Taylor Hale made history on the September 25 finale of “Big Brother.” The Michigan beauty queen became the first black woman to win a non-celebrity season of the long-running CBS show after the jury voted 8 to 1 in her favor.
In addition to taking home the $750,000 grand prize, Hale won America’s Favorite Player, receiving a $50,000 cash prize and bringing her total winnings to $800,000.
Hale’s “Big Brother” journey was a lesson in resilience. The personal stylist was mistreated by a few of her fellow houseguests, who made assumptions about her character and motives in the game without evidence.
The 27-year-old sat on the eviction block six times throughout the season and constantly had to fight to shift the houseguests’ perception of her in the game. How Hale managed to go from enemy number one to receiving a nearly unanimous vote to win on finale night is a testament to the grace and kindness she demonstrated throughout the season.
Hale said it best in her speech on finale night.
“I have bled out the most in this game, but I have bandaged myself together every single time and gotten up and continued to fight because, like so many other women in the world, that is what we have to do to get to the end,” she told the jury. “I have overcome so much in this game, and I’ve come to understand that I am not a shield; I am a sword. I am not a victim. I am a victor.”
Heavy had the chance to chat with Taylor about the season and winning “Big Brother.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Taylor Hale on Winning ‘Big Brother’
Heavy: How does it feel to be the first black woman to win a non-celebrity season of “Big Brother?” What does that title mean to you?
Taylor: There have been 24 seasons of this game and the last season I saw before I entered the game was season three, where Danielle Reyes sat in the finale two seats and ended up losing. I personally think she should have won that game. It was just remarkable gameplay. So to receive the flip of the vote that she should have had and win the entire game, knowing the entire trajectory of black women in the game. So many of us have been bullied, belittled, painted out to be villains, aggressive, different microaggressions cast upon us, and evicted way too soon. It was very rewarding to me to carry the trauma, the harm, and the hurt that a lot of those women had to experience and go through it myself and still come out victorious because we deserve to see ourselves as victors in the game.
Heavy: Your speech on finale night was one of the best speeches in “Big Brother” history. How much preparation went into that speech?
Taylor: I started working on the speech about a day and a half before actually delivering it. I think when things seem too rehearsed, it’s just disingenuous. And if that was my biggest critique at the beginning of the game, I could not be disingenuous at the end. I just told the truth about my experience in the game. I told my truth about what it was like to be a woman in the game. I told my truth about what it was like to be a person of color in the game. I told my truth about how my experience was much more social than I expected it to be and how simple statistics [like] competition wins are a component of the game but they are not the dominating factor of the game. So to take all those aspects, wrap it up in a bow and say this is who I am, this is my play, you are either going to take it or you are not.
I’m glad that [the votes] ended up turning in my favor but working on that speech was not a matter of scripting and plotting…It was just a matter of telling the truth of my experience.
Heavy: The vote on finale night was 8 to 1. Were you surprised at all by the jury votes? Whose vote surprised you the most?
Taylor: I was shocked. Eight [is] my lucky number, so I’m glad it ended up eight to one. It could’ve been nine…Turner. I’ll have a chat with him later. I’m kidding. I love that kid. I was shocked by a handful of the votes: Indy, number one. She and I started to build a relationship when I put her on the block and evicted her. But she put the key in the block and said, ‘This goes to my favorite person.’ [Indy] and Monte were very close for the majority of the season. I was positive that was a vote for Monte. I was positive that, given my shaky relationship with Terrance and how Terrance and Monte had been very close, I was positive that was a vote for Monte. Kyle and I had some really great conversations early in the game about how his mom and grandma are very active feminists…but I knew that he had a stronger relationship in the house with Monte… Really it’s the men’s votes that surprised me…Eight to one blew me out of the water. I think [there is] something to be said about the confidence Monte had to take me to the end…and not acknowledging that there is a lot stronger of a case to be made for me.
Heavy: On finale night, you found out the truth about Dyre fest and that Joseph had not actually betrayed you. What was it like to find out the truth and have you and Joseph had a chance a chance to get that stiff cocktail yet?
Taylor: Yes, we have had a few stiff cocktails. But it was infuriating. It’s good gameplay to lie about what happened outside and it’s exactly what we said we were afraid would happen. But there are things that I would not have done personally had I known that Joseph did not betray me. I think even [in the way it was communicated to me] that Joseph betrayed me, I think that those conversations went a little bit too far. I think they went to personally, deeply [hurt] me instead of just using game to hurt me. That’s a tough thing to realize. Sitting there on final two and realizing that my closest ally and my sanity in the game was always the person that I thought he was…Joseph and I are on really good terms. We got breakfast. We’re getting lunch today. We’re hanging out in L.A. We’re having a good time.
Taylor Reveals She Thought About Leaving the Show
Heavy: Let’s talk about some of the mistreatment in the house. It was hard to watch at times, so I can’t even imagine living it. How did you get though some of those tougher moments? And did you consider leaving the show at any point?
Taylor: So actually that day, Joseph’s birthday, that day was the Veto comp Woodstack. After the Daniel situation, it wasn’t just that [situation] that was painful to experience, it was also looking around and nobody in the room [was] standing up for me. There was nothing but silence. I had broken words trying to defend myself. And when you’re being accused of using someone’s sick mom as a mental toy for a game, there [is] only so much you can say to defend yourself. Again, I haven’t seen [the episode] yet, so I can only believe that [at the time] Daniel truly thought that’s what I was doing and that’s why he reacted the way he did. I’m not excusing it, but I will understand a little bit more if that’s truly who he thought I was. That being said, yeah, I thought about throwing Woodstack. I thought about just saying, ‘That’s enough.’ If one person is [going to] yell at me that’s one thing but if people are only going to tell me they don’t think it’s right afterwards…Why am I here?
Heavy: If you had to summarize your “Big Brother” journey in three words, what would they be?
Taylor: Redemptive, chaotic, and…..victorious!
Watch our EXTENDED interview with Taylor Hale HERE.