on the phone with me and I was in LA meeting with producers just days later. During the final casting process I completely went “all in” and showed my genuine energy and passion for the show. Like every other aspect of my life, I took advantage of the situation as much as I could. I freaked out and got so excited when I met Jeff Probst and even petted his hair while saying the Lords Prayer. It was such a fun moment that I will never forget. I may have also grabbed Mark Burnett’s ass while he was walking by me into the casting room. Some chances in life only come once and I lived every second of my casting process so I would not miss one second or opportunity and have no regrets.
AL: Did you do anything to prepare yourself prior to filming? (watch past episodes etc.)
SD: As such a fan of the show, I think for about 2 years I watch previous “Survivor” episodes EXCLUSIVELY. I knew I would be involved n the show at some point and I prepared for years. Once I knew I was cast, I stepped my training into high gear. I gained 12 pounds by eating amazing burritos and doing weight training. I purchased and read 6 books in detail about the game and the psychology behind it. To prepare for “Survivor” I even ate all the ants off my kitchen table to test my commitment to the game! Before eating the ants I did discuss it with them, either they would be removed by my exterminator or they could make themselves part of “Survivor” history. They were thrilled with the opportunity and I came out ready for the game!!!
AL: Can you give us the low down on the Jeff Probst kiss?
SD: There is nothing more I would like to give you the low down on! Man were those kisses heated! When I was voted out of “Survivor”: Philippines it was time for me to have my torch snuffed by Jeff and just like every other moment of my life, I did not want to walk away from that second with any regrets. I stood in front of him for what seemed like hours, the people around me and tribal counsel disappeared from view and I the only thing I could see was the two of us, standing so close with so much energy between us. After a few seconds of me staring at him and trying to build up my courage, I could see the fear in his eyes and the anxiety of him wondering what I was about about to do to him because I obviously would not be one of those contestants that silently left tribal counsel without capturing one last second of such a rare opportunity. I chickened out on kissing him on the lips and hit him somewhere between his mouth and his cheek. It felt so empowering to have that hug back from him on my way out of the show. It was exhilarating.
AL: How about during the live reunion show?
SD: Now, the kiss during the live reunion show in Los Angeles was quite different. HA! I watched my entire season of “Survivor” at home thinking about kissing him during the live show and just like they read my mind, every day my Twitter followers would tweet me that I should kiss him during the live show so I built up my courage for 13 weeks and then finally the night came when I would once again be standing in front of my darling Dimples. I know the live shows happen very quickly because there is so much material to cover and once I had my window of opportunity, it would close in a flash. I was sitting about 6 feet off the stage with two rows of people in front of me between Jeff and I. I navigated in my head the quickest route to his lips and at the beginning of the show I took off my high heels and hid them behind another cast mate because I knew there was no way I could make the jump to the ground with them on. The show seemed to last forever but I knew he would speak to me at some point and that would be my moment. At the very end of the show he looked directly in my eyes and said my name and started asking me a question about the kiss at tribal council. Once he said my name I was in a daze and lost a few seconds just because he was speaking to me. I quickly snapped out of it and thought “MOVE! THIS IS YOUR LAST SHOT!!! MOVE NOW!!!!! It wasn’t shown on the show but I pushed Carter to the left, Put my right hand on Penners shoulder and launched myself over Denise and hit the ground barefoot splitting my shin open. In a flash with one move I lept from that spot to right in front of Jeff simultaneously wrapping my hands around the nape of his neck for the kiss I will always remember. Once I felt his hair in my hands and his skin against mine I put my lips to his and experienced a dream that is held by millions of women all over the world. We kissed for about 25 minutes, my shin was bleeding from my fall, the audience was rolling with laughter and his lips were there with mine, pressed against mine and as he held my arms in his hands, he kissed me back on live television! After the kiss I did a little touchdown dance and told myself I would never allow any opportunity no matter how small its window, to go by me without jumping over people, injuring myself, and risking poor manners to achieve my dreams.
AL: What was the hardest part for you about being on the show?
SD: Playing “Survivor” was a dream of mine. I wasn’t even hungry on the show since I was able to put on so many extra pounds. I was thrilled to be out there. The most difficult thing for me was watching other people complain about being hungry, about being dirty, about missing their iPods… As others would complain I could do nothing but think to myself how grateful I was for the opportunity to leave my television at home, for the opportunity to get filthy, the chance to live outside during 13 days of straight rain. The hardest part of being on the show for me was watching other people be miserable and not recognizing the gift and once in a lifetime opportunity they were given. Man, that grinded my gears!
AL: What are you currently working on?
SD: I moved to Los Angeles! Three weeks ago I packed my clothes one night and relocated myself and my python, Squeeze, to the city of the stars to pursue my dream of being an actress. Since that move I have not stopped chasing this dream. I have already done a considerable amount of hosting, photo shoots, and am working on a new television show! The world has not seen the last of me. Starting with Los Angeles, I am diving into every opportunity lips first! To keep up follow me on twitter @survivordawson!