This one hurt. Kaysar Ridha was the fourth person evicted from Big Brother: All-Stars on Thursday, September 3, after what seemed like an impossible campaign to stay.
The 40-year-old Biotech executive was evicted in a unanimous vote after his longtime ally Janelle Pierzina was booted last week. The duo, who became fan favorites after competing on seasons 6 and 7 together, were the biggest targets in the house right from the start.
Kaysar tried to make waves by exposing alliances to certain people, like Ian Terry, and get others, like Head of Household Enzo Palumbo, to realize that he was alone and a free agent to scoop up, but nothing came to fruition.
He also failed to win the Power of Veto after Enzo put him up alongside Kevin Campbell, who did ultimately win the veto and take himself off the block. He was replaced by Christmas Abbottt, who strangely volunteered herself as a pawn, essentially sealing Kaysar’s fate.
Was there anything Kaysar could have done differently? Will he ever play Big Brother again? And what does he make of his reunion with Janelle after 15 years? Check out our interview!
Us Weekly: It’s bittersweet to be talking to you today. You were trending on Twitter last night. Fans are pretty sad.
Kaysar Ridha: It’s honestly … it’s extremely humbling, this whole thing. I don’t know what to say. I’m happy. I’m just grateful for this entire experience. I’m happy that it happened. I’m happy that I was able to get the call back to do this. I’m extremely grateful that Big Brother allowed me to use the show as a platform in many ways, not as intended, as sort of its main purpose, but nonetheless, here we are … what a time.
Us: Let’s start there. What were your thoughts when you got the call for All-Stars? Did you have any hesitation?
KR: Of course I had hesitation. I mean, the world in which we live in – and I don’t know the details of what the state of the world is today just yet – but where I left it was, there was a whole lot going on and those are the reasons why I was hesitant to even come back. Obviously to leave behind family that relies on me so heavily is unnerving to say the least. But that was the very reason I felt like I had to go back. I wanted it to be very clear that this could be a great opportunity and when is this ever going to happen again?
For me, it was never about the money. Obviously it would have been really nice to have, but I felt like whenever we just kind of reduce ourselves to just making money or wanting money, I think things just don’t work out and we always are left disappointed. And I told myself: how could I not do this given where we are in this world? And so that was the driving point. That’s why I went back into the house. I’ve mentioned that to Janelle. It was maybe week two or week three, where I was getting emotional. And I was just having … you know, we have our ebbs and flows. We have hard times in the house and she said, “Why do you always want to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders?” And I said, “Because I can’t be away from my family just for money. I can’t just sacrifice all of this. There has to be a bigger reason that I’m here.” And that’s it.
Us: We saw some of those conversations unfold on the live feeds and on the show itself. Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to even in those four weeks?
KR: I don’t know the extent of how things were portrayed because I haven’t seen them yet and I don’t know. No one’s told me the details. I don’t know how things are being received on social media. So that’s all news to me still. I can tell you this: I had the conversations and they were natural. They weren’t forced and I believe that they took place and unfolded the way that they were meant to. So for those reasons, I’m extremely satisfied and proud to have participated in this experience and this journey. I feel as though, more importantly, that I was able to hear the stories come directly from the people that needed to tell them. I was able to just participate and listen. If I was able to be a catalyst in any of that, then I feel very fortunate. And so that’s all that matters. And so if it was received well, all the better, and I felt like walking out that door, being evicted, I walked out with my head held high and I wouldn’t change anything.
Us: If it makes you feel any better, you were very well-received. People were happy to see you because who you are as a person and what you bring to the conversations, and also because it’s great to see someone old school who people really love.
KR: I think that’s what made everything so special, right? I don’t think it was one thing. I think it was the current state of affairs. It was the fact that I can go on TV and have this platform and do something incredible with it. It’s the fact that Janelle and I were able to come back after so long together. This nostalgia that it sort of creates. There’s so many things. I can’t say this enough, like how fortunate and blessed I feel because so many things had to have placed perfectly. And I think a lot of it was out of my hands, in fact. I couldn’t have controlled any of these things, but yet they worked out in such a great way.
Us: So let’s talk about Janelle. One of the highlights of the season was just seeing you guys playing together again. What was it like for you just picking up where your friendship left off?
KR: This is going to sound cheesy, but honestly it was emotional. I had to sort of pause and remind myself this was happening because again, it had to have been such a precise sequence of events to take place, to make this possible. I imagine it was probably getting annoying, I would say, “Can you believe we met here 15 years ago? We were the first ones in this newly minted house. Like no one had ever lived here before.” And the most unlikely of friendships emerged against the odds. And here we are, again, after all of these years. This should have never happened. In fact, it should’ve never happened the first time. There were so many things standing in the way. It is incredible. I get chills just thinking about it now. Like, what are the odds, honestly?
So for those reasons, I think the biggest disappointment for me was I would have liked to see myself go further in the game as a competitor. I would’ve liked to see myself win an HOH or do something more than I did from that standpoint. But the other disappointment really, probably the one that was even bigger, was I would have liked to see the storyline – and I mean this very loosely, like not necessarily on the show – but just to see our journey as Janelle and Kaysar, the iconic pair on TV, play out a little more. When am I going to ever get to see this woman again and be able to have this college-like slumber party, which is super weird at 40, on national television. And to be able to have that moment and just have like a good time and laugh about silly things and do that all over again like we were 24. It’s truly incredible. I felt very fortunate. I was sad to see that come to an end as I imagine lots of people were.
Us: They were! There are already tribute videos going around on social media.
KR: Oh, God. It takes me back! The tribute videos were hilarious. There was like music and … Oh, God. OK. So we’re doing that again?
Us: We’re doing that again! And fans also loved when you brought the FBI hat back out during the eviction!
KR: I figured! I was like, maybe people remember this? I think it’s time to bring it back. I was going to bring it back when I won the HOH if that was going to happen. That was going to sort of signal a transition in the house. I was going to burn the whole thing down and I was going to wear the hat while doing it. So I never got the chance. I ended up bringing it up because it was to signify sort of my retirement, I suppose.
Us: You mentioned in your speech that you were bored by the lack of gameplay. I think fans were just as frustrated as you were. Was there anything you could have done differently?
KR: Everybody knows that I tried. I was so out of breath from the amount of talks and speeches I had to give to motivate people to change direction, to do something else. And unfortunately, people were just complacent and comfortable in whatever the hell they had. I can see in certain cases when talking to Tyler [Crispen] or Enzo, Bayleigh [Dayton], Da’Vonne [Rogers], they so badly wanted to. And I think the catalyst would have been me getting power that would shaken things up. Then they would have disassociated themselves with whatever they had. But it was more like “you got to give me something to go to if, if I would go to leave what I have now.” Looking back, I think that’s probably what that was about. So I can’t blame them. I knew I had friends in the house and I can tell people so badly wanted to follow me into a burning building. And in some cases, and I think had, I really went in, went for it and just shook things up, I think I would have been the one to kind of light that match, but I believe that they would’ve come with me once the fire started.
Us: So let’s talk more about your eviction speech. Tell me how that came about because it certainly made waves overnight in the house.
KR: Well, good! I’m happy to hear that It was not for nothing. There was something certainly brewing. It was frustration that stems from obviously trying to move the needle for weeks. I figured, you know what? I have a platform. It’s my going away speech. It’s a Hail Mary. If I could blow up the house one last time before I leave, maybe it’ll shake things up and inspire people to vote for me to stay. It’s a long shot, not likely, but at the very least I could leave them with a lovely parting gift. I decided to do just that. I know some people in the house were trying to push that on me, which was something I was already thinking about.
So I know Ian, Da’Vonne, Bayleigh, Kevin, all kind of suggested, like, “Hey, what if you did this?” My hesitation really stemmed from wanting to be a good sport about it. I didn’t want it to be portrayed as “he’s just sour that he’s going home this week.” I wanted to call everyone out and just in a comical way, kind of tell them they sucked in this game because you know, it’s like, “You’re all-stars! Come on. Give me a little bit more gusto!” Yes you’re competitive when there’s a veto and HOHs, but there’s other aspects of the game where you got to flex a little bit. Like come out with a little more sass. I just feel like we weren’t getting that. I don’t know how it was received on TV, but I imagine it was probably a snooze-fest at times. So I was just over it. I’m like, let’s just have a little fun and at least I’ll be able to look back and have a laugh at it. And I think some people took it personally. I don’t know why, like we’ve all played this game many times over. No one was saying anything bad about your family or you personally or anything. I think people should just relax and have fun with it.
Us: The fans totally got it. You were speaking on behalf of a lot of us who were bored too.
KR: Please vote me out of this house if you’re not going to change anything! I’ll happily leave if this is the kind of game that you guys want to play.
Us: Exactly. Were you surprised how new school players kind of just do what the HOH wants? Would you say it’s a different game from when you last played?
KR: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is a different era of Big Brother. There’s something about not rocking the boat and making sure that all the votes kind of align a certain way and you don’t want to be outspoken. Obviously that doesn’t really jive with me. I don’t need to really spell that out. I don’t care how the new school wants to play the game. They can play the game the way I want to play it. That’s the way I feel about that. And the thing is, about Dani [Donato-Briones] being offended, I can tell by her body language that she wasn’t having it. Nicole [Franzel] seemed to be offended too. They were crossing their arms and they looked pretty sour about the speech, but I forced them to give me a hug and I don’t care. They need to get over it. And here’s the thing: I can understand why they would be offended because their gameplay hinges upon secrecy. If their covers’ blown, they’re dead in the water. So obviously they would probably be the most upset about what I just did.
Us: Right. How do you think preexisting relationships and pre-gaming affected your game?
KR: I mean, that’s speculative. I don’t know. Obviously there’s going to be a rumor mill of like, who did what, and I’m not going to get lost in all of that. Because it’s easy to just kind of find yourself trying to kind of disseminate information that you don’t even know if it’s true or not. All I do know is how things played out in the house in real-time. And I tried to really focus on the facts. Ultimately there’s nothing you could do looking back and trying to change history.
Us: Who do you think is playing the best game right now? Who would you put your money on?
KR: As much as I feel most burned by Memphis, I have to say I’m incredibly impressed. Typically, I can take as little as information as possible and turn it into something. I was able to figure out the [alliance of] four with no one giving me anything except watching sort of movements in the house. Memphis was sleeping right next to me. I did not see it coming. I would spend mornings with him and I didn’t see it coming. So, kudos to Memphis. From a game standpoint, that was truly phenomenal because I don’t know if anyone is even targeting him right now. But again, I don’t know what happened last night.
Us: You don’t know who won the HOH?
KR: Who won the HOH?
KR: Well, I guess Memphis is going to be OK then.
Us: Da’Vonne was super close to winning too.
KR: No. Oh, God. She’s probably so disappointed. I think Da’Vonne knows that her and Bayleigh are probably next. But that’s just makes things even worse. Oh, God. Heart-wrenching.
Us: Yep. So Kaysar, looking back on your time on Big Brother, what sticks out? What will you remember most?
KR: There are different memories that really resonate with me. Obviously meeting Janelle in the house under the circumstances in which we did, like back against the wall. We were underdogs. She turns to me, and we were discussing over a game of chess. And I said, “You’re not fooling me with this whole dumb blonde thing that you’re trying to pull off.” And that was hilarious. And that sort of set in motion our relationship, which has been something that I’m extremely incredibly grateful for. And really what ended up happening was we sort of turned into something that was incredible to see unfold on national television. And that allowed me to win HOH and pull a really iconic move in that house. And so forever that that’s sort of something that will stay with me personally. I loved it.
I think coming back for season 7, obviously playing with some of the greats, was truly a treat. Being able to operate in that house, it was a challenge, especially given the circumstances. Everybody knows who everybody is and how it works. There were a lot of really big personalities and you have to sort of try to keep up. Being in a house with Dr. Will [Kirby], my God it is exhausting. Just the personality, let alone the gameplay. So those are the types of things you remember. And of course, the emotion that resurfaces, that comes back 15 years later to be able to play with Janelle. Again, that’s not something that I’m going to take lightly and that’s not going to go away for a very long time. I can’t forget it.
And I think even the circumstances in which we were able to play this game again around the time where COVID, a global pandemic, there’s not television. And the television that I think came about through Big Brother was much needed. It was a reminder of … the irony of it all, what reality could look like again. You saw us hugging. You saw us eating together. You saw us having conversation, and that is a beautiful thing. I’m hoping that that’s sort of acts as a catalyst to something much better. I hope it’s something that we can kind of remember and look forward to again. That I will never forget. And what’s fascinating about that is that was not part of the intended gameplay. It just comes about because of circumstances.
Us: Do you think you and Janelle will keep in better touch after this?
KR: I hope so. I really do. I think we’re all probably there, right? Where it’s like, we want to do things different. We want more work-life balance. We want to have better relationships. And I think that all stems from where we are as people during these times. This speaks to my relationship with Janelle. I told her that while we were in the house, I said, “I’m going to do a better job of being a better friend.” And I want to. It’s just a waste, her and I. You don’t just click with people the way that we do. It’s a real bond. It’s not something that was conjured up for good television. And I think that’s evident.
Us: So my last question is are you done with Big Brother? Or do you have another round in you?
KR: You know what, maybe I’ll come for another four weeks. I can get evicted. Who knows, that seems to be my track record. It’s really like a 12-week commitment for everyone else. It’s a four-week commitment for me. So why not?
Us: So you’re in?
KR: Sure. Why not? Let’s do it.
Big Brother airs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.