While discussing how the fear of being attacked online has changed the game, Hale, 28, exclusively gave Us Weekly her advice for players who want to be villainous without getting lambasted on social media.
“I think people play with social media in mind, but they forget that you can talk to the cameras,” said Hale, who became the first Black woman to win the reality competition during season 24 in 2022. “I think we have lost the idea that … you can still say bad things and manipulate people. But I think if you just went to the camera and said, ‘I know what I’m doing. I’m doing this intentionally and I’m owning this bad behavior. This is not who I actually am.’ It might not be fun to watch, but I think it would at least be respected. I just think we need to get away from tiptoeing.”
Unlike other reality competition contestants, Big Brother houseguests have the luxury of directly addressing viewers via the 24/7 live feeds. Pierzina, 43 — who competed on seasons 6, 7, 14 and 22 of the CBS series — noted that she hasn’t seen houseguests employing the tactic in recent seasons. “I don’t think anyone’s done that recently because everyone’s so fearful,” she said.
Pierzina, who first appeared on Big Brother in 2005, also pointed out that the prospect of being “canceled or fired from your job” for something you said on the show was less of a threat back in the day.
“When I first did the show, the only thing that was around was Myspace, so we didn’t have any of that to worry about,” said the real estate agent, before adding that she did have an experience where fans used the social media platform against her. “The fans went after my top eight [Myspace friends] and they contacted my boyfriend at the time and they were like, ’She’s a horrible human being. How could you date her?’ He didn’t care,” Pierzina said with a laugh.
Hale and Pierzina had an opportunity to share more of their Big Brother hot takes while participating in Entertainment Tonight‘s television special celebrating the show’s 25th anniversary, which airs Wednesday, July 26, at 9 p.m ET. The special comes just one week before the Big Brother 25 premiere — and Hale and Pierzina talked to Us about what they’re hoping to see this season.
“I would love to see a split house. I feel like when there’s two large alliances fighting for power, it makes the game really interesting,” Pierzina said. “The live shows are that much more intense for me because I’m rooting for who I’m rooting for. And if they lose, I’m devastated.”
Hale chimed in that it “gets a little boring” when there’s only one “dominant alliance” that starts to “steamroll” the other houseguests. “I wanna see people playing their own game first above anybody else. And that’s where we’ll have some really interesting conflict, some interesting connections,” she said. “I’m just very excited to see us get back to a little bit more of an old school Big Brother type of gameplay.”
Hale made headlines during season 24 for the negative treatment she received from several of her fellow houseguests. Season 23 winner Xavier Prather spoke out against the behavior in July 2022, tweeting that “Members of the Black community (especially Black women) and other people of color stand no chance in the Big Brother house due to perpetuation of micro-aggressions and unconscious biases which plague our society.”
Despite being targeted from the first week of the game, Hale managed to win the $750,000 grand prize as well as the America’s Favorite Player award. She told Us what advice she would give to future houseguests who find themselves on the outs with their cast.
“Don’t let people gaslight you into believing that you’re a bad person,” Hale said. “It’s really easy — if you’re coming from a good place and you just want to play the game, which is where I was — it’s very easy to just wanna hear people if they’re telling you that you hurt them and say, ‘OK, well how can we reach a resolution?’ If people are not giving the puzzle pieces to get to a resolution, they’re gaslighting you.”
During the season 24 finale in September 2022, Hale emphasized in her closing statements to the jury that she is “not a victim, I am a victor.” She believes that mindset is key to playing Big Brother well.
“Something I really don’t like is when things don’t go someone’s way and they say, ‘OK, well I’m just gonna sit back,’ or, ‘I’m not gonna keep playing the game anymore,’” Hale told Us. “I don’t have a lot of respect for that, [barring] larger circumstances like mental health or family problems. … Because there are people whose lifelong dream it is to play Big Brother. … Giving up and quitting because something didn’t go your way is the most disrespectful thing that you can do in that game. So, fight until the very end because it’s never over until you are out that door.”
ET’s Big Brother 25th anniversary special airs Wednesday, July 26, at 9 p.m. ET
Big Brother 25 premieres on CBS Wednesday, August 2, at 8 p.m. ET