The reality TV star reflects on her run on the 25th iteration of the show.
The CBS reality competition show “Big Brother” kicked off its 25th season earlier in the summer and featured an all-star cast. One of this year’s houseguests included political consultant and DMV resident, Mecole “Meme” Hayes. After Hayes faced an unfortunate eviction from the house, we caught up with her to talk about post-show life back in the DMV, how fans have responded to her gameplay and her secret to surviving in the house.
District Fray: So you’ve officially been out of the house for about a week. What has been one of the weirdest adjustments for you since leaving?
Mecole Hayes: One of the weirdest adjustments for me happened just the other day when I went to the grocery store for the first time. It was so bizarre, because in the “Big Brother” house everything is provided for you. We have the storage room where a lot of my iconic rants happened, and that’s where you have all of the food and the toiletries that you need, and obviously if you need any special items, you can request those as well. But yeah, just going to the grocery store and just getting re-acclimated to all of the things that felt so normal before living in the fishbowl that is “Big Brother.”
I also remember sitting in our living room here with my husband watching TV the other day, and I was just like, “It is so weird that I keep looking up at every wall.” Like every corner of the wall, because I’m used to cameras being everywhere and just like censoring myself in conversation, because it was national television and you have to be mindful about what you are saying and doing at all times.
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So I have to say that as a big reality TV fan, I have certain parameters for any show I watch. If any person meets these qualifications, I’m like, “Alright, I’m rooting for them.” So, when I saw someone from the DMV was going to be on “Big Brother,” I was like, “I have no choice but to stan.” How has it been coming back to the fan reception?
You know, it’s been very interesting coming back to the fan reception, because when you are in the house, honestly, you are just existing every day. Obviously, you’re playing a game, but we have no idea what’s being shown on the live feeds or what’s being shown in the episodes that air three times a week. You don’t really spend too much time thinking of what the perception from the fans will be about you or your gameplay.
So, I think one of the most surprising things for me coming back was just how much commentary there was around how much time I did or didn’t spend doing my hair. I think that was a very interesting conversation, because when we start to think about Black women and the perception of hair that we have, not just in reality television, but also in the corporate workspace and any other spaces that we tend to exist in, we’ve always been strongly scrutinized for how we show up in that way. So, when I saw so much discourse around me tending to my hair more than I was tending to my game, I was very disappointed in the narrative that was being pushed around that. Just recognizing how tough of a journey it has been for women of color to navigate that space. So, I’d say that’s one of the most surprising things coming out so far.
In an interview, you talked about how your old tweets started blowing up again. Do you feel like there’s pressure to stay on top of your social accounts?
I know, everyone welcomed me on Twitter with open arms. I did live tweet during last week’s eviction when Cam went home and everyone was enjoying that, but just really seeing the fan reaction from my old tweets — mind you, at the time I’m all of like, 16 [or] 17. So, the fact that 16-year-old Meme was a prophet of sorts — I live for that. There are so many relevant tweets to what was happening in the “Big Brother” house and I am enjoying every minute of it. I’m looking through all of the threads of my old tweets and I am just cracking up laughing at just how intuitive I was.
You walked in the house as a “Big Brother” super fan. How did competing in the house change your perception of the show?
I’ve always loved and enjoyed house guests each season, but I really do respect everyone who has the opportunity to come in, play this game and just do well in it. It is so much harder than it looks on TV. I will say that when you’re sitting from the comfort of your home and you know the storyline is flipping between each room and you’re able to follow every conversation and you’re looking at comps and you’re like, “You should have done it this way” or “I would have done it this way” and “This is the best strategy.” When you are in there, you are constantly reminded of the pressure to not just do well but to also navigate this game in a way in which you’re not a threat.
That just puts you in a position where the competitions always feel like life or death, for me at least. I never went into one comp saying, “Oh, I’m gonna throw this comp” or “Oh, I don’t need to win this comp.” Every week I felt like I was fighting for my life. You were never really safe in the “Big Brother” house unless you have the power of veto or you’re the HOH [head of household]. Being able to compete in this game just really allowed me to gain a greater respect for everyone who’s played this game before me. It was amazing. I loved every minute of it.
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While you’re back here in the DMV, what is one thing you are looking forward to doing?
Going to dinner with my husband. I love Mediterranean food, so we went to Rumi’s Kitchen last night. We have plans to go to Ilili in a few days. I left for “Big Brother” a little over a month after we got married so date nights with the hubby have been high on my to-do list at the most fabulous Mediterranean restaurants in the city. Looking forward to hitting all of those.
Any last takeaways you want to touch on?
I think the biggest takeaway that I would like for the audience to be mindful of, in terms of the game that I played this season, is that there is something to be said about quiet strength and mental fortitude. Being the loudest person in the room doesn’t always make you right, nor does it all always mean that you’re in the most powerful position. I was proud to play in that way.
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