Last December actor Pia Miranda told TV Tonight in her What I’ve Been Watching article, she had a secret wish to appear on Australian Survivor.
As she now confirms, a day later producers were chasing her down with a red hot offer.
“You know you’re the reason I went on Survivor?” she laughs.
“No joke. The next day they sent a clip of the article to my agent. I give you full credit!”
Now the seasoned performer from such shows as Wentworth, The Time of our Lives and Mustangs FC is one of four remaining contenders for the $500,000 prize.
But even she admits it took her some convincing to say yes.
“I had a chat to the producers a couple of times and talked to my agent. Everyone seemed to think it was a really good idea. It was one of those things where logically I thought ‘I don’t know if I can do this’ but I couldn’t get it out of my head,” she admits.
“I’ve been wanting this for 20 years, so I had to do it. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“I don’t watch much reality but it’s one of my guilty pleasures.”
“I felt like professionally I had more to lose, than to gain.”
Yet while Reality TV fame can realign one’s career, it wasn’t Miranda’s driving agenda.
“If I’m really honest I felt like professionally I had more to lose, than to gain. It was a big risk for me. I’m not someone who courts the spotlight too much. I’m pretty happy plodding along doing really great TV with good producers. So it wasn’t like I was looking to change my career.
“I took it as a life experience. I’m 46, this is the first time I’ve been asked to do anything scary. I’ve been asked to do a lot of reality TV and I’ve always said no.
“I’m watching it now and I almost don’t recognise the person I’m watching.”
Despite outlasting athletes and clear physical threats, Miranda says the cold was the biggest challenge. even in the tropics of Fiji.
“Mentally I was prepared for the rain, but not for so many nights of cold. It’s really tough when you can’t find shelter, or you go 3 or 4 days when you are absolutely saturated and freezing.
“When the rains come it’s for a few days. It’s not like a shower that passes. So you’re in it for the long haul.”
“I was prepared play ruthlessly”
But she forged a close friendship with Shark Tank‘s Janine Allis, who she lost in a blindside last week. Miranda says the on-screen rapport was genuine, even though both were playing the game.
“I was prepared play ruthlessly but at some point I promised her I wouldn’t vote her out or lie to her. I said ‘I’ll keep things from you but I won’t vote you out.’
“And I tried to keep that promise because having one truthful relationship is really important because everyone is trying to get you! We had a really good friendship and it wasn’t all gameplay-based. We spent a lot of times sitting around camp and talking about our lives.
“We went out for lunch the other day and all these people were going nuts. She said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said ‘I think we’re Reality TV stars now!’”
“I just tried to forget I was an actor and just be Pia”
She also had to adjust to the differences between Reality TV crews and Drama crews, and coming to terms with portraying herself honestly, instead of a screen character.
“I made a promise to myself to be truthful and not to and be anything that I wasn’t. So I just tried to forget I was an actor and just be Pia,” she continues.
“But I’m very much an actor who hangs with the crew a lot. But they don’t hang out, they don’t look at you on Survivor.
“Being on a set where nobody is asking if you’d like a cup of tea and a biscuit wasn’t very fun!
“There is crew everywhere but by the time to you are 20 days in you forget the crew are there. I would talk about stuff and then think ‘I can’t believe I just said that!’”
With two more Immunity challenges to come, Miranda happily has one victory under her belt. But her win holding onto a slide over the ocean was marred when some fans questioned a last-minute grab with a second hand.
“I got blindsided by that. I think the editors do their best and the challenges are such massive beasts it’s hard to make things that take hours into 3 minutes,” she explains.
“If people are so invested in what’s happening it’s not a bad thing.”
“Nothing can happen that is not on camera”
She also reveals the rules of Survivor are very strict, with no scrambling permitted while contestants walk from camp to Tribal Council, and why whispers are sometimes exchanged in front of Host Jonathan LaPaglia.
“Nothing can happen that is not on camera,” she confirms.
“There’s no talking until you get to Tribal. Sometimes people will be in the middle of changing a vote, and there’s no time to tell someone what’s happened.
“I’ve definitely been in a few ‘whispery’ tribals and you panic when the whispers aren’t coming your way.”
Tribal Councils are lengthy processes which normally follow a big challenge and an afternoon of scrambling. LaPaglia has been worded up by producers on all the machinations of alliances and plotting. Miranda was unable to extract any hints from his questions.
“His job is to try and prod you until you crack.”
“I tried to trick him into giving up the gander,” she laughs. “He asks pointed questions but a lot of the time if you’re trying to blindside someone you’re not necessarily answering truthfully. So his job is to try and prod you until you crack.
“He does a really good job of asking the questions to get the truth out but not giving away the secrets.
“I spent a lot of Tribal Council listening to him and thinking ‘Can I get any information out of him?’ But I never could.”
The finale has all been filmed in Fiji mid rumours of another season being filmed for early 2020. Would Pia Miranda try her hand at another season?
“Well I’m not there if there is!” she laughs. “I’m at home with a bowl of pasta and a cup of tea!”
“Never say never. But that Tower of Terror is a big issue for me. I jumped off that thing a lot!”
Australian Survivor concludes 7:30pm tonight and tomorrow on 10.