Big Brother’s Taylor Hale Made Reality TV History – But She Swears She’s Not A Saint

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
The premise of CBS’s summer reality show Big Brother is simple enough: take about a dozen strangers from across the country and throw them together in a house built on a soundstage in Los Angeles for around ninety days. Then, sprinkle in 94 cameras, 113 microphones watching and recording their every move, and dangle a life-changing cash prize for the last person standing, and you have yourself some good tv.
This social experiment has had viewers rapt for 24 seasons. It’s hard to explain why it’s such a compelling watch —  maybe it’s the constant surveillance, or the alliances built  between the houseguests to protect them from eviction or  it’s the over-the-top games and competitions with new twists to keep players on their toes throughout the season. But year after year, millions of viewers tune in from mid-summer into the fall to cheer on (or shade) their houseguests of choice until the last one standing  is declared the winner.
For over two decades, no Black houseguest had ever won an American Big Brother season. In 2021, after the most dominant alliance in the show’s history consisting of six Black players — aptly named The Cookout Xavier Prather, a lawyer from Kalamazoo, Michigan, emerged victorious and became the first Black winner in BB history. Xavier’s victory was a poignant and emotional moment for so many enthusiastic but long-suffering Black Big Brother fans. As a Black woman superfan who also watches the corresponding live feeds (24-hour/ 7 days a week, the ultimate surveillance), I was thrilled with Xavier’s win last year; I was also nervous coming into Big Brother’s summer 2022 season. It took an alliance of six Black people to make history — would we ever get  that  intentionality from houseguests again? And while it was great to see Xavier take home the prize, could a Black woman ever win this game? If it took 21 years to wait for a Black winner, how long would we have to wait for a Black woman to be crowned?
Fortunately for us, Taylor Hale knows a thing or two about being crowned.
Last month, after 82 days and outlasting 15 of her fellow houseguests,  Hale, a 27-year-old stylist and Miss Michigan USA 2021 from Detroit, Michigan, emerged triumphant (in a bedazzled bodysuit, naturally) as the winner of Big Brother 24. Taylor also made history as the only winner to be awarded the coveted America’s Favorite Houseguest title, voted on by the fanbase, which makes her the winningest Big Brother player of all time, cashing out with $800,000.
For many Big Brother fans, Hale’s win isn’t just historic, it’s karmic justice. Since day one, Hale was treated unfairly in the house. The majority of her  fellow houseguests mistreated her and some actively bullied her. From comments about her appearance, to l body shaming and calling her a bitch, to a white player wishing to establish an all-white alliance to block the HouseGuests of color from becoming allies, viewers watched in horror as Hale appeared to be the punching bag of the house. However, due to her social prowess, strategy, and many competition wins, Taylor outlasted eviction six times — a record for an eventual winner — and has been met with an outpouring of love from celebrities, brands, and an army of fans, including me.
As I was watching Hale navigate the toxic Big Brother house, I kept going back to Malcolm X’s famous words: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” This quote resonated strongly for me throughout Hale’s time in the Big Brother house. I knew she deserved respect, protection and attention. In the aftermath of her win, she now rightly has all three. Here, Hale talks to Unbothered about finally being in control of her narrative, the hate she received in the house, and how her mom reacted to the show. 
Unbothered: Before we even get into the interview, I just want to check your temperature. How have you been feeling?
Taylor Hale: I've been good! A lot of people are like, “Don’t watch the show, protect yourself,” but I’m the type of person that just needs all the information to be able to move forward. So I’m slowly working my way through the show, and the more I watch, the more validated and justified I feel by a lot of my actions and who I’ve chosen to keep in my circle. And on the flip side, I walked out of this crazy experiment and I have love and support that I didn’t even think possible given my experience, so I’m doing really well.
Photo: courtesy of CBS.
I know that you’re a girl’s girl. In the house, you would talk a lot about the women in your life who were closest to you, like your friends Chioma and Raven. On Twitter, fans were able to interact with them all season, and it was great to see people humanize you as a person and as a friend, despite the narratives being told in the house. What advice did they give you before going into the house, and were there any moments in particular where you were like, “I wish I had a girlfriend to talk to about this situation?”
TH: Oh my god, I mean, from day one, I wish I had my girls! Raven is a super fan, and Chioma is a fan of the show. I was just kind of plugged into this world and did my own research a couple of months before coming in. They were like, “Do not have me out here looking stupid! I cannot tell people you’re my best friend!” And then here I am, sitting on the block the first week! They told me a lot about keeping my ears open and my mouth shut. There’s value in being intuitive and perceptive about the things around you.

I don’t extend kindness to people all the time. I had to because of the circumstances that I was placed in that house... I just didn’t have time for the bullshit. I had to prioritize my mental sanity and my well-being.

taylor hale
There are two times I really wish I had my girls. Obviously, with the Daniel confrontation. If my friends were here, I’d have to hold them back! But at least I could go into a back room and have the people who know me to my core. Because even in the middle of that confrontation, it wasn't just me being unfairly blamed for something that I had nothing to do with; it was also my character being heavily called into question in front of the entire house, with nobody really saying anything to defend me at that moment.
But also, [I needed my girls] toward the end of the season when it was just me, Monte [Taylor], and [Matthew] Turner. If I had to hear one more conversation about podcasts and finance! They love their own voices! And look, I can hang, but sometimes I would go into the [diary room] like, “let me in, I can’t do it!” Yeah, I needed my girls then, for sure.
I saw your tweet the other night reminding people that you have a full range of emotions, not just kindness and patience. And I thought about you having to be this super gracious, Buddha-like figure all season. What spurred that particular tweet from you?
Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty Images.
TH: That’s actually a really good question. I’ve gotten these comments since I left the house, in my face and online from people saying, “I’ve learned to be a better person from you.” And I’m like, “I ain’t no saint, by any means.” I was shady in that house, and I hope it was picked up on the feeds! This idea that I am this ‘Buddha-like figure’ [is wrong]. I don’t extend kindness to people all the time. I had to because of the circumstances that I was placed in that house. And sometimes, I just didn’t have time for the bullshit. I had to prioritize my mental sanity and my well-being so I could deal with other people’s BS.
My fear is that now I have this saint-like personality. The second that I get a little shady, or maybe clap back a bit, now [it will be like] “Oh, she is the person everyone thought she was in the beginning.” When really, I’m just a normal human being, just a carefree Black girl. So, I am concerned and nervous for when that moment happens, but I’ll be ready for it.
Last time I checked, Black women have the whole deck of emotions, so I have enjoyed it when you’ve gotten zesty and shady! I didn’t know what prompted that tweet, but I know that there has been so much emotional labor for you, and you’ve labored enough. You should be allowed to be who you are in any moment.
TH: Thank you. I’ve seen some responses from people who are surprised by the things that I like or retweet, but that’s always my personality. I’m just messy! I’ve always been messy on Twitter because I love it.
Speaking of Twitter, it was great to see Ms. Jeannette [Taylor’s mother, Jeannette Dickens] on Twitter, really just going up for her baby, counting down the days, and asking for positivity.  A lot of us who were seeing the harm happening to you — particularly Black women — were checking in on your mom to see how she was doing. So I want to know, what was that first post-show download from her? Also, how has she been healing from all that she had to watch her baby go through?
TH: People have told me they had to talk her off a ledge! And now I’m like, ”Don’t worry, I don’t just have $750,000, I have $800,000 — it’s okay, we’re good!” The first download was crazy! She runs out, hugs me, I hug my grandma, and says, ”You have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, and Lay’s [potato chips] has been tweeting you! And I’m just like, ”Hi, I haven’t seen you in 80-something days!” [laughs].
Photo: courtesy of CBS.
But then when I saw her after doing some press that night, I could just see  the excitement and the exhaustion in her face and my grandma’s face.  It just clicked for me then. When I saw her at the Miss USA competition, it was clear how taxing this experience had been, not just for me but for her and her now fiance. My mom is doing okay. She’s still very concerned about me rewatching the season and being around the people that I was in the house with. I want to do everything I can not to stress her out, so I’m taking her on vacation very soon because I’m good for it now!
There has been a ton of discussion online about your romantic life post-Big Brother [Hale has been linked to fellow BB player Joseph Adbin]. In interviews, you have discussed not wanting to trauma bond in a relationship, that you need to do inner work first. How would you recommend, particularly for Black women, establishing a relationship that's based on healing?
TH: I’ve been in relationships where I was going just to take a chance or fall into something because it was in front of me, but they didn’t work out because I wasn’t intentional. What I wanted my endgame to be wasn’t deliberate, and I’ve learned from those mistakes —  now, after going through this experience that is so overwhelming and consuming, to have found someone [like Joseph] who is incredible, valuable, and is just an amazing human being is great, but I don’t want to start or entertain anything if I am not healed because I don’t want someone else to heal me. I’ve been in relationships where I have been expected to be a good woman and manage someone’s trauma and healing at my expense. I don’t want to be the person who does that for somebody else, and I don’t expect to enter a relationship to be that for someone else. So it’s about knowing my value; my contribution to our relationship is not in being partnered, it is not in healing someone else — it is about the value they can add in tandem to what I already have as a whole human being.

After going through this experience that is so overwhelming and consuming, to have found someone [like Joseph] who is incredible, valuable, and is just an amazing human being is great, but I don’t want to start or entertain anything if I am not healed because I don’t want someone else to heal me.

taylor hale
Let’s say it’s exactly one year from today. Big Brother 25 has wrapped. What are you doing? What is the ideal, average day for Taylor Hale, winner of Big Brother and AFP?
TH: I’ll probably be living in Chicago, LA, Scottsdale, or Houston – a major city like that. I’ll have my own condo; I’ll have a little Goldendoodle, probably a Ford electric Mustang. I wake up, go to Pilates, and  then it’s self-care –  a beautiful shower and check intentions for the day. I check social media. I’ll have my own podcast, and maybe I’ll go film at an entertainment news studio. I record my podcast for the day, come back home, and maybe shoot some content for a YouTube channel. I want to be in a space that’s uplifting for Black women. I want to create a space for myself where I am involved in the world of media. I love pop culture so much. I think people devalue it because it’s consumed primarily by women, and I want to fully embrace that space. And then I want to come home and do a nice little rundown — a glass of wine or Martinelli’s apple cider because I love that stuff. Housewives, face mask, then [sleep in a] giant bed. 
Thank you for reaching out to Black creatives; we all just want to get to know this person who is representing us better. You’re not a perfect person, but you’re the people’s champ, so we’re just really excited to support you — however that looks, we’re gonna ride!
TH: It’s giving Kamala Harris’s campaign for the people! I did this for us. I am here because of us, so who am I to completely alienate the people who rode for me? I am here for y’all because y’all are here for me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.

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