Challenge Total Madness Interview: Ashley Mitchell
This past week, I was lucky enough to have MTV set up time for an interview with Ashley Mitchell to talk about her experience on Total Madness and the Challenge in general. Ashley had a tumultous end on Total Madness this week. She got shot with a fire extinguisher, got into a heated fight with her friend Mattie, got voted into eliminated by the entire house, and then lost an elimination that was a luck-based game. However, from interviewing her, I can tell you, Ashley has nice things to stay about the people she had problems with this season. It could have been easy for her to bury them, but instead she remains positive and was able to laugh at herself in a really refreshing way.
This is a transcript of our conversation with some small edits for functionality here and there. We laughed a lot during this interview, and her transparency was amazing.
Q: One of the first things I wanted to ask is, how are you dealing with social distancing/quarantining? I follow you on Social Media, and you live an exciting life as you’re always traveling to cool places. It must be a shake-up.
Ashley: Well, to be honest, I was backpacking through South America when the quarantining started! Currently, I’m locked down in Ecuador, and I’m doing just fine. I’m pretty much a homebody if I’m not out and about exploring. I’d rather it be over, but I care more about everyone being safe.
Q: Before we dive into this season, one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is the fact that whenever I write an article about you or have a semi-viral tweet about you, your mom and sister are quick to Like and Retweet them. It’s dope to see your family support you so much, and it’s a side you don’t get to talk about on the show. What does family mean to you?
Ashley: Oh my gosh (laughs), well, if you go back to Invasion, when I got my first win, the only thing I wanted to do was call my mom. My family has always been like that, especially my grandma. When people ask about me splitting the money with Hunter…like honey, I got a whole family. Why would I split it with him? I don’t even like him, haha.
Family is everything to me. It’s the way I got raised as a Southern Country girl. I’ll take them over anybody.
Q: You mentioning Southern Country girls is an excellent segue. At the beginning of the episode, they show the alliance between you and Mattie, and then right after they show Bear shooting the fire extinguisher, you getting into it with Bear, and eventually, you and Mattie going back and forth very heatedly. What’s the relationship between the two of you now?
Ashley: We are good now! Being in that environment, in general, always elevates everything. However, add in the bunker. Then add in the fact that both me and Mattie were struggling the most to adjusting to it as well. Ironically, that’s why we were becoming close, because we were comforting each other a bit. Of course, I lost my mind, and after we kind of understood how it happened. You have to live in a bunker to grasp how you can lose your mind like that fully. She’s a cool girl, and we are in a good place now.
Q: What’s so insane about it all, is in situations like this regularly, you can say “how about we go outside and take a breath”, and you literally can’t do that this time around.
Ashley: Nope, not at all. That’s exactly how it is.
Q: Now, I have to ask you, what are your thoughts on Bear and your relationship with him now?
Ashley: The whole thing with Bear is that he had been trying to push my buttons all day, well, no, he was pissing me off, all-season actually. He is the loudest person in the house. He is the last person to go to sleep, and he is the first person to wake up. This man does not sleep. He also isn’t afraid to wake you up in the process of getting to and from bed. So I had already yelled at him once before it happened. Honestly, when it did happen, I didn’t even know who did it or what was going on. I was just scared. All the smoke got in my mouth, I was struggling to breathe, and all I thought was that I was literally dying and going to kill someone. I’m happy I didn’t swing on him, but my reaction itself was absolutely ridiculous. I wish I had better control of my emotions. I’m sure the wine didn’t help. Bear is someone who can get on my last nerve (laughs hard).
I mean, I like him, he’s funny. I love him as a person in small intervals. I can deal with him for an hour, but after that, he needs a time out
Q: In this game, you had a tough time because you had a massive target on your back. Do you ever feel like there is some resentment from other cast members, like Johnny, about the fact you are the all-time money winner in Challenge history? In a short span, you took a record and a win that people have devoted their entire lives towards.
Ashley: Honey, what do you think? People’s skins have turned green! Everyone is nice on the outside, but people just hate it. They want to take credibility away from my win, and they have deep-seated issues about it. I think they like me as a person, and I wish they could get over it and just understand that I’m loyal, personable, and don’t worry about my wins or bank account (laughs).
Q: One of my favorite aspects of your game is that you are underrated and know how to play it to your advant-
Ashley: You know what? I was good at playing the “I’m underrated, I don’t workout” card. Then last season, Tori blew my game up by saying I was the strongest girl on Team USA. Someone was like, “Ashley, you gotta give it up; nobody thinks you’re weak anymore.” I tried to argue that uh, I’m a little weak, but I wasn’t able to convince them, haha.
Q: Going on, in the vote for elimination, it felt like the relationship between you and Dee fell apart. What’s the status between the two of you now?
Ashley: Walking into that house, I knew I wasn’t in an alliance with Dee because she told me Jenny was her #1, and I knew Tori was her #2 because Jordan told me. I didn’t mind because she has to think for herself. We’re still really good friends. I try to take the game out of it, and we’re text messaging right now. The game is a game. She wanted a Red Skull, and she knew my head wasn’t in the game. I was also feeling butthurt about a lot of different things. She knew it was a good time to get me when I was emotionally low.
Q: Watching the elimination it kind of felt luck-based-
Ashley: OH, HONEY. I did not want to say it. But yes, yes it was (laughs).
Q: Especially watching, it was the luck of the draw as to which vase had a token in it at all. Not to take away from Dee, but I was wondering, “maybe Dee is running faster,” but overall, it didn’t seem like much of a difference.
Ashley: Yeah, we were going at the same pace. I was knocking a lot of vases down. I’m a believer in the law of attractions. Both of the seasons I won, I knew I was going to win. For some reason, I just wasn’t feeling good, and my energy level wasn’t there. Even though we were going at the same speed, I felt so behind the whole time. The Challenge Gods were not with me this time, but that’s okay. She is my friend, and I’m glad she got her Red Skull, and now she can make it to the final.
Q: Do you think the Red Skull twist is doing the opposite of its intent? To me, you’re not someone who coasts in the game because you play the social and political game skillfully. Yet, watching this season, I understand someone can put themselves in elimination after winning the daily to earn their Red Skull, but that doesn’t stop them from getting put in the next week. The Red Skull doesn’t give immunity to the player. Is it working at all?
Ashley: That’s the double-edged sword of it all. Another thing that dampened my spirits is that even if you get the Red Skull if people know you’ll be good in the final, they’re going to keep throwing my ass in there till I go home. So you want to get the Red Skull when it’s easier in theory still. TJ also did a number on us. He reiterated that the game wasn’t about politics, so my social game plans were out the window.
Q: Watching the daily challenges, I feel like people can coast more than ever because it’s tribunal or bust.
Ashley: That’s true. I’m ready for the Tribunal to be gone as a whole. I hate the tribunal.
Q: My last question. In a half-decade, you’ve been on about 10 Seasons of the Challenge (including spinoffs). You were part of an all-time famous alliance, are the all-time money winner, 2x Champion, and have a better resume than players that people consider “Legends,” how does that feel looking at the broad view?
Ashley: Don’t get me emotional; you know I’m a crybaby. I don’t even think about things like that usually as I have my head focused on the next challenge, how I can be better, both competition wise and as a person. Going on these shows really makes you grow in so many ways. Hearing you list all that makes me feel like you know what you’re talking about! I feel so grateful for MTV allowing a little girl from the middle of nowhere to live this dream of a life. Honey, I hope in the next five years, my records double and triple. You know my bank account will, haha.
Q: You know what? I have one more question that I need to ask for me. If you had to pick one Lavender Lady to come back to the Challenge, who would it be?
Ashley: Gosh, Shane makes such good TV. He’s THAT BITCH, and I love it. Sylvia is a good competitor, and she was so close to winning Final Reckoning. Then Amanda’s got that baby, so her ass ain’t coming back. I still would love her to come back and rip everyone apart like a hurricane one last time.
Probably Shane because he’s so messy and I love him.
Q: I wish everyone on Reality TV had a tiny bit of Shane in them.
Ashley: I think all of the Lavender Ladies do!
*goodbyes and thank you’s*
*end phone call*