Survivor: Ghost Island winner Wendell Holland returned for Winners at War nearly two years later for another shot at the title. Even though he came up short, he made great friends with Danni Boatwright, Tyson Apostol, and Jeremy Collins. He also had a “powerful” conversation about police brutality with Dakal tribemate and police officer Sarah Lacina that didn’t air but opened her eyes to the pressing issue.
During the June 2020 riots and protests stemming from the viral video of a cop killing an unarmed black man, George Floyd, co-stars Wendell and Michele Fitzgerald hopped on an Instagram Live to speak about the matter and give advice about how everyone can help. He also detailed the now-prevalent conversation he had with Sarah as well as spoke up about the lack of the black producers on Survivor.
Wendell Holland and Sarah Lacina had ‘powerful’ conversation about police brutality
On the original Dakal tribe, Ghost Island champ Wendell Holland heard David vs. Goliath winner Nick Wilson expressing his opinion about police officers as a public defender from Kentucky.
Although Wendell wanted to jump in and talked about his experiences as a black man from Philadelphia, he didn’t want to “make it about race.” However, he had spoken to Game Changers champ and Iowa-based police officer Sarah Lacina prior and felt like he could approach her after the fact and open up to her.
They privately spoke later that day about police brutality, and Sarah admitted she had no idea it was happening because she’s from a small town where her department reprimands the cops for nearly every minor incident.
While Wendell “took her for her word,” he also informed her about his and the black community’s experiences with police brutality and called the issue a “literal weight” on their shoulders.
After the two talked, Wendell said he had a confessional about their “powerful” conversation that never aired. While Michele Fitzgerald pondered why the segment wasn’t shown as the show claims to be a “microcosm of America,” Wendell thinks it might have something to do with the lack of black producers on the staff.
Wendell Holland calls out ‘Survivor’ for lack of black producers
Michele noted that Survivor had done well with touching on issues such as LGBTQ rights and gender bias, but Wendell pointed out they haven’t done well with covering racial topics yet.
He said several black Survivors had voiced their frustrations with under-representation on-screen and behind-the-scenes. Additionally, he and Michele didn’t see any black producers out on the island taking notes of conversations.
While he didn’t go into detail, Wendell explained that it “does something when you have someone who has lived your experience telling stories.” The Ghost Island champ also noted he loves the show but has “qualms” about the lack of representation.
He also brought up how minorities are voted off earlier in the season at a “disproportionate” rate and how few win the show and stay connected to everyone else.
Additionally, Wendell pointed out how fast they were to target him and Cambodia champ, Jeremy Collins, in Winners at War as soon as they got on the same island.
Finally, he and Michele both noted that while CBS has put out an official statement backing the black community during the civil unrest, Survivor has not. Wendell said he would “love to see” support from the show.