9:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Kellyn Bechtold
Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR's Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show's shooting location on 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.
Kellyn Bechtold, a 31-year-old career counselor, enters Survivor with a catchphrase and philosophy at the ready: "Empathy is my super power." Kellyn plans to use her warm and caring nature to befriend as many players as she can, allowing her to manipulate and mold their trust as needed.
"I love Kellyn," says executive producer and host Jeff Probst. "Kellyn would be my second pick to win. If I could pick a man and a woman, I would pick Kellyn and Wendell. What I like about Kellyn is that she's empathetic and so curious. I think the part of me that's most attracted to her energy is that she's not ashamed to say, 'I like to dance with the universe. I like to play.' Some people get uptight: 'I'm an accountant, this is what I do, and I have my two children. …' Kellyn says, 'Yeah, I could be all that, but I also like looking up at the stars and wondering what it might be like to live on one.' I love that spirit and playfulness."
Another note on Kellyn: During the show's marooning, she engaged in a memorable back-and-forth with Probst that immediately caught the host's attention. As he puts it: "Kellyn earned her spot on the show moments into it with our first encounter, and it was duly noted. You delivered and we're good to go."
Hear more from Kellyn and the other players in the third episode of our preseason podcast series First One Out: Ghost Zero, and read on for highlights from our interview.
Kellyn's ethical philosophy on Survivor:
"I think it's 99% a game. The line you don't cross… the Varner-Zeke moment we watched what will now be two seasons ago, proved that there's a line you don't cross. There's a point where people are human, and that should come first. This game is a game of lying and cheating and manipulation. I don't do those things. It's not normal for me to go around and lie and manipulate people's feelings. People open up to me! I don't take advantage of that! But to be able to do that here? I have no qualms or problems about coming across as a potential villain, or whatever, to win. Not only to win the million dollars, but to prove to myself that I was better than everybody else out here at doing that. The line I won't cross is I won't attack someone on a personal level. I think it's OK to say, 'That person is so annoying, and I would rather eat my own foot than spend the next 39 days with them. That person is being annoying, that person is being a jerk.' But to attack someone personally, to their face, and to yell at someone? It's not something I'm OK with, and it's something I hope I'm not OK with other people doing, either. I would like to think I'll stick up for someone if they're being mistreated."
How Kellyn will react if she gets blindsided:
"It's so funny. I bet everyone sits here and says, 'It's just a game, my feelings won't be hurt. I'll know it's just the game!' But I wonder how much it will really just hurt my feelings. I bet in the moment I'll be able to go, 'What! Oh, my god! Good on you, congratulations!' But I think when I walk away, my feelings might be hurt for real. But after time, I would have to say, 'Get over it.' If I happen to be on the jury, I'll definitely respect and honor gameplay."
That's Kellyn in her own words. But what do the other castaways think about her? Over the course of our interviews out on 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 Kellyn.
Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): "She's a sweet girl. She seems very wholesome to me. She's workable."
Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): "I like her. She has a very welcoming and friendly vibe. I feel like we would work very well together."
James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): "I like her! So far, I've liked everybody, which is a problem."
Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): "She's cool. Goofy. Super awkward. From the moment she sits down, everything is very awkward about her. I think she's probably always been the awkward, odd one. She'll be the person that once you connect with her and build a strong foundation, you can probably get her to do anything. I think that's one person I'll probably align myself with."
Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): "She seems like such a sweetie. She seems the type of girl who's coming into this with her code of ethics and probably won't cross too many boundaries. But I feel like that's someone people will want on their tribe. It's a good energy to have around."
Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "She's friendly and warm and has that aura. I want to work with her."
Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): "I like her. I think she's going to be really smart, but [she] is another one who's going to play it safe. She's not going to do too much. She doesn't mind being in the shadows. That's what I want."
Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): "If she's not a mom and a wife now? She definitely portrays the sweetness. 'I'm going to bake cookies and I'm going to take care of you.' Very genuine. Soft. I think her values are very in tune. I don't think she'll step out far from them. I would align with her, and I think she would be very loyal. Almost like the mom."
Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "I'm a teacher now. I've been teaching for the last year and a half. She reminds me of the classic teacher: a little bit motherly. I don't mean that in a bad way! I think she has a strong conscience. It doesn't mean she won't lie out here, but I have a feeling she's in some sort of profession like that — a teacher or something."
Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "She reminds me of someone who would be like a personal assistant. She's there. It's hard to explain with her. She's someone who might be quiet at first, but she might have some tricks up her sleeve."
Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): "She's like the secretary who's always smiling at everybody. If I was in a girls' alliance, I might want to work with her because she could be a number who doesn't try to get me too quick. I think she would want to ride it a bit until she gets into an area where she's less of a threat. In the beginning, that's where you knock off people who aren't quite as strong and could weaken your tribe. In her case, she might not be the most athletic, so she's going to do whatever she can to get to the merge."
Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "She seems very smart — like a studious, smart girl, someone who's going to be good with the strategic game. But she seems very nice and polite as well."
Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "I love her! I love her. I can tell she's someone I'll get along with. We were the first two people getting tea at Ponderosa when they said they have tea. She's reading constantly and I've been reading pretty much this whole time. She might be a risk to go home early, because she's not the youngest bikini babe, though she's obviously still very pretty. I hope she sticks around. I could really see myself working with her. Maybe she's super devious and I'm totally misreading her, but she seems very sweet. I think we'll have a lot in common, just based on what I've seen. I think she's approaching this game very cerebrally."
Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): "Very bubbly. Very expressive and sweet seeming. I think she comes across the right way to everybody I've seen. If that's matched with intelligence, then I think she'll be a killer player."
Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): "I think she's nice. I don't really have much to say. She looks clean, simple and smart."
Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): "She's cute! She's very introverted. Always wiping her hands off. I think the elements are really going to get to her. She's a little bit of a germophobe, almost. I want to use that weakness, just being very conscious of her surroundings and if she has dirt on her. I think the elements are really going to get to her."
Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): "She's definitely an outdoors woman. Whatever tribe she's on, they're going to be able to cook, they'll have a fort. She probably won't be doing the water work. I think she has more knowledge of being out in the wilderness than anyone else out here."
Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): "She's gonna be like the mom of the tribe. She's already offered me sunscreen five times. I think she's going to get voted out early because she can't do the challenges physically. Unless she has something deep down that I don't know about, I don't think she's going to last long."
Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): "She's very quiet. That could mean she's sharp as a tack and could be great to work with. My guess is she's going to be on the bottom, only because she seems like maybe she doesn't quite fit in. Then again, I could very well not fit in, too. I'll need to talk with her, because the read is real weak right now. But she's potentially someone I could be very closely aligned with."
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 Kellyn? 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.