Big Brother Canada just wrapped up its second season on Slice, with 14 houseguest from across the country who captivated audiences across the globe. Like every great Big Brother season, the house was filled with lies, manipulation, crazy competitions, many tears, and best of all, strong friendships audiences could fall in love with. Vancity Buzz sat down with two contestants hailing from BC: Sarah Miller, a 32-year-old mom and mortgage broker, who was the sixth person voted out of the house, and Neda Kalantar (pictured above), a 22-year-old fashion stylist, who was the second-runner up.
Q: What was your strategy going in to the game and how did it change once you were in the house?
Sarah: My strategy going in to the game was going to be to just lay low, kind of make some emotional connections with people, but unfortunately and fortunately, as soon as we got in, Sabrina basically offered this First Five alliance, and the problem is, when you’re in the game for five minutes, you have no idea who this person is. So, really, you have no choice but to say yes in that moment. That kind of changed my strategy. That was kind of how my strategy changed within minutes of entering the house.
Q: But you were really close with Andrew and Kenny it seemed. Do you think you would’ve been aligned with them regardless?
S: Honestly I think that being in that alliance forced me to get to know them a little bit better, and think “OK, here’s the people that I’m aligned with.” I think I was closer with Arlie and Kenny than anyone, but I did get to see a side of Andrew that not a lot of people saw, because of the alliance. However, being in the first five took away a lot of my energy that I should have been focusing toward Allison, towards Heather and even towards Rachelle a little bit.
Neda: I came in to it knowing I wasn’t going to be on the first half of the season, because I wanted to fly completely under the radar. I knew there was going to be people like Andrew and Kenny who would take themselves out of the game, because they come in there wanting to win competitions right off the bat, and you’re instantly making a target out of yourself. So for the first half I just wanted to let those people take themselves out, and take that time to build as many loyal relationships with people as possible. That’s how I got close with Delly (Adel), Heather, and Jon. Once the second half hit, since I knew I’d be as well-protected by people as possible, that’s when I started making big moves. I think I stuck to my strategy really well, and it worked…until the end.
Q: But you mentioned in earlier interviews that you would have wanted to align with someone you didn’t like—clearly, that didn’t work out. I know you guys are all close now, but whom would you have picked if you stuck to that strategy?
N: [laughs] Well, obviously you guys saw, there were a few people I didn’t like in the game, like Andrew and stuff. Obviously I love Andrew now, I’ve spoken with him and he’s an amazing guy, but thinking about it, I wouldn’t have wanted to align myself with Andrew because he was such a huge threat, and because anyone who’s aligned with Andrew is such a huge threat, so I’m kind of happy I didn’t go with that strategy because it wouldn’t have worked for me.
Q: You both made very close friendships in the game, Neda with Jon and Sarah with Kenny. How were you able to do that in a game that’s has so much dishonesty and deceiving involved?
S: Honestly, I think when you’re in that place and everything is so stressful and everybody’s lying, you don’t realize it, but you need that one person. You actually feel like you’re losing your mind most of the time; you go to bed and your brain is working, you wake up and you’re anxious, and if there’s not at least one person that you feel like you can just be yourself with, then I think you’d go crazy. I think everyone would say they had one person that they felt closest to. I realized Kenny was that person for me around week 2 when he looked at me and said “I hate you” and I looked at him and said “I hate you too.” I realized then, we get each other’s humour, this is the person that I think I can be myself with in the house.
N: I think you need one person in the game that you can just not be in the game with, like talk about normal day-to-day stuff, and you can trust them with whatever you say and you know it’s not going to get used against you in the game. I think Jon and I became close on day 5. The first couple of days we thought each other was really sketchy.
Q: If you could take three things in to the big brother house with you that you weren’t allowed to take, what would it be?
S: Hair dye, a tanning bed, and a clock
N: Painting supplies or something, books, and a cat. I don’t have a cat, but I would take some sort of cat with me.
Q: What’s one thing you would have changed about your big brother game?
N: I would get those questions right at the end.
S: I would’ve paid more attention to the people I wasn’t bonding with and less attention to the people I was.
Q: Sarah, I think all the houseguests agreed that you were one of the kindest and most caring Big Brother contestants this season. Do you think being a mother affected your game at all, whether negatively or positively?
S: Honestly, I don’t think it had an affect on my game. I don’t think it made me weak game-wise. I was trying to play a strong social game and get everyone connected to me emotionally.
Q: Is there any advice you’d give to moms who want to be on the show?
S: Oh it’s so hard! Every day you wake up trying to make sure that your kids are ok, so when you’re not able to do that, it’s so hard. That’s why I bonded with Jon so much because he was like my child. When he needed love and affection I would rub his head and cuddle him, because that filled that void for me. It’s really hard to not know if your kids are struggling with you not being there, or how you’re being perceived and if that’s causing them a hard time at school. I think the second time around, if I was asked back on, I think I would be stronger because I know now that they were okay. Being out now, I knew my husband had everything under control, and that my kids loved the whole experience. The only piece of advice I could give is something they told me before I went in to the house, which was: you’re going to miss your kids more than they miss you because they get to watch you.
Q: Neda, why did you never trust Heather enough to take her to the end? Why was most of your trust with Jon as opposed to Heather?
N: Here’s the thing, I was going to take Heather to the end until she did really well in that HOH completion, ‘On the Ropes.’ That’s when I realized I wanted to take out Heather, but it didn’t work because she won the Veto. I thought I would have a better chance of winning physical and mental competitions without Heather there. I didn’t fully believe that Heather was going to take me over Sabrina. After watching her DRs [Diary Room] I texted her and was like “oh my god, I’m so sorry I didn’t trust you!” But I just thought that if it was an all girls final three alliance, Sabrina was going to take Heather and Heather was going to take Sabrina, and I would have to win my way to that final two. Anyone’s smartest move would have been taking Sabrina to the final two.
Q: So then why did you trust that Jon would take you instead of Sabrina and not Heather?
N: Jon had way more of an emotional bond to me, and I guess at the last moment he turned on his game mode and switched the emotion off.
Q: Do you regret showing him how to be an emotionless Big Brother player?
N: Oh for sure. I regret showing him, basically how to play the game. But then again, if we had not been working together, neither of us would have gotten as far as we did in the game.
Q: Who are your favourite past players of Big Brother?
S: I have always been a huge Jeff and Jordan fan, even though there’s a bit of controversy now surrounding Jeff and some homophobic comments he’s made, which I’m very against. I also loved Britney (Big Brother US 12 and 14), and am a big Janelle fan (Big Brother US seasons 6, All-Stars, and 14). I really like the personality players.
N: I love really strong female players, like Danielle (Big Brother 8 and 13) and Jun (Big Brother 4). I loved Britney, I thought she was hilarious in her DRs.
Q: I saw you guys met a lot of American and Canadian Big Brother players after leaving the house. Were you surprised by any of them?
S: I think your judgments of these people just kind of disappear. You go in to that meeting thinking that they’re probably an amazing person because they were picked to be on the show. Also, now that you’ve all experienced this and not a lot of people get to experience it, you connect. So, I think you go in so much more open minded and less judgmental.
Q: After all the production and editing, were you surprised with how you or any of your houseguest were portrayed to viewers?
S: I think they did an amazing job capturing people’s personalities. I was kind of annoyed at the beginning when they made Paul look kind of like this mastermind, because he was not that at all.
N: There were a few episodes towards the end, which I knew would happen too, where Sabrina would stay in the house after being up on the block and go in to the DR and say “I manipulated them all into keeping me!” And really, we only kept her around because we could beat her. I think there are parts we all wish they showed, but overall I think they did a great job capturing everyone.
Q: Were you conscious of the fact that people are watching and judging you?
N: You’re conscious of it, but you forget as well. You see cameras everywhere but it’s hard to make the association that it’s not just production watching you, it’s all of Canada watching you.
S: Since you’re so cut off from the world, the thought that people actually care enough to be watching, somehow doesn’t come together that way. Once you leave and there’s an audience, and fans, that part is just absolutely nuts!
Q: People online can be kind of mean, as well. How do you guys deal with that, because really, you guys are just normal people who are on a reality show for just a few months?
S: It hurts when you hear people bashing your character, but at the same time I think that’s why it’s important to be confident in yourself and remember, “I am a good person, I’m flawed, I make mistakes.” That’s why I think we all lean so much on each other because nobody else understands what it’s like to have thousands of people calling you names or telling you what a horrible human being you are.
N: You have to remember you’re being made out to be a character. To audiences, you’re a character to them on TV, so you just have to think of it in the sense that they’re just attacking what they saw on TV. Also, sometimes you just laugh at it.
Q: And on that note, there’s been a lot of talk on twitter about there being a double standard for females in the Big Brother game. Did you sense that at all?
N: Oh one hundred percent. Let’s look at Dan and Will and see how many times they lied and backstabbed their alliance members, and they’re applauded for it. But, then when a girl even talks about wanting to do that, then she’s a bitch and she’s manipulative, and she’s a horrible person. It’s annoying, it really is. I love Jon, he’s one of my best friends, but it’s just annoying that even when I talked about wanting to get him out people hated me for it. But, when he actually does get me out of the house, then he’s applauded for it. I just think people need to be more openminded.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that’s changed in your life post-Big Brother?
S: Not being able to go places without people knowing who you are or wanting to talk to you. I was talking to my husband about this last night, because… something does change inside you. I can’t explain exactly what it is, I just wake up every day and I do feel different. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, yet, I’m still trying to figure it out, but going through an experience like that, being cut off from the world like that, being under that kind of stress, and still making it out… something does change inside you. I hope it’s something that’s made us all stronger people. I think this might be the first time in an interview I’ve actually said that.
N: I realized that I roll my eyes a lot. I didn’t know that, ever! In my DRs, I roll my eyes constantly, so that’s something I’m really aware of now. I was always just looking at the ceiling!
Q: But what about your clothing line? Blk & Saint?
N: It’s been doing amazing! Before I went in to the house my sister and I were like “ok, if we sell like, five shirts a month, that would be amazing.” People from Australia or the UK have been buying shirts and I’m just so excited about it!
Q: And where does Blk & Saint come from?
N: We literally just put a bunch of random words in a hat and then we just picked them out, and one was black and one was saint and we took the vowel out of black. I don’t know, I wish I had some really interesting story for how we got the name.
Q: What’s in store for Blk & Saint?
N: I’m working on a bunch of new designs, so hopefully within the next month or so they should be out—but don’t hold me to that. We were talking about putting them in some stores as well.
Q: Since you’re cut off from all outside contact, what was the most shocking or interesting thing you found out once you left the Big Brother house?
S: The shocking thing I found out was that plane that disappeared! That was crazy! Also the finance minster dying, since I’m in mortgages that mattered to me.
N: That Justin Bieber hadn’t been deported yet. I thought for sure he’d be in jail or something.
S: There was also a rumour online that my husband had left me and took the kids and locked up the house, because of how close I had gotten to Kenny. It’s really funny the kind of stuff people will make up.
Q: Speaking of rumours, Neda, are you and Alec from Big Brother Canada season 1 dating?
N: No [laughs]. We started that rumour so we can’t really complain!
Q: What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s auditioning to be on the show?
S: This is what I get asked the most, and I just tell them: be yourself. In this house, as much as you try to be a character, your own personality comes out anyways. There’s no way to prepare, these people are professionals and they know what to look for; they know if you’re acting to try and get on the show.
N: Don’t wear a costume to open calls. Just be yourself! Don’t make it a big production, just be yourself but just an over exaggerated version.
Q: There’s been rumours you guys have been considering going on the Amazing Race, is that something you guys are actually interested in?
S: We’re honestly, genuinely, going to be trying to do a Kenny and Sarah versus Neda and Jon on the Amazing Race.
N: That would be so good! We would beat you guys…
S: See, I think I could do better than Big Brother because it’s all competition! There’s no mind games, if you lose the competition [a leg of the race], you’re gone. Your fate is kind of in your own hands in that way. I guess maybe not do better, but I’d have more control.
Q: Neda, you don’t think you and Jon would fight a lot?
N: Oh we definitely would, we’d be fighting the entire time. Non-stop.
Q: Would you go on any other reality TV shows?
N: What else is there?
Q: The Bacholerette?
N: [laughs] maybe, actually!
S: I did do a local reality show, called Bulging Brides with Tom Europe. That’s the only other one I’ve ever done, and I would do everything and anything. I just love the whole experience.
N: I didn’t get on Big Brother to be on TV, I just loved Big Brother. I’ve always said, even if there wasn’t prize money and we weren’t being filmed, I would still love to play the game. But now, being on TV…it’s just fun!
Q: Are you guys going to do any sort of meet and greet for local fans?
Both: We’re trying! I think we’re going to wait and plan a proper one when Jon, Arlie, and Rachelle are here [Vancouver] in June.
Q: What are your favourite things to do in the summer in Vancouver?
S: I’m just a beach girl. I don’t come downtown that much, but we spend as much time camping as possible. If I could camp all summer long, I would do it. We go to Jones Lake and Cultus Lake a lot.
N: I love camping. I also just love being downtown, I love walking around and just chilling.
Q: Neda I think people are dying to know, where do you go shopping in Vancouver?
N: Honestly just basic stores! H&M, Zara… I love Topshop, The Bay, Forever 21… I just go to the cheapest places, and they always have the best stuff. I think I dressed a lot of people in the house. Did you see Jon’s transformation from when he first came in?!