'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Angela Perkins

The 42-year-old army veteran, whom some would describe as an "American badass," enters 'Ghost Island' as the oldest player in the game.
Courtesy of CBS

Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR's Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show's shooting location in Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 20 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: Ghost Zero," an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season, and Wigler's exclusive overnight stay on Ghost Island.

It's a testament to the youth of the Ghost Island cast that Angela Perkins is the oldest player on the field, only at age 42. With that said, Angela enters Survivor with decades of experience in the army, risking life and limb and having worked with men, women and children from all walks of life and from all around the world.

"I really like Angela," executive producer and host Jeff Probst tells The Hollywood Reporter about the Naviti tribe's Angela, whom some (or at least one) would describe as "an American badass." "She's coming into the game in the middle of a life transition. She had a military career for a long time. She has two kids. Now she's not in the military, she's no longer married, and both of her kids are off to school and are gone. She's actually entering Survivor midstream of 'Who am I?' That's really appealing. I admire her for coming out and letting us watch her figure out who she's going to be. That's one of the reasons why I believe the show is so popular: We vicariously watch through others, but the reason we're able to do it is because they're actually letting us watch. They're not just putting it on on the surface. They're letting us see them high and low, happy and sad…. Survivor brings out some of your less attractive qualities, and like Michaela once said, 'I'm all of that.' I really like those kinds of people."

Hear more from Angela in the sixth episode of our preseason podcast series, "First One Out: Ghost Zero," then read on for highlights from our interview with Angela.

What brought Angela out to Survivor:

A sense of urgency to find myself. I just recently retired from the military. My children are out of high school and college. Now it's time for me.

Angela describes her experience in the army:

I retired after just over 20 years in the army. I started out in a very aggressive, elite organization that was down south. I jumped from airplanes. I had two big deployments: I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. I've done pretty much everything in the military, and have been with several different organizations and several different countries, from France to Slovakia to Turkey, and almost every state within the United States.

My capacity has been very versatile within the military. I've shifted in so many roles, not because my job or training has shifted, but someone higher up saw my qualities and felt like I could fit in all of these different roles that don't even combine. I went from enlisted, and then I went to become an officer. When I retired, I retired as a captain. There was only one more rank I could have gone through [as an enlisted soldier]. When I retired the first time, I was in transportation and logistics. We transported JP-8 fuel from Kuwait all the way to Syria. Essentially, we were a traveling bomb. We got hit with IEDs, we got ambushed, we got shot at. None of that even surprised me or shocked me. We just kept going. It was the experience of a lifetime. I don't regret anything. The hardest thing was being away from my family. It's kind of weird. I got used to the weather, the dry deserts, the sand storms, the not eating, our supply lines getting hit, being attacked…it's morbidly weird, but I got used to seeing people get shot at and killed. I never got used to the fact of being away from my loved ones. That was the hardest part mentally and physically.

What drew Angela to the army: 

I'm from a really quiet background. My parents are very introverted and easygoing, and then they had this spontaneous and wild child. I just wasn't being fulfilled. I wanted more. That has carried throughout my entire life. I've always dug for more. I had a great job, I had a bachelor's degree, but it wasn't enough. I went and got my master's, and finished it while I was deployed; deployment wasn't "food" enough. I needed something else to do with my mind. I got online during my downtime, when we weren't traveling the roads in Afghanistan, and finished my master's degree. That's what brought me [to the army]: my busy mind and my feeling of always needing to get the next adventure, which is what pushed me to the military.

How Survivor compares with Angela's army service:

[Survivor] is dangerous, because you are, so to speak, fighting for your life. You have a goal out here, just like we have a goal when we go to war. We train to fight to win a war. Same thing essentially here. I've trained, I'm going to fight and I'm going to win.

What Angela's children think about their mother's new adventure:

Right now is their downtime. This is when I get to spend time with them — and I've elected to be intimate with Survivor versus my kids, in this very short period of time. It's definitely, once again, a huge sacrifice on their part. But they absolutely know and support what I'm doing. They know the show. They're not super fans. My daughter thinks this is completely weird and she would never do this; like my parents, she's introverted and quiet and pretty much satisfied. My son thinks it's badass. That would definitely be his label for it. I don't agree with him, but that's what he tells his friends: "Don't fuck with my mom, she's an American badass! She will kick your ass!" My son's super pumped.

Angela's history as a fan:

I'm a fan of the show. Since the beginning. I've watched as much as I could, obviously apart from deployments. I'm a huge loyal fan. I like that it has the ability to keep my attention, and all the twists and turns — and a little bit of drama. I like the drama. I like the competitiveness. I like the social craziness. It definitely keeps my mind busy.

How Angela wants to start the game:

My perfect first day…I would have an equally dispersed tribe. Not all males, not all females. Gender equality and age. That would be perfect, because then I would have a bunch of dynamics to go out there and work with. I tend to struggle when it's all females, just because I'm a man's kind of lady, with my background in the military. Typically, there are only one or two of us females. And I'm often isolated, because I'm a higher rank than many of them. I've been on my own and relied on males to make that bond. My perfect day on the beach would be to see that it's evenly dispersed so I don't have a disadvantage. More of a struggle with me would be not a disbursement of the genders and age.

Angela's ethical philosophy on Survivor:

Survivor is definitely just a game. Survivor doesn't change who I am. I am who I am, inside and out. I'm coming into this game knowing I'm going to be lied to. And guess what: you better bet your ass I'm going to lie if it takes me to the next move. It doesn't change me ethically or morally. It doesn't mean I'm going to go home as this vindictive or changed person. I'm not going to change my values dramatically over the next 39 days. I know who I am. That's what's important.

Why Angela feels she can succeed with this group:

I absolutely feel like I can plug and play with a lot of different people. I do it every single day. I've had to do that within the military. I went from working with local Iraqis to Afghanistan, to working with young children, to doing humanitarian missions up in Syria. It carries over to my home life. I have a daughter that's 21 that's very quiet, and a son who is 18 and outrageous, and I'm still able to fit in. I may not be the best at everything, but I'll try and I'm OK. I'll go snowboarding with my son's friends, and yeah I'll fall a million times, but I'm going to push! I jump from planes. I skydive. They ask me: "Are you scared?" And I say, "Hell yeah, I'm scared — but I'm doing it." I take a chance and let people know that we're on the same playing field and we can relate.

That's Angela in her own words. But what do the other castaways think about her? Over the course of our interviews out in Fiji, the Ghost Island castmembers were presented with pictures of their competitors, and asked to establish their preseason thoughts. With that said, here's what they think about Angela, member of the Naviti tribe.

Morgan Ricke (marine animal trainer, Naviti Tribe): "I'm going to put my foot in my mouth in saying this, but she just seems like a mom. Like your day-to-day soccer mom. I'm not really getting a lot from her. She's keeping to herself, which we kind of have to do, but she just seems like your average soccer mom."

Michael Yerger (real estate agent, Malolo Tribe): "She seems like the mom of the group. She might be an unsuspecting alliance for me. I really have not exchanged much interaction with her, but she seems like a sweet lady. We'll see!"

Donathan Hurley (caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "She reminds me of a mom, someone I would take farther with me, knowing she has kids or a family. My mom is a single mother, and I could help another mother out, I would."

Domenick Abbate (construction supervisor, Naviti Tribe): "She's a mom. Sweet. Not giving me much."

Stephanie Johnson (yoga instructor, Malolo Tribe): "I think she might be the only other mom out here. She's older than me. She's in our little old people club. I've kind of put myself in the old people club out here. If I'm with her, we could definitely have an older people bond."

Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): "Is it good or bad, being in the old people club?" 

Stephanie Johnson: "I don't know. I feel like maybe this season, it's not as good of a thing. I don't think I look as old. I think it'll shock people when I tell them I have two kids. I went back and forth about it, but in the end, I plan on lying my way through this game. As much of my home life as I can talk about and keep truthful, I'm going to do that. I'm a very loud and excitable person, and I think it kind of calms me down, being a mom."

Brendan Shapiro (physical education teacher, Malolo Tribe): "She's one of the only people here who's probably in my age bracket, meaning the plus-40 crowd. I apologize to her if I'm wrong. I'm hopeful I can use that to my advantage and have a connection right out of the gate."

Wendell Holland (furniture company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "She's like me: a little older. You see 20-somethings out here. She might be a little older than the 20-somethings. She's very athletic and seems like she knows her stuff. She's someone to watch out for."

James Lim (business analyst, Malolo Tribe): "She's definitely the older lady. She's pretty reserved. The vibe I'm getting, she has her own world in her mind. There's nothing that's a red flag. I want to get to know her job and real life background. I think it's something unique and interesting."

Kellyn Bechtold (career counselor, Naviti Tribe): "She seems quite kind, and shy, and maybe not very extroverted. She's beautiful and youthful looking, but she looks like she's lived through some shit. I bet she'll be tough."

Stephanie Gonzalez (graphic sales, Malolo Tribe): "She's very sweet, but really needs to be reassured. She's very fidgety and nervous, looking around. She will probably play a very paranoid game."

Libby Vincek (social media strategist, Malolo Tribe): "She's definitely more to herself. I think she's going to be somebody who speaks out sometimes, and you don't know what they're thinking. A little odd. I'm anxious to see what she's like."

Chelsea Townsend (cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "She seems kind of edgy. She has a punk-rock edge to her. She seems very fit and seems nice, but kind of independent. She's always rocking out to music at Ponderosa."

Sebastian Noel (fishing guide, Naviti Tribe): "I don't know what to say about her. She's interesting, to say the least. The other day, she was digging a hole with a lid to a bottle cap, and filling the bottle with sand. Right in front of everybody! Little things like that. She was eating her papaya skin in the weirdest way, just obnoxiously doing things to create attention. I don't know if she'll last long."

Jacob Derwin (music teacher, Malolo Tribe): "I don't have a huge read on her. I've been paying attention to a lot of people. I'm trying to smile at everybody, because I want people to smile back. It's a form of communication and a way to make people feel comfortable before the game even starts — and I feel like I haven't even seen her smile once. I feel like I've seen her coloring in her coloring book, with her head down, incredibly focused. I'm not sure if we're going to mesh immediately. Hopefully we can, but maybe not immediately."

Jenna Bowman (advertising account executive, Malolo Tribe): "I don't know if I would align with her. There hasn't been any connection with eye contact or anything like that. As of right now? No. I'm not feeling anything."

Laurel Johnson (financial consultant, Malolo Tribe): "She was a little cold. I think people are pretty smiley and welcoming right now, but she's been pretty standoffish. She keeps to herself. She doesn't really smile when you walk by. She sits in the corner by herself. She's a little cold. I don't want to work with her."

Desiree Afuye (student, Naviti Tribe): "I think she's a little sneaky one. I think she's going to be looking for the idol — but if she's on my tribe, I'm getting it way before her. I don't trust her at all. I don't trust her."

Bradley Kleihege (law student, Naviti Tribe): "My strategy going into this is to find a mom, because I think moms are very trustworthy — like a Dawn or a Monica Culpepper. Someone I can be very close with, someone whose maternal instinct might kick in, someone who loves it when they get carded at the liquor store, and will never turn their back on you — and I'm a little bummed that she seems to be the oldest woman out here. I've been having second guesses, only because there's been no reaction from her, no back-and-forth. That's frustrating to me. She's seemed grumpy the whole time. I'm pretty turned off about that."

Chris Noble (male model, Naviti Tribe): "I think she will be a factor for sure in my game. She's one of the only non-millennials. I relate better with the 35 and up, the Gen Xers and whatnot. She won't relate as well with the people on this crew. She's going to end up being an outcast, and personally, I think she'll be loyal, because she's from a different generation. You saw the difference between Gen X and the millennials as far as their loyalties [in season 33]. I think she'll be great to keep by my side the whole game. She can be a dark horse for me, as long as she's not outvoted by numbers."

Keep up with all of our preseason interviews:

• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland

What's your read on Angela? Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more interviews with the Survivor: Ghost Island cast.