Former Big Brother winner Derrick Levasseur has acknowledged past seasons of the hit reality TV show have lacked in diversity.
Speaking on ‘The Winner’s Circle’ podcast, Levasseur said that as ‘a white male’ he didn’t have much of a place to say anything, but acknowledged past seasons ‘could have been much more diverse.’
‘I do think now they are doing better at casting and giving people an opportunity to have others who look like them and have similar backgrounds, so that they feel more comfortable,’ Levasseur said while discussing the topic with last season’s All-Star winner Cody Calafiore. ‘And I do think there’s some truth to that.’
Moving forward, fans of the show may refer to seasons of Big Brother as ‘BC’ (Before Cookout) and ‘AC’ (After Cookout) because diversity in casting is here to stay.
Levasseur said he’s been a fan of Big Brother ‘for a very long time’, and agreed that representation has been an issue in past seasons.
‘We have a situation where we have a correction right now because of past transgressions, through past casting, and we’re seeing the change now,’ said the Season 16 winner. ‘I think it is very good because, I know there are people who hate on the Cookout, but there are some good players on the Cookout.’
During the first couple of days in the house this season, Derek Frazier, Tiffany Mitchell, Azah Awasum, Kyland Young, Hannah Chaddha, and Xavier Prather agreed they wanted a Black player to win the show.
They pointed out Black players don’t often make it to the jury house, so they created one of the greatest alliances in the history of the show, called The Cookout, to protect each other as far as possible, with the goal of one of them winning.
The Cookout laid out a deliberate plan in direct reaction to what happened last year on Big Brother All-Stars when Calafiore led an all-white group of players called ‘The Committee’ to victory.
The Committee had voted out a Muslim player, three Black players and one gay player early on in the season, leaving the final weeks with all white players.
Calafiore, who co-hosts The Winner’s Circle podcast with Levasseur, was less inclined to acknowledge the lack of diversity on the show.
He instead skipped over the issue and emphasized that going forward race shouldn’t be a factor in the house.
‘It is more diverse, but I want people playing the game,’ he said.
Calafiore, who argued against Covid concerns while in the house last season, and who regularly ridicules the ‘cancel culture’ on his Twitch channel, had previously dismissed the accusation that race had anything to do with his strategy last season.
But he has defended controversial former players like GinaMarie Zimmerman and Jackson Michie saying ‘they were crucified’ when they left the show (not acknowledging that maybe their comments and actions deserved it).
This year, some fans claimed The Cookout was racist.
But longtime host Julie Chen Moonves disagreed.
“I think it’s hard for some people who are not of color to understand the importance of the Cookout making it this far,” Moonves told Entertainment Weekly. “I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism. In my humble opinion, it is not. As a fan of the show, it’s impressive to see an alliance this big make it this far. That rarely happens.”
Minority contestants have struggled to gain traction, often put in the Big Brother house with an overwhelming number of white players.
In fact, no African American has ever won the show in its previous 22 seasons.
CBS was aware of the ongoing accusations of racism on the reality TV show and executives finally did something about it.
Earlier in the year CBS announced that all cast members on their reality shows moving forward would be at least half people of color.
“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer for the CBS Entertainment Group. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our network.”
Levasseur made it clear he likes the idea of more diversity on reality TV moving forward.
“So, I do like the idea of having a more diverse cast and I hope we get to a point where everyone goes in there and they play the best game and people are ultimately, they get further in the game based on the quality of their game.”
Big Brother will crown the first-ever African American winner Wednesday night on CBS.