Why Survivor star had ‘so much to lose’
Pia Miranda has just taken home the title of sole Survivor and a tidy $500,000 - but the Aussie actress told news.com.au today she was feeling "mixed emotions".
Looking for Alibrandi star and mum-of-two Miranda, 46, defeated runner-up Baden in a nailbiting finale on Tuesday night, with Harry finishing in third place.
"It was definitely a rough ride. Survivor's very exposing and way more intense than I could've imagined, but it's been a 20-year dream for me," Miranda said of her time on the show.
She'd been a surprisingly controversial figure this season, first finding herself the target of cheating allegations over an earlier challenge win, and on Monday night targeted by angry fans after she voted out season favourite Luke Toki. Miranda admits that the fiery fan reaction has been "tricky" for her to navigate.
"I've worked really hard to stay private and to be taken seriously as an actor, so (appearing on Survivor) probably wasn't the most obvious choice for me. My love of Survivor was the thing that pushed me to do it, and also: I'm in my mid-40s and I don't really take many risks," she said.
"I thought this would make me a better person, a better mother. Just change me, because I live quite safe and stay in my routine.
"But as far as my career goes, I definitely felt like I had more to lose than gain from this. And it has been a rocky road for me - people have really come at me at times, which has been a shock. I've just tried to hold my head high and play a game with a lot of integrity."
And while she knew it could be a career risk, Miranda couldn't anticipate the very visible effect Survivor would have on her health. As filming started she was struck with her first-ever flare-up of the skin condition vitiligo.
Viewers and her fellow contestants watched as patches of skin on her face rapidly lost pigment - but Miranda herself didn't know the extent of the condition until she first saw herself in a mirror during a spa reward late in the season.
"Even my eyebrows had started going grey. Luke had mentioned to me that your immune system goes crazy on Survivor, and I have a few auto-immune diseases in my family … But I was shocked when I got the diagnosis, and I was really scared.
"You don't know if it's going to keep going. But since I put that post up on Instagram, I've been having lots of conversations with people in my messages who also have it. I hope it's helpful for them because it's definitely helpful for me to not feel so alone.
"But it was tough. And it was really tough having it happen on TV."
Still, as Miranda says, "all the pain was worth it" when she won the title of sole Survivor and $500,000 prize money. Speaking to news.com.au, the humble star seemed to think she'd need the half-million as career insurance of sorts.
"Bloody hell, I don't think I'm gonna work as an actor again, so the money will probably just get me by! Honestly, I don't know what's going to happen to me now. You know, we're a normal Aussie family with a mortgage, and we work hard to pay it. Australian actors don't get paid much.
"It's a bit overwhelming for me at the moment, and I haven't really thought about it."