Trishelle Cannatella Breaks Down Her Faithful Strategy on 'The Traitors'

The season 2 winner dishes on all the secrets behind the Peacock reality hit.

trishelle cannatella sits at the breakfast table during 'the traitors' season 2
(Image credit: Euan Cherry/Peacock)

Warning: Spoilers for The Traitors season 2 finale ahead. By the final episode of Peacock’s hit reality show The Traitors, it becomes clear that Trishelle Cannatella was always one season 2’s most Faithful contestants. Throughout the devious murder-mystery game, the Louisiana native—who’s best known for her appearances on The Real World and The Challenge franchise, as well as winning Fear Factor—split her time between contributing her skills to the weekly challenges and working with her clique of “Most Faithful of the Faithful” players to track down Traitors. Despite finding herself directly in the crosshairs of Traitors Parvati Shallow and Phaedra Parks near the end of the game, she outlasted them both and found herself among the final contestants in the running for the $250,000 prize pot in the March 7 finale.

Speaking to Marie Claire, Cannatella recalled that when entering host Alan Cumming’s grand Scottish castle, she was whole-heartedly committed to her competitive "Gamer" attitude. “Every single person [was] my personal competition. It was me against everybody, even [fellow Challenge alums Johnny] Bananas and [Chris] C.T. [Tamburello].” However, her time on The Traitors changed Cannatella in several ways—particularly with how she will approach her future reality show appearances. “There's a time and a place for competition,” she says of the lesson that The Traitors taught her. “You don't have to be in that mode the entire time.”

trishelle cannatella and alan cumming sit next to a table of gold coins in 'the traitors' season 2

Trishelle Cannatella and Alan Cumming discuss the Challenge alum's strategy in The Traitors season 2 premiere.

(Image credit: Euan Cherry/Peacock)

Below, Cannatella chats with Marie Claire about the finale’s twists and turns, what she would’ve done as a Traitor, and where she and C.T. stand post-filming.

Marie Claire: What were your thoughts when you first heard about The Traitors and got the opportunity to join? 

Trishelle Cannatella: I watched all the rest of the seasons, except for U.K. season two. I loved Traitors season one in the U.S. I love [season one winner] Cirie; I'm a huge fan of hers from all the other shows she's done. I was so excited when I got the opportunity. And then when I saw everyone, I was like, I am not as famous as these people. How am I here? It was just cool to even be a part of that iconic cast.

Did you ever wish you had been chosen as a Traitor? 

TC: So I did, at first, wish that I would've been a Traitor, and then I kind of wanted to be recruited while I was in the castle. But after watching the show and seeing how nervous Kate was having to switch over from being a Faithful to a Traitor, and seeing how even Queen Phaedra at the end started to just get gassed out—I could just tell she was like, I'm done—if those two were having an issue, I probably would've never been able to be a Traitor. Even Dan and Parvati were having a rough time and they're huge Gamers. It just seems so stressful. 

If you were a Traitor, would you also have immediately murdered Johnny Bananas?

TC: No! I said at breakfast, ‘That is the dumbest move. Why would you guys murder him right away?’ I would've probably murdered somebody like John, because I hadn't even had many conversations with him, and he's British—I don't know. I would've kept Johnny until at least the middle and then just let his mouth get him in trouble. Somebody would banish him because of something he said.

trishelle cannatella and ct tamburello sit at the breakfast table with shocked expressions, on 'the traitors' season 2

Cannatella and Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello get a surprise at breakfast, during The Traitors season 2.

(Image credit: Euan Cherry/Peacock)

The beginning of the show is always just a grab bag full of chaos.

TC: It was really hard. Honestly, the Peppermint banishment was difficult. I cried for an hour and a half after that. It's so hard in the beginning. You just assume everything with people. One weird look, one weird breathing thing. You have nothing to go off of. There's no concrete evidence until maybe the end of the game.

You’re fearless, so I would imagine that the challenges were maybe an easier aspect to the show. What was the most stressful part: the Round Table or waking up every morning wondering if you had been “murdered”?

TC: I was afraid of getting murdered every single night. That's all I could talk about or think about. As far as the challenges go in The Traitors, I was actually surprised at how difficult some of them were. They cut it down and condense it, so you guys are only seeing a short amount of time. The Scarecrow one was so long. There was one that we had to cross a freezing cold river, and the water was up to Phaedra's neck, almost. People were falling. It was really brutal. Not as dangerous as The Challenge, but it was definitely hard.

I do have to ask about you and C.T., because there's a complicated history there, and you two had some tough moments throughout the game. During the finale Round Table, you both were allies, but there was a switch-up when he decided to vote for Sandra. How did you feel at that moment?

TC: I was very confused because we had a set plan. I know that Sandra's dangerous. I know that she's won Survivor two times, but I started to really like her. As much as I knew that Sandra was going to come back and bite us in the butt in the end, I wanted her to keep her around. So I was very disappointed when he voted her out, and then I had to go along with it, because you don't want to be the odd man out. I started to have a little bit of distrust right there.

four people (l-r, Chris C.T. Tamburello, Mercedes "MJ" Javid, Alan Cumming, and Trishelle Cannatella) stand around a table of gold coins in a castle garden, in season 2 of 'the traitors'

Host Alan Cumming (center) with the final 3 players (l-r: C.T. Tamburello, Mercedes "MJ" Javid, and Trishelle Cannatella) in The Traitors season 2 finale.

(Image credit: Peacock)

That distrust eventually came to light at the final ceremony, when you voted to banish again after getting Kate out. Did you have a moment where you thought about ending the game with you, C.T., and MJ?

No, because Alan—who is very convincing by the way—was walking around the fire pit and he was like, 'There's three left, and one of you could still be a traitor.' The way he said it, I was like, He's trying to give me a hint, even though he absolutely wasn't. My mind was just turning. I started to go back on all these things. Sandra was in my head saying, C.T. could be your Traitor Angel. Phaedra was mine, I think C.T. was yours. I started thinking: Maybe he didn't like my torch at the ceremony because he was a Traitor. He had been recruited and he knew he wasn't going to murder me, so I didn't need to be safe. Maybe he showed me where the shield was because he didn't need a shield, because he was a Traitor. And then when he voted out Sandra, I was like, Oh my God, I think he's a Traitor. So that's why I wrote his name down the first time.

And then you said on the show, the second time, it was just too hard?

Yeah, literally. I was like, 'He could be a Traitor but I am going to give him $250,000 because I never want to see that look on his face toward me again ever.' He looked so hurt. I was like, 'Give him everything.' But luckily he wasn't a Traitor and we got to win it together.

How did your relationship with C.T. evolve from when you first saw him in the castle at the start of the show, to the end of this intense competition?

When I first laid eyes on C.T. at the castle, I was a little bit nauseous. I was like, I could be the first one to go. Him and Bananas are going to team up against me, and that's it. We weren't really on the same page, but the first conversation I had with C.T., I noticed so much growth. He's a dad now. He's matured a lot. He's a great person. And I was like, we need to give each other a new chance and start off on a new foot. Then leaving the castle, I just feel like I have a brother. I feel so grateful that I got to see this side of him, and play this game with him, and especially to win with him. It just gives me the warm and fuzzies.

There's a time and a place for competition. You don't have to be in that mode the entire time.

Besides C.T., do you still talk to the other players, including your squad that I like to call the “Most Faithfuls” (Peter, John, Bergie, and Kevin)?

Peter and Bergie and I talk all the time. We're on a group chat, so I was texting with them yesterday. Janelle and I are good friends. Sandra, she randomly just calls me and says the funniest stuff ever. I love that girl so much. I've talked to Phaedra and Shereé. I had a little conversation with Peppermint too. I talk to pretty much everyone.

What was it like watching the season back and seeing the Traitors' thought process throughout the entire game?

That was the most fun part of watching the show: to see what happened in the turret and how they were coming to their decisions on the murders, because that was my biggest question. I'm like, Wait, why Marcus? Why this person? Why Tamara? It was a little frustrating because Dan was behind a lot of it. I will say that the reunion was a lot more dramatic than I anticipated. People were angry.

Were there any lessons you learned about yourself during The Traitors?

I came into the castle like I was on The Challenge. I was in competition mode, thinking, Every single person here is my personal competition. It was me against everybody, even Bananas and C.T. right when I got in there. I didn't really get the chance to see that people like Peppermint had this big platform that she wanted to talk about during the show, and that it was important for her to represent the trans community on a show like this. I felt terrible when she stood up and said she was a Faithful and explained what she was there to do. I didn't even think about it like that, and I wish that I had. So I think that going forward, doing these shows, I'm going to take more into consideration the actual person and less the competition side of it. There's a time and a place for competition. You don't have to be in that mode the entire time. You can also get to know people and relax a little. Like Phaedra said, I was a little frantic in the castle. So the next time that I do a show, [I'll] be less frantic, more relaxed, and get to know people a little bit more and learn why they're there.

Phaedra Parks, Chris C.T. Tamburello, and Trishelle Cannatella (front) with Peter Weber and Ekin-Su Culculoglu (back) during The Traitors Season 2 Reunion

Phaedra Parks, Chris C.T. Tamburello, and Trishelle Cannatella (front); with Peter Weber and Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu (back) during The Traitors season 2 reunion.

(Image credit: Chris Haston/PEACOCK)

Who else from The Challenge do you think would be great for The Traitors

I think Aneesa. I love Aneesa. She's really savvy and she gives great one-liners. I think Beth S. (Stolarczyk). I was telling C.T. earlier, she has a villain laugh. It's like the Wicked Witch. Just her laugh alone echoing through the castle would give people nightmares. 

Would you ever consider entering the Bravo side on any of the shows? Like maybe as a Housewife? Housewives of New Orleans would be fun. 

I would love to do a Bravo show. There have been rumblings of a possible Housewives of New Orleans. I would absolutely love to do it. That would be super fun. New Orleans is overdue for a show.

I [also] want to do more shows with the same production company that does The Traitors, because I had the best time. They did great on casting. I would even do a Big Brother-type show. It seems a little long, but I don't know. I'm open. I'll see what opportunities present themselves.

Quinci LeGardye
Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.