This past week, I was lucky enough to have MTV set up time for an interview with Tori Deal to talk about her experience on the upcoming Spies, Lies & Allies. We talk about her rough elimination losses, the new rookies on this season, her Challenge podcast, and a whole lot more.
This is a transcript of our conversation with some small edits for functionality here and there. Also, I interviewed her back in early 2020 if you wanna see the difference between now and then:
The Challenge Total Madness Interview: Tori Deal
This past week, I was lucky enough to have MTV set up time for an interview with Tori Deal to talk about her experience…
Q: Hey, Tori are you doing today?
Tori: Hi, Allan. I’m great. How are you?
Q: I’m doing well! So … I interviewed you 18 months ago when the pandemic first started and two seasons later, it’s fair to say a lot has changed.
Tori: The most has changed. It’s been a whirlwind of a life storm, but yeah, I feel good. I feel better than ever. So I’m thankful for all of the growth that’s happened over the past couple of months.
Q: For you, this conversation is a lot different than it was going into Double Agents or Total Madness. Fresh off of War of the worlds 2, you had a phenomenal season, and expectations were high. Then the next two seasons play out sub optimally. You’re coming off two tough early elimination losses and that has to be tough because you’re a competitor, you’re a good athlete and you’re in great shape. Do you have a chip on your shoulder going into this season or ae you keeping the same mindset you’ve always had?
Tori: This season was actually so different. I think last time I was trying to force it and push the outcome of being that bad ass girl and killing it in that spot that I know I can. But like before it felt like I was trying so hard to make it happen that I think I was forcing it too hard. This season, I literally went on and I was like, you know what, whatever happens happens. I’ve already dealt with incredible wins. I’ve dealt with really hard losses. I’m just going to go in there and be way more humbled than I had been the last two seasons. Hopefully the universe will be on my side and that’s the way I had to play it because I just felt, I feel like I’m a character now who has been on a few shows and now people and rookies especially kind of see me and immediately see a threat. So I have to downplay myself or else I’m going to be thrown into elimination. That’s kind of how I went into the season. I literally just played it way cooler than ever before and it honestly ended up being my favorite season ever.
Q: That’s really awesome to hear. Do you think part of it is also not having the Red Skull twist this season around? I think when you have your mindset focused on having to win an elimination, you may start to overthink all the political and social plays.
Tori: Absolutely. When I found out that there wasn’t a Red Skull twist, I was so happy because you don’t have to look at people as, okay, I want to go against this person. Instead, you get to just play the avoid elimination game, which is super important. That is the original way the game is meant to be played, play hard on politics, make a lot of friends, avoid elimination, and make it to the end. That is something you can resort to now, again. It was refreshing. It definitely made the season easier and I definitely didn’t overthink it as much for sure.
Q: I will say from last season, there was a moment where you helped out Fessy to get his Skull and threw him in against Nelson. That is a big moment in this show’s history, and for you personally as it probably affected your relationship with multiple people: Fessy, Nelson, and Devin. Where do you stand with all those guys right now?
Tori: Yeah, it was definitely and still is something interesting to climb back from. Nelson and I from that have the most as collateral damage. He was super hurt by that and I can totally understand. So I have a lot of work to do on that relationship to get that friendship back. Me and Devin … you know, we had our beef and like he talked a lot of shit about me in the interviews. Then we ended up going to Mexico with Josh and some other friends and we became so close. Devin is my number one guy in the game. He literally is like one of my closest friends now. It’s just crazy how things can change season to season. As for Fessy… you know, we had our drama, but I think that it ended up being so heavy for me, believe it or not, I hated the way that it was talked about on social media and the way people kind of made their own stories about it, that I distanced myself so far from that story, it’s not even funny. Fessy and I are still friends, just at a distance. Devin and I are very close. Nelson and I are better than we were before.
Q: I got to say, you and Devin, you guys worked actually really well in that challenge you won together. One of the things that always impressed me is , you always have been a really good teammate and whether it be with Devin, with Jordan on Dirty 30, or on Champs vs Stars with Lil Mama, you’re really good at listening and communicating based on your partners needs. I think a lot of people assume that there’s going to be a partner element to this game. How much does teamwork matter on the Challenge?
Tori: Oh my God, communicating with our partners is so important and learning who brings what to the table is key. People don’t realize just because you’re a good athlete doesn’t mean that you’re a good strategist and that’s the reason why Devin and I worked so well together is because his main skill is strategy. Mine is probably my physical ability and really strong cardio. I have great endurance. So when you put somebody like me and Devin together, we really balance each other out. If you have two people who are really good athletes, but not necessarily the best strategists, then they’re probably not going to be successful. Learning how to be a partner and how to balance each other out is key. The hard thing about this season was there were so many new people that a lot them didn’t even know their strengths coming into the game. It was very interesting trying to figure out how to work with certain people.
Q: Talking about the new people, I’ve been doing a lot of research. The last three weeks, I’ve been watching clips of shows in languages I don’t know and been translating them. On social media, a lot of fans are like who are these rookies? Having done the research, I was actually entertained by a lot of these rookie as they are really charismatic and impressive. Like what do you, what do you have to say about the new crop?
Tori: The rookies this season were fucking phenomenal. Who found them? I don’t know. I was so happy and was so grateful that I was able to be competing against people who were so respectful of the game. They absolutely loved it. They played with all their hearts and you see some true stars this season. I feel so lucky that I got to see… Ooh, I don’t want to say names because I don’t want to spoil anything. I think back to watching certain people compete in eliminations and I was like, wow, I know I’m watching true legends in the making this season. Even though there’s a lot of new faces, you’re going to fall in love with so many of them. So it’s going to be fun to watch.
Q: I might be allowed to throw like a potential interesting name at you and you give me just a little tidbit. First off, Berna, she’s trained in ballet and acrobatics.
Tori: We were scared. We were terrified. She’s a monster and she proves it. You’ll see her do her thing. She’s a physical beast. Not only that, she’s definitely not boring. The girl brings spice and fire to the show and she has a really powerful energy. I loved watching a strong woman come on the show and just be so honest. She is so unapologetically herself. She does have beef with a few people, but that’s what makes a good contender on the show. So Berna is definitely somebody to watch out for.
Q: Okay, Esther, she became a lawyer at 21 years old.
Tori: Yeah. Esther is brilliant. Like you can’t sleep on anybody. I learned that in Double Agents when I called somebody weak and then went home early. So I definitely came into the season expecting anybody to be good at anything. Esther is so smart and also an incredible strategist. So she is also somebody to look out for.
Q: Someone who I saw one photo of and I don’t know if she’s ever played a sport, but you look at her body and she just look impressive, Priscilla. She has that natural muscle tone.
Tori: Priscilla as well. Very athletic. She can move her body. Great personality. Priscilla did some really cool things as a season. She made a super controversial move this season. It was awesome. Not bad controversial, but in the game, she definitely brought some fire to the show. Those are definitely the three names you just brought up that people have to watch out for.
Q: I’m excited. I’ve made a 180 on this cast, whereas before I was like most fans wondering who they were, and now I’m wondering how MTV even managed to get them.
Tori: The only reason why people are probably not as interested in the cast yet is because they haven’t done the research like you, they haven’t let themselves just take it in. Believe me, the Challenge has been on for 37 seasons. The rookies are bringing heat. These producers know how to cast people who bring the heat, so trust the process, trust the show and get ready. This season is literally my favorite season ever.
[Tori and I had a four minute conversation about soccer at this point in the interview, but my audio recorder had some malfunctions. For the purpose of this article, I will be omitting that portion. Some fun details: Emanuel was a goalie growing up, and Logan also plays.]
Q: So of course, we all know that you now host the official MTV Challenge Podcast. How has that affected your relationship with other cast members on the show? How has it changed the way you socially and politically get to play the game?
Tori: So last season it wasn’t that bad because I had only been there for a few episodes. There were some interesting conversations that had to be had on the podcast. This season, I’m definitely gonna have some awkward conversations coming on the podcast. I’m kind of nervous about them. When I’m playing the game, I’m not playing with the podcast in mind, but I mean, this is what I signed up for. So whatever I have to talk about, whatever beef needs to be squashed or whatever we have to hash out, it’s going to happen between this show and the podcast. I might not really like it, it might feel awkward at times, but I know for us, I’m willing to do it.
Q: I don’t think this would happen, but has anyone on the show ever got into like a verbal fight with you and thrown a cheap shot like, :oh, and I’m not coming on your podcast type thing.”
Tori: Nobody did this season, but there was definitely that element in the reunion of Double Agents where people were like, “oh I’m no listening to that whack podcast.” I was like, okay, cool, whatever dude. Ultimately, it’s not just my podcast, so I can’t take it personally. MTV put us in this position. There’s a team of people who let this podcast happen.
Q: Going off on a tangent a bit here. Something I noticed when digging through your social media, I saw that you are writing children’s books now, how did you get into that?
Tori: Actually, it’s so funny. I started to write and conceptualize my children’s books on Dirty 30. I was sitting in the bunker or not the bunker. It was just down time. I was so bored and I’m a creative person, and you know, we don’t have any outlets to express ourselves. So I was like alright, I’m just going to take this pen and storyboard a book, then put it down for a year and a half and then picked it back up. Then one day, I was like you know what, I’m going to finish it and then just finished it. So I put out one kid’s book, it’s called the Search for Syrup. So if you ever get the opportunity to buy it for a kid or for yourself, for your inner child? It would mean the world to me and check out what I created when I was super bored.
The Adventures of Bumble Pea and Koala Pear: The Search For Syrup (1)
Amazon.com: The Adventures of Bumble Pea and Koala Pear: The Search For Syrup (1) (9780578595610): Deal, Tori, Becker…
Q: Love that. Also, I don’t know if you know this anecdote, but that’s really dangerous to do in a Challenge house because Sarah Rice back in the day had a children’s book idea that she told everyone in the house. Then one of her fellow cast members stole the idea and made the book.
Tori: No way. I didn’t know that. Oh my God. That’s insane. The good thing about it is, I worked on it and made it, but then I went home and really worked on it at home. It was just kind of created there. So I’m happy nobody stole it from me.
Q: So the last time I interviewed you, one of the questions that I always ask everyone and people kind of try to tip toe around it... Who is the most overrated player on the challenge and the most underrated? It could be current, past, et cetera.
Tori: Oh, God.
Q:If it makes you feel better. You had Kaycee as underrated last time. She’s since gone on to be one of the best players on the show. So you nailed that one.
Tori: Yeah. She is still in my opinion, one of the best female competitors to ever touch the show. I used to have a question mark around working with Kaycee just because obviously she’s so lethal and she’s very intimidating, but getting to know her more this season and just growing my respect for her as a competitor, I mean, she’s incredible and seriously an amazing contributor to the show. For overrated, I don’t know, it is going to create too much drama. Can I say myself? Can I just say myself and play down?
Q: You can totally do that.
Tori: You guys, I’m the most overrated person on the show and that’s all I’ll say.
Q: So who do you have is your underrated?
Tori: That is Devin Walker. He has come into his own like no other guy. For real, he has come a long way. Honestly, you’re going to understand when you watch this season. The growth that you make while doing these shows every single time you go on, you learn how you’re perceived. You go home, you correct it. You come back a little bit better and then imagine how much better you can come back after six. He definitely did that this season.
Q: That’s good to know. Devin was a highlight of last season. So to hear he’s doing even better this season is awesome. Before we end this interview, what’s something you want people to know about Double Agents or even just yourself.
Tori: The one thing I have to say is that this next season is like multiple seasons. You’re going to get so many twists guys. It’s going to be impossible, not to be addicted to the season and just continue to watch it because it gets better and better and better and better.