Survivor: Worlds Apart: White Collar vs Blue Collar vs No Collar was a season full of blow-ups and confrontations, and Shirin Oskooi was oftentimes the target. But she was so tough in the face of adversity that the fans voted her in as a returning player for Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance, the very next season after “Worlds Apart.” However, Oskooi wishes she had said no to returning so soon.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Oskooi opened up about the bullying and discrimination she experienced during her first season and why she wishes she had declined to play “Second Chance.”
Oskooi Said the Bullying Was ‘Devastating’
As a superfan, Oskooi was over the moon to be on Survivor, but she was not prepared for the amount of bullying she received at the hands of some of the other castaways.
“Much though I loved the entire experience, I endured a lot of discrimination and bullying from my castmates. This was not only devastating, but it also became the crux of my character arc on TV and has dominated the lasting impression of me as a player. I did, at least, have the last word against my tormentors, standing up to them in a few headline-making ways,” said Oskooi.
She added, “Thinking back on it all, there’s a lot of joy tinged with a lot of pain. I’m proudest that I came out of it all whole, stronger, and happier.”
But she also said that she should have taken a break after her first season and not returned to the show quite so soon.
“I have never regretted going on the show. I do, however, wish I had said ‘no’ to returning so soon. I should have focused on healing from my first season, but I didn’t know if I’d ever be offered the opportunity again,” said Oskooi, adding, “I spent a lot of time focusing on my mental health after my second season in order to heal from the negativity I encountered on my first season. It took about a year to become an exuberant weirdo again.”
Oskooi Said the Cast Members Reminded Her of Her Abusive Father
The bullying Oskooi is referring to is from her castmates Dan Foley and Will Sims II talking about how they wished someone would hit her to shut her up and that she had no one back home who loved her.
Sims yelled at her, a fight that made it to air, but she told Entertainment Weekly that what aired was just a sliver of what really happened — and that the way he spoke to her was a lot like the way her abusive father used to yell at her when he would beat her.
“That blow-up was a lot worse than what you saw. There were lines in it like, ‘I don’t talk that way to women but she’s not a woman.’ When he was really screaming at me, that lasted for, I don’t know, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. It was for a very long time. … That was not the first time that he ever blew up at me. That was just the worst time that he blew up at me,” she said, adding, “It’s also scary to think, that’s how he behaved with people around and with cameras. That’s him holding back. I was genuinely scared … He spoke to me exactly the way my dad used to speak to me before my dad would then beat me up.”