Da'Vonne Rogers on why the odds are stacked against Black players on Big Brother: All-Stars
The Zingbot may make fun of her for not winning at reality shows, but Da’Vonne Rogers won fans’ hearts on Big Brother: All-Stars. Working against a dominant majority alliance, Da’Vonne scratched and clawed all season long to stay in the game, but her run finally came to an end on Thursday night’s live eviction show when she was evicted by a vote of five to two. However, she didn’t leave without a bang.
It has been a season of epic speeches for Da’Vonne, from proudly stating that Black trans lives matter, to calling out the house during this week’s Veto meeting, to her epic final speech in which she honored many of the Black female players from Big Brother’s past while noting that “21 seasons of winners and not one of those faces look like mine.” Through it all, Da’Vonne proved once again she is a player who studies the show’s history while fighting to change its future.
We caught up with Da’Vonne on her way to the jury house to get her expanded thoughts on those messages she delivered while inside the house, her reaction to Nicole repeatedly lying to her about the Ian vote, whom she thinks is playing the best game so far, and whether she is retiring from reality TV.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You repeatedly asked Nicole if she voted Ian out and she repeatedly lied about it, and, as a result, you bashed David for being a liar. Now that you’ve had a night to sleep on that, how do you feel about what Nicole did, knowing the stakes of the question you were asking her?
DA’VONNE ROGERS: I was under the impression that Nicole and I were working together in the game. She was supposed to be my ally. So the fact that she decided to have multiple alliances was her dilemma. I came to her as my alliance member and my friend reestablishing the trust that we were working on. And I said, “Hey, game aside….: And I even gave her the excuse. I said, “Look, if you freaked out at the last minute and got scared about the move and you decided to vote to keep, Tyler, whatever the case may be, just let me know, But I don't, as a black woman, want to be on this show, publicly bashing this black man. So personally, for me, no game-related, tell me what happened, let me know.”
And she just, “No, I didn't do it. I swear I didn't do it.” And so I was just like, “Okay”. So finding out that she lied, that really sucks. That really, really sucks because I even gave her an out, I get that you were in an alliance, don't blow up your game, but you could have used my excuse: “Da’Vonne, I panicked at the last minute. I'm sorry. You know, I didn't know. I thought you guys were gonna fold.” And we could have worked from there, but the fact that she…. I'm so frustrated. Still.
I want to ask you about a few things that extend beyond the game. We saw you screaming justice for Breonna Taylor, and during a speech a few weeks ago you noted that “All lives can't matter until Black lives matter, and that includes Black trans lives as well." How important was it for you to use your platform on national television to get that message out there?
Using my platform was extremely important. You know, I've been to the marches. I've been to the protests. I've posted on social media, but it's more than that. How often do you have an opportunity to come on a large platform like CBS? And it would have been completely selfish of me to get this opportunity and be quiet about it. These are conversations that need to happen. If you're watching this show then, okay, that's cool. We enjoy the game. That's great. But there are bigger issues happening in the world at hand.
And so I wanted it to tackle those issues and get those conversations started. Like I said, it's 2020. And with everything going on and social media and television and books, you know what I'm saying? If you're still claiming,” I didn't know. I didn't know.” It's now a choice. Cause it's right here. And so cool, you didn't know. Now you do, let's talk about it. Let's start change. Let's get that dialogue going because there can be no solution. “I don't know” doesn't help bring a result. And that's what we ultimately want. We want a resolution to this problem.
You told Kevin this week how you were embarrassed because you were hiding your voice and going against everything you taught other women to do. What did you mean by that?
Playing this game, the first two times I was very Da’Vonne unapologetically. Me and everyone said, “Well, Da’Vonne, you were too harsh. You talked too much. You were too direct.” And then also coming out into the real world, I did have racist people telling me that I was ghetto and “Go back to the hood,” and all this type of stuff. And just tore me down so much to where I said, “If I ever go back and play, I'm just going to shut up. I'm just going to be quiet.”
And the whole time I was there, I was having an internal battle because I have had youth and young adults and even adult-adult, write me after the show and saying, “Hey, Da’Vonne, you encouraged me to stand up to my bully.” Or “You encouraged me to find my voice. You encouraged me to find my inner strength.” And I'm preaching to them about doing that and how that's right. And always stand up for yourself and don't let anyone silence you or steal your power. And then I come into this game and there's a muzzle on my mouth, and I just felt so bad about that.
And so it bothered me daily. And so when I did the veto speech, I said, “I'm tired of that. I'm Da’Vonne and I have to be Da’Vonne all the way through. So this is me.” And as you can see, when I decided to be me, I ended up here. They can't handle it.
You certainly did not hide your voice in your incredible farewell speech before being voted out. You gave shout outs to Cassandra Waldon, Danielle Reyes, and Tamar Braxton and noted that the fact that there were no Black winners in 21 seasons of Big Brother “is very discouraging, it’s hurtful, and does make me feel like maybe it is impossible.” Talk a little bit about the uneven playing field that African-Americans and other minorities have to navigate in terms of playing a social game in which they are always outnumbered.
So when you enter into this game as an African American, especially, you might come across a season where there's only one of us in there, or maybe twice. This time we had three and we were jumping around praising God about it. But you know, it's not an even playing field. You have people who are not people of color and they come in and they're able to automatically understand each other and relate to each other.
But take, for instance, season 17, I was the only person on that season that looked like me. And so while everyone is able to come in and just acclimate immediately to the environment, because they have people in there that look there's familiarity. They have that. And so they're able to come in and say, “Okay, well, I can relate to this person. We have similar backgrounds. We have this in common. We have that in common.” I'm looking around, “Who do I relate to?! It's just me!”
And I automatically stand out like a target because it's like, “Okay, well, she's not talking to anyone. I have to go over and beyond. And that's just like in the real world. When it comes to Black people, African-Americans, we have to work just as hard, if not harder, to get into positions where others can come in. There's a disadvantage that happens in the real world and in this game. And it's unfortunate.
So we get three people on this season. It was so difficult in there. People were out in the open with their alliances, just hanging out, having fun, cracking jokes. The second anyone saw me and Bayliegh? “Oh, what are they doing? What are they talking about? What are they screaming about?” Or if I was talking to David or Lord forbid, all three of us were together having a conversation, then it's, “Oh, they working together. They're doing this. And they're doing that.”
It was awful. It was so hard. So much to a point where me and Bayleigh would have to sneak into the Have-Not room just to have girl time, just to have girl talk and work on a friendship outside of the game. It's difficult. The odds are stacked against us, whether we’re more than one or whether it's just us by ourselves. This game is very hard, and I'm rooting so hard for David because he's still in there. And I'm trying not to let that voice in the back of my head that's saying, “He's going to be right behind you.” I'm trying to silence that and pray that he can make it far.
What did you make of the Zingbot’s crack about your lack of success on reality competition shows and are you willing to give it another try?
You know what? Zingbot tried it. [Laughs] Personally, though Zingbot was correct, I have yet to be successful, I think that my run is not over. I always talked about in the house how I would love to do The Circle on Netflix. I think I will be great at that and there ain't no competitions, I can just go in there and I can play the game. And so I think I'd be great at that. But, you know, I couldn't really have an argument because so far he was correct.
A lot can change between now and finale night, but whom do you think is playing the best game in the house so far?
Judging by the information I have now about this huge alliance that I knew was happening. Memphis was the only piece of the puzzle I was missing. I knew it was a big alliance, but Memphis caught me off guard. I didn't think nobody was working with him. Well, I knew Christmas was working with him, but I didn't know he was attached to the big thing, not until the end anyway.
I think Dani has a really good shot at going far. Dani has a really, really good shot at going far if she plays this right. She's in a lot of people's ears. And when I left, I told Kevin to attach to her, but Kevin doesn't trust us. I don't know how that's going to work out, but I think Dani can possibly go far. David can even possibly go far if he stays under the radar because at some point they're going to start attacking each other. So maybe if David stays under the radar, he can go far. I think Dani’s doing a really, really good job. I'm definitely rooting for her. Absolutely.