Survivor: China's Ousted Sister Christian Has One Regret
by Nina Hšmmerling Smith
On last Thursday's Survivor: China (8 pm/ET, CBS), Fei Long made its first trip to Tribal Council, and Christian-radio talk-show host Leslie Nease, 38, was sent packing. She talked to us about how the experience actually strengthened her faith, why she decided to share her immunity-idol clue with Todd and what her one regret is.
TVGuide.com: You seemed pretty surprised to be going home.
Leslie: I knew they were up to something, because they weren't looking me in the eye, they weren't talking to me. But I thought they were going to be voting Courtney off, and they knew that she and I were very close; they just didn't want to get me involved in that. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me [to be voted off].
TVGuide.com: You didn't think it was because you were chatty with your kidnappers?
Leslie: I am just a very honest person. When I came back and told them everything, it was because I didn't want to tell Zhan Hu things about my tribe and then go back to my tribe and act like I didn't say anything. A lot of the stuff, the team dynamics, [Zhan Hu] already knew, because Jaime told them everything. Unfortunately, the guys were pretty vocal when Jaime came over. So basically I told them what everybody did for a living and that we all got along and that's all. I tried to be as vague as I could.
TVGuide.com: It seemed like you never fully bonded with your tribe.
Leslie: I wish they would have shown it more ó it did look like I was a loner ó but Courtney and I were inseparable. Right before she did that [immunity] challenge where her hands got all torn up, she looked over at me and said, "Pray for me." So the whole time she was swinging that ax, I was praying for her, and I was so proud of her for finishing. I looked at her like she was my daughter. I just fell in love with Courtney, and she fell in love with me, and we were just so close. I also got very close to Todd. Everybody says, "Why'd you trust Todd with that [immunity-idol] clue? You're so stupid!" But you don't understand, I love him. He's like my boy. He called me "mama."
TVGuide.com: So why did you share your immunity-idol clue with him?
Leslie: I'm so glad I finally get to say this, because it's been driving me crazy. Day 2, Todd and Amanda asked me to be in an alliance with them and Aaron and James. But Aaron and Amanda always snuggled at night, and I thought there might be a love connection, and I was like, "I can use this clue as leverage to bring someone in, to trust someone, to show that I trust them." I knew it couldn't be Amanda or Aaron. James by about Day 3 got really hungry and kind of cranky, and he just changed ó it was too bad, because I loved him at first, and then I was, like, scared of him. So my only option was Todd. I didn't realize that he and Amanda were so tight, though. They really outwitted me with that one.
TVGuide.com: You seemed to have a stronger bond with the other tribe.
Leslie: They were just real ó there's such a difference between the dynamics. In Fei Long, I was always on pins and needles, I was afraid I was going to do something wrong. They were playing the game really hard. At Zhan Hu, they had already lost so many challenges, and yet they all knew things about each other, and they were playing together and having fun, and most of them were there to have an adventure. That's why I was there, so there was a bond because of that.
TVGuide.com: Going back to when you first arrived in China, you clearly weren't comfortable at the Buddhist temple.
Leslie: They didn't show that I participated in 99 percent of the ceremony. The whole time, I just prayed under my breath, "Lord, if I'm crossing the line, just let me know." We got to the very end, and everybody was face down, which to me seemed like a worship position ó was it? I don't know. I guess the thought that went through my head was, "OK, if it was my husband and I went and made out with another man, even though somebody told me that it was purely a friendly thing and I could tell him, 'You know, honey, I was thinking about you the whole time,' how would he feel?" It would still hurt him. And I thought, "Lord, I can't do this to you." I was just trying to be true to my own convictions and to the Lord, and I'm really proud of myself for doing that.
TVGuide.com: It seemed odd when Jeff asked you why you had left the ceremony, and you said that it made you uncomfortable, but that you were not religious....
Leslie: To me, religion is man's way to get to God: "Here, God, let me show you how great I am, I'll do this and this, and then you'll love me." It's the difference between "religion" and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I think a lot of people think, "Oh, she lied, she said she's not religious. She's religious ó look, she's a Christian!"
TVGuide.com: But the common understanding of being "religious" is someone who adheres to and believes in a faith, and you are a Christian-radio talk-show host, after all....
Leslie: If they want to believe that, they can. The whole religion thing came up because I wasn't the only one who walked out. Jean-Robert walked out, and Jeff confronted him, and he said, "Well, I'm just not a religious person." So when I responded, I said, "I'm not religious either, but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ." I was really playing off of what Jean-Robert said.
TVGuide.com: Any regrets from your time on Survivor?
Leslie: Once you're voted out, you're like, "I could have, I should have.... " The only regret I have is that I didn't keep my mouth shut after I got back from Zhan Hu. But it's who I am ó my heart is right out there on my sleeve.http://www.tvguide.com/news/survivor-china-leslie/071009-03