At the end of a long day, sometimes the best way to feel like you're living your best life is with some comfy PJ's, a glass of wine, and gratuitous reality television. In our series "Not-So-Guilty Pleasures," we remove the "guilt" and break down the latest happenings in your favorite TV indulgences.
- After getting evicted in week four, Kemi Fakunle opened up to OprahMag.com about her time in the Big Brother 21 house—and how she feels about her cast mates.
- Kemi was on the receiving end of various hateful comments from fellow houseguests, particularly Jack Matthews.
Amid a tumultuous Big Brother 21, this season's Kemi Fakunle did not have an easy time on the reality show. And though she's been out of the house for two weeks now, the 26-year-old marketing strategist has still been on fans' minds.
From her first day in the game, Kemi was on the outs with the majority alliance called "Gr8tful," and unbeknownst to her, often on the receiving end of hateful comments from fellow houseguests. Jack's actions in particular earned so much ire from fans accusing him of racism that a petition was created to expel him from the game.
After Kemi was evicted through the "Camp Comeback" twist that saw three minorities leave BB21 at once, she issued her own statement on Twitter addressing the season's more controversial moments. In an exclusive interview, OprahMag.com caught up with her to discuss her time in the house, what being out of the game is like, and which cast member she's rooting for to win.
It's been a few weeks since you were evicted. Have you kept up with the live feeds?
No. I went back and watched a few clips that my friends sent me, just to see everything that was going on that I didn't see when I was in the house. And then I went back and watched the aired show to see how everything played on the show versus played on the live feeds. Now I'm following updates on Twitter here and there, to see who's on the block and stuff like that. So I'm up-to-date. But I don't have my thumb on my phone—not for Big Brother at least.
There were controversial comments thrown your way—especially from Jack. How do you feel about those?
It's sad because when I was in the house everyone was pleasant enough. Even before I was evicted, it was weird because I knew that there was a majority group from pretty early on that was aligned with Jack, and obviously Jack was very much against me. So everyone in that group was acting a little weird towards me except for Nick and Bella. And when I found out that I couldn't really trust Nick and Bella, that was the tipping point in the game for me. I called them out because I'm not gonna have my game destroyed and not destroy everyone else's game with me. I'm a good sport for the most part, but blow my game up in my face, not behind my back.
So, when I saw a few clips online of comments that were taken beyond the game level and very personal—and some violent remarks—it's beyond disappointing to me. It's kind of gross. I don't know that if I didn't like someone that I would have threatening thoughts about them that I would then voice to other people. And if someone said that around me, I don't know that I'd be laughing about it. There's this mob mentality that was created in the house and everyone just kind of fell into it, and it seemed like since I wasn't willing to fall into that, that I was public enemy number one.
Many fans viewed what you experienced as racism. Did you feel that at all in the house, or do you see that now that you've watched feeds?
I definitely feel that there was an unwillingness to accept cultures that were different from yours, and it was highlighted through race. To just hear these comments of how I was referred to as the cancer of the house, and I was toxic, and I needed to be cut out because I was a tumor... It was like, you guys didn't even give me the chance to let you get to know me. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty positive person. I'm very lighthearted, and I really don't care about much. With other people, like for example Michie, who is a little bit more intense, no one's calling him the cancer of the house, or a tumor, or saying he needs to be cut out because they're too busy following him and doing whatever he says. It's disappointing, but I was raised to be strong and confident, think longterm, and to quite honestly be a leader. I thought that would be good coming into the Big Brother house, but the pack mentality has shown me that that was probably my ultimate downfall.
Other fans think that racism is too strong of a word to characterize the actions and comments of some houseguests. Do you?
I don't think so. I think that when you think of racism a lot of people think of how it was maybe 50 years ago or 30 years. Today, racism doesn't look like what it did back in the day because you do have social media, you do have live feeds, you do have people trying to be a little bit more politically correct for the sake of the appearance of themselves. But from my experience, a lot of these times racism these days is expressed through microaggressions. It's easy to slap a term on something, but it's also sort of a feeling. There's a certain sort of aggression, and these ridiculous words that were tossed on to me, and David, specifically.
Let's talk about "shaker bottle gate." How were you able to keep your calm when Jack was...
The first thing he said was, "I'm just gonna say it." And I didn't know what he had to say because we barely interacted with each other, so I wasn't listening. So when he goes on his rant about whatever it is, I honestly was confused as to why the conversation was lasting as long as it did. He could have very easily said, "Your shaker bottle's taking up space in the fridge. Do you mind moving it?" I would not have thought twice about it. But I've seen Jack character types before, so I know how to deal with it. Jack's type is someone who needs attention, and he thrives on attention, so he probably thought he was going to get a different sort of reaction from me. I wasn't going to give that to him because then he would win. Not that this is a matter of winning and losing, but I'm not a type to debase myself and lower myself to getting in a screaming match over a shaker bottle. I'm an adult.
Jack is pretty comfortable in the game right now. Do you think someone will target him?
I think if anyone was to make that move I would put my money on Sam, but Sam's on the block right now. I don't see anyone taking a shot at Jack because they're scared of him. And this week would have been the smartest week to put him up as a back door option because Jack is someone I could very easily see being a bitter jury member. I wouldn't be surprised if Jack made it to the final two.
On a personal level, I can't say that I have positive feelings towards most of the people in the house, but game-wise I see a lot of people playing pretty good games. With Jack, it takes a lot to get people to follow you, or at least to get people to want to follow you. So if he were to get to the final two, and I was being a bitter jury member, I probably wouldn't vote for him. But if I were still in the house, and didn't see everything going on, I'd probably vote for him.
A lot of people might be surprised by that.
I came into the game with a love for it. I was hoping I would make friends and have a great summer, but I appreciate and respect the game itself, so if he plays a good game, then he deserves to win. Then again, if you're at the end of the game, and you play an aggressive game I can respect that. But when you start doing personal things, I can't respect that so much. So let me actually take me that back. I will also say with Michie, my opinions about him aside and his misogynistic nature side, I think that he also positioned himself well early in the game and was able to take the target off his back early.
Personal feelings aside about everyone, I think Jack is playing a pretty decent game, Jackson and Christie. And Tommy is playing an excellent game.
You and Nicole had a great friendship. Are you still rooting for her?
Yeah, I'm definitely rooting for Nicole. I've been following the Twitter updates, and it's unfortunate that I think their eyes are on Nicole right now. I'm hoping that people can take their eyes of her somehow.
In your post-eviction interview with Julie you said you wanted Sam to win. Do you still feel that way?
Oh definitely not. After seeing everything that was said behind my back, I think a lot of the time that I would have a conversation with him, that he would initiate and then run and completely distort what I said and take it to whoever. To me a lot of it was unnecessary, and I can't root for someone like that.
In an interview with EW, Bella said you all went to the University of Maryland together at the same time. Did you know each other going into the show?
No, we did not go to UMD at the same time. I think she was entering class in 2015, and I graduated May of '15. So we probably just missed each other, but I'd never seen Bella before in my life.
Have you two spoken at all now that you're both out of the house?
No. After my eviction speech, we could have just left it at that. You threw my game under the bus, I then dragged you down with me. It could have just been left at game. But it turned personal for me. Being that I'm not the most open person, I can't touch it. I don't keep people around me that I feel like I can't trust, so if you weaponize someone's personal life, to me I feel like I would never be able to get close to you again because I wouldn't ever fully trust you with personal information, and I would like to trust my friends.
I chatted with BB19's Dominique Cooper last week about how she dealt with her fellow houseguests' treatment of her, and how she eventually forgave them once her season was over. Can you forgive those who hurt you?
It's funny because Dominique and I actually talked about this, and I understand where she's coming from. Forgive and forget is the nature of a lot of people. And a lot of people think that if you don't forgive someone you're harboring these negative feelings, and it's better if you just let them go. I just don't view life that way. I feel like when someone says something about you that's so hateful, when they don't really know you as a person to make that sort of judgement, I would have a hard time accepting an apology.
For example, David and I spoke very briefly when we had come out of the house and he tried to apologize, and I'll admit, I didn't accept. My reasoning for not accepting it is you don't even know what you're apologizing for. You're just apologizing because you see that the fans don't really support you right now because of the things you said about me. Even now that I've been out of the house, they've found a way to bring me up to trash me, again. I don't know if I would want to even be cool with someone like that.
I will say though, one person that I don't want to forgive—because she's talked so much s*** about me—is Kat, but I could probably see myself forgiving her before anyone else. It's weird how that works.
Some of the controversial moments don't make the official broadcast. Do you wish they were edited in?
I do wish that that side of them was shown. The way that I understand Big Brother to work is that it's a social experiment. What happens when you throw 16 people who don't know each other from completely different walks of life in a house together? It isn't always positive. But from what I've seen of the show, that mob mentality hasn't been aired. Have you ever read Lord of the Flies? That's the way I see our season. Jack is very aptly named.
I understand that there has to be a storyline, but I would have hoped watching back that I would see a condensed version of what was going on in the house rather than a deluded version of what's going in the house. I hope that going forward if things aren't aired, that more people start to watch the live feeds so they can get an accurate picture of who these people actually are.
Do you think you, Ovie, and David would have been evicted later in the game had the cast been more diverse?
I think it's been shown in past seasons as well. There's always one or two African Americans, and then another race as well. I think that if there were more of a minority group, than the minorities could probably get further. For example, in Celebrity Big Brother 2, Tamar won and that was the first time an African American had ever won the show. But they also had three AAs in the show.
There is this unconscious tendency to gravitate towards people that you're more similar to. Even if you are open to other people. Don't get me wrong, I have friends that come from all different backgrounds, and we're just as close as any of my other friends, but I think that it's natural to gravitate towards someone that you know has been there, done that and had the same experiences as you.