The winner of the first black “Survivor” winner has his thoughts on season 42

Vecepia Towery/Survivor 42 Tribal Council


Survivor: Marquesas winner Vecepia Towery/Survivor 42 contestants at the Tribal Council in episode 9.

On Wednesday night, the first black woman to win “Survivor” since Vecepia Towery almost 20 years ago to the day, who won “Survivor: Marquesas” in May 2002.

As a result, many fans are interested in hearing Vecepia’s thoughts on season 42 winner Maryanne Oketch, as well as the unprecedented conversations about race and subconscious bias that have taken place over the past few seasons. And in the face of the season finale, Vecepia didn’t hold back. Here’s what you need to know:

Vecepia thinks Maryanne is a “brilliant” player

On Tuesday, the day before the season finale, Vecepia starts sat down with Rob Cesternino to discuss the final 5 of “Survivor 42” and particularly commend 23-year-old Maryanne for the strength she has shown as a strategist, especially given her groundbreaking blindside of Omar Zaheer.

“It was phenomenal,” Vecepia said of Maryanne’s performance in episode 12. “And the way she played it strategically … I love the way she was genuine and really conveyed this whole idea to the castmates, ‘ Hey, you know I have some stuff in my back pocket that I won’t be using unless you come with me!” And it was amazing how she did it.”

Vecepia added that another thing she “loved” about Maryanne was the “development” she showed as a player throughout the game. “In the beginning, they just spotlighted her as this quirky, wiry black woman who all you see is that every time she speaks, people roll their eyes in the back of their minds,” Vecepia said. “And she was not only entertaining but intelligent in her quirkiness, and that’s what I loved about it.” However, toward the end of the season, Vecepia described Maryanne as “coming back strong.”

“For Maryanne’s game,” Vecepia continued, “you knew her pretty much from the start and you haven’t lost sight of her.”

Vecepia also stressed her hopes of seeing the first black woman to win since her nearly 20 years ago, saying she was “praying” for a Maryanne win. “To see this young lady with an opportunity to actually win her,” she said, “I guarantee you that if she does.” [turns] out to be the winner she will get her awards. She’s a brilliant player and they’ve given her the showcase that they really have.”

“She’ll get the awards she deserves [to] me, which I never got,” Vecepia said of Maryanne’s historic future victory. “And I’ll stand on the sidelines with my pom poms and cheer them on.”

Vecepia is mixed on race talk: “Why does it have to continue to be narrative?”

Vecepia Towery

GettyVecepia Towery on the reunion show Survivor: Marquesas in 2002.

In the same interview, Vecepia also took some time to address the somewhat controversial racial talks that took place earlier this season — most notably in episode 9, when black contestants Maryanne and Drea Wheeler refused to vote for each other after finding out had that another black candidate, Rocksroy Bailey, was voted out as the second black candidate just minutes earlier.

It turns out that unlike other black candidates, who have praised discussing this type of dynamic, Vecepia is a bit more mixed in her opinions. While she says she reacted to the situation “exactly” like Maryanne and Drea, she also longs for a point in Survivor where that dynamic doesn’t have to play a role anymore.

“You know, we always get to that point where we say nobody knows what’s on our minds, and that’s not how we think,” Vecepia said of her fellow Black players, “and I think after a while we are these talks like this will become null and void for people because they will get tired of hearing it.”

She added that while those talks are still “necessary” and “important,” she still wonders, “When can we get over this and actually just play? You know why does that have to be part of the narrative all the time?”

When asked by Cesternino if she meant she wanted the editing to stop indicates those conversations or when she wanted to get to a point where players didn’t have to to have In the conversations, Vecepia replied, “It’s both.” She elaborated:

Why does it have to continue to be a narrative for “Survivor” when it gets there, and why then, as black people, do we understand that this is part of our lives, but also understand that we’ve heard it many times before… but when can we turn to get to the point where we just say, ‘I’m just playing this game.’ and [it] doesn’t necessarily have to become part of our narrative, but that we have to bring it into the picture.

Vecepia’s thoughts may reflect much of Survivor’s audience, though of course it remains to be seen if those conversations will continue to be prevalent in future seasons. Unfortunately for many fans of the old-school players, however, Vecepia’s time on Survivor appears to be over, though the old-school champion certainly won’t hold back when it comes to making her voice heard. The winner of the first black “Survivor” winner has his thoughts on season 42

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