Taylor is revealing why she’s shocked she made it to the end, how she’s reconciling with her bullies in the Big Brother house, and more in her interview with AfterBuzz TV.
History has been made in the Big Brother house! Taylor Hale set two new precedents as she became the first Black woman to win the show, and the first player ever to both win the game and earn the title of America’s Favorite Player in CBS’s long-running reality series.
Taylor is revealing why she’s shocked she made it to the end, how she’s reconciling with her bullies in the Big Brother house and more in her interview below:
AFTERBUZZ: How did you feel you would be received by America in the house? Does it compare to the huge fan base you actually ended up with coming out of the game?
TAYLOR: I had no idea that I was so well loved by the fan base. Honestly, coming into the game, I thought I did not deserve any love from the fans. I only just started watching this whole show last year with The Cookout. I’m not a super fan, I haven’t been invested in the game for years, and I come from the beauty pageant world. I thought people were gonna hate me. So opening up Twitter and seeing people have so many positive things to say, it completely shifted my perspective on my place in the game.
AFTERBUZZ: What was your reaction when Janet Jackson commented on your Instagram?
TAYLOR: I literally melted. I could go on and waste your time for hours and hours. I am such a Janet stan. I’ve been raised on her music. I’ve understood what it means to be a young girl through her music, an adult woman with her music. Her music is the soundtrack of my entire life, existence and being. So for her to acknowledge me, I’m over the moon. Over the moon. I am dying to meet her. Maybe one day I will. I love Janet.
AFTERBUZZ: Going back to the beginning of the game, what was your strategy going into the house and how did it change once you got in?
TAYLOR: My strategy going into the house was truly to relate to both the men and the women. I know that I have a more laid back personality, so I tend to get along with guys really easily. But also, I have no issues connecting with women typically, so it was really shocking for me when there was a lot of conflict there in the beginning. And I think it was very deeply personal and painful for me because I just won Miss Congeniality; 50 girls just voted me as the easiest person to get along with and root for. So it was this odd mind shift of, who am I? Am I a different person in this game? Am I being received differently? Have I changed something? But in that time, what was more important to me was just making sure that I could remedy those personal relationships, and it felt impossible. I was saved by a twist or the strike of God or something, but it gave me time to make sure that my strategy could be more social than physical.
AFTERBUZZ: After The Leftovers formed, you talked about how you still felt like you needed time to process a lot of the bullying you faced in the house. Now that you’re out, what do you think that that process is going to look like for you?
TAYLOR: It’s gonna be a long process. There’s so much positivity right now. There are people who send me threads of kindness and hilarious moments that I love to remember in the house because we had some good laughs in there, but then there are other Twitter threads that people will send me, and they’re literally labeled with one person’s name and every bad thing that they said about me. And they’re doing it to try to protect me, to not let me spend time with someone who’s so personally attacked me, but it really just takes me out of the positivity of all of it. So for my mental sanity, I just ask that people not only be kind to me, but also be kind to the other people who might have been different people in the game or might have succumbed to the worst part of themselves because it’s very easy to do in that house.
But what’s important to me outside of that is amongst all the terrible things that have been said– and I have seen some awful things–what’s more important to me is people taking accountability. I don’t want anyone to double down on their wrongness. I would rather someone say, “I was very wrong and I’m so sorry.” And I’m much more willing to work with someone who’s willing to do that than refuse to acknowledge what happened. So it’s going to be a long road, but if anybody who was in this house will do that, then I can respect it and reevaluate their relationship there.
AFTERBUZZ: It seemed like from the way that you were received after you won, that everyone was really excited and proud of you. But are there any conversations that you still feel like you need to have to work things out with certain players in the house?
TAYLOR: Yeah, I think everybody except for Joseph, Michael and Brittany. Indy has been really good, Nicole’s been really good and Ameerah has been really good about proactively getting into those conversations. Jasmine’s with her husband and I’m not mad at her about that. Like, she can pick up the phone and tell me later. She’s trying to get some time with her husband and we all know she loves her some Pooh-Pooh. But those three have been really proactive about taking ownership of what they’ve said, and apologizing and wanting to build a bridge. I think it’s gonna be really painful when I do actually watch the episodes, because I do want to see some, but knowing that they acknowledge what has happened, I’m more willing to have those conversations now. And Kyle of course, as well. So we’ll see what it looks like for the rest of the people. Oh, and Turner; Turner’s just a goofball. I love that kid, so we’re fine.
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AFTERBUZZ: Speaking of the finale, your final speech was one of the best in Big Brother history, if not the best of all time. What was your thought process like, figuring out what you were going to say?
TAYLOR: About a day and a half before, all I could think was my resume is not as strong as these two guys. I knew at that point I’m not going to be the one who is choosing between these two men who I am taking to the final two seats. So I just thought, if all I have is the case of what my journey in this game has been, if the reason why I came into this game is to literally paint the picture of what it means to be a woman of color working through the world, my experience in this game has done nothing but lay that out. And we see that this game comes down to mechanics so often, but I wanted people to understand that there’s another way you can win this game. And I’ve always been forthright in who I am. So to literally start at the very rock bottom, go through the path that I went through and just be able to narrate that in the end and have it resonate, that was what was most important to me. And I even said in the speech, Monte is a really strong competitor, but I’m not going to sit here and not advocate for myself just because I’m sitting next to a strong competitor, and thankfully it worked out.
AFTERBUZZ: It’s really interesting because when you look at a lot of the greats of the game like Dr. Will, he prided himself on being on the block as much as possible and not having to win competitions unless he needed to. But you were in a position where you really had to answer a lot of tough questions about what you did do in the game, because you didn’t win as many comps. Do you feel like there’s a little bit of gender bias, where often the men who are the biggest “physical threats” in the game are the ones who are seen as the most competitive and the most worthy of winning?
TAYLOR: There’s a lot of gender bias in this game and you know, thankfully I won the wall so I had a really strong comp I could back things up with. I had a mental comp I could back things up with, but regardless of what the comps are, if a man won them, he’s naturally going to get more credit. That’s just how the history of the game and what the history of the game has shown. And sure, Dr. Will may have sat on the block a bunch of times, but–correct me if I’m wrong–maybe it’s because he had more social dominance that put him in a position where he was confident he could navigate it, or he orchestrated it so that was possible for him. Again, I could be wrong, but I think that’s maybe more sort of the case where I was, for the most part, being pawned a lot of the time because people felt like they just could get rid of me whenever they wanted to. But that gave me time and in giving me time, that’s where they messed up because I was able to build strong relationships and redeem myself. And I had to because I was not seen as a threat in the same way that the guys were. So there’s so many different ways that gender bias comes across in this game and I think that my ability to show that arc and very specifically articulate it during my speech, I hope that that will change the case in the future.
AFTERBUZZ: You had a really tough path to the end. Was getting to the end with Monte and Turner your ideal path to the end? Or were you surprised that that’s what led you to winning?
TAYLOR: I was shocked that that’s what led me to winning. I was very, very committed to Brittany, Monte and I getting to the end. I just thought that Turner’s game was too strong. Regardless of his poor jury management, I thought that this jury in particular was going to look at numbers and statistics and say, this is where the win will go. And if it came to me, Monte and Brittany, I knew that I was strong enough where I could beat Monte in the end, and Brittany and I could sit next to each other having similar games with different arguments.
Personally, it was important for me to have majority women in the final three. Sitting and fighting against Monte and Turner was my worst nightmare because I was positive that in that final three I was signing up for second place; no chance of anything else happening. I don’t have words. I don’t have words for how much it surprised me that my experience in the game was seen as a valid way to the end and a valid means of triumph. It still rattles my mind. Even though I see it as valid now, it still blows my mind.
AFTERBUZZ: The Cookout was a huge inspiration for you. What has it been like meeting them?
TAYLOR: They keep telling me I’m the seventh member of The Cookout. I’m like, “Shut up. Y’all did it first.” They are very protective of me because of everything that I shouldered. I was one person taking on all of that, whereas they were six different people that were allowed to exist in their different forms and have different relationships. And I know it’s been very hard for them watching me throughout the season. It’s been hard for them to see me interacting with the people of my season now that we’re outside of the house, because they know. They know not only because they know personally, and they saw it too. They’re so protective. They will literally pull me away at group gatherings and check on my mental health. They will make sure I’m eating and sleeping and not just running on adrenaline, which I am. I am just running on adrenaline right now. They’re a loving, just transformative bunch of people, and to be an honorary member in any capacity or change the game in a way that they did, it’s truly the greatest reward. I don’t even think $800,000 can equate to what The Cookout and I have done for the game. But it feels pretty good.
AFTERBUZZ: If you could give one piece of advice to future players, what would it be?
TAYLOR: Be adaptable. Be adaptable, and when you are HOH, do anything to protect your own game. Do not worry about your alliance, because what’s good for your game is good for your alliance.
Big Brother will be back for season 25 next summer, but until then, keep up with the show’s latest news and read interviews with all of the season 24 players at AfterBuzz TV!