By Mark Drum
Yesterday, CBS announce this year’s cast for Big Brother! The youngest contestant is a 21 yr old Pedi Cab Driver to a 42 yr old School Grounds keeper. Robyn Kass @kassting and her team scoured the US at various casting calls as well as watched through countless hours of audition videos to find these contestants. A surprise, there is a Michigan contestant this season!
The contestants went through a “Press Junket” Q & A with Big Brother Alum Jeff Schroeder @jeffschroeder23 before getting ready to head into the Big Brother House. For those who may be new to the show, the contestants will have already been in the house for a week prior to the season premiere of the show. However there are no real spoilers (i.e. which two have won HOH or nominations) until the game starts this Wednesday, June 28.
From the interviews with Jeff and reading their bio on the cbs.com/bigbrother website here are my thoughts of each contestant. I don’t know any of these contestants but I will assess how they responded to the questions as well as what we as a viewer can learn from reading their bio. Judging the cover before reading the book. Click on each of their names to see their bios on the CBS website and to see their Q & A video.
Breakdown of the Contestants: Photo Gallery
Amber Borzotra (26)
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Current City: North Hollywood, CA
For me Amber comes off as way too sweet and bubbly. However that doesn’t mean she can’t be ruthless or competitive in the game. Jordan (Season 11) won the game for being sweet and came close to winning again. Even though Amber says she doesn’t want to get into a showmance, it might happen…So we’ll just have to wait and see.
Brittany Martinez (29)
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Current City: Torrance, CA
Occupation: Event Coordinator
Brittany is a new viewer of the show. This reminds me of Shane (Season 13) where he was also a new viewer having never seen it before applying. I wonder how far she will go in the game.
Caleb Reynolds (26)
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Current City: Hopkinsville, KY
Occupation: Adventure Hunting Guide
Caleb’s strategy sounds a lot like a “floater” even though he calls it a “bobber.” Floaters have done well in this game. In my opinion out of the 15 seasons, there have been six “floaters” who have won. Caleb seemed a bit nervous talking in front of the camera, hopefully he’ll be entertaining in the house and on the live feeds.
Christine Brecht (23)
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Occupation: Shift Supervisor/Barista
Super Fan Christine seems very enthusiastic and ready to play the game. I like how she doesn’t think she’s at the level of Season 14 Winner, Ian Terry status of being a super fan, but one nonetheless. Her strategy seems like a good idea but that will most likely change once she’s in that house. I love that she’s a gamer and plays board games. Here’s hoping Christine brings some into the house!
Cody Calafiore (23)
Hometown: Hackensack, NJ
Current City: Howell, NJ
Occupation: Sales Account Executive
Cody is a big fan of Jeff and the two seemed to clearly get along during the interview. I’m not surprised by his strategy of having only one person to trust. It’s worked well for many winners of the game. So will this strategy strike another win? Can this salesman attract others with what he’s selling?
Derrick Levasseur (30)
Hometown/Current City: Providence, RI
Occupation: Police Officer – Sergant
For super fans, does anyone else get the feeling Derrick is a younger version of Jack (Season 4)? I think he’ll be an honest guy, but will use his undercover skills to manipulate houseguests.
Devin Shepherd (26)
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Current City: San Antonio, TX
Occupation: Former Professional Baseball Player, Motorcycle Sales Manager – Harley Davidson
Devin is filling the role of physical threat for the season. I won’t be surprised when he gets eliminated before jury. Hopefully he aligns himself with the right people. I won’t be surprised if another houseguest recognizes him as being a former professional baseball player, which can lead to his demise in the game.
Donny Thompson (42)
Hometown: Albemarie, NC
Occupation: School Groundskeeper
I really want to like Donny, but I can’t. The interview was just boring for me. He seems like a nice guy but nice isn’t going to get you far in the game. If Donny wanted to “fit in” with the “younger folks” he should’ve shaved that beard of his. Donny reeks of being a “floater.”
Frankie Grande (31)
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Current City: New York, NY
Occupation: YouTube Personality
So he’s Ariana Grande’s sibling, so you know if they reveal any twist Frankie will not only have his youtube following but also his sibling. I will agree that Frankie’s flamboyantness can be seen as a threat for the other guys because he’ll easily make friends with the ladies.
Hayden Voss (21)
Hometown: Malborough, MA
Current City: Long Beach, CA
Occupation: Pedicab Driver
Hayden could very well be an underdog for this season. He reminds me of a combination of two people, Frank (Season 14) and McCrae (Season 15). Being friendly will only get you so far in the game because at the end of the day you’re going to have to hurt someone’s chances of winning. It’s either their shot or his and hopefully he’ll get some “blood” on his hands playing the game.
Jocasta Odom (33)
Hometown: Griffin, GA
Current City: Lovejoy, GA
I think Jocasta is a very smart woman but I can see her creating a lot of chaos in the house. Which would make for great tv! She lists as her favorite cast member from the show as Rachel Reilly (Season 12 & 13) because she always fought and persevered. Which I find nobel for her to say but can Jocasta do the same thing? Also being a female minister, I wonder how she will fair with houseguests who may not share her same religious views.
Joey Van Pelt (27)
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Occupation: Makeup Artist/Hairstylist
Lady Lover Joey, seems to be a fun houseguest, but will she bring that energy and spirit once in the house? Maybe she can form an all girl alliance. Her interview felt casual and it was as if the viewer was at a studio or salon Joey works for and she’s doing her thing.
Nicole Franzel (21)
Hometown/Current City: Ubly, MI
Occupation: Recent Nursing Graduate
Nicole is from our state of Michigan. Now how many of us knew of the town Ubly? I had to look up where this was at. The interview seemed very plain. Nicole claims to be a super fan however I really couldn’t feel her excitement from the interview. Winning the first HOH is always a blessing and a curse, so here’s hoping she can make it far in the game. Let’s cheer on our Michigander to win it!
Paola Shea (27)
Hometown: East Hampton, CT
Current City: Astoria, NY
I predict that Paola will either be evicted the first week or make it far in the game. Her personality in the interview really showed and if she can befriend the guys, then the girls will see that as a threat. Plus she was in Maxim magazine and I won’t be surprised if one of the guys recognizes her. But I do like her strategy of forming an all female alliance. However the name “El Cuatro,” has been sort of used in Big Brother Canada. Also there was a final four with all ladies but they were not all in an alliance in Season Six (April, Janelle, Ivette and winner of the season Maggie).
Victoria Rafaeli (22)
Hometowns: Brooklyn, NY & Holon, Israel
Current City: Weston, FL
I wasn’t a fan a first of Victoria reading her bio because she came off to me as someone stuck up. What bothered me most was the fact she hadn’t really seen our version of Big Brother but the Israeli one. However after watching her video she seems very nice and I can see her being perceived as naive to the other houseguests. Being so young and owning her own business I can see Victoria doing well in the game with her social skills.
Zach Rance (23)
Hometown: Palm Beach, FL
Occupation: Recent College Graduate – Economics
Zach has a very Type-A personality in my opinion. I’m not surprised that his favorite Big Brother houseguest was Mike “Boogie” Malin, from season 2 & winner of season 7. I’ve noticed that dynamic personalities stick right out or can be really reserved in the Big Brother house. Zach’s social game strategy will be really good but also a threat at the same time. One thing is for sure though, his diary room entries will be over the top and probably hilarious.
Predictions & Final Thoughts
Who I predict will win this game after seeing their interviews would have to be Brittany. I may not have written a lot about her but she definitely stuck out to me as someone who could make it far in the game. She has a plan, creating an all female alliance, but also I predict that her social game will be good as her physical challenges abilities. With this new twist of four people being nominated it really makes it hard for someone not to be nominated for eviction.
This season’s cast is definitely a bunch of diverse individuals. Again, Robyn Kass and her team have done an excellent job searching for these houseguests and hopefully will make for great TV. Will it be like last season? Maybe, but every season is unique and will bring their own flair and chaos. You can expect plenty of twists to happen and hopefully American will be able to control the game with the “Team America,” twist. It is called “Big Brother,” after all right? So it would make sense for the viewers to control parts of the game. Here’s hoping someday I can get on the show and entertain you Detroit/America. But in the meantime I’ll write my thoughts and breakdown the episodes for you! It’s going to be a great summer!
Mark Drum is a Farmington Hills, MI native and Big Brother fan since 2000. Mark is a graduate from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Theatre Arts. Connect with Mark! Blogspot / Twitter / Facebook / Email