Boost Juice CEO Janine Allis took to Australian Survivor like she was running a business. After avoiding an early target at the beginning of the game, she put together a strong Champions alliance which dominated the majority of the season. Dubbed the “Godmother” for the control she had over the game, Janine was eventually blindsided in sixth place when her former allies Abbey and Luke flipped.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Janine to discuss her time on the island, her relationship with Pia, her thoughts on being labelled the Godmother, her rivalry with Dirty Harry, and much more.
1) Janine, thank you for joining us to take a look back through your fantastic Survivor game! Firstly, what was it about Survivor that appealed to you to the point of taking the plunge to go out to the Island? How did the experience differ from what you’d expected, and how did your strategic gameplan shift once you hit the beach?
Like everyone else, I was a Survivor fan from the start. I loved the fact that it has everything: the human element, the physical element, and the psychological element. I am one that loves to challenge myself, and what other game can do that? The experience was what I expected. I have worked in TV before, so I understand how the wheels turn and what production need to do to make a show.
My gameplay was to keep my head down, which is hard when you are known as a leading business person. However, I thought being in a group of Champions that they all had big egos, so I thought I may be able to slip by. My plan was to be agile, make strong relationships, never throw out a name but be supportive and guide the group to the name I wanted through reason. I was a bit slow off the mark and nearly went home day three as the sporting alliance formed pretty quick. But what I found was that strong relationships always win over weak and quickly put together relationships—which was the case with the sporting alliance.
2) Given your tight alliance with Pia throughout the game, is it safe to assume you intended to vote for her heading into Final Tribal Council? What can you tell us about your perception of the Jury’s feelings towards Baden and Pia heading in, and do you feel there were any key questions or answers that swayed the final vote?
Yes, I would have voted for Pia over anyone. I played with her throughout the whole game, so I saw what her game was; no one else really did to the same degree. She played a very good under the radar game and an excellent social game. Her superpower is reading people; she could tell better than me who was lying and who was on our side… me, I just trusted my alliance. In fairness to Baden, I did not play with him much throughout the game; we were mostly on the other side of the island.
What swayed the vote was Pia’s fire in her answers, particularly when David said that they were both goats. Pia was no goat, and I loved seeing her fire up and bite hard on that question. What was cut out was that I said, “In this game, most people can work out who to vote off and when, particularly if you have the numbers, the real skill is in the execution and to play to make people feel safe while you knife them 😊. Pia had that in spades, her ability to execute on a plan was gold, and I was honoured that she was on my team.”
3) Speaking of Pia, what drew you to working together initially and then so closely throughout your entire time on the Island? If all had played out as you’d hoped, would you have followed that alliance through to the Final Two?
Sometimes you do not know why you get drawn to people, but Pia and I were drawn to each other from the start. We started sleeping together on day two and were inseparable the whole time. I was surprised that people did not target us earlier, as we had a tight three with Abbey, and this is powerful in a game where numbers count.
I would have taken Pia to the final two. But we always wanted to be honest, and we made a pact that at the final 4, people had to vote to win, and there were no hard feelings.
4) You mentioned that you were blindsided at the Tribal Council where you were eliminated, but for the audience, it seemed like you and Pia were already on the outs after Abbey flipped to vote out Simon. Can you fill us in on what we might not have seen, and how Abbey and Luke managed to recover a modicum of trust with you after turning against the Champions?
There are hundreds of conversation that are never shown as there simply is not time. We had a long conversation with Luke and also with Luke and Abbey together, and we thought that they saw that sticking with the alliance was the best way forward. Looking at how it turned out, they should have stayed, mind you who knows if Pia would have won in the end if that happened. As I said to Pia, “All the right moves where there because you won.”
5) Your relationship with Harry was one of the most fascinating dynamics on the season. What was it about him that saw you ultimately consider him as a potential ally instead of the adversarial cockroach he was back on the swapped Contenders tribe? If you had your time again and given his focus on taking you out, do you feel like your game would have played out any differently if you’d maintained your target on him?
We never had a chance to prove our trust to each other. When Rosco got injured, we would have worked with Harry, and this may have changed the game completely. Harry is a good guy, particularly when he is not in his role of Dirty Harry. There were six occasions that he should have gone home, and he did not. So if you cannot kill them, you work with them 😊.
6) Harry’s anointed title for you as “The Godmother” was something you appeared to initially bristle against before ultimately embracing. What was the turning point for you in accepting that mantle, and how do you feel like that moniker impacted your game?
In season three, when Mat got the title of the Godfather, he went home the next night. You do not want to stand out in Survivor or you become a trophy head for someone’s wall. It was against my game to have a title. But at the end of the day, it was a bit of fun
7) You’ve spoken in other interviews about how you were responsible for calling an audible at Tribal Council to turn the vote off of Luke and back onto Shaun—no easy feat! Given Luke’s role in ultimately turning against you, do you feel like you should have taken the shot at him when you had the chance here?
Not at all, we stayed close (until we did not). When you are putting together your numbers you have to go with the people you trust and those people are the ones that vote how we all agree to vote, and at that stage, Luke was one of those people. Shaun, however, never voted with me. Also, I was at the top of the alliance for four strong, so why on earth would I go to the bottom of Shaun’s alliance with three of us (Pia, Simon and me)? It was a stupid move to not vote out Shaun, hence why I knew I had to do something at tribal
8) On the topic of Shaun, we have to address the Idol shenanigans pre-merge! What led you to divulge the information about the fake Idol to Shaun and pit him against David? And why did the Champions subsequently choose to throw an Immunity challenge to help save David and Luke in a subsequent round?
We found out that David was lying to us on the café reward when we three girls opened up about conversation that they had with David, so we knew that we could no longer trust him. But for the time being, he was a number post-merge. We simply needed to get to merge, get rid of two Contenders then we would have enough numbers to get rid of David. Which is exactly what happened. Luke also told us that David was gunning for us; we believed it was him or us.
9) Back at the beginning, you were nearly voted out of the Champions, save for Abbey and Ross flipping against the athletes to team up with you. How did you see that move come about, and how did you work to maintain the new alliance over subsequent votes on the Champions, through the swap, and into the dominant power at the merge?
What you did not see was that at the well, Rosco promised he would not write my name down, and I promised him the same. Both Rosco and I are true to our words, so when the athletes alliance told Rosco to vote for me, he said he would not, as he promised me. We felt confident with Luke working on Rosco that he would come over, and as the days were going by, Abbey, Pia and myself were very close, and Abbey could simply trust us more than Nova and Steve. We also were collaborative, and they were a dictatorship.
10) Looking back at your game as a whole, what do you consider to be your biggest or best move of the game? As a woman who played a dominant strategic game from the forefront of an alliance, what advice would you give to prospective Survivor contestants hoping to follow in your footsteps in the years to come?
There were many moves that I did with my team, but I would have to say my best solo move was convincing people to change their vote from Luke to Shaun. I think I converted that night five votes over, and that is nearly unheard of in Survivor as most people know how they are voting before they sit. (I was pretty excited about that move).
My advice to people coming in: Listen more than talk and when you see a crack, jump in. It is 100% more of a relationship game than a physical one. Try and not be too weak in challengers and later after merge not too strong. Enjoy the experience and see beauty in every day.