Taking it all in. Taylor Hale became the first Black woman to ever win Big Brother during the season 24 finale on Sunday, September 25, and she’s still processing it after being the underdog all season.
The personal stylist, 27, who also won America’s Favorite Player and had been a fan favorite all summer, had faced bullying and racism in the house, and overcame a ton of adversity to even sit in the final two chairs. She won in an 8-1 vote against personal trainer Monte Taylor.
“First Black woman to win Big Brother, it was the goal I had coming in,” Taylor exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I didn’t know if it would happen. I was first on the block in the first week. It didn’t feel like it would happen at all. But season 3 was the last season I watched coming in before coming into the season and to watch Danielle Reyes play just a phenomenal game, the amazing game that she played, and not win in the end, I was just like, there is nothing that will stop me from speaking about wanting to be the first Black woman to win this game and doing everything in my power to make it happen.”
The former pageant queen continues, “I feel like I have played this game, not just for Taylor Mackenzie Dickens Hale. I’ve played it for Da’Vonne [Rogers]. I’ve played it for Bayleigh [Dayton], every Black woman who has played this game, and ultimately Azah [Awasum] and Danielle and Monica [Bailey] who made final three, but just couldn’t take it home for whatever circumstance. It’s bigger than me. I did it for them too.”
Taylor gave arguably the best finale performance in the history of the show with impassioned speeches and answers to the jury members’ questions, challenging them to change the way we look at winners and not just reward someone for winning competitions.
“There’s so much about this game that is validated through competition wins,” she explains to Us. “It’s validated through how you take power and use it. And I had the opportunities a few times, but both of my HOHs were usurped by guys who won vetos. So going into this jury, I just thought they are gonna feel like I am just trying to guilt them into giving me a vote. And because of my relationships that I have with the women in the house, I really felt like they would lean more toward looking straight at numbers and being convinced that the only way to win this game is through a resume. And it was between [Matthew] Turner and Monte at that point.”
That self-awareness helped her craft her case to win the game, she says, “All I could do going into that finale was just speak from the heart and be honest about my experience here. If it resonated, it resonated. And if it didn’t, then I had an honest shot, but I’m thankful to Monte for giving me that shot because I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Going into the season, the Michigan native was worried she wouldn’t be taken seriously: “I just felt like I was never going to be seen as a real Big Brother player. And so I did everything that I could to be really respectful of the franchise and take everything that I could take. But to know that I was so well-received, that blows my mind. I never, ever, ever would have expected that at all.”
Most of the racism Taylor experienced was at the hands of Kyle Capener who assumed all the POC players in the house were in an alliance and tried to form a counter all-white alliance, among other things. “I know a lot of people are gonna disagree with me, but I truly do have a lot of love for Kyle,” Taylor says. “He’s someone who has owned up to what he is done and he’s willing to do the work to be better in the future. But in the conversations that happened that week when his all-white alliance was revealed – his attempt at an all-white alliance was revealed – I just know that he and Monte had a stronger emotional connection than Kyle and I had. So I would not have been upset with him for going for Kyle, but I mean, 8 is my lucky number. So to walk away from this game with an 8-1 vote and $800,000, I don’t know. And my mic pack the whole season was mic No. 8.”
As for how the votes shook out, Taylor tells Us she was “shocked by Terrance [Higgins]’s vote” and “thought that there was going to be nothing that would stop him from voting for Monte.” She was also surprised by Indy Santos, who was close to Monte. “I remember her putting the key in and saying, ‘I’m voting for my favorite person.’ I’m sitting next to Monte. I know Monte’s her favorite person. So 8-1 is so mind-boggling.”
Of course, she had her close friend Joseph Abdin’s support – and after clearing up some lingering questions she had about him in the game, Taylor tells Us there’s a possibility for romance there: “I am just very, very happy that Joseph did not actually turn on me. I’m really happy that I can just explore what’s going on there now without any fear.”
She’s walking away not with just a win, but with the best story of any Big Brother winner in any season in the show’s 22-year history.
“I didn’t come into this game with the goal of being just a cool Black girl in the house,” she tells Us. “No, I came to be the first Black woman to win the game. So if I’m going to do that, I have to move with forgiveness and tolerance because of the position I was put in from the very beginning. So yes, when I talk about resiliency, when I talk about perseverance, that is what I want people to understand about this game. This is not a game where you have to play like Dr. Will [Kirby] or Evel Dick [Donato]. You do not have to be manipulative or condescending. And I know it makes great TV, but being at the very bottom and refusing to give up on yourself can also be really great TV.”