‘Big Brother’ Season 24 winner Taylor Hale on making history: 'I refused to change myself'

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Taylor Hale is proud of the history she made when she won Big Brother Season 24 earlier this year, but she also wants viewers to remember that she was a deserving winner too.

The former beauty queen captured the heart’s of America during her time on the CBS reality show this summer, going from the brink of eviction as an outcast in the house to one of the cast’s power players. Her inspiring arc culminated in a tearjerking speech followed by the jury of evicted ex-houseguests overwhelmingly voting for her to win, making her the first Black woman to win a noncelebrity season of Big Brother U.S. Not only that, but she also became the show’s first winner ever to also win the America’s Favorite Player distinction.

For this week’s episode of In The Know’s pop culture interview series, We Should Talk, Taylor opened up about her historic win, watching the season back, what she wants to do with her big new platform, her relationship with fellow BB24 houseguest Joseph Abdin and much more.

Listen to Taylor Hale’s full episode of We Should Talk below, and keep reading for some highlights from the interview:

On wanting to be seen as both a deserving and historic Big Brother winner:

It’s one of those things where I know that as a Black woman, no matter what I do, no matter what I accomplish, there are going to be a subset of people that say, “It was handed it to her because she’s Black,” or, “She got sympathy because she’s Black,” or “PC awareness! Oh no!” As much as I know that’s not the truth and the majority of the viewers know that’s not the truth, it does help to also say, “No, I also won the game, and I won the hearts of America because they saw not only what I experience, but they also saw the way that I used my social strategy to maneuver and win out in the end.”

I get asked so many times, “Are you your race? Are you your gender? Are you your accomplishments?” I am all three at the same time. I am my accomplishments. I am my race. I am my gender. There are always going to be people who want me to separate myself from one thing or another to make themselves feel comfortable. If you learned one thing from my season, it’s to just exist fully as you are and force people to understand that their preconceived notions and assumptions about you are doing a disservice and being detrimental overall, because I went in [to the Big Brother house] as I am — good, bad and ugly — and I ended up victorious because I refused to change myself for the benefit of others.

On her relationship with Joseph Abdin:

I’ve been very intentional about making sure it’s not his responsibility [to help me through this experience]. It’s so easy coming out of these shows to find a way to trauma bond with the people you’ve been around. For me, pursuing a relationship with Joseph, the most important thing for me was making sure that we had longevity and that we’re going to make it all the way to the end and then some. If we had come out of the Big Brother house and jumped into a relationship without seeing a therapist, without having serious conversations, then our relationship would’ve crumbled by now. Especially with the heat that I’ve gotten.

It’s a lot of love, but I get a lot of heat too, for some fair and some unfair reasons. I can’t turn to my partner and word vomit and expect him to be responsible for all of that. That doesn’t make any sense. I’d rather talk to a therapist to work through it. But, of course, as my life partner, he’s someone who I’m going to share this with, so he knows what I’m walking through. But I don’t give him my boulders, and he doesn’t give me his boulders. It’s a really nice dynamic that we’ve worked out.

On her connections to stars of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Potomac:

I went to school in D.C., and my first pageant was Miss D.C. USA. Competing in Miss D.C. USA, there are only about 20 girls that compete. The eligibility requirements to actually hold the D.C. title are very strict. … It’s a very tight-knit community, the pageant world. When I competed in Miss D.C. USA only one time, the network of women that I got to know from that one time I competed is so tight-knit and strong. The girl who I competed against in my first pageant went on to win Miss USA. I lost to Miss USA — that sounds good to me! In that network was also Candiace [Dillard-Bassett], who I got to know really well through that community, and by extension I got to know Ashley [Darby]. I think if I walked in front of Ashley, she wouldn’t recognize me, especially pre-Big Brother. But we’ve been in the same circles. I’m very invested in Potomac, because I’ve had a personal tie to it from the jump.

Watch In The Know’s full episode with Big Brother Season 24 winner Taylor Hale below:

If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s recent interview with Keke Palmer here!

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