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'Big Brother': Audrey says she was 'petrified' to be show's first transgender contestant

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Sonja Flemming/CBS

Audrey Middleton made reality show history when she became the first transgender contestant to play Big Brother. But her stay in the house was all too brief. After coming out of the gate too strong, too fast, Audrey watched her game and alliances implode and she could never reestablish trust with the rest of the house.

Audrey then imploded emotionally in her final days as it became clear she was being voted out—becoming the first player in Big Brother history to skip a Veto ceremony, receiving a penalty vote for breaking the rules and eating food while as a Have Not, and hiding out in the diary room all day before her eviction.

Audrey called in to Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) this morning to talk all about her rollercoaster ride inside the house, and you can now hear the entire thing right here on the InsideTV Podcast. Here are a few highlights from our chat:

On how worried she was that the other contestants would not be open and accepting of her as a transgender woman:

“Oh my gosh, I was petrified. I am naturally an introvert, which I don’t know if that comes across on the show or not. I actually am a major introvert in my real life, so to just unload this bomb, especially to strangers I just met for only a moment and not knowing how they’re going to respond to this information was very scary. But it was such a relief how well everyone responded to it. It made me feel so accepted. It was really a beautiful moment, and it was history for a group of people to exemplify acceptance like that and to embrace someone totally different. I just feel so special. And the people who didn’t like me on the show just didn’t like it, it wasn’t for anything personal.”

On if there were ever any comments said by anyone at any time that she felt crossed a line:

“No, there wasn’t. I feel like there was maybe one particular houseguest that was concerned and maybe had the idea that other people were going to be nervous to nominate me in the beginning because they didn’t want to be the first person to nominate a transgender person. And I didn’t think that was coming from a mean place either. I just think it comes down to everybody’s background.… [Da’Vonne] said it to me on day 1 and you know, I just kind of let it go. I hoped for the best, that people were going to nominate me because they thought whatever they thought. I wanted it to be completely genuine and not prejudiced.”

On secluding herself in the Diary Room for hours on end:

“In real life you get to deal with stress a lot more privately and I am an introvert in real life. It doesn’t come across that way on the show but I really am. I just created my own little shell. I went in there and I was very stressed out. The Diary Room is the one room in the house that is literally like a safe haven.… That was the one room I could go to and just confide and be alone and also just experience pure silence and not have to worry about talking to anyone or think about game for five seconds. I really just needed that time alone. In that moment I was kind of mourning over my own death in the game. I knew it was coming. It was inevitable, at least it felt that way from my perspective. I was like, “This is it!” And I needed to deal with it in my own way and that was in private.”

On playing so hard out of the gate:

“I definitely wish I had played it down a little bit. When I first got in there I just got super excited because I’m a super fan of the show…. I obviously got ahead of myself and if I could have done it differently I would have but I just had to adjust myself accordingly to the crazy times that I caused for myself.”

On ignoring the Have Not food rules and skipping the Veto ceremony:

“I was definitely mentally checked out for sure. As far as the penalty vote goes, I kept myself as much as I could in the Have Not room. I really didn’t leave that room. I really just needed my own space…. And I did bring one of the packages of the sugar bread, or sweet bread, or whatever it was in there with me. Becky came in and took it out, she brought me a little bit of slop, I didn’t eat much of it, and then she brought me some pizza, which was confusing to me because she’s a Have Not and I’m a Have Not. And at that point I was just in such a fragile mindset I was like “You know what? F it.” And I ate the pizza. I have to own it.”

On the other houseguests:

“I am definitely going to be Shelli’s friend for life, that’s for sure.… I was very upset with her up to the moment I left and the second I walked out that door I left all of it behind. I love Shelli to death. She’s the most genuine person in that house that I’ve had an experience with besides Vanessa, and I love her and I think she’s great. I’d love to keep in touch with Vanessa. I’d love to hang out with Meg. I honestly really liked everyone for the most part. Everyone I would get along with in real life. You know what? Maybe Jace I would just check in with. [Laughs] Maybe we’ll just send a postcard now and then.”

On how she is doing emotionally since leaving the house:

“The first thing is you’re in a bit of a daze because you see an audience of random people and you’re like ‘Who the heck are all of you?’ And then you see the gorgeous Julie Chen. And you’re back at the hotel room and you’re pigging out and you’re like, ‘Okay, this is life again. Life is beautiful. I don’t need to be upset about anything.’ It was an amazing experience, It was a unique experience, even though it was a stressful experience. The thing I am most grateful about is I got to prove to myself that I can do something like this—even though I didn’t win it—that myself, an introvert, could go on a platform like this, come out on national television as transgender, the first transgender on Big Brother. And then also exemplify this courage for other transgender people—that’s huge. And I am so grateful for that. So if I help one person, ten people, a thousand people—nothing could ever be better than that.

On if she’d like to play any other reality shows:

“Hey, maybe me and Shelli will do Amazing Race. I would loooove to do Survivor. I know people might disagree after watching the show, I don’t know if they think I can handle it. But it’s shot in a much shorter time frame and you don’t have to wait a whole week before you’re eliminated.”

To listen to the entire interview, just click on the audio icon below. (The ‘Big Brother’ interview starts 14 minutes in.) But first we welcome Lake Bell to the studio. The actress spills the beans on her role in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and also chats about the insanity of Children’s Hospital. Plus, what’s next for her on the directing front? She’ll tell you!

You can listen to the whole podcast below. Or, since we’re on iTunes, you can subscribe for free and take the podcast with you. No iTunes? No problem. You can also download the entire podcast right here. To send a question to the InsideTV Podcast team, follow us on Twitter @InsideTVPodcast. And to hear more interviews and television discussion and debate, check out Entertainment Weekly Radio on SiriusXM, channel 105.

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