Meet the 'Survivor 45' Cast! Investment Analyst Emily Flippen Says She "Sucks at Lying"

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Investment analyst Emily Flippen knows that any good asset for your portfolio requires a deep dive beyond initial impressions. And she is hoping the same works for her out on the island. The 28-year-old admits she lacks survival skills and physical acumen, she can come off as "intense," and she is a bad liar. But she believes that, once her competition looks beyond the ticker, they can see a genuine, transparent, emotionally intelligent person to work with, allowing her Survivor stock to pay a million-dollar dividend.

Read on for my interview with Emily, and check in with every day for interviews with this season's contestants and other tidbits. Survivor 45 premieres on September 27 with a 90-minute premiere on CBS.

Related: Meet the Full Cast of Survivor 45

Interview with Emily from Survivor 45

Hi, Emily! I'm so sorry, you caught me eating an Oreo.
Totally fine, understandable. Oreos, what are you gonna do?

I was gonna say, "I'm taunting you." But you have the time to cram all the food you want before you start playing.
Yeah, here's the thing. My strategy was to slowly pull away the food so that my stomach would shrink a little bit and I wouldn't be so jarred. But what I didn't expect was for the last week to be sitting here doing nothing, for the most part, when there's a bunch of food sitting in front of me. So all I've been doing is eating, and I'm really screwed for tomorrow. [Laughs.]

Well, before we get into all that, tell me about yourself.
I'm from Maryland. I am originally from Texas, but I live in Maryland now. And I'm an Investment Analyst. So, I pick stocks for a living.

So, will that hopefully translate to picking the right allies for your portfolio?
There are so many different investing metaphors I could pull out. And I kind of want to be like, "Yeah, where you invest your time, where you invest your energy, who you invest in." But really, the best bad metaphor [is] the way that I'm gonna manage my game here on Survivor is managing emotions. And I know that sounds kind of counterintuitive. But the number one reason why retail investors tend to underperform the market is because they let their emotions get the better of them when they're making investment decisions. They get FOMO, they see a stock go down, and they're like, "I have to sell it."

And the type of investing I do, it's not day trading; it's not technical analysis. It's long-term buy-and-hold investing. I'm gonna buy this great company and hold it for five or ten years. And that means putting your emotions aside and focusing on the long-term goal. And I see so many people watching Survivor who let their short-term emotions control their decision-making, whatever they're feeling in the moment. And it sacrifices the strategy that they had for the long-term game. So the way that I'm now connecting my stock picking to the game of Survivor is like, "Okay, let's set aside the emotions that I'm feeling at this exact moment to figure out how do I get myself to the Final Three, and how do I win this game?"

So, how did you go from the bear and the bull to the snake and the rat? What made you decide Survivor is the game for you?
[Laughs.] Well, let's be clear here. There's a lot of survival skills that I lack. I'm not in great shape. I'm not great at making fire. I don't know how to build a tent or shelter. I don't even know the right terminology. I think there are a lot of people that are just better equipped to come into the game of Survivor than I am. I'm already sunburned. I've been here for like two days, so that tells you a lot. But when I think about why I applied, it's not because I was like, "Yeah, I need to learn all these survival skills." I actually think that I was reflecting on my life and decided that I had what was, at one point, just a really crazy, interesting life where I was doing all of these cool things. And then suddenly, all of these big questions, like, "Who am I going to be with? Where am I going to live? What job am I going to do?" they all suddenly were very far behind me.

I've been in a relationship with the same guy for almost a decade. I've been working the same job for six years. I've been living in the same place; I just bought a house. All of these things are just like, "Wow, this is so suburban," not what I expected for my life. And so I had, I guess, a crisis one day and was like, "You know what I should do? I should apply for Survivor." And literally that same day or the next day after I applied, I got an email back that was like, "Hey, so we kind of liked your video." And that's when I was like, "Oh, shit. [Laughs.] What did I just get myself into?"

[Laughs.] It's like the morning-after hangover with applying to Survivor. Well, what got you on the wagon in the first place? When did you start watching the show?
I've been watching it my entire life. My grandfather actually applied to be on the very first season of Survivor. He didn't get on, obviously. But it's just been a part of my family. So many Survivor stories start off that way, right? Your family sits down to watch Survivor together. There's a lot of people who are super fans. They're building the puzzles. I've seen that in the most recent season, 3D modeling their puzzles or building them in their backyard. They can name the boot order of every contestant in every season. I'm not so far gone as a superfan to have done any of that. But I love watching the show. I think it's really kind of the ultimate challenge. I watch a lot of reality TV; trust me, it's my favorite hobby. But unlike all the other shows that I watch, it's the only show I've ever in my life consider applying for because I truly see it as a challenge, especially for somebody like me who otherwise lacks the skill to survive on an island. [Laughs.]

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Well, I'm not going to ask you to name every contestant. But give me a Survivor winner and a non-winner who you identify with the most.
I'll start with the non-winner first because I think it's more interesting. And it's not somebody that I would have associated with until I went through this application process. And as I was going to the psych testing, the personality tests, the psychologist told me, "Hey, your test results, they remind me like a lot of Kass's, like Chaos Kass." [Laughs.] And at first, I was like, "Excuse me?!" But then I was like, "Wait, that is such a compliment!"

And watching her seasons back, it's kind of frustrating that she is perceived by many people to be a villain, because I like so many aspects of her personality. She's really direct, honest, intense, aggressive, all of these things that I think I kind of associate with, especially as a woman. So many of those personality traits are looked down on almost or perceived as too masculine. And I liked the fact that she took no bullshit. I don't know if I'm gonna get out there on the island stripped of everything and be as awesome as Kass was; I think that's a really high expectation. But if I could be 50% Kass, I feel like that would have achieved my goals, because she really is kind of, in my ideas, a Survivor icon, somebody that I kind of associate with.

In terms of winners, I'm gonna take the cop out and say, Sandra. And I know that she is the easiest winner to pull out because, obviously, she's won so many times, and she's the queen of Survivor. And I'll fight that battle. [expletive] Parvati, it's Sandra. But genuinely, for the same reasons that I like Kass, I like Sandra, which is that she's honest, direct, aggressive, and has a lot of personality traits that I see in myself. And as a narcissistic person who likes myself, I like seeing people who remind me of myself winning Survivor.

You said you haven't done much to feel well-equipped for survival. But what's one life experience you feel has prepared you most for Survivor?
I have to say it was where I did my undergraduate education. So, when I was 18 years old, I left my home in Texas and went to Shanghai, China, as part of the inaugural class at the first joint Sino-American University in China. That's a mouthful. But I did my undergraduate there. I spent four years studying there. All the classes were in English; my Chinese is terrible. Don't ask me to say anything, because I'll embarrass myself.

But the class, the student body, was incredibly diverse. Lots of Chinese national students, but also students from I think, 150 countries across the world. That's way too many, like 70 countries across the world. But so many great opportunities to meet people who are just so different than myself, who come from really diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, life experiences, cultures, and getting along and finding common ground with people who are different than myself. It's one of those soft skills that it's really easy to say, but it's different to actually experience it. And I think I have experienced it.

You talk about stepping into that very different environment. What do you think people will perceive you as in this game?
I'm already getting a sense, just from making eye contact with the other survivors as we're sitting here in Ponderosa, about what their impressions of me may be. And I want to be like, "Oh, they might see me as kind or considerate or empathetic." I mean, I am, I like to think, all of those things. In reality, I think what I'm being perceived as, is the personality traits that I show most directly, which is intense, aggressive, uptight. It sounds really negative; I don't mean it to be.

But I can tend to just to be a lot, not in terms of over-the-top fanatics, but just the intensity and the stress that I think I bring to a situation. I think maybe the other contestants, if they haven't already picked up on it, are going to be picking up on it. It's a stressful situation. And as much as I want to be able to stop and smell the roses and say, "I'm here for the experiences; I'm here to have a good time." And I'm sure I will reflect on this and be like, "Oh, I'm so wonderful. I had a great time." But right now, when I'm in the moment, it's all very overwhelming for me. And for a neurotic, anxious, stick-up-my-butt type of person that I am, I think that anxiety and intenseness is definitely rubbing off on other people.

How tough will that be for you to curb? Is that something you're going to try to adamantly avoid doing? Or, in a 26-day game where you can only authentically be yourself, you just live with it and hope that people are able to respond to it well?
Yeah, you put it beautifully. If I could have been anybody else, I would be, because my life would be so much easier if I could just relax. [Laughs.] If I was capable of unwinding and being that different person, I would have done it already. So I highly doubt that, when stripped of sleeping and food, all of my family, and that social net, that I'm positive. All of that is probably going to be intensified. I'll do what I can to be empathetic and considerate of other people's feelings because you never want your negative traits to negatively affect other people.

But when push comes to shove, I can't hide who I am. It's probably going to be really transparent. If I do try to hide it, everyone's going to be seeing me as as not very genuine. I wear my emotions on my face, so it's very obvious when I'm not being myself. My hope is that people can understand this is one aspect of my personality. And as they get to know me deeper, they're going to figure out that, in addition to all of this neuroticism, I'm actually really transparent and honest, and an easy person to work with. Because I suck at lying. So, hopefully, that will win me some allies if my personality may not. [Laughs.]

How do you "suck at lying"? Is that you're unskilled at it? Or do you just want to pursue the truth, no matter how honest or brutal it may be?
Look, if I could lie, I would lie. Don't get me wrong, this game is kind of about deception. So, if I was capable of giving a good lie, then I would 100% give a good lie. And I'm sure there's going to be a time where somebody's gonna say, "Hey, are you voting me out?" And I'm gonna have to say no when I know that I actually am.

But yeah, I think there's gonna be a point where I'm gonna have to say a lie [and] you're gonna be able to see right through it. And that's probably going to be something that's hard for me to control. The fact [is] that I'm not a great liar. But at the same time, you'll always know where you stand with me. And that's kind of an asset in a way that is maybe underappreciated initially.

Everything to Know About Survivor 45

Let's talk about your competition a bit. What do you desire in an alliance partner?
Well, I've already told you that I like myself. [Laughs.] I say that kind of jokingly, but it's true. It's always easier to initially get along with people whose personalities you're familiar with. So somebody who is kind of also open and transparent and honest would be easy for me to get along with, because I kind of understand where they're coming from. Versus somebody who's maybe a bit cagey or somebody who's over the top dramatic, it's going to be harder for me because I'm going to have a harder time understanding their game.

But those kind of initial impressions don't always tend to create the best alliances. They may, but you also need to have a good working relationship with somebody. So I think my initial kind of impressions, what's going to get me to the first half of the game, are going to be those vibes. Connecting to somebody who has personality traits that are similar to your own, those easy alliance pickups. But the only way you make it through the later game is by connecting with somebody who's really different than yourself, who has a totally different strategy, who is able to bring a different perspective, surprise people when you're working together. Work with somebody who is so dramatically different than you that you end up riding to the end together.

When it comes to perceptions, is there anyone in this time before the season that you're eyeballing as people you do or don't want to work with?
So initially, there are a couple of people here who, I feel like we're already kind of vibing on the same level. Mostly because I'm sitting here on my Nintendo DS playing Pokemon. And I can see them kind of being envious of the fact that I have the DS. And to me, that's like, "You recognize what Pokemon is. We have something in common already." And there's a guy with long hair, glasses, and kind of a scruffy beard. And he's just good vibes all around. He's friendly; he seems to be friendly–not that we can talk, but friendly enough–without being over the top, being too much trying to bend the rules—just somebody who seems very easy to work with.

And there's a girl who's reading books by the same author that I'm reading. She has platinum blonde hair, really beautiful, some cool tattoos. The vibes are right with some of these people. There's even a girl who walks around in these purple Crocs and a purple jumpsuit, and she's amazing. I already love you. Anybody who's wearing purple Crocs, we are already on the same level.

But that being said, there's also some people who their personalities are so big that I know, being the irritable person that I am, it's going to grate on me over time if we draw the same buffs. And the producers, being acutely aware of my intense personality, would be very smart for production purposes to put somebody like that on my tribe. So I'm very afraid of the fact that there's going to be somebody on my tribe who is just too much to handle, who is the type of big personality, who always feels the need to be in the spotlight, always needs to say something super loud. And that's going to drive me completely nutty.

Let's say a boat shows up at your camp on Day 2, asking for one person to go on a journey. How would you approach the situation?
What I don't want to happen is for somebody else to make the decision. What I don't want is somebody, good or bad, to say, "Hey, I'm doing this" or "I'm not doing this." What we're going to do is we're going to do something like draw sticks. Now, we're going to make sure we don't stack the deck, as I learned last season. [Laughs.] But we're going to do something that is perceived as fair, so I'm not giving anybody kind of that initial edge in their strategy if they did or did not want to go on that.

That being said, if I had my druthers, I would not want to go on that adventure. Mostly because what tends to happen in the modern era of Survivor is you go on that adventure, and you either get an advantage or you get a disadvantage. Either way, you're coming back to your tribe, and you're probably gonna have to lie about it. And I feel like we've already established that I'm a really bad liar. So I feel like it's a really bad first impression for me to come back. And even if I'm being completely honest, if I know that people are perceiving what I'm saying as potentially a lie, it comes off like I'm lying. I'm that insecure about my inability to lie that even when I'm telling the truth, it feels like a lie, and people think that I'm lying. So, all in all, I want to play Survivor. Of course, I want to go and and meet new people and do all these fun things! I think, realistically, it would be bad for my game if I had to be the one who went on an adventure like that.

Well, let me finish with a less anxiety-inducing scenario. What celebrity or fictional character would you want to come out for a Loved Ones visit?
Oh my god. I don't know why I'm saying this character. I genuinely don't. But I think it's because when I was at the hotel before coming to Fiji, there was a Harry Potter marathon on, and all I did for like two days straight was watch Harry Potter. But I want to say Ron Weasley for some reason—just a reassuring kind of character. I feel like he'd be very proud of me because I feel like his expectations for performance would be low, right? So, coming in, it wouldn't matter how bad I did on the challenge or whatever. Ron Weasley would be thrilled for me. And, I mean, I just love Ron Weasley. So, for some reason, that is the answer, and you know what? It's too late for me to change it now. So that's what I'm saying. [Laughs.]

Next, check out our Survivor 45 interview with contestant Brandon Donlon.