Former Big Brother contestant Cassandra Waldon died on Sept. 25. She was 56.
On Saturday, the show’s longtime host, Julie Chen, honored the season 1 contestant with a tribute on Instagram.
“Rest In Peace Cassandra. Your light will continue to shine in this world because of the way you lived your life: with class and grace,” Chen wrote alongside a photo of Waldon’s funeral pamphlet and headshot. “May your family and loved ones find solace and peace. Thank you for bringing your intelligence, warmth and wisdom to the Big Brother house Season 1. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers. May God Bless your soul. 🙏🏼”
Waldon competed on the inaugural season of the CBS reality competition show in 2000. She was the first to enter the house and placed in sixth place overall.
At the time of her death, Waldon had been working for the United Nations as its Director of Communications for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, according to TMZ, which reported that Waldon died due to a head injury she sustained from a car accident while in Rome, Italy, where she lived and worked.
While working for the UN, Waldon was interviewed by a youth observer in 2016 who called her “an inspiration in many ways.” The young woman, Donya Nasser, shared a piece of advice that Waldon had left her with following the interview.
“When there are many different opportunities and you have to decide which path to go down on, it’s important to go where your passions lie and be okay when down the course of your career those passions change and stray from what you originally planned,” the former reality star had told Nasser, who called it the “most powerful” advice she received.
According to TMZ, a funeral will be held next weekend in Waldon’s home state of Maryland.