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Some names are synonymous with the word “icon,” and Taylor Hale is just that. Against all odds, the Michigan native won the 24th season of CBS’s Big Brother and solidified herself not only as the first Black woman to win a mainline season, but a face that will forever be emboldened as one of the franchise’s most remembered players. Taylor came and conquered her mission to make this history, and because of it, she has forever changed the game of Big Brother.

Just a little over a month since her win, Taylor is now busier than ever as she juggles an abundance of interviews, brand deals, and television appearances—including an upcoming appearance on The Bold and the Beautiful—all while finding time to decompress from the game.

Pop Crave spoke with Taylor earlier this week to discuss what she’s been up to since becoming the richest winner in the game’s history. During our conversation, which we intended to remain lighthearted and fun, Taylor details navigating her new life as a celebrity, how she hopes her experience will impact future seasons of Big Brother, where she sees herself in the next five years, and more. Keep reading for our full interview!

Courtesy of Shawn Laws O’Neil/CBS

Yesterday was exactly a month since you made history by winning Big Brother 24. How has it been reacclimating to everyday life and finding your new normal as a celebrity?

Yeah, you’re exactly right. There is no reacclimating to life. It’s figuring out what a new life is, which is exciting. I think it’s what everybody who kind of goes on reality TV hopes for. Any normal person just wants better opportunities and their own life… It’s a completely new normal, and it’s very bizarre going from beauty queen, still relatively unknown, only known when I’ve got a crown and sash like Hannah Montana, and then I walk down the street now to get a smoothie, I have two or three hoodies on because it’s cold in LA in the morning, and people will see me looking crusty and bummy. It’s a very bizarre feeling to go from living a very private life to something that’s so external, but it’s also exciting. All the things that I’ve ever wanted in life: freedom, my own space, my own decisions and choices, I have that at my fingertips now. It feels pretty fucking good [laughs]!

Is there anything you miss about the BB24 house?

Unlimited groceries that I never had to pay for! Maybe I paid for it in my mental sanity, but it’s fine. It all worked out! I really got back home, and I opened the pantry and was like, “Where’s everything?!” So, that was bizarre. I miss the HOH room, I’m not gonna lie. That shower, you could turn on the three showerheads. I miss that. The sound of bumper pool… like, you could hear the ball dropping in the bumper pool. I miss playing that game. Even the late nights that I had with the Late Night Crew, no matter who the revolving cast of characters were, I miss that camaraderie that I was able to get eventually. It was fun and hilarious. I just spent the weekend with Joseph and Turner, and it felt like we were right back on those daybeds in the bathroom and talking about absolute nonsense.

Courtesy of CBS

Going off of that idea of a new normal, you’ve clearly amassed a very large and passionate fanbase. With that comes some fans who, in a way to protect you, try to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, who you should and shouldn’t hang out with, etc. How has it been for you to manage all of the expectations and pressures of now being in the public eye on an even grander scale?

You know, it’s funny because I’ve just decided that I am going to do what’s best for me. My fans are going to be fans who will support me regardless. I’m not going to do crazy things like pull a Kanye out here and say some antisemitic things. Like, no, we don’t go down that route, but my fans are my fans because they trusted my judgment in the first place. If they are frustrated that I’m mending some relationships with some people, if they’re frustrated that I am engaging with other people that maybe they aren’t so excited about, you have to trust my judgment continuing in. If I disappoint you to a point where you don’t want to engage anymore, then that’s your decision, but I’m going to continue to do what’s best for me.

The last thing I want to do is do something that’s bad for me. Like, don’t you trust me in that aspect too? But it has also been very interesting, their DMs. Like, paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs I would get of people saying, “You need to do this, you need to stop doing that, and stop being so attached to a man! What are you doing?!” So much of my time in the Big Brother house that was shown outwardly were moments of distress and pain. There were plenty of moments of joy that people saw, don’t get me wrong, but now that I’m out, and I’m able to live freely and pursue anything and anyone that I want, so many people are saying, “For my own benefit, you must do that!” They feel very entitled to control my own actions when I wasn’t playing The Sims in the Big Brother house. You didn’t control me then, so why feel like I’m controllable now? I hope that my fans will continue to love me and support me and what I do, because a lot of the things I will create and put out, it’s going to be for them just as much as it is for me. That’s where I am with them. The crazy Hale Raisers, I love you guys, but just chill out a little bit [laughs].

We have seen pretty much every iteration of Big Brother in existence, and the way in which “Taylor’s Karma,” as the fans like to describe it, has affected anyone that spoke ill of you in the game, is something we’ve never seen before! Has this trend of “Taylor’s Karma” been present in your life prior to Big Brother?

I think I just cashed the check in the Big Brother house! No, at least to my knowledge. Maybe Taylor’s Karma has been getting some people on the backend right after I leave their lives. Look, once you wrong me and I decide I’m done with you, it is a hard block. Your family gets blocked, your kids, dog, auntie, brother, everybody gets blocked! Full circle of friends! So, maybe Taylor’s Karma has circled back and hit a couple of people, but I wouldn’t know [laughs].

The history of Black women and other people of color’s mistreatment on Big Brother is something that can’t be denied. Is there anything about Big Brother that you’d like to see changed in future seasons that will help prevent the likelihood of anyone else experiencing what you and countless other houseguests had to go through?

This is no secret – and I’m glad that CBS actually does this – we all go through implicit bias training before going into the house. That’s something I thought people would be hyper aware and sensitive to going into the house. Clearly, it was not as impactful as we all would have hoped it to be, but there’s only so much that you can do as an organization to encourage people to embrace ideas, concepts, etc. So, do I think that that bias training may be ongoing? Maybe that would help a little bit, but again, if people are so stuck in their ways and unwilling to examine it or see themselves as someone who already abides by those, and doesn’t take those trainings seriously, there’s only so much that CBS, Viacom, etc., can do. That being said, I hope that my experience this season was the experience that people need to see to understand, you know, a CD-ROM training or a couple of weeks of training is not going to impact people’s behaviors and beliefs.

How they behave is going to be changed once they see it happening. All you have to do to see it happening is watch my season, watch how I was treated in the house, watch the things that were said about me in the house. I know many fans watch Big Brother because they’re fans, and they know that I did not have to make a big fuss about a point. My mere existence in the house was the point, the mere way that I was treated in the house was the point. I would hope that just people watching my journey in the house is enough to show them you can decide to be a good person, and it will get you far in the game. You can still play the game, but you don’t have to isolate, ostracize, and bully people to be successful in this game.

Your relationship with Joseph has been one of the fans’ favorite things to come out of this season. Is there anything you didn’t know about him that you’ve learned since getting to know him more in the outside world?

Well, it’s funny. The only thing that he hid was the fact that he was a lawyer. Outside of that, he’s exactly who he is in the same way that I’m exactly who I was. I just didn’t have anything to hide, or I chose not to hide anything in the house. I think… Well, now you got me. He paces a lot. Like, he paces a lot when his mind is turning, when he’s on the phone, he moves around all the time. I thought that was a game tactic in the house, because you know, “I’m a crazy guy!” But he has lots of movement, and at first I thought it was irritating, but I’ve come to understand he has ADHD. That’s one of his coping mechanisms that helps him function as a human being, so what I first thought was a slight to me or him not paying me enough attention, it was really just his way of being hyper present in a moment. That’s something where I had to shift my perspective on him. I had to shift my perspective on what I think is acceptable or rude or disrespectful, because in allowing him to have the space – literal, physical space that he needs – it’s making him more present, and we get more connected through those moments. I think there’s something to be said about how we engage with neurodivergent people. What we think is standard and acceptable is just… it’s unfair to other people and how they operate. The more space that we give to them, the better we can all be connected in the end.

Courtesy of CBS

You posted a screenshot of your phone call with Danielle Reyes, and it was a lengthy one! What was it like connecting with her, and how did that conversation go?

Oh, it was just amazing! She was so funny because she knew as moments were happening, she knew what I would be ostracized for. She knew what I’d be isolated for, and it was hard for her to watch my season – understandably so. To have that conversation with her talking about what it was like in the house for her as a married woman, as a woman who had children as a Black woman, and my experience in the house as a single Black woman in my… Oh my God, I’m in my late 20s. Oh, you wouldn’t know! I look young and fabulous [laughs]! Anyway, it was interesting comparing those experiences. It was interesting hearing about the personalities that we are. There’s a moment on her season where she kind of had to buck up against someone, and the whole conversation was not included. She was defending somebody else. She was not just aggressive in her own right; she was defending someone who was defenseless. I was not often or hardly ever offered that sort of public defense. It was interesting seeing how I was put in a position – when I never had before – to look around and ask people, or hope that people would defend me, where she was able to freely somewhat be the full version of herself in the early 2000s of reality TV. Like, that was the wild wild west. We weren’t so concerned about what it meant to be of color, of a gender, of an identity. 

Now that we are explicitly in that timeframe of acknowledging these things, it’s almost like there’s more of a microscope on each of us and how we evolve and portray ourselves. I was hyper aware of that in a way that Danielle didn’t have to be because of what reality TV was at the time. So, it’s really interesting comparing those moments, but how full circle is it that to the night that she lost, it’s the same night that I won 20 years later. It is a moment that she had been waiting for, and hoping and doubtful for, for a very long time. To be the one… It felt like I was giving her a gift. Ugh, I’m getting emotional. I felt like I was giving her the gift – the long, deserved, and awaited gift that she earned – 20 years later. It’s good to now be able to call her a friend.

Even going off of that, I know Da’Vonne Rogers was someone who said she’s done watching Big Brother after the first couple weeks of your season. Have you been in contact with her at all?

We’ve had a couple of likes back and forth, but I haven’t been able to nail her down. I’m really excited for the moment I do get to hop on the phone with her, because you can’t be a fan of Big Brother without loving Da’Vonne. Are you kidding me? Come on.

Fans want to know more about Grandma Betty! How did you two become so close, and do you have any fun stories to share that particularly bonds you with her?

Oh my God, Grandma Betty is just my road dog! What do you mean? I think one of my favorite traditions that we have, I would always spend the night at her house for Thanksgiving. First of all, I’m an only child, so I don’t have to fight with anybody over food. Second of all, if I do say so myself, I am quite a fantastic taste tester. I remember we’d wake up early the day before Thanksgiving – because that’s the cooking day for real – to cook all the food. My favorite was the fried chicken that she would make, and she would have me taste test the fried chicken, but really I was eating like six pieces of it. I would eat six pieces of this fried chicken thinking, “I’m getting a fresh batch of fried chicken that my grandma from Mississippi made!” And really, she was just making some early for me because she knew I loved it so much. Come Thanksgiving, that’s when she made the fresh pot for everybody. But no, I thought it was something special. And as much as I love the smell of food in the air, she can’t stand that. She doesn’t want the house smelling like food, so whenever the chicken was almost done, I had to get my little air spray and run all throughout the house and spray it. Then, I’d go back to the kitchen, and I’d spray myself with it like it was perfume, because I’m a little psychopath [laughs]! So, that’s my girl. That is my girl. I love her.

Courtesy of CBS

You’re back in Los Angeles after a trip to Canada to meet and greet fans alongside Joseph and Turner. What was it like traveling with the both of them, and how did it feel to meet that many of your supporters in person for the first time?

Traveling with Joseph and Turner is exactly what you would expect: chaos and hilarity at all times. It was the Late Night Crew times 10 on the road. I loved it. Navigating an airport with Joseph was also interesting. We got along really well, and it’s not my fault, but Air Canada… I’m so sorry. Air Canada did make me miss the connecting flight back to LA. It was not my fault, thank you very much! Anyway, going to Canada to meet the Canadian fans was so, so fun. I know that they’re very dedicated, I know that they’re very engaged. The way that they would come straight up to us and make sure that they were engaging on every little level, holding us, pulling us, telling us about the moments where they felt very connected to us, it was the best experience ever. I will also say… Alberta, Canada has a lot of Turner stans! A lot of Turner stans. I got shoulder checked a couple of times because people were trying to get to Turner. I said, “Ooh! Okay, Turner!” And don’t worry, Megan Belmonte, I did keep an eye out for anybody that tried to get too handsy. Megan’s my girl. I’m not going to have anybody out here playing her like that, so… [laughs]

Speaking of LA, do you see yourself ever moving there?

If the job is here, I will come to LA, so I’m open to all opportunities… *cough cough* Entertainment Tonight. *cough cough*

You’ve spoken quite a bit about your interest in working in entertainment news. Where did this passion stem from? I know you just said Entertainment Tonight, but are there any other people or brands you have your sights on working with in the future?

I’ve always loved entertainment news. Even when I was in second grade, I remember bringing… Ugh, I’m outing myself… I remember bringing a book from Borders Bookstore, and it was all about beauty and fashion tips. It was during a show-and-tell, and I gave a report. This is unnecessary. This is not a book report, it was a show-and-tell. I gave a report like I was an entertainment news correspondent about the best beauty tips that you could give. I was very much into loving news and media and loving entertainment, beauty, fashion, pop culture. That’s always something I’ve adored. I have grown up watching Style Network, I grew up watching E!, I know they’re finally bringing E! News back. So, you know, need someone else to the team? I mean, add me! I truly, truly to my core have always just been in this lane in some capacity. I went to college, I studied organizational sciences, but I had internships that were very much so involved in entertainment, fashion, blogging, style, PR. My interests are just what I want to be able to freely pursue now. Entertainment Tonight is with CBS… E! News, that’s a big one. Anyone who’s willing to talk to me. Extra, like, I’m open to it all. I’m open to receiving it all. Let’s go! Let’s get it out there!

Todrick Hall has been super gracious in allowing you and other Big Brother contestants to hang out at his home after their seasons. What has it been like connecting with him, and were you a fan of his before your season?

Oh my God, it’s very odd because there are a lot of people I was a fan of now, and blue checks all up in my DMs! Like, “You want to talk to me? What do you mean?!” I was a Drag Race fan before I was a Big Brother fan. Seeing and talking to and hugging Todrick, it just felt very surreal as a fan of his work on YouTube. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels” while I was prepping for a pageant. His music was the soundtrack to so many of the moments where I needed to be inspired, encouraged, and feel like a bad bitch. Hell, I probably should have asked for some of his music when I was in the house! Like, Todrick has gone from being someone I enjoyed seeing on my TV screen and on YouTube to someone who has become a very dear friend. He has been so gracious in opening up his home whenever I’m in town. I can just stop in here and do the things I need to get done. We’ve had long conversations today, other days. 

I think truly connecting with him has shown me that sometimes the people that you are seeing and hearing about in the media, it’s just not what they’re being portrayed as to their core. The person that Todrick is is not the person that I assumed he was when I was watching Celebrity Big Brother, and I wish that there were a way to change more perspectives and minds about that. I understand that people will have the feelings that they have, but Todrick is someone who has been just so kind and gracious and loving to me. He’s even extended that grace to people that I don’t want to talk to on my cast, but he’s doing it because he knows that everybody needs time to readjust to the real world. It takes a very, very special person to be able to do that. Let me tell you something, I’m not that person. If I’m not that person, that’ll tell you a lot about who Todrick is. But no, I love him to death, and I was a fan in some capacity before all this. It’s a really cool experience.

Speaking of blue check marks, Janet Jackson sent you some love following your win. Have you been in contact with her outside of just that Instagram comment?

No [emotional]! Not yet, not yet! But she is, I believe, going on tour next year. I did buy tickets for her Black Diamond Tour before the pandemic happened, so maybe we can make something happen with that. I hope so.

You were recently on set for a special episode of The Bold and the Beautiful with Joseph and Monte! What were some of your favorite moments from being on set, and do you see a possible acting career in your future?

Ooh, I don’t know about an acting career, but when I was younger, I always said I have a very small goal of being like a five-episode arc villain on a soap opera. Maybe we can make that happen. I think it’d be fun to finally be the evil person I’ve always wanted to be! Being on set was so fun with the entire cast. It was crazy because my mom was a fan of The Bold and the Beautiful. I started getting into The Bold and the Beautiful around the time the pandemic first came around in 2020, because what else was there to watch on TV? Everything else is getting shut down. It was so fun to see these people who have had these jobs, these careers in soap operas. I kind of feel like it’s a bit of a dying art right now, but there are people who are so dedicated to that craft, people who have these new scripts that happen every single day – and these are some thick girls – there’s thick books that they have to memorize every day. Being part of that set, being part of that production, it felt like I was honoring my mom, my grandma, my great grandma, and all the things that they loved. It felt very good. I got the warm and fuzzies meeting all the people that throughout generations, members of my family have also loved.

Do you have any updates to share on a collaboration with Lay’s? We’re waiting!

Ahhh [laughs]! Y’all keep asking! I will say… Yes [laughs]! Yes, that conversation is moving along, and it’s looking real good!

We’re envisioning a Super Bowl commercial!

I know, I know! Look, if you want a Super Bowl commercial, I think you need to keep bothering Lay’s. I don’t know what they’re feeling about a Super Bowl commercial, but I think if the fans are losing their minds and demanding it, it might… it might happen. Start the campaign! #TayForLays

Rihanna just officially announced her comeback to music today with a new track on the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack! How excited are you?

How excited am I? My brain just exploded everywhere, are you kidding me? Personally, I’d like to believe that I brought Rihanna out of retirem– I’m kidding. I did not bring Rihanna out of retirement. Y’all, drag me. Drag me for that. I deserve it. I manifested it! No, I’m so excited, are you kidding me? And I like Rihanna, I like the Super Bowl, I like the idea of me going to the Super Bowl at Rihanna’s party… No, I’m so excited. I listen to her music all the time, and sometimes I forget it’s been so long since she’s released new music. Give me, give me, give me! It’s time.

Outside of Big Brother, what are some of your other favorite reality TV shows? What other reality stars would you like to meet, and what shows would you consider participating on?

Ooh, okay, well I’ll say it right now: I’m dying to be a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I don’t know what I have to contribute there. Like, I’ve never been… Actually, I did a pageant! I was Miss Michigan USA! That is drag in itself. I would love to be a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race! I got some things to contribute. I also love Selling Sunset because I’m a big Chrishell [Stause] fan. I love basically all the Housewives franchises, specifically Atlanta, Potomac, and Beverly Hills. What else do I love? Million Dollar Listing. I don’t need to be in real estate to love luxury things. Like, just show me the beautiful homes. Big, big fan, and I love Chopped as well – and Guy’s Grocery Games! That’s a fun one. I know it’s more of a game show, but I’ll count it as reality. I’m a big game show girl too.

Courtesy of CBS

Now that you’ve been on Big Brother, do you see yourself watching other reality competition shows in the future like Survivor, The Challenge, etc.?

You know, I’ve met so many people now who have been on Survivor, The Challenge, CBS, so yeah, I’ll definitely consider. I will definitely be watching those shows. I think you exit the Big Brother house, and it’s not just the Big Brother family you become a part of, but it’s the larger CBS family. Especially as a Black woman and a woman of color, I’ve found kinship in connecting with the other Black women, women of color, and people of color from the other CBS reality shows. It feels very good to connect with them, but I felt so bad talking to them and having no idea about their experience on these shows. I gotta catch up, and then I gotta get in line for the future!

You recently asked fans on Instagram what type of content they’d like to see from you. What were some of the responses that you hadn’t considered but are maybe now looking into?

I’ve been pretty hesitant on a YouTube. I just feel like it’s a lot of work if I’m being very honest [laughs], but I have Turner in my corner, and Turner knows how to edit videos, he has great connections in the YouTube community. I do think I will be diving into a YouTube page. It’s been a lot of, “I want a ‘Get Ready with Me,’ I want skincare routines,” but I think a lot of people also ask for red carpet appearances. Like, “Get ready with me and get on the red carpet with me!” So, I don’t know. I gotta find the red carpets to get on first, and then I’ll see if I can get a camera crew to go with me too.

Is there anything you wish more people knew about you?

I almost wish I had an answer to that, but everything about me is so blatantly laid out in my entire Big Brother experience. It’s funny. I almost wish that this was more of a question for the houseguests. I wish that people could see my sense of humor more, I wish that people could understand that I’m just a total derp at the end of the day. Like, I’m sassy, I’m witty, I’m funny, but that’s things that everybody outside of the Big Brother house picked up on. It just wasn’t really understood until pretty late in the game or by a very select few people in the house. Now that I’m rebuilding some of those relationships, now people are seeing my humor for what it is. I think the benefit of being exactly who I was in the house was that America loved me for exactly who I am, so no! There’s nothing else hidden or that I wish people knew about me. It is all there.

Courtesy of CBS

Your future is looking bright as ever, and we see you becoming so much more than just a Big Brother winner or influencer, but a full-fledged celebrity! What sort of accomplishments are you hoping to see for yourself in the next five years?

Oh, wow. I think… [laughs] I call it the reality star starter pack, right? So, a podcast and a blog and a YouTube channel. I think those are definitely gimmies. Ultimately, I do see myself being a powerhouse in the entertainment news space, kind of like an Adrienne Bailon in the way that she was hosting on The Real. I would love to have a seat on The Talk, or if they bring back The Real in some other capacity, I’d love to be in that space. I’d love to have a strong YouTube presence. I’d love to be very present in the entertainment news space. I like reporting on what’s happening. I’m a little bit of a gossip, which is why I had fun in the Big Brother house. I don’t think that being a celebrity myself is something that I would like to pursue, but I like reporting on other things that happen. Look at Rachel Lindsay. That’s someone that I would love to be aligned with. Tayshia Adams, that’s someone I’d love to be aligned with. Those are kind of my big goals.

Your bio says, “Don’t call me Tay.” Fans are wondering, “Why not?” Why don’t you like to be called Tay at all?

It doesn’t feel like me! In the same way that Joseph doesn’t like being called Joey, I’m not a Tay. I don’t look at me, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that’s Tay!” No, that’s Taylor with a capital T! Full name. Period. That’s all it is [laughs]!

There’s another name people call you… Mother [laughs]? How do you feel about your fans referring to you as “Mother”?

You can call me Mother all day [laughs]! I love it. I feel like I would be calling people Mother if I was not in the Big Brother house. Like, that definitely popped up while I was away. My personality, I don’t have a personality. My personality is just the internet. That’s the one thing that passed by me, but I’ll catch up on everything else. So, please call me Mother. I am Mother. My children, I love you all!

The video-formatted version of our interview with Big Brother 24 winner Taylor Hale is available to watch here.