Interview: Jessica Kiper – Sweet as Sugar
by Scott Juba
Published: February 12, 2009
Actress Jessica Kiper is no stranger to television, with stints on Gilmore Girls and For Your Love on her resume. After Survivor: Gabon, reality TV buffs know her by one name – Sugar. Her blunt firecracker of a personality made this clever contestant a favorite of fans and a polarizing force amongst her tribe. Despite never forming a solid alliance (a risky yet effective strategy move), she cruised to the finals and played a pivotal role in ensuring eventual winner Bob came with her.
“I came in knowing the first half I was going to need an alpha male to protect me, because that was the only way I was going to get through it,” she says. “Then after that, I had a chance.”
Sugar says she still marvels at how perfectly her plan worked out. “I can’t believe everything worked out the way it did. I definitely had somebody on my side for sure.”
Despite executing her near-perfect gameplan, Sugar didn’t receive a single vote from the jury and finished third. But as it turns out, she wasn’t expecting to win anyway. “I wasn’t necessarily gunning for third, but I always assumed I was only going to have third if I even got up there. I was really going for fan favorite.”
Ultimately, Sugar finished second in the fan voting, again losing to Bob. She jokes, “That sneaky little, bow-tie wearing bastard beat me after I handed him a million dollars."
With the memories of Season 17 still fresh in the minds of fans, a new season of the Survivor begins tonight on CBS. Sugar’s advice to this round of castaways is reflective of the way she excelled during her stint on the show. “In the game, I’d say it’s pretty stupid to make your final five alliance in the first couple of days and then let everybody know,” Sugar says.
Although she didn’t win, Sugar may have made a more lasting impact on the game. Thanks to the fact that she succeeded while avoiding rigid alliances and phony friendships, she may have ushered in a new era in Survivor, one in which individual intelligence trumps everything else.
Motivated by innovation and ambition, Sugar says she hopes to turn her Survivor fame into more acting work. “I’m hoping that somebody noticed me and noticed the fan appreciation for me,” she tells me.
Whatever happens next, don’t expect Sugar to fade into oblivion like other former reality stars. Sugar says she’s a big believer in karma and thinks “everything happens for a reason.” She predicts, “I don’t think that this is it for me.”