Vanessa Rousso Was On CBS’ Radar Long Before ‘Big Brother 17’

Fans of Big Brother, especially those interested in what goes on behind the scenes, know that every season recruits are brought in to play the game. On Big Brother 17, two of the obvious recruits were Amazing Race alumni Jackie Ibarra and Jeff Weldon, who came in as part of an Amazing Race takeover in week one. Diehard fans often assess the competitors and try to guess who went through the regular casting process and who was tapped by CBS producers to take part.

In a new interview with All In magazine, Vanessa Rousso — an early favorite who eventually finished third behind Steve Moses and Liz Nolan — reveals she is a reality television fan. But her relationship with CBS started long before her time on Big Brother.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of reality TV, and I’ve had a relationship with CBS for several years. It was just a matter of finding the right show.”

She told All In she’d been in the CBS casting pool since 2009, but would not provide further details about how she ended up on Big Brother 17. Before the season started, show producers Rich Meehan and Allison Grodner told The Hollywood Reporter about their own anticipation of how the new cast would gel. Grodner revealed people are chosen for their personalities, but there are always unknowns.

“We have ideas of how people are going to be, but there’s always a hard pick and people act in different ways. Every cast is different and … there are a lot of types we’ve never seen before on ‘Big Brother.’ It’s a very different mix. It’ll be interesting to see: do they bond? Do they clash?”

Vanessa Rousso Jackie Ibarra 'Big Brother 17'
Vanessa Rousso has been in public with some of her former housemates since 'Big Brother 17' wrapped. She posted a picture with Jackie Ibarra on November 13 before they took part in a charity poker tournament.

Ironically, THR asked the producers who they thought might win Big Brother 17 and Grodner — who says she’s doesn’t like to choose — called out Rousso, Moses and Audrey Middleton, who was eventually evicted a few short weeks into the game.

Audrey Middleton Vanessa Rousso 'Big Brother 17'
'Big Brother 17' contestant Audrey Middleton posed with Vanessa Rousso on a Nevada hike in October. (Courtesy Audrey Middleton/Instagram)

Grodner said Middleton, the show’s first transgender contestant, applied through the regular application process and would have made the show regardless of her gender identity.

Earlier this summer Hitfix revealed some interesting facts about the Big Brother casting process. It was based in large part on a 2011 article in Reality Blurred where an unnamed contestant — who didn’t make the show — dished about getting to the finals. The would-be Big Brother housemates were largely confined to their individual rooms in a Los Angeles hotel and participated in a series of psychological, personality, and intelligence tests.

Those who make the show receive a weekly stipend of $750, forfeited if they make the final two and win either $50,000 for second place or the $500,000 grand prize.

Although Rousso didn’t win Big Brother, she exited the house to a proposal from her girlfriend Mel Ouellet. Isolated in the Big Brother house, she was unaware same-sex marriage had been made legal in the U.S.

She said Big Brother is set up so every contestant’s focus is on the game. She was also clear about what she missed while she was being filmed 24 hours a day in the house.

“It was a grind. People don’t understand how hard it is to compete on that show. They strip you of everything, and all you can do is think about the game for 98 days. But I was blessed with the opportunity, and I enjoyed it.

“I missed privacy. Privacy is underrated.”

[Main image courtesy of YouTube]