On June 8, MTV’s The Challenge “severed ties” with one of its reigning champions, Dee Nguyen, over comments she made about the Black Lives Matter movement. The network announced the decision on Twitter, posting the following statement:
The message reads: “As a result of Dee Nguyen’s offensive comments on the Black Lives Matter movement, we have severed ties with her. Out of respect for our Challengers, we’ll air our season as planned. We strongly condemn systemic racism and stand with those raising their voices against injustice.”
A second tweet reads: “We stand united against racism and urge you to join us in taking action to end racism, discrimination, and systemic violence. Learn more about being an ally. Take action and text DEMANDS to 55156.”
The Challenge is currently airing its pre-filmed 35th season, Total Madness. Although MTV indicated the season would “air as planned,” last week’s episode was noticeably shorter and appeared to have been edited to remove as much footage of Nguyen as possible.
During the episode, Nguyen was blindsided and sent into elimination against Mattie-Lynn Breaux. She won the contest and is still in the running to win her second Challenge championship.
Here’s what you need to know about the situation:
1. Nguyen Made Offensive Comments on June 6 & Received Intense Backlash From Costars
Nguyen made the offensive comments in the last couple of days and has since deleted them. On the night of June 6, Nguyen tweeted: “IDK why some of u think I’m anti BLM. I’ve been saying that since the day I lost my virginity.” One user responded to Nguyen’s tweet, writing: “READ THE F**KING ROOM. All you posted was a black square and went about your day and posting your lame a** thirst traps. Wake up!!! People are dying. smh.”
Nguyen responded to that user, saying: “people die every f**king day. U don’t know me or what I do. I suggest u wake the f**k up and get off social media.”
On June 7, Bayleigh Dayton, Nguyen’s costar on the current season of The Challenge, posted screenshots of Nguyen’s now-deleted tweets. She added the caption: “THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SUPPORT BLM. I’m disgusted and disappointed. THIS IS NOT A TREND. THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH FOR US. Posting for clout about the death of black people? Shame on you.”
In response to Dayton posting screenshots of her tweets, Nguyen wrote: “I haven’t said shit about/to you out of respect for YOUR friends who are also MY friends. I’m staying off Twitter and spending my day INVESTING in YOUR home town. Don’t f**king talk to me about BLM. If you want a conversation you have my number.”
Nguyen and Dayton then had a heated exchange on Twitter, and Dayton said, “Friend ? Did you call me and say ‘hey girl I support you, I stand with you. I’m sorry your people are dying’ yet I need to call you & confirm if your racist tweets come from a good place STFU Dee. Wow you really hurt everyone you come across.”
Dayton’s husband, Chris “Swaggy C” Williams, also went on a tirade aimed at Nguyen, accusing her of using BLM for “clout.” After MTV announced it was parting ways with Nguyen, Swaggy C posted on Twitter:
Jemmye Carroll, a Challenge alum, posted a screenshot to Twitter showing a message she sent to a contact at MTV that she “trusts” about the situation. Her message reads:
I hate to bother you on a Sunday but a MTV or BMP [Bunim/Murray Productions] executive needs to call Dee [Nguyen] and explain to her she can’t tell a black woman to not speak about black lives matter issues. That’s disrespectful to all black cast members and to the black audience.. Dee is a major face of the show these days and mtv/bmp doesn’t need to make the same mistakes with her they made with Camila [Nakagawa]! Thank you..
Nakagawa has not participated in The Challenge since Dirty 30 in 2017 when she made derogatory comments about Leroy Garrett, a black cast member on the show.
Wes Bergmann is a longtime star of The Challenge and one of Nguyen’s closest friends on the show. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Nguyen has been living in Kansas City in Bergmann’s house with him and his wife. On June 7, after Nguyen began receiving heavy criticism for her comments, Bergmann tweeted: “I just got back from work an hour ago. In that hour I’ve learned a lot of things. As a leader I have to make rough, nuanced, & swift decisions. The decision is to ask her to leave my home and city; effective immediately.”
Another Challenge star, Kam Williams, tweeted that she found Nguyen’s comments “disgusting.”
2. A ‘Challenge’ Star Shared a Story About Her Experience With Nguyen While Filming ‘Total Madness’
Nguyen’s costar on The Challenge: Total Madness, Tula “Big T” Fazakerley, also spoke up about Nguyen’s comments in an Instagram story on June 7. In a series of messages, she said she wasn’t surprised by Nguyen’s tweets about BLM since the two had “a slightly uncomfortable conversation” in Prague during the filming of the current season. Big T said that Nguyen “definitely needs to be educated” and hopes that the Australian reality star learns from her mistakes.
She also said: “I hope she realizes the reality of the situation which is, how many people she’s hurt by her words. Me included. The tweet is not funny, it is disrespectful, utterly degrading and wholly insensitive.” She explained the conversation in Prague that made her uncomfortable:
[Nguyen] said that she felt like she was ‘blacker’ than me because I didn’t know the name of a musician and because she hadn’t seen me fight and be aggressive. I felt like she was trying to make me fit her idea of a ‘stereotype.’ I’m mad at myself for not telling her how that made me feel afterwards and at that time.
I’m saying something now because I really think she needs someone to educate her and help change her attitudes regarding this. After seeing her tweets it just infuriated me even more and felt like I should be honest about my experience.
3. Fans of the Show Also Commented on Nguyen’s Tweets & Criticized the Star
Many fans also took issue with Nguyen’s tweets. One person wrote: “It’s so sad how many people are using BLM for clout and followers! Our lives are more than just a Twitter or IG post!”
Another said, “…people die everyday? Wtf @deenguyenMTV this is tone deaf and insensitive @ChallengeMTV.” One fan wrote: “This is disgusting, fetishizing black men and trying to swing that as support to the BLM? Dee is no longer someone I’ll support.”
4. Nguyen Apologized for Her ‘Insensitive Tweet’ Later on June 7
Nguyen posted an apology on June 7, writing:
I am sorry for the insensitive tweet I posted earlier. I was being defensive and not speaking from my heart. But there’s no excuse. I also want to extend an apology to Bayleigh and Swaggy- who are my cast mates and deserve my respect and compassion.
She also added, “BLM to me every day. I’m trying to do the best I can with what is currently accessible to me.” She said she would be taking a break from Twitter and focusing on Instagram only in the next few days.
After MTV announced its decision to cut ties with the reality star, Nguyen posted another apology on Twitter:
5. Nguyen Is an Australian Competitor on the Reality Show & Won the Previous Season
Nguyen got her reality TV debut on the 17th season of Geordie Shore, which filmed in Australia in 2018. The 27-year-old first appeared on MTV’s The Challenge three seasons ago for War of the Worlds, where she was teamed up with Bergmann. She returned for the following season, War of the Worlds 2, which she won alongside her teammates Jordan Wiseley, CT Tamburello and Rogan O’Connor.
The Vietnamese-Australian Nguyen is currently appearing on the 35th season, Total Madness, which was filmed in the fall of 2019. She already has a red skull, meaning she’s qualified to compete in the final.