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Name: Shirin Oskooi
Season: “Survivor: Worlds Apart”
Finish: Eighth Place
Why You Should Remember Her: Shirin got back at Will after his tirade by not allowing him to read his letter from home.
WARNING: The following interview features spoilers for the “Harry Potter” book series.
Gordon Holmes: Hey! It’s Cherilyn!
Shirin Oskooi: It’s Shinini…not to be confused with Shane.
Holmes: Speaking of nicknames, the “Worlds Apart” crew likes to call themselves “The Dirty 30.” What are you leaning toward for this season?
Oskooi: I like “The Dirty One.”
Holmes: That’s terrible…there was the potential for five of you to be out here. Mike rendered himself ineligible by winning.
Oskooi: I love that guy, Mike.
Holmes: Join the club.
Oskooi: He’s Team Shirin, by the way.
Holmes: How’s Joey Amazing feel about that?
Oskooi: He can still cheer for Joe.
Holmes: Like Joe needs more people cheering for him.
Oskooi: He doesn’t!
Holmes: Max didn’t make it, Carolyn didn’t make it. Good for you? Bad for you?
Oskooi: I feel really badly about Max and Carolyn. I’m shocked that Carolyn didn’t make it, I’m not as surprised that Max didn’t make it. But, it’s so much better for me that they’re not here.
Holmes: You guys are all very active together in social media. More than any other cast I’ve ever seen. I think having a ton of you here would put immediate targets on your backs.
Oskooi: It’s true. If Carolyn came out here, people don’t know that we’re friends. But, if Max was here everybody knows how close we are. And no amount of distancing could have helped that situation.
Holmes: So, at the end of the finale, you guys all jumped on a tour bus. Did you take it all the way here?
Oskooi: (Laughs) Absolutely.
Holmes: I know you were really excited to do Power Rankings for this season. Does that put a damper on this experience for you?
Oskooi: As much as I was looking forward to doing the Power Rankings for this season, I know that I’m a lock for next season.
Holmes: Oh, are you? You think I invite first boots to do the Power Rankings?
Oskooi: (Silent Stare)
Oskooi: Excuse me?!
Holmes: Which you will not be. I won’t leave Cambodia if that happens. I’ll live here and carve the Power Rankings into the sand every week.
Oskooi: The winner of season 31: Shirin Lua Oskooi.
Holmes: With all eight votes. And they bring back the Player of the Season and give it to you.
Oskooi: Clean sweep.
Holmes: And as your hugging your family, Probst will run up and hand you the check. Or, he’ll fold it into a paper airplane and throw it at you.
Oskooi: (Laughs) Did you see Mike kiss Probst?
Holmes: No, I’m so jealous. I’m not sure of who though.
Oskooi: Maybe his lips went straight into that deep, deep dimple.
Holmes: We’re way off track.
Holmes: As we head into the game, how do you think most people see you?
Oskooi: I think I’m coming into this with a good reputation. I think people saw that I’m smart.
Holmes: You never flipped.
Oskooi: I was lucky enough to be super loyal the whole time.
Holmes: Even though that wasn’t your original game plan. You were ready to slit throats.
Oskooi: I never had the luxury of lying or having to turn on my own people. But, I had every intention to do so. That’s great for me on my second chance. I intend to use that as a bargaining chip. I don’t lie. My word means something. I’m “Boston” Robbing this. “Hey, you and me, final three.” I’m going to be in a final-three deal with everybody out there. They have all of these positive impressions of me, I also think they underestimate me. I think they think I’ll rub people the wrong way. Even if I don’t rub these people the wrong way, they just saw my season and I was portrayed as an annoying goofball, they’ll just assume that’s how I am. So, I think a lot of people will want to take me to the end because they think they can beat me. But what will actually happen is, if I make it to the end with great relationships with people, the voters will think, “Oh, but I like her. I’m going to vote for her to win.”
Holmes: Do you think you’re an early target?
Oskooi: I think the only way there will be a target on my back in the first couple of votes is if people care about the perception of challenge strength. Particularly in the individual challenges in my season I didn’t do so well. So, I need to come out guns blazing on these team challenges. I’m hoping there are strength ones because I have easily 50 pounds on the other women. So, if there’s mud wrestling or pillow fighting…
Holmes: Oh my God…pillow fighting would be amazing.
Oskooi: (Laughs) You know what I mean! Where you push someone off of a platform. These 100-pound girls are going to run at me and tap me with a pillow. And they’ll literally ricochet off of me and fly backwards ten feet in the air.
Holmes: Who is an early target?
Oskooi: I think Kass is an early target. She has a pretty negative, untrustworthy reputation already. I don’t think anyone will want to align with someone so chaotic.
Holmes: That’s why they call her Erratic Kass.
Oskooi: She makes illogical moves. Then you’ve got someone like Kimmi, lovely as she seems, but she’s already exhibited a lot of annoying behavior. She’s unaware of other people…GAH!
Note: At this point in the interview we were attacked by a BIG bug. I managed to dispose of it.
Oskooi: That was so manly.
Holmes: Right? But, if that thing fell on me in my sleep, I’d never be able to use that bed again.
Holmes: A lot of talk of pre-game alliances. Have you taken that road?
Oskooi: I think there’s a stigma to pre-game alliances at this point and I think people have clearly been afraid to be seen or caught doing any of that stuff.
Holmes: If you had to guess, who do you this is already working together?
Oskooi: I’m looking more at the already deep-rooted connections that people have. For example, there’s a foursome there that I look at with a little bit of trepidation. I want to split them up right away.
Holmes: And this is…?
Oskooi: That is…the center is Vytas and Ciera from the original “Blood vs. Water.” They haven’t hidden the fact that they are incredibly close and it’d be silly for them to do so. Everybody knows. Ciera’s mom played in season 19 with Monica and they were like mother/daughter. They were incredibly close. They have a deep bond. I’d bet Ciera and Monica are close. And on the other side you’ve got Vytas and Terry. Vytas’s brother Aras played 38 days of “Survivor” with Terry. And even though they didn’t get along in the game…
Holmes: A wahmbulance had to be called in.
Oskooi: That’s how serious it got. It’s no secret that Aras and Terry are incredibly close. So, you’ve got Terry, Vytas, Ciera, and Monica. I’d love to work with those ladies, but not with Terry and Vytas around. Terry because…I’m going to try to get to know him as a person and try to read him…but I didn’t like the way he played last time. I didn’t like the way he treated Cirie (Fields). I didn’t like the way he targeted women. And that is something I will not tolerate. With Vytas, I find him a little bit threatening. Speaking of first-boot targets, I think a lot of people…he has this past with drug addiction and I think people’s read on that is that makes him an incredibly good liar. I’m not intimidated by that at all, but I’m intimidated by other aspects of him. Like the fact that people seem to be taken by him so easily and the fact that he will be able to dominate individual challenges because of his yoga, tip-toe balancing skills.
Holmes: If there are any twists, and every now and then there are, what do you think they could be?
Oskooi: I presume there are going to be a ton of twists. If I were guessing I’d say there will be more tribe swaps. Maybe we’ll start with two and go to three. Maybe we’ll start with four and then go to two. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll start with one tribe. I’m not even going to try to anticipate the twists. I don’t want to have a million different contingency plans. When you’re in a situation like this, you don’t want to have set plans. You want to think of creative plans in the moment. Right now, I’m just hanging back, rereading “Harry Potter.”
Holmes: Which one?
Oskooi: I’ve already reread five and six. I’m working on seven.
Holmes: Six! “Half-Blood Prince” is my jam.
Oskooi: Six is really the best. Oh my gosh. I just started on seven, so in my mind Snape just killed Dumbledore.
Holmes: Jeez…spoiler alert.
Holmes: Alright, we're going to play "Align or Malign." In my hand I have nineteen cards featuring your competitors. You'll go through them and tell me who you'll align with and who you'll malign. Trick is, you only get eight aligns.
Oskooi: I’m digging the lamination.
Holmes: I’ve got twenty of these interviews to get through, I don’t want them to get all smudged and crappy.
Oskooi: Starting with the maligns. Joe…because he’s a golden boy. Too good at challenges. And, our Dirty 30 connection has got to be severed so it’s not a target on my back.
Note: Shirin threw Joe’s card down onto a pile of ants.
Holmes: What're you doing? I still have to use these.
Oskooi: (Laughs) That’s how I feel about these people.
Holmes: You are the worst. Just hand them to me.
Oskooi: Kimmi…malign. She’s super annoying, you can’t deal with that for 39 days.
Oskooi: Woo…malign. He’s a space cadet. You can’t trust him. He doesn’t think logically.
Oskooi: Terry…malign. He’s more of a guy’s guy and not that socially adept.
Oskooi: Kass…malign. I can’t anticipate what doesn’t make sense.
Oskooi: Vytas…malign. Too much of a threat in the individual game. Other people seem to be taken by him too easily. And, I just never trust him.
Oskooi: Jeremy…malign. Fabulous as he was in his season where he aligned with all the women, which I loved, he feels like that was his downfall. From his exit interviews I gather that he wants to align with other athletic, big men so he’s no longer the front-runner target of his alliance. I don’t think he’d want to work with me.
Oskooi: Kelly Wiglesworth…malign. She thinks that alliances are slimy. And, doesn’t own a TV.
Oskooi: OK, now we’re moving into more of the middle ground…
Holmes: You’ve got to pick a side. It’s not align, malign, and indifferent.
Oskooi: Alright, Andrew Savage…malign. Love him, played in my favorite season. But, he’s such a lovable, nice, loyal guy, I can already see in pre-game that people love him.
Holmes: What about the Yahoo! Connection?
Oskooi: That will hopefully bring us together so he’s on my side…deep into the game…then we’ve got to get rid of him because he’s too nice.
Oskooi: Tasha…malign. Love a strong woman. She’s too good at challenges. She’s easily the strongest woman out here in terms of challenges. I know she socially rubbed people the wrong way on her season. She had this thing where she felt she was pre-ordained to be the winner. And, I would rather work with someone more flexible.
Oskooi: Ciera…malign. Love her to death, but even if she doesn’t make a move, and gets to the end, her big move from last time will carry over and everyone will say, “Oh, you did it all.” I think she’s riding the coattails of her last big move.
Oskooi: Stephen…Mr. Know-It-All…really smart, really gets this game. Also really polite and respectful. I think people will really like him and feel threatened by him. I think if he makes it to the end this time, people will reward him for his reputation even if he’s dragged to the end. But, I don’t think he’d be dragged to the end. Align…but only so far.
Oskooi: Spencer…similar deal. Really smart, really knows the game. I feel most kindred with Spencer. Going in, I probably trust him the most. I don’t think he’s a great liar, but I think he’s going to try to work with me. Align.
Oskooi: OK, now we’re down to the magic six. Monica…align. I think she’s a strong, fun woman. I think she’s going to be willing to be sneaky, but I think she’ll be loyal. Also, she’s brown. Woo! Love her.
Oskooi: Peih-Gee…align. Old school…middle schooler. Love that she’s a woman of color. Love that she’s quirky and sassy and a strong woman. I think she’s going to want to align with other strong, quirky women.
Oskooi: Abi-Maria…Brazilian wonder. Align. Last year when the social media ban was enacted, J’Tia (Taylor) tweeted…it was very Batman-esque…”I will represent the contestants who cannot speak for themselves and defend them to the death against other former players.” And she never did that. However, Abi did it. And Abi had a bad reputation from the last time she played as an emotional, crazy person. But, if you go back and rewatch her Ponderosa videos, she was incredibly contrite and lovely. She was so full of love. And I think she wants to repair her reputation. I want to be a part of that.
Oskooi: Kelley Wentworth…align. She reminds me of a more mellow version of me. She’s smart, she’s girl power, she’s a career woman. She’s a lovely, nice person who understands the game and is loyal, but is willing to make those moves that you need to.
Oskooi: Jeff Varner…my ultimate old-school alliance. I’m in love with Jeff. He’s funny, he’s goofy. He’s nerdy. He’s my love child. He’s my future 11th best friend.
Oskooi: And I’ve saved the weirdest for last. I think if you looked at this list and had to decide who the least likely person I’d align with…it’d be Keith. I think he thinks that too. I’m going to pull him aside and say, “Mike and I thought we had nothing in common too. And look at us now. It’s because at the end of the day, Mike and I are hard workers who take care of who we love. We’re loyal.” Keith and I are in the same boat. Does that mean I’ll go to the end with him? No. Will he be upset after I cut him loose after a speech like that? Yes. I will not have his jury vote, but I’m willing to take that risk. Also, he’s the funniest person out here. I love him to death.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes
“Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.