'Survivor 45's Sabiyah Broderick Explains Her Sudden Turn on Kaleb

Sabiyah Broderick

Survivor 45 is here! Every week, Parade.com's Mike Bloom will bring you interviews with the castaway most recently voted off of the island.

Throughout her seven days on Survivor 45, Sabiyah Broderick was playing with fire. She quite literally did so in her final Tribal Council, as she spent the night roasting a candle containing her short-lived idol. But the truck driver shifted gears early in the game, becoming one of the power players on the failing Lulu tribe. But when the former Marine decided to make friendly fire and take a shot at Kaleb Gebrewold, it was Emily Flippen who prevailed, using the opportunity to send Sabiyah out with an unused idol still warm from the embers of Tribal.

Sabiyah's journey through Survivor is inherently connected to Emily. After she and Kaleb volunteered for the Sweat and Savvy challenge on Day 1, Emily immediately began to paint a target on their backs, pairing them together and accusing them of having an advantage. This obviously did not land well with Sabiyah, who vocalized her displeasure at Emily during Tribal Council. Unfortunately, Hannah Rose's quit delayed any plans of booting Emily, but gave Sabiyah the opportunity to express her disagreement back at camp. Luckily for Sabiyah, Emily's arguments fell on deaf ears. She cemented a majority with Kaleb and Sean Edwards, and use her allies to help her retrieve the tribe's idol. Ironically, the accusation that Emily levied against Sabiyah on Day 1 had come true.

Sabiyah was in a great spot on Lulu. Though she had chosen to keep Emily for challenge strength, she still was teed up as an easy next boot. But that caused Sabiyah to look later into the game. When the rare Lulu win had Kaleb raiding another tribe's camp, she started to get leery of his future as a social threat. As such, she concocted a plan to blindside Kaleb in his absence, which included getting Emily on board. But Sabiyah wasn't aware of a crucial pair building between Emily and Kaleb, a duo that would be her undoing. At Tribal Council, Sabiyah's idol was revealed, giving her a choice: Play the idol for tonight, or sacrifice your vote to make it good until the merge. Feeling confident in her plan, she chose to pocket her vote and idol. And, unfortunately, she was about to get robbed. Emily and Kaleb voted together to blindside Sabiyah, cooking her game as much as she cooked that candle.

Now out of the game, Sabiyah talks with Parade.com about why she chose to not use the idol or her vote, the reasoning behind her turning on Kaleb, and her complicated relationship with Emily.

Related: Read our Survivor 45 pre-game interview with Sabiyah Broderick

How are you doing right now, Sabiyah? You just got to watch both your game and that candle get cooked.
It was barbecued! I feel great. I mean, I was anticipating the reaction because of course, we film so much earlier in the year. So we're just kind of like, "Okay, well, that happened. Here we go. And the reaction from the cast, when we're all talking, it's just like, "That's going to be a moment. People are going to remember that." It's going to be the origin story to whatever else comes from me. And I'm so happy with how they portrayed everything and all of the suspense. I don't know how you felt. But, even knowing what was gonna happen, my heart is freaking out. So I can only imagine how it was to watch that episode from start to finish as a fan. I loved it. They did a great job.

Well, let's start turning up the temperature a bit on your game here. We have to start on your most important, and final, decision of choosing not to vote and not to use your idol. How long did you spend in that voting booth mulling over your decision?
It was longer than they showed. It definitely was not long enough. Okay, so walk with me. We spent days finding this idol; we spent days trying to figure out how we're gonna even get it. There's no help. There's no fire. We spent time trying to make fire; it wasn't shown as much outside of Brandon was glasses. But we only had two members who had glasses, and they both left first. So by the time I get to the booth, I'm expecting it to just say "safe" or "not safe." I'm not expecting it to be like, "It's gonna grow with power" and everything like that.

And at that time, of course, I'm power-hungry. We're anticipating a swap, because we're going down to three. It's only happened a couple of times. And almost every time the next morning, there's a "drop your buffs" moment. I'm a fan, so me and Sean, we're anticipating a swap. So if I swap and I'm alone, I don't know how the other teams perceive me. I know that they've been seeing me put out in challenges. I know that they know that I'm a good social person, just based off of mild interactions. So I could have been a target as soon as I switch. If I'm the only one. I'm in trouble. I'm on the bottom. But that would be great to have an idol, some security, you know what I'm saying?

So, having to think about all of that in the booth, fortunately for Austin and them, they found that at camp. They had time to sit there not having Tribal every night to think about it. So it was the perfect storm for the worst decision ever. Mix that with sleep deprivation, mix that from being bit beat to [expletive] by the challenges. I mean, you're not thinking. I just roasted an idol on national TV. I'm hoping that I don't need to use it tonight. I'm hoping that I've done enough work with Kaleb to make him feel like he's safe and he votes Emily. Even if [Emily votes me], it's a three-way-tie, and then I have an idol. It took so long in my mind, but all factors in everything, the information that I had at the time, whether it be phony or not, I made the best decision for my game going forward. Maybe not right now. And I know the next time I play, I'm gonna play like this is all I got. But you kind of have to think forward and back the whole time forward and back. So  I spent a little bit too much time in the future with that one.

Well speaking of looking ahead to the future, let's talk about your decision to target Kaleb. Maybe this is us leaning into Emily's accusation, but we felt the two of you were a pair. So it surprised us all to see you target him while he was away on the camp raid. What led to you deciding to do that so soon?
So me and Kaleb are like the same person. We talk about it all the time. Me and Kaleb are very close right now. We're both Virgos; we're both around the same age. It's literally like having a yin and yang version of each other. So you can only imagine being in that type of situation how apparent that is. Emily was not wrong. It was like meeting my long-lost brother out there. It's crazy. So the more I started to think about that, the more I start to realize Emily's not the only one that sees it. She's just the only one bold enough to say something.

And again, knowing that we're going down to three, anticipating a swap, which inevitably happened, how does that go for me? Am I his number three, once he gets with people at Reba? Because he had just came back from Reba. And Kaleb was a big Austin fan. They didn't [show] him talking about him, but he talked about him all the time. He was like, "Yeah, man, the Asian guy on red, I feel like we would really work [well]." And we're like, "Okay, we don't really know him like that. But that's cool." But it happened a lot of times. So him going to the Reba tribe, him petitioning for himself to go, after all of that. We're like, "Huh."

Then he [came] back saying he had talked to every single person on the tribe. Just, "Hey, I want to talk to each of y'all individually." Who doe that?! No one. So my radar starts to go up about him being so social. I'm social, don't get me wrong. I can make anyone laugh. I can sell water to whale. But Kaleb is a different type of everything. You see me describing him, the smile and the hair and the bounce to him. I love him genuinely. I had just met him, and I literally would die for him. It's kind of the reverse how I felt about myself. Like, "Okay, people are gonna perceive me as a strong female, they'd be right. People are gonna perceive me as a strategic player, they would be right. Balls to the wall." So Kaleb, if I'm seeking to give him a bit of endearment, somebody that I could get along with, somebody that has my back to the end, after six days, he had to go.

Getting a big threat out before a tribe swap is a good strategy. [Laughs.] It's not like, "Oh, she did it too quick." I hear you. However, if you are sitting in my seat, you think you have Emily, you know you have Sean, and Kaleb is who you're taking with you. I don't really like the shield thing. I trust my game to play my game. But I don't like taking people along past a certain point. It just wouldn't have made sense for us to get to that tribe swap and give him an opportunity to open up those other relationships that he had already started.

So that's really my mind, behind the decision. It started to not add up for me, and Sean agreed with me. We had multiple morning talks. We're sitting on the beach, we get up before everybody else. And he's like, "I feel like he's starting to feel himself." I feel like you can feel the momentum behind someone when they really feel like they're in the game. You know what I mean? Like when they're playing, it's like a vibration off of them. And Kaleb started to feel more and more bouncy. And I'm like, "What is he doing?" Because we're not seeing him talk to Emily.

Yeah, talk to me about that. Obviously a big reason why you're talking with me today is because of Emily and Kaleb's relationship. Were you not aware of it on the island as much as we are watching it?
Kaleb is so good. I tip my hat, seriously, to him because of the way that he would paint it. He would be with me like, "We can't make it too obvious that she's going home." And I'm like, "Yeah, you're right." He's like, "Let me go talk to her at the end of the day, We're all human beings, right?" Of course, I'm eating that up. And I'm like, "Okay, well, I'm just gonna go get these papayas." You saw them on the trail grabbing coconuts or going to the water well or whatever it was. Me and Sean, we're cleaning dishes or finding more papayas or chopping fruit or whatever we're doing. But we're down to four. So you have stuff that you have to do. You can't be everywhere at once. Y

There's a lot of, "Oh, why would you turn on Kaleb?" He was already conspiring and playing in that middle seat! Since we got back from Tribal after the Hannah situation. So he was thinking way ahead of me. I literally had just started thinking that he might be against me when it was too late, and even up until getting voted out. You see him  [with a] big smile. That's why I feel like [when I'm] leaving, I'm just like, "Okay, this is my team." I love them genuinely. Kaleb, Emily, we are friends. Sean, of course, he's my ride or die. But it's just those little nuances that you just have to pick up on. And if you don't, it'll be too late.

We need to talk about your relationship from Emily. It's so up and down over those seven days, from that first Tribal Council to the argument after to building trust during the Brandon vote. And she ultimately became the person who sent you home last night. How do you look back on your dynamic?
There's a Maya Angelou quote: "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." And I live by that. But out there, you can't live by that. Because what if they made a mistake? What if they were just hangry? What if they need you? And at that point, I thought Emily needed us. But she didn't; she had a great comfy seat in the swing just like Kaleb. And, honestly, we've seen season after season after season, that's the best seat is the swing vote. You're the one who really runs it, while everybody that thinks they're running it.

Our relationship was a lot of Kaleb-induced conversation. And again, great player Kaleb, amazing. But I didn't know that that was what really was the fuel underneath her having that pivot, because she did. And you see Sean mentioned it at Tribal Council, why she didn't go home on the Brandon vote. And I needed Brandon to stay. But at the same time, I also have this enemy in Emily. So it's like, "Do I play play ball with the team, keep Emily and go Brandon? Or do I keep somebody that I know is going to be tried and true with me to the end like Brandon, and just risk losing?" Which we did anyway.

So our relationship was really up and down. She took a lot of shots at me, but my heart and my forgiveness is always what I lead with. And it might not be the best thing in Survivor to give people such so many chances. Sometimes you just gotta stick the dagger out and just move on and just hope that you guys can laugh about it later, like we do now about me. And I love both of them. Kaleb, and Emily, they made a great decision with getting me out. Because honestly, if I make it to swap, it's game over. That was how I felt. If I make it to the swap with my idol, I trusted myself to get to the end. So I don't feel like their decision was wrong. I feel like it was definitely best for their games. I just didn't know it at the time.

So leaving the way you did, I'm sure there is a sense of unfulfillment. But you also got to do a lot during your week in the game, including becoming the leader of your tribe and finding an idol. So how do you ultimately look back on your time on Survivor 45?
[Pauses.] It was amazing. And I'm taking breaths because I don't want to cry. But that was the best thing I've done. Period. It's just as cool as it looks. It's just as amazing to meet Jeff for the first time. Brandon's emotions on the barge, that is a real moment. He's wanted to be there since he was 11 years old. And you feel that the whole way, that you're making something that is literally unspeakably one of a kind. There will never be another season 45. That water that's coming up on that shore when you're out there, it's going back, and it's never coming back. It's one of a kind. So I am so content with just having the opportunity to be a part of this amazing family. Everybody has been so great and gracious and reached out and just really wrapped their arms around all of us. And it's really beautiful. I love all of them. I love Survivor. I'd play 50 times if they let me. It really is the best show on TV.

Next, check out our interview with Brandon Donlon, who was voted out in Survivor 45 Episode 2.