'Survivor' Season 35 Player Profile: Meet Lauren Rimmer

The third-generation fisherman plans to keep her profession a secret from her fellow competitors.
Courtesy of CBS
Lauren Rimmer

Welcome to the Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers preseason! The Hollywood Reporter's Josh Wigler reports from his exclusive visit to the show's shooting location in Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 18 new castaways battling it out for the million-dollar prize.

Click here to make sure you're all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series First One Out, an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season.

There's a trick-or-treat quality to playing CBS' Survivor, especially in the case of Lauren Rimmer, whose role in the upcoming season dates back to an open casting call she attended shortly before last Halloween.

"My sister found out about it, and wanted to go," Lauren remembers. "We got there extremely early and waited four hours in line. I talked my minute in front of the camera. Halloween night, they gave me a call and said I wasn't very enthused in front of the camera. I told them I wasn't really expecting to try out, because my sister lied to me and said she was the only one doing it. When we got there, waiting in line, you had to have a number. With about four thousand people standing behind me, I wasn't about to leave her there. I got my number, too ... and here I am."

After receiving the call from casting, Lauren recorded a new video that explained a bit more about her life and background. Within 30 minutes, she was firmly in the mix for the season, bringing us to the present moment: speaking on a beach in Fiji, two days before officially embarking on the 39-day quest toward a million dollars.

"Game on," she says about her philosophy toward Survivor. "I'm here to win. I'm not here to pacify anybody. I'm here to try to stay focused. If it takes telling a little white lie, then it's going to be a little white lie. Sometimes it'll be a big white lie. Whatever it takes to move me forward."

A lifelong native of Beaufort, North Carolina, Lauren is a third-generation commercial fisherman with a ton of passion for both her hometown and her profession: "I could do anything I wanted to do, and still could, but my heart is on the water. I have a lot of salt water that runs through my veins, and I stand true to it.

"Some people get up and go to work and do the same thing for 30 years," she says about her chosen line of work. "I get up, and one day I'm fishing crab pots for a certain amount of months, we pull them up and go through them, and the next six months we're flounder gigging and shrimping. You don't do just one thing. You might go shrimping and catch ten pounds one night, and the next night you catch a thousand pounds, so you really don't get to choose your days. You have to go every day in order to be successful at it. That's a challenge in and of itself. Sometimes, I really hurt. But what the hell? I still gotta go."

Listen to the podcast below to hear from Lauren and the rest of the Hustlers in the fourth episode of our preseason series, First One Out.

It's the beginning of April when Lauren sets forth on Survivor, which just so happens to be the busiest time of year for her job. "This is the beginning of crabbing season," she says. "My crab pots are sitting in the yard right now. The very beginning of the year is when you get the highest price. I'm missing the highest price for the product. So this is a big sacrifice. In the first couple of months, that's top dollar." 

The reason she's willing to make such a big sacrifice? It's simple, really: family, on a few different levels. For one, Lauren is a single mother of a 9-year-old daughter named Olivia, born on Elvis Presley's birthday.

"She has a great personality," Lauren says, gushing about her daughter. "Her sense of humor is a lot like myself and my mother. We all kind of run along the same. We're very energetic people. She loves art and soccer. Art is one of her things. She just has a [knack] for it. She goes to art classes after school and she goes fishing with me. She's been going fishing with me since she's a year old. I would've taken her sooner, but I was afraid the mosquitos would take her off. I didn't want her to suffer! I do have a heart! She loves it. When she gets tired, she has her own bean bag and she'll climb into it." 

But Lauren hopes her daughter won't end up in the family business: "I don't particularly want my daughter to do it. I'm hoping she'll go to school and find something that isn't quite as hard on her body, because I have a lot of scars. It's very physical work. It's very hard on your body. When it's hot, I'm hot. When it's cold, I'm cold. I don't really get to pick and choose my days. That pretty much makes me a big survivor right there, just getting up and going."

In addition to Olivia (as well as Lauren's dog Scooter, who she wonderfully describes as "my main man," leaving the imagination to wonder what an alliance between "Scooter-Boy" and JP Hilsabeck's Thor might look like), Lauren is hoping to win Survivor to improve the lives of others in her family. 

"My mother is gearing to be 60. She's retired twice. She's worked really hard. She's a really hard worker, and so is my father. Coming home with a million dollars? Neither of them would have to work. They could relax," Lauren says, fighting through emotion as she talks through the subject of her loved ones. "Winning this would make a huge difference. My grandmother is 77, and she still teaches. She still subs. None of this is by choice. This is all reality. We all don't have it as easy as some people."

With all of this on the line, Lauren wants to make it clear: "I'm here for blood. My philosophy is, play smart. Play with my head. Don't play with my heart." She doesn't want to play up her fishing skills, either. Lauren plans to hide her profession, and instead tell her fellow competitors that she's a landscaper. ("I do that on the side, so it's not a lie," she relates.) 

"I don't want to put myself on a pedestal," Lauren explains. "I'm in a different environment. If we were doing Survivor at my house, then heck yeah, we would be eating every night like kings. But this is a totally different surrounding. It's going to take time. My knowledge of knowing the tides and the moons and which way the sun rises and sets, it'll make a difference. I do know a lot about different species. Most species stay on the same flow. I can crab when the tide gets high. My knowledge of knowing how to do those things will help, but I almost want to make it somebody else's idea. My goal is to throw it out there but let someone else take the credit."

In other words, "I'll be honest to a point," she admits. "But like I said, I'm here to win. I'm not here to be friendly." 

Watch the video below for more from Lauren on why she's going to win Survivor.

That's Lauren in her own words. But what does everyone else think? Over the course of these interviews, I showed the castaways pictures of each other from casting, to get their pregame impressions of their future competitors. Read on for their takes on Lauren.

Note: Comments from the castaways have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Ben Driebergen (Marine, Heroes Tribe): I think that she's a good Southern girl. Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, somewhere down there. She looks like she's strong, and like she's a bit scared and out of her element. But I think if you break that shell, she'll be someone to trust moving forward.

Ashley Nolan (Lifeguard, Heroes Tribe): She's quiet. She keeps to herself. Definitely quiet, but the few words I've heard come out of her mouth, she has a little Southern twang to her. We'll see. She might be a guy's type of girl, which I'll like.

Mike Zahalsky (Urologist, Healers Tribe): You know, it's surprising. Because when you see her, you think that she's gonna have a certain personality. But honestly, it just seems like she sleeps a lot all day. And I think that could be her downfall. We'll see what happens when we start. Even in Ponderosa, you have to be looking and smiling at people. You can't be turned in the opposite direction, sleeping all day long. I think it's a bad start.

Cole Medders (Wilderness Therapy Guide, Healers Tribe): She's normally asleep on the couch or this bean bag chair. She has this one bean bag chair that she almost never leaves. That's her spot. So I never even sit in that one, because I know she's coming back there soon. Other than that, she's just listening to music with her sunglasses on inside.

Ali Elliott (Celebrity Assistant, Hustlers Tribe): I'm not around her that much — I don't ever notice where she is — but she seems cool.

Katrina Radke (Olympian, Heroes Tribe): She's nice! I think she's nervous. She was more nervous the first day, and now she seems calmer. She seems very helpful. You watch her with people and the staff and stuff. She seems like a very sweet person underneath. 

Chrissy Hofbeck (Actuary, Heroes Tribe): I like her a lot. She is more quiet and to herself. It sounds so dumb, but she did something neat with the fan in pregame. So we are all dying of heat, and she literally just goes over and just unplugs the fan, one of the industrial fans, and comes over and moves it next to all of us. And she's moving the furniture. And as soon as she did that, I was like, "Oh, I hope that you're on my tribe, and I totally want you in my alliance, because you are so awesome!"

Desi Williams (Physical Therapist, Healers Tribe): I like her. We went through casting together, and initially, I actually didn't like her. I've had to warm up to her.

Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): Why didn't you like her at the start?

Desi Williams (Physical Therapist, Healers Tribe): I don't know. She felt cold and it didn't feel like she was talking to any of the staff members. She's just very to herself. But recently, she's opened up. She sweetens her tea, so I know she's from the south. I can try to make that Southern connection with her.

Jessica Johnston (Nurse Practitioner, Healers Tribe): Really cool. Totally cool. I keep saying the word "cool," but everyone on this island has to be cool to get here I think. Again, she's laid-back, calm and collected. I don't think a lot of things ruffle her edges.

Watch the video below for an early look at what Lauren's victory speech might look like.

 

Living for Lauren's jaw-dropped pep talk to her future self. More from this #Survivor soon at the link in my profile.

A post shared by Josh Wigler (@roundhoward) on

Alan Ball (NFL Player, Heroes Tribe): I think she's a cop. I really think she's a cop. Until I really started paying her attention, I was really sold on that she's a cop. The way she acts, the way she moves, the way she studies every single thing ... she doesn't say much. She seems like she is keen on following every rule in place. Yeah, I really thought she was a cop.

Joe Mena (Probation Officer, Healers Tribe): She grew on me. I thought maybe a cop, maybe not a cop, I'm not sure. She's cool. We took pictures [for the cast photo], and she rubbed on my head. She has a Southern accent. She's cool. Keeps to herself, though.

JP Hilsabeck (Firefighter, Heroes Tribe): Another great contender, and things like that. I'll get to know her and see what happens.

Roark Luskin (Social Worker, Healers Tribe): I'm concerned about her in the challenges. Because I saw her in casting, ask for a cigarette or a light, I can't remember which ... and I was, like, "If you have not weaned yourself off of those and aren't ready to go, I will murder you." 

Devon Pinto (Surf Instructor, Hustlers Tribe): She doesn't seem like she'll do well in challenges, but she might know some survival stuff. I mean, I look at her and I see an outdoors woman, who might know about fishing or starting fire, building a shelter. She has my respect. 

Ryan Ulrich (Bellhop, Hustlers Tribe): If her tribe struggles in the challenges, she could be an early go, but what the hell do I know? She could be a beast in puzzles and they might want to keep her around. But she's somebody I want to work with. She seems really sweet.

Simone Nguyen (Diversity Advocate, Hustlers Tribe): She's nice. At first I thought that she would be an easy first out just because she looks different than everybody here, but then she helped me off the boat. Once she touched me, she had a very gentle kind of magic touch. I thought to myself, "I could see myself cuddling with you! You have a very delicate calming energy, almost like an animal handler." I feel handled right now.

Patrick Bolton (Small Business Owner, Hustlers Tribe): I don't really think we'll get along. Not my typical person. 

Lauren Rimmer (Fisherman, Hustlers Tribe): I'm not here to make friends. I need to pretend to be friendly, but at the same time, I need to keep in mind that there's a No. 1 goal: being here for 39 days. Lord willing, I'll be here.

Click through the gallery below for photos of Lauren and the rest of the Season 35 castaways.

Keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more coverage of the Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers preseason.

 

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