Michele was eliminated from ‘The Challenge’ on the Sept. 1 episode, and dished to HL about everything that went down this season — both in AND out of the game.
After a win and third place finish on two competitive seasons of Survivor, Michele Fitzgerald decided to give another reality competition show a try — season 37 of The Challenge: Spies, Lies & Allies. “In some ways, it was more intense than Survivor, in the sense that, right out of the jump, I didn’t even have time to make relationships. Right away, we were a threat,” Michele told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.
She added, “But, in another way, Survivor was more intense because I lasted 30-something days before I started becoming a target. And then it was more do or die. It was like — this decision, or this tribal, or this immunity challenge has to go my way in order for me to win the game. So that’s super high stress. It’s different levels of stress.”
Michele admittedly didn’t watch The Challenge too much before coming on the show, except the seasons when her fellow Survivor pals, Natalie Anderson and Jay Starrett, were contestants. “I’ve never really been physical on my Survivor seasons, so I never really felt like The Challenge was something that I could do,” she revealed. “But when I got a call I was like, well…I could try training for it. I think it’s fun because it has the strategy of Survivor, but I think the social aspect is a little more my speed. It’s a little bit younger, more party-driven. I think it kind of correlates with my identity. It felt really natural for me.”
Speaking of the social part of the game — Michele also found herself in the middle of a big-time showmance on The Challenge. She fell for Emanuel Neagu on the show, but unfortunately, things didn’t end up working out. “I clearly adored Emanuel on this season,” she admitted. “I think he’s amazing. But he’s dating somebody else. To be honest, I was super upset about the situation.”
When Michele was eliminated she got a kiss goodbye from Emanuel, but then had no contact with him once she arrived home (since he was still on the show). “You go home, and in one day, you’re back to your regular life and you just move on like it never happened,” she explained. “So for me, when I later heard that he was dating somebody else, I was like….wait, what? So that’s the situation now. I wish that I had been more plugged into what was actually going on. But I think the messed up situation is that somebody should always let the other person know where they stand and what’s going on. That was the missing piece.”
Check out more of our interview with Michele below:
On the social media tension with her castmates after the show: I got off the season thinking I had other relationships with people, but there’s been a lot of tension on our season from social media. A lot of people are coming for each other. It’s been such a challenge for me. Honestly, I never thought that I would have tension or conflict or anything with anybody after the show. All of Survivor, I didn’t have any issues. So this has taken a toll on me. I was not used to this at all. It feels a little catty and makes you unsure where you fit with everybody. I’m very straightforward, so I’m not used to the games afterward.
On going against season 36 champ, Amber B., in the elimination: My head was already frantic — I’m already so anxious and nervous, and then I get put in with somebody who just won last season. So I’m stressed out and I feel like that amplified it for me. But I knew I was going in. For Amber, she got put in on the spot. So she had that fire under her ass to kind of want to prove she could win, which I think is a motivator. In fact, if you look at the house votes of the season, all of the house votes have gone home. The house vote knows [in advance] that they’re going in, so they don’t have as much pressure to put the passion into it as you do if you’re voted in on the spot. I think that’s what happened. I’m proud of her, but it sucked.
On what else she wanted viewers to see this season: It’s interesting because obviously my back was against the wall the whole time, and that’s where I found myself on Survivor, as well. So that’s where I show who I am. But the tricky thing was that it came a lot sooner on The Challenge. From the get, I was a target. If i didn’t go home this week, I would’ve been the target the week after, and the week after that and so on. So I would’ve loved to have shown a more multi-faceted approach to my game. I would’ve loved to show who I was aligning with and how I was creating my own trajectory to the end. But ultimately, there’s also a journey in being an underdog and sticking it out, and that’s where I fell this season. So I tried to embrace that and feel peace with that.
On whether she regrets anything from her time on the show: I was terrified the whole time. If you play this game and you aren’t terrified or paranoid, then you’re a different species. This game creates paranoid and chaos. I felt that really intensely this season. But what I do regret, I will say, is that in my back against the wall moment, I feel like I potentially threw other people under the bus. I wish I took it more with a little bit of grace. But for me, it was more important to figure out who I was up against and creating my own control over my narrative.
On whether she’d go back on the show if asked: 100 percent. I love The Challenge, I love Survivor. I love competitive shows that make you really put yourself out there in a way that is so abnormal to our regular lives. It’s truly unique and if you want to feel alive in your life, then this is the way to do it. So for me, I will run it until they don’t ask me anymore. If they asked me, I’m in. Survivor, I’m in. Big Brother, Amazing Race, whatever. I’ll keep doing anything that charges my life and makes it better.
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