Are you glad you went back to “Survivor”?
“Oh yeah. I absolutely love the game. I auditioned for Season 2, it’s a miracle that I even played [eventually]. I watched it forever and somehow casting dug through old tapes and started a conversation with me. It’s remarkable that I’m here. I was cast for Season 21 and cut two weeks before we left, then I made it to Season 23, so basically for the last three summers I’ve had nothing but ‘Survivor’ experiences and preparation. I’m very grateful for it. Not that it’s not painful, but it’s definitely been positive, so I’m grateful.”
Were you surprised at how much animosity you received from the jury in the wake of Brenda’s blindside?
“Wow, yeah. I wasn’t prepared at all … maybe I wasn’t as perceptive as I should have been. I did sense the last two votes prior to Brenda’s that the jury seemed kind of snarky towards me … but I was floored at the final Tribal Council.”
Did you think you had a solid chance of winning going into the final Tribal Council?
“I think that once Brenda was voted out and, I think, in a weird way with Erik leaving the way that he did, he was very close with Brenda, which I’m not sure we got that sense of, as close as Cochran and I were, I think that that was definitely damaging to me.
If Erik had remained in the game, it might have been different. I thought I had a chance and that people knew I was genuine and that I was virtually hurting myself for the way I played. It was so contradictory to be so duplicitous. I was expecting people to be like, ‘Wow, how are you willing to do that ’cause that’s not who you are?’ But it didn’t work that way.
My husband pointed out, because we talked about it a lot — Cochran and I made every decision together from day one on, but my husband said to me that Cochran stabbed people in the back and you stabbed them in the front. So it was harder for people to forgive me and see the game. It didn’t feel like game play to them, I think.”
Was it surprising not to receive any votes? Or did you think Cochran really had it sewn up after the final Tribal Council?
“No, it wasn’t surprising. The final Tribal was so brutal. I’ve seen almost every episode of ‘Survivor,’ but I would have to say that from my experience … I feel like we probably had the most bitter jury I’ve ever seen. Truthfully.”
How did you feel when Brenda asked you to take out your teeth at Tribal Council?
“I think I was stunned, initially. … I think I was so done with the game, so depleted, just so sleep-deprived. I did feel for her and I guess my initial thought was that I’m afraid to do this, I don’t want to be humiliated, but I made the decision to face it and do it anyway … At the time, I was like, ‘You need a pound of flesh, here you go.'”
Would you go back on “Survivor” if asked?
“I would go, but I would have my tear ducts removed. [laughs] And I would get new teeth. Then people would be like, ‘That’s a completely different Dawn.'”
“Survivor” returns with Season 27, Blood vs. Water, in the fall of 2013 on CBS.