Brooke Berry: "Sexuality has nothing to do with appearance"
The Big Brother star on her time in the house and femme visibility
Brooke Berry, 21, was a housemate in series 19 of Big Brother who finished in sixth place. Check out our interview with her on all things BB, her Buddhism blog Choose Wild and lesbian representation in 2018.
DIVA: So, Big Brother 2018. What made you dive head first into the biggest reality show and push yourself into unknown territory?
BROOKE BERRY: It was something I’d never thought about! I was encouraged to apply by someone from the casting team at a time when I felt lost with what I wanted to do. I was seeking new inspiration and this opportunity seemed like something that would be both blessing and a challenge and would give me chance to break away from modern society. It’s a 24/7 gameshow and this excited me more than anything I’d ever done.
Looking back on the Brooke who entered the house and the Brooke who left after 50 days, how is she different?
One of the biggest changes is how much my thoughts have slowed down. In the outside world, I always felt rushed, but in there we became more mindful of everything we did, doing our washing and making our beds became things we stopped taking for granted, and I’ve brought elements of that out with me. Also, it made me care more about what I say. All words should pass through three filters: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? This is a Buddhist concept that was so useful in the house.
How did you find living with everyone and do you think your connections will be as strong on the outside?
I couldn’t have asked for better housemates. I don’t think any of us expected the amount of love that would engulf us. It made the social experiment much easier knowing you were going through it with people who had quickly become your friends. Everyone cared deeply about one another and we created a home away from home. Now, no matter how far apart we are, we will never lose our connection.
You were very level-headed. How did you keep your cool in an environment that often got heated? Did the Buddhism teachings you practise help?
I made an effort to not let the demons that would fill my mind, now I had time to listen to them, overwhelm me. Usually, you can fill your day with activity to avoid anxiety. That house takes away any defence mechanism you have against dark places of your mind. I had two options, fall apart within a week or get to the root of those dark places. I became my own best friend instead of relying on ignorance. Using techniques such as mindfulness (living in the moment) really helped. It was about accepting THIS was my life.
A great thing about this series of Big Brother was the LGBTQ+ representation and how normalised it was. It was refreshing to see LGBTQ+ discussions being portrayed so casually. Is that something you felt?
I never expected to get lucky enough to have so many LGBTQ+ housemates but it was so liberating discussing sexuality with open-minded individuals. I still hesitate to say I’m a lesbian and it was something I worried about before going in. However, within the first couple of hours I was openly talking about it. I’m so tired of it being taboo. It’s something that should be owned and I’m proud of every LGBTQ+ housemate who owned it.
Do you think LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media is accurate? Do you often see people on TV like you?
I think there’s a lot less accurate portrayals of lesbians within the media. Myself and a lot of girls I know will tell someone they’re a lesbian and automatically that’s shocking. Instead of us being accepted, we’re questioned. It’s not that we "don’t look like lesbians", it’s just we don’t look like the lesbians on TV. That’s another reason I wanted to do the show. I wanted it to be clearer that sexuality has nothing to do with appearance, which in 2018 is shocking to still have to say.
You’ve garnered a large platform thanks to Big Brother. What message do you hope to put out?
Self-love is the key to every hurdle I’ve ever encountered and that’s what I aim to share. To anyone I’ve inspired, I’d encourage them to start their own journey towards self-love. A good teacher tells you where to look but not what to see and that’s my aim for anyone who’d like to start really experiencing life.
Big Brother is a great springboard, what’s next for you?
I want to continue blogging, potentially start YouTube and maybe write a book, anything I can do to help change people’s outlook to something that better serves them.
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