By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
Although he didn’t win his season like Maryanne Oketch or Erika Casupanan, Canada’s own Kaleb Gebrewold has made it to the jury. That is a massive accomplishment in itself considering how much of a clear and present danger he was to the other players from the moment he stepped on the island. As a member of the jury Kaleb has a say in who wins this season of Survivor. Kaleb spoke with us about not only the key aspects he pondered as he cast his vote but what it was really like to work with Bruce and Emily.
John Powell: With so many Canadians doing so well on the show on recent seasons do you feel any pressure heading to the island?
Kaleb Gebrewold: The reason I applied was because on Survivor 41 we had a Canadian who won. On 42, a Canadian won and 43, they didn’t even cast a Canadian. I went to a casting: ‘This is classic America!’ I was so mad! I was like I have to go out there and right this ship! Unfortunately, my season ended a little bit too early and by “a little bit” I mean, a lot. (laughs) But, I tried to make some memories and still be a strong player.
John Powell: You were a massive threat early on to everyone on so many levels. Do you ever think of fading into the background or pumping those brakes?
Kaleb Gebrewold: It was hard to get that chance. I tell you, people were talking about this and I’m at home with my family and friends. I’ve never seen myself smile less. I’m not trying to make that many jokes. I literally tried to rein it in as much as possible but people saw through the smoke. I just tried to focus on one-on-one relationships. Even with that, I just kept coming up on the radar.
John Powell: You formed a special relationship with Emily as you took the time to establish a bond with her when everybody was kind of avoiding her. What brought you both together?
Kaleb Gebrewold: To be honest, I fell in love with Emily the same time a lot of people did. When she’s yelling at Bruce on that boat! I’m sitting there, I’m like: ‘Oh, my God! This is amazing! I have to work with this person!’ Like Abi Maria (Gomes), Emily was the best person everybody wanted to target. That was even better than a meat shield! I can just hide behind her the whole game. That was my hope.
But the thing was, those first few days, she wanted nothing to do with me. I was selling her all the time and she had this in her head that I was working with somebody and I was going to try to get her out. It was really only once Emily hit rock bottom and literally almost went home at that ‘Hannah tribal council’ that she became open-minded to the idea that she might not know everything. In this case, she became very humble. And you know what? Emily is one of the smartest people I’ve played with! She had great instincts but didn’t always know how to execute them.
John Powell: You and Bruce had an up and down relationship. What was he like out there as far as your perspective is concerned?
Kaleb Gebrewold: I can’t speak for Bruce outside of the game but inside of the game I think the edit was fairly accurate, which is too bad. I did everything in the textbook that you’re supposed to do with somebody like a Bruce! I listened to everything that he said. We traded personal stories. I wanted him to be the leader. He was one-track minded though. It was very, very hard to actually play the game with him. I would have loved to have a Rocksroy Bailey or a Phillip Sheppard. I give people like the Phillips Shepherds way more credit because Bruce was impossible to play with. That’s just how I felt and that’s what it looks like so far on the show.
John Powell: Do you think your success during the raid hurt or helped your game?
Kaleb Gebrewold: They were talking about me as soon as I left camp. So, yes, I really came went out there and thinking like: ‘We don’t have the numbers, you guys. We need each other and I’m gonna get whatever information I can and bring it back here and see what we can use with this to be able to get to the next stage of the game together’. There were players like Sean (Edwards) though who was so concerned about the end of the game when they didn’t know how to get to the middle.
John Powell: Watching it back were you shocked that Sabiyah targeted you?
Kaleb Gebrewold: I’ve had conversations with her. I think she really believes that taking her biggest threat, like the biggest piece on board, was the best thing to do. I think that’s part of the challenge I had with multiple people this season. People didn’t register their own threat level! You look at somebody like Bruce. These people, who are big threats, if you take me out then you’ll be the next biggest threat and the next person for everyone to gang up on. I didn’t understand it strategically. She stands by the move, however, you know, maybe she might change her perspective if she ever comes back in a future season.
John Powell: You have said that you have done a lot of things in your life that you weren’t qualified for but you were qualified for Survivor. Tell us a little bit about your background.
Kaleb Gebrewold: Growing up, I never let anything really stop me from putting up my hand because at the end of the day if you can produce usually people don’t mind. There was becoming a lifeguard at 16-years-old having never passed swimming lessons before. I just went into the coursework and figured it out just by being an athlete. I started a painting business at 17 having never painted a house before. I started up a Christmas light business and a security business having looked at 21 direct reports by the time I was graduating university. That paid for my school and paid for my living. It paid for all the fun that I was having! I was just a guy who didn’t know everything but I’d always be able to figure it out. That’s the kind of what I stood on and kind of what I tried to play for.
John Powell: Is there anything about your time on Survivor that you wish made it to air?
Kaleb Gebrewold: I think that just how paranoid and how wary I was of Sabiyah pre-jury. When Brandon (Donlon) gave her the Beware Advantage that was the big red flag to me. I’m sitting here and I’m thinking she’s close with Brandon and she’s close with me. I know she’s close with Sean. So, it became that much more important for me to grab Emily and to vote out Brandon, who I actually would have done the same thing with but Sabiyah not having a vote that was when I felt like I really started to take control of that tribe.
John Powell: What are some of the aspects you will be weighing in your mind when voting for a winner this season as part of the jury?
Kaleb Gebrewold: The most important thing is that we have the best winner for our season. I always look back and am excited about a season that had a great winner. I didn’t want people to hold too much of emotional grudges. I didn’t really want them to vote just purely based on someone they worked with for one or two votes and to try and look at the big picture. The reality is everyone has a different definition of what is the best player and that’s okay. I just wanted people to make sure that they thought it through and we would debrief and we would talk.