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In an Instagram Live, Survivor 40: Winners at War castaways and former winners Wendell Holland and Michele Fitzgerald talked about the protests and riots stemming from a viral video that showed a police officer killing a cuffed black man by holding his knee on the man’s neck. Only a couple of months before the demonstrations, Season 40 aired in which Wendell and Iowa-based cop, Sarah Lacina, had an honest and “powerful” conversation about police brutality that wasn’t shown in the season.

Survivor Wendell Holland Sarah Lacina
Wendell Holland, Sarah Lacina, Adam Klein and Jeremy Collins | Robert Voets

Wendell Holland and Sarah Lacina have conversation about police brutality

Ghost Island champ Wendell Holland and Game Changers winner Sarah Lacina were initially both placed on the dominating Dakal tribe. In an Instagram Live with Michele Fitzgerald, he explained that tribemate Nick Wilson opened up about his views of police officers as a public defender in Kentucky.

While Wendell wanted to join in and express his experiences with the police as a black man living in Philadelphia, he didn’t because he “didn’t want to make it about race.”

However, he and Sarah had begun to connect on a personal level, which encouraged Wendell to open up with the Iowa-based police officer about the “tricky topic.”

Later that day, he spoke to her privately about his experiences as a black man versus hers as a white female officer. She admitted she was completely unaware of police brutality incidents because her department reprimands them for minor events, including foul language or running red lights.

He “took her for her word” but also explained how different he saw cops in Philadelphia behave who frequently run red lights and abuse their power. He also pointed out how the black community feared to be pulled over by the police and called it a “literal weight” on their shoulders.

Wendell Holland and Michele Fitzgerald wonder why it wasn’t shown

The Ghost Island winner called the moment “powerful” and noted he even had a confessional about their eye-opening conversation. However, it wasn’t shown in the final cut.

Wendell thought it would have been a good idea to include the segment, especially after the resurgence of videos depicting police brutality. Survivor: Kaôh Rōng champ Michele Fitzgerald wondered why it wasn’t included because Survivor is a “microcosm of America.”

While the show has touched on LGBTQ issues such as Jeff Varner “outing” Zeke Smith and gender bias, Wendell noted they hadn’t approached racial bias such as the “disproportion” of minorities voted off early and minority winners.

He continued, explaining that black Survivor castaways have pointed out the lack of representation on the island, specifically in production. Wendell and Michele both noted they didn’t see any black producers out there, and the Ghost Island champ explained it “does something when you have someone who has lived your experiences telling stories.”

While he loves Survivor and appreciates everything it’s done for him, the lack of representation is a “qualm” he has with the show. Before they began taking questions from the fans, Wendell closed by noting that Survivor hasn’t spoken up about the current rightful civil unrest and would “love to see” a statement.


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On the other hand, Sarah decided to speak about “corrupt cops” on her Instagram as she posted a black square for solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In her caption, she explained she and Wendell had “this very discussion on the island” and is “appalled and disgusted by the actions” of dishonorable police officers. Additionally, Sarah promised to “stand up” when she’s aware of “police brutality, corruption, and discrimination.”