Every rose has its thorn. And for Hannah Rose, playing the game of Survivor was a thorny situation indeed.
The 33-year-old therapist from Baltimore City showed up on Survivor 45 as a bundle of energy, but by day 3 was already threatening to quit the game unless her tribemates voted her out. When they didn't seem inclined to do that, she had to be a little more explicit in her request. In the end, they honored her wishes and sent her out of the game.
What caused Hannah to tap out so early? What was like having to relive the experience on TV? Does she regret signing up for the show in the first place? We spoke to Survivor 45's first victim and got the full story. (You can watch the entire interview above or read it below.)
Robert Voets/CBS Hannah Rose on "Survivor 45'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hannah, we spoke right before this game began and you were so excited to get out there and play. What happened?
HANNAH ROSE: What happened is, first and foremost, hunger. I couldn't possibly anticipate what it would feel like after days. The episode was incredible to watch, but what you didn't see was trying to open coconuts without a machete, and having zero food at all, and not having a shelter, and it was monsooning for almost 24 hours. I mean, my toenails almost fell off and I didn't sleep one minute.
If anyone has ever experienced sleep deprivation — I haven't to this extent; I don't have a child, I've never just not slept — I couldn't function. By the time we got to that first immunity challenge, I was waiting for that adrenaline and competitiveness to kick in. That's who I am. And there was nothing there. I saw the rest of my tribe bleeding and fighting to get up that wall, and I was like, Oh my God, they want to be here so badly.
It's been a morning. Just waking up to the amount of vitriol on the internet — and I'm not even on Instagram — has been something. But it's interesting to me that so much hate is coming from, She took someone's spot that wanted to be there! And it's like, number one: I wanted to be there. Number two: I left partially to eat. And so that the five other people on my tribe whose life dream it was to be on Survivor could keep playing.
So I just make a public service announcement: If you're the kind of person to message someone with such hate and vitriol, you probably wouldn't pass the psych assessments during casting. So good luck.
You knew it was hard when you hit the beach. We saw you very early on go, "Wow, this is hard." And I remember you saying in your bio, "I really want to be pushed." When did it first hit you that I don't want to be pushed anymore? Not just, This is tough, but I've got to get out of here?
I think after the second night of not sleeping at all. I thought all my coping skills and all the preparation physically, mentally, emotionally that I put into the show — I genuinely believed I'm going to do well here. This is going to be my thing. And I remember vacillating between crying and feeling a higher level of anxiety than I've ever experienced, which is interesting because I've experienced some anxiety.
And then having fun, my connections with the tribe mates, Lulu forever. I love Lulu so much. Those connections are so real. There's a reason that Sean and I were sobbing at Tribal because of the connection that was made. You can see the connection with Brandon. So, for me, I think at a certain point kind of juxtaposing again, the level of heart that the tribemates had versus my own. I had this thought… this doesn't feel good.
I also know that Survivor is cutthroat game, but I didn't like feeling like I had to sacrifice some of my integrity to go behind the backs of people and lie again. I know that's the game. I know that conceptually, but going out there and realizing, Oh, these are real people and I love them. I don't want to backstab them. I don't want to take away this person's dream to further myself... I didn't know that until I got out there. So, again, I did the best I could with what I had.
Robert Voets/CBS Sean Edwards, Hannah Rose, and Brandon Donlon on 'Survivor 45'
You mentioned some nicotine withdrawal going on. I watched Shane Powers smoke two packs of cigarettes and chug coffee the day before Survivor: Panama began, and he'll be the first person to tell you that it absolutely put him through the ringer when the game started. How much were you smoking, and do you think that may have actually played a part?
I wasn't smoking. I was vaping sometimes, but really I have these little nicotine pouches. I saw a tweet that someone sent me from Owen, who's one of my favorite Survivor players, that was like "Hannah, searching for the immunity idol," and it's just nicotine pouches. That's what I have done in an effort to just slowly wean off nicotine for years, and it played a role.
Again, I had no control over my emotions. So I think caffeine, nicotine, sleep, and food withdrawal together, it was like, you know what? I know people are going to rip me apart. I know people are going to hate me. [But] I would be inauthentic and I would be lying to myself if I stayed in that game. I stayed quiet during Tribal because I didn't want to look bad.
During Tribal, there was a 15-minute back and forth with me and Jeff, who is amazing, and I still love him so much. I called him "dad." I also gave him a hug. There's just so much that people don't see. In this back and forth with Jeff, he's saying, "What would you say to a client that was struggling with this and wanted to give up?"
I think there's this horrible thing about quitting, and I said I would never tell someone to stick with something that made them feel so awful. I would tell them to trust their gut, do what's best for them, and even if people don't like it, be authentic. Don't trade your authenticity for approval. And Jeff was like, "Oh, I mean, okay."
Well, that whole tribal was interesting because you're basically trying to tell your tribe to let you go, but they seem to not be taking the hint, and you're trying to quit, but not saying the word quit and they finally are like, "All right, we're going to do this." But what would've happened if they had just gone ahead and voted Emily out instead of you?
Honestly, I don't know. And again, that Tribal was way longer than what you saw. At one point Jeff went down the line and said, "Who's going to vote for Hannah? She's giving her name on a silver platter." And they said, "I'm not voting for Hannah, I'm not voting for Hannah, I'm not voting for Hannah." Sabiyah said, "Hannah will go when we want her to go." And that's when I said, "You don't have to vote for me in order for me to leave."
Jeff was like, "Stop. You mean you're going to quit?" And I was just like, "Listen. To eat something. I'm not okay." And then I started crying, and it was tears of relief because I knew that they were going to let me leave. Again, sorry to the haters that think that I threw away an opportunity, but I'm so glad that those tribemates got to keep playing and give you the show that you want to see. Because as I said to Jeff at Tribal: This ain't it. It's not it for me.
Robert Voets/CBS The Lulu tribe on 'Survivor 45'
The hard thing about Survivor is that you have to live this twice, right? When it happens, and then later when it airs, you have to relive it. What's it been like for you the past five months knowing this was going to be airing?
I'm a really big advocate of limiting social media use. I think protecting myself, deactivating Instagram again when I came home — there was the speculation on Reddit. We read the stuff you guys say about us. I think that was super helpful, just finding ways to cocoon myself from all of the hypotheses about what might happen.
The people closest to me know what happened with me, and that's all that matters. So I've just been excited. I love this cast so much, and watching it last night was the best. I have not felt a deep level of shame or embarrassment or pain and fear until this morning, until I woke up an hour ago and saw my business getting attacked. That's not cool. Besides that, I've just been pumped. I was true to myself, and that's all you can do.
How do you deal with that, Hannah? You just said in the past hour you woke up, you're getting these terrible messages. How are you handling that?
I talk about it, right? And you saw on the show. I mean, I'm crying about having wet socks like an hour in, and I have actually reached out to the whole cast, but also to individual people. I've been on FaceTime with them this morning, and it's just like… they get it. They know me, they see me, and they get it.
I just got a couple inspirational pep talks from some people on the cast. And then some past Survivor players were texting me this morning. They've been through it, and they know. So they've been texting me, sending me the nice tweets because I'm not on anything and I can't see it. So I talk about it. I cry, drink my coffee. I'm going to be honest about it. I'm not going to come on here and say, "I don't care what anyone thinks about quitting." Technically, it's not a quit. It was at Tribal. Let's just own that.
Jeff says it's a quit.
Well, semantics. I still love Jeff, even if it's not reciprocated. Quitting at Tribal was one of the scariest moments of my life because it went against every self-protective mechanism in me that said, People aren't going to like this, and you have to do what people like. And listening to that other part that said, But I don't want to be here, and so I'm not going to fake it, and I'm going to choose being me over looking a certain way on TV. And I'm proud of that.
Robert Voets/CBS The cast of 'Survivor 45'
Do you regret going out there? Do you regret doing it?
Not at all. I mean, it was the best experience. People think like, "Oh, you were there for three days. That's your whole Survivor experience." It's not. The friends that I have made on this cast have become a second family. I hang out with a lot of 'em a lot, and I'm so glad I did this. I know that this feeling this morning will pass, right? Go read the news. There's other stuff going on to focus on than whether or not I quit Survivor.
On another note, it didn't make the episode, but Probst mentioned it on his podcast — Kendra was sent over to your tribe after the challenge and was at Tribal Council to cast a vote. What was that whole situation like?
I cannot believe it didn't make the cut. So first and foremost, I want to publicly apologize for being so unfiltered in my judgments of people during pre-game when we had our initial interviews. It was after days of not speaking. Let me just say Kendra's a phenomenal human being. I was in the wrong.
So we lose. I'm like, Ooh, I can use this opportunity to leave. But then I'm going back and forth. So we're in the water and stuff. We finish, a boat comes, and we're all like, "Who is that?" And it's Kendra. And I'm like, "Nope. I am too hungry to meet someone new." So everyone went to go talk to her, and I walked into the jungle, which again, feel really badly about, that's not who I am. She's an amazing person.
So she ended up talking to everyone. There was this huge scramble, and it was like, "Who's going to be the vote? Is it going to be this person or this person?" And I was like, "Well, I'm not going to write this person's name down. I refuse to write their name down." Again, day 3, and I'm like, "I can't play the game." My heart is just falling out of my chest. And Kendra's there and she is making connections with people.
So she's at Tribal, and I wish they showed it. As soon as I was like, "Yeah, Jeff, my heart's not in it," Kendra's face was like [open-mouthed shocked] and I just looked at her and I was like [shoulder shrug]. There's also a really funny moment where as soon as we lose the immunity challenge, I looked over at Belo because they were right next to us. Kellie on Belo looks at me and is like, [sad with hand on chest]. And I look back at her and I'm like [smiling and happy]. I was like, "I don't want to do this. I don't want to do another challenge. This is so much harder than it looks on TV."
So anyway, yeah, the whole Kendra thing, I mean, that was hours. But I hope people watching realize 24 hours a day, every single day, there's content being filmed, and then it's condensed. There's so much that you don't see. Now when I'm watching shows, and watching Big Brother and stuff, I'm like, "Wow, I wonder what we're not seeing because I'm not watching the live feeds." So it's just a lesson. People aren't just characters on TV. We are people. And sorry if I ruined your fantasy draft.
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