'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Stephanie Gonzalez

The 26-year-old from Puerto Rico has the best pitch for the perfect first 'Survivor' day of everyone on the 'Ghost Island' cast, and it's really not close.
Courtesy of CBS

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.

First thing to know about Stephanie Gonzalez: She's not the only Stephanie on the season. Heck, she's not the only Stephanie in her tribe. "We don't love that we have two Stephanies [in the same tribe], but that was the best tribe division," says executive producer and host Jeff Probst. Since the time of this interview, the Malolo Tribe and Survivor at large have solved the Stephanie dilemma: This one will go by her last name, Gonzalez, grandfathered into the illustrious group of Survivor alumni whose first names have been checked at the door.

"She's a shit-talker, a tomboy, seems like she knows how to work men," says Probst. "She works in her family business. A lot of what she does appears to rely on her ability to get people to stop and talk to her. If all those skills are honed? Those are some great Survivor skills. To be able to talk to somebody where they are and not have them always have to come to you? To get them to stop and say, 'Yes?' That seems like a pretty decent skill."

Gonzalez, a Florida resident by way of Puerto Rico, is someone who gives a certain Survivor reporter's love for pizza a run for its money. More about that in our interview below, and hear even more from Gonzalez and the other players in the fourth episode of our preseason podcast series, First One Out: Ghost Zero.

The Survivor players Gonzalez wants to emulate:

"I think I'm a combination of a couple of people. I'll probably play a little with my heart, like Andrea does. She connects with people on a genuine level. I like how enthusiastic and over the top Zeke is about everything. He's such a storyteller. You feel like you're there, and it's so vivid with everything he says — his emotions and his interpretations of people. He's a smart player. I'll probably be a more social player like Zeke. I loved the first time Michaela played. Such a badass game. The girl is built like an ox. Obviously, telling everybody her plan at the end with the seashells? That didn't work out so well."

Gonzalez's first day on Survivor, if it goes perfectly:

"Perfectly for me? OK… I don't know if you want to hear this! OK. First day. Jeff goes, 'Alright, Survivors.' He sets us off. We jump off the ship. We're swimming. Of course, I'm leading my whole 10 people. I'm first. Maybe even pulling the raft, very heroic of me. I build our fort, and everyone is looking at me: 'Thank you so much, Stephanie! Wow, you're just amazing!' All of a sudden I find a pizza box lying in the middle of nowhere. It's a fresh mushroom and onion pizza. I take a bite of the pizza and it's delicious. And there's a margarita next to the pizza! This is my perfect day. I eat it all, because I don't want to share. It would be terrible for them, too. Pizza is bad for you. I'm going to sacrifice my body to eat the pizza. And the margaritas, too. So I get back. People are like, 'Stephanie, thank you for eating that pizza. We really appreciate you.' And then Jeff comes out and says, 'Guys, this is all a joke. Stephanie, I'm going to give you that check for the money right now, save everyone some time and heartache.'"

Gonzalez's ethical philosophy on Survivor:

"Survivor is kind of great in the sense that you see people go one way or the polar opposite. Where we need to be in order to win — and I'll have to prove myself on this point — is you have to be right in the middle, where you're still human enough to make connections, and you're not going to let those connections blur your decisions at the end of the day. You're there for a goal. When you have a goal that big, you can't lose focus and stir people away from it, just because you're letting your feelings get in the way. I want to connect with everybody, and I want to make sure I'm creating a positive thought of myself in their brain — but at the end of the day, you gotta go. Let's put you on the jury so at the end of the day, you give me your vote."

How Gonzalez will react if she's blindsided:

"Losing… that word is not in my vocabulary! I do not lose. I cannot lose. I'm here to win. I will probably be a little butt hurt, to be frank. I'll probably respect the person. They might get my vote [to win] if they did a good enough job. It has to be orchestrated gorgeously for me to have that respect towards them, otherwise, no."

That's Gonzalez in her own words. But what do the other castaways think about her? Over the course of our interviews out ion 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 Gonzalez.

Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "I haven't had a chance to look at her much. She's not one who runs around a lot. She really sits in the same spot and I try to jump from table to table."

Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "I'm not sure what to think about her. She's kind of kept to herself. She hasn't been super friendly around Ponderosa. Most people smile as they walk by, nodding sort of like, 'Well, this is super awkward! Can't wait until we can actually speak! See you later!' It's all said in the eyes as you walk by. She's one of the people who I'm not sure if she's worried about any interaction whatsoever, because she just walks right past you. I don't know if it's a personality thing or just the situation."

Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): "She doesn't seem to be engaging with the process. She's kept to herself. I don't see her being a fan of Survivor. That just doesn't seem like what she does on Wednesday nights, on White Rice Wednesdays. I bet she doesn't even know who Keith Nale is! That sounds harsh, and I don't mean it that way, but I'm just wondering why she's here. I'm curious about what her story is."

Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): "Another one where I'm not sure what she's doing here. She's been full hair and makeup every day here at Ponderosa. That's not what we're here for, right? I don't know if we'll get along well together."

Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "She's a little bit of a loner. She keeps to herself. We all have to keep to ourselves, but she really keeps to herself, separate from everybody else. It'll be interesting to see if she plays it that way out here. If she does, she'll be in trouble."

Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): "The nickname I gave her [at casting finals] is 'Trouble.' She's attractive, she looks like someone who would totally stab you in the back. Much like [Angela], she looks very grumpy, almost like she's pissed to be here. It's weird. It's not something I would really want to work with."

Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): "She looks like she could be a competitor. Maybe a little abrasive. She's going to tell you what's on her mind, and she's going to get pissed. I think her inner circle is her inner circle. I don't think she has an outer circle. When you do something bad, she's going to let you know, and she's not going to let it go."

Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): "She's exotic, like Abi. I feel like she's going to have an attitude. She's definitely going to be somebody who will be interesting to have on a tribe."

James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): "I can see her maybe being the Abi-Maria of our season, the drama queen. Hopefully, I'm wrong with my first impression, but she seems to have the potential for a lot of sass. If she doesn't like how things are going, she will let people know. If you let me know in that way? I'll listen. I'll let you do you. I'll work with it. But I see some drama there."

Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): "She seems hardheaded and stubborn. That's about all I've got. She never really smiles that much at anyone. She kind of stares at you. What are you thinking about me?"

Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "I haven't seen much from her. She has a few tattoos. She's a pretty girl. Doesn't seem like she's super gamey. She's probably an easy target to get out early. We'll see."

Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): "A little Latina flair. She's kind of sexy. She'll flirt her way through the boys. I don't know about an alliance."

Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): "The diva. I'm not a fan of hers. She seems moody. She seems like she's going to be annoying people early. Why I have that impression? I cannot tell you. Just sitting next to her for 10 minutes one day this week, I was like, 'No. You gotta go.' I don't know. She has some whacky tattoo. I don't know. It could be anything. I could be completely wrong. She could be a nun! Who knows?"

Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "We had a funny moment in the airport on the way over and we shared a laugh. Someone knocked into the back of my leg with some rolling thing, and I legitimately jumped. I turned around and she stuck out her bottom lip and started laughing, and I was just like, 'Pardon!' She could be really lovely."

Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): "She's gorgeous. I thought we might have better chemistry, but there's nothing there so far. I think she doesn't want to give away too much before everything starts to get going. That's just my first read on her. She seems closed off and a little hard to interact with. If her gameplay is like that at all, it might be difficult for her."

Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): "That's Mrs. Smith. I think she's probably Puerto Rican. My guess is she's from Florida. I'm from Florida and I love Latinas, and Latinas love me. I don't have much of a vibe on it. I could easily see it being a very quick bond. It could even be too dangerous of a bond. I'm going to want to middle-school make-out with her, right off the bat. I'm going to want to grab her face and put my lips on hers."

Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): "Free advice: Rein it in."

Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): "She's hot. She's a total babe. She looks like one of my best friends back home. She looks like she could be a runner to me, and since I'm a runner, I feel like there could be a connection. I'm not giving away that I'm a runner, but I can talk the lingo and say I've run a couple of 5Ks and try to bond with her over that."

Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): "Another interesting one. She has very particular tattoos. She has a compass. She has Roman numerals on her spine. She has a butterfly underneath her ear. She might be very spiritual. I work well with spiritual people. My mom is spiritual. I think we could work well with each other."

Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): "I think I can work with her. I think we can put our heads together and really be the terrible two."

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 Gonzalez? 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.

 

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