Before her groundbreaking role on Orange Is the New Black, actress Laverne Cox was almost on CBS reality show Big Brother.
Casting producer Christopher Catalano, the self-described right-hand man of Big Brother casting director Robyn Kass, recently revealed that Cox was in consideration for a season of the show. Catalano spoke with Big Brother 17 winner Steve Moses for Big Brother Network and teased that she came pretty close to being part of the Big Brother 9 cast.
“I remember Laverne Cox. I recruited her for season nine. She’s a huge actress now, but she comes from the reality world,” Catalano said. “She was one of my semi-finalists, I pitched her, but she never became a finalist.”
Big Brother 9 took place in the winter months of 2008 during the Hollywood writers strike and has been known as one of the more controversial seasons of the show. Cox avoided this controversy as Catalano passed her over to I Want to Work for Diddy on VH1, where she competed on the show’s first season.
Cox, who is most well-known transgender figures in the world, went on to star in her own reality show called TRANSform Me and was later cast in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black as Sophia Burset. She received much acclaim for her performance and was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the Emmys, becoming the first openly trans person nominated in any acting category.
Appearing on Big Brother would have also made her the first openly trans houseguest, a distinction that would eventually go to Audrey Middleton in Big Brother 17.
Meanwhile, Catalano is busy helping finalize the cast for Big Brother 19. While Kass already announced that semifinalists for BB19 have been contacted, Catalano suggested that this doesn’t mean he can’t find interesting recruits before the cast is finalized. He spoke to Big Brother Network about finding Meg Maley from Big Brother 17 at a restaurant where she was working after semifinals for that season had concluded.
“Right way there was something about Meg – her hair, her look, she’s so bubbly, and immediately I asked if she had ever been on a TV show. Her best friend was on Survivor, she loves Big Brother. I told her ‘We just finished here, I’ll check in with you when I get back.’ She was recruited. There was something about her look, her personality, whatever it was. She wasn’t expecting to ever interview to be on Big Brother, but she was great. There was no reason we were in that restaurant. There was no reason for us to be working. We were off. We were trying to just finally take a break, but when you cast for reality shows, you never take a break. Ever. Any person you meet could be perfect for a show.”
There have been plenty of rumors about the cast of Big Brother 19 in the months leading up to the summer premiere. Casting calls were held earlier in the year, which suggests producers were looking for new faces, but rumors of an all-star season sprouted up after CBS put up a tournament on its website in which fans could vote on their favorite former houseguests. The houseguests include many fan favorites and winners, like Dan Gheesling, Dr. Will Kirby, Rachel Reilly, Janelle Pierzina, Donny Thompson, Da’Vonne Rogers, Ian Terry, Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd.
Alleged cast lists have been floating around, though the legitimacy of these lists has been brought into question.
Big Brother 19 is slated to premiere Wednesday, June 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. It will continue to air three times per week as usual throughout the summer, with live feeds available through CBS All Access. If previous seasons are any indication, the cast will likely be announced the week before they enter the house.
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