Jon Pardy, the 23-year-old student from Clarenville, NL won the second season of Big Brother Canada following a final Head of Household competition which he won and voted to evict Neda Kalantar, his best friend inside the house, and opted to take Sabrina Abbate to the final two where a jury made out of former houseguests and Canada voted in his favour.
Following the finale, I was able to speak with Jon, host Arisa Cox, Big Brother Canada Side Show hosts and season one contestants Gary Levy and Peter Brown, as well as the jury members Adel Elseri, Heather Decksheimer, Rachelle Diamond, Arlie Shaban and Allison White in the backyard of the Big Brother Canada house. Here’s what they had to say.
Congratulations on an amazing second season. The production behind it all was so well done.
Arisa: The team, the houseguests, the house – it’s just perfection! Everyone who works at this show is on top of their game. When you have that many people, their skills and what they do and just bring them together, they have the power to put on this amazing show.
You started out on The Lofters and now with all this experience as the host of Big Brother Canada, would you have do a show like this again where you’re the contestant?
Arisa: At this point, I am content to just watch! I am a watcher now. There’s a part of me that’s an exhibitionist and an attention seeker. I don’t think you could host a show like this if you don’t have that streak in you. I don’t think that I would last very long in the Big Brother Canada house!
Why is that?
Arisa: It’s a tough game. I believe in people, and I want to believe in people when they look into my eyes and swear on their mothers! I want to believe them! I feel like I would get chewed up and spit out by the rest of the houseguests. But to watch it with a level of empathy that you can only get by living in a reality-type experience has been such a pleasure for me. I can’t say that I’m better than these people, but I’m one of those people!
If I were 22, you’d better get me on that first plane onto the show! I’m so thrilled to have this whole reality experience come full circle and I’m so proud of the people that work on the show. I’m so proud of Canada for being so engaged in it and making it the hit that it is.
The way you interact with the fans on social media is amazing as well. There are those reality show hosts are on TV for that hour and then that’s it, but here you are engaging with the audience. You’re part of the fabric of the show and a lot of fans are happy to see this.
Arisa: That’s awesome. That took some training as well. I did do a little bit in the first season, but I really had to just be like “What would I want as a fan?” If I was a fan at home, I would want to be able to send a comment out to the host of the show and have her respond. So, it’s been amazing to be a part of this whole fan experience, absolutely. It’s awesome.
What are your thoughts on the finale?
Peter: I’m very excited with how the finale played out this year… As I predicted it would on the Big Brother Canada Side Show pre-show, Jon would be the winner and as fate would have it, Jon’s the winner!
It was a smart decision for him to take Sabrina instead of Neda.
Peter: It was a genius move. I truly believe that they (Jon and Neda) played as a pair. Individually, they wouldn’t have been able to play successfully as they both did in the season had they not aligned and trusted each other unconditionally. Jon making that move at the end was great because Neda said all along that she would have done the same thing and no one would have been surprised and we’re shocked that Jon did? I don’t think so! That guy knew if he wanted to win, he had to sit beside Sabrina. I’m very proud of him for making that decision.
You’re confident that Neda would have made the same decision.
Peter: I think Neda would have sat beside Sabrina as well. Had she selected to sit next to Jon, she may have lost. I have a feeling about how the during was going and my sense is that if Jon and Neda had selected to take the other, whoever made that selection would have lost.
How would you have voted?
Peter: It’s really difficult to say because I didn’t play with these people, I wasn’t a juror or I didn’t play with them for 71 days. So, it’s actually difficult for me because I have all the information. I’m not dealing with a limited amount of information. Emotions run high in jury and I would have probably taken Arlie’s approach — exactly as I did in season one — and tried to control the jury and try to make my friend win. So let’s say for example, I am Arlie and Jon is my friend, I’m going to get Jon to win.
How was your experience on the Big Brother Canada Side Show?
Peter: The Side Show has been a dream come true. Every single week has been amazing, working with Gary. I love Arisa! She has thought me so much over the past 10 weeks. I’m just blessed every week to be a part of Big Brother Canada. It’s very important to me.
We’re not sure what’s happening next season, if you had to pass down the torch to season two contestants to host the Side Show, who would you choose?
Peter: Big Brother is a competition, whether you’re playing inside the house or perhaps the Side Show, so I have to say that I hope Gary and I come back! Screw all of those people! They’re horrible! They don’t know as much as we do. We should come back! Not them!
What are your thoughts on the finale?
Gary: This finale was amazing! I’m so happy for Jon. $100,000! He made a good move — he took Sabrina!
You know that a player is genuine and they truly understand the game when they don’t show bitterness. That’s how Neda came out of it.
Gary: Yes, she knew the odds and she knows this game like the back of her hand. She said that when she looked into Jon’s eyes, she knew that she was not going to get taken to the finale two. I think that you have really respect her for reading the body language and know, so she could brace herself. But it is kind of sad because she played so hard and made it so far! She gets nothing for third place!
What has this past year been like for you? When we spoke following last year’s finale, I told you about your fans but over the year, you finally got to meet them in person and saw the reaction firsthand.
Gary: What a colourful bunch of people! I mean, they are old, young, short, tall — I really thought there was only a certain type of flavour of people who liked me, but there are so many people out there who are so supportive of me. I love it. It’s just so amazing. I’m happy that I’m able to be myself even more.
There’s so much more openness in Canada.
Gary: I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but I know here, everyone is so loving and so open. We don’t really have an issue with anybody. There are so many cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. Everyone has their own lane and we just co-exist with each other and have fun! I love it! I love Canada.
What’s next for you?
Gary: I turn 23 on the 23rd of May. It’s my champagne birthday! So, I’m going to be celebrating my birthday! That’s what I’m going to be doing.
Then I’m going to concentrate on my art. I just want to have fun this summer. I just want to enjoy the hot weather and enjoy the beach. I want to go on vacation. I want to do acting. I want to start taking acting, dancing and singing classes and just immerse myself.
What would you want to do? Drama, comedy…
Gary: I would love to do a soap opera. I think that would be funny. I do like The Young and the Restless! I would love to do movies too. I would also love to design my own clothing line. There’s so many things that I want to do…that I will do. It’s just a matter of time. I’m having so much fun on the Big Brother Canada Side Show, I want to continue to do that.
I hope they bring it back.
Gary: I really do hope they bring it back. Canada seems like they love the show and what Arisa, Peter and myself bring.
The audience didn’t really get to see who you voted for, but it’s safe to assume that you voted for Jon?
Arlie: Yes, I voted for Jon.
Was there any hesitation?
Arlie: No, not at all.
You’re a big fan of the show…
Arlie: Yeah, I’m a super fan of the show. It was really easy for me to vote for Jon. He axed Neda in the final competition. I wanted to see blood! I wanted to see either Jon or Neda win the final HoH and cut the other one and they had my vote. That’s all that had to happen.
What has the experience of seeing the alumni from the American seasons as well as the first Canadian season been like for you?
Arlie: That has been the most surreal experience of my life! Seeing these people come here to watch me and my fellow cast members was crazy. Just talking to them for two seconds in the audience was mind-blowing. I literally worship all of them and the fact that they came to the finale, it just blows my mind!
When did you make the decision to vote for Jon to win?
Allison: As soon as I went to jury, I wanted to vote for Jon! Obviously, I want to take it home to Newfoundland too, but I love the kid. He played a great game along with Neda. I knew if Neda went to the finals, I would have had to vote for her because she was the mastermind and I do believe that. Jon played a great game with Neda.
Sabrina didn’t have my back, really… We’re great friends, but in her final speech, when she said that she only had Rachelle, that put a nail in the coffin.
Did you find it hard to feel like you belonged to a group in the house?
Allison: Absolutely! I never felt like I was part of any group. I think that’s why I gravitated towards Andrew. It began with a bit of strategy — wanting to connect myself to a strong player — but I actually developed feelings for him and it was real. He’s the only person that I felt actually close to. Whether that was real or not, I don’t know, but we’ll see!
I was scrambling the whole time. I didn’t know if I was actually going to be a part ot a group. I felt like I was so far behind. I was always trying to play catch up.
Have you been able to have a conversation with Andrew?
Allison: Not yet! We’re still kind of sequestered right now. [We’ll be able to talk] tomorrow, after doing press.
Was the showmance genuine?
Allison: Yes, I think that it became genuine towards the end. He seems very genuine tonight. We’ll see!
How would you describe these past 10 weeks?
Rachelle: The past 10 weeks have been marbles! Crazy.
Let’s talk about the nickname, The Gremlins. Most people would be offended, but you and Sabrina embraced it!
Rachelle: I will explain the Gremlins to you, because everyone keeps asking if we’re offended by it. I’m like, “No.” Kenny started calling us The Gremlins because we were always awake at night. We were always talking, like hyper little girls, and running around like crazy. So that’s how we got the term. That’s the reason I think we’re The Gremlins, but other people might think differently! [Laughs]
A lot of viewers were also confused as to why you cast that vote to evict Sabrina?
Rachelle: The reason why I did that was to give Kenny a vote. I love Kenny and we were really close in the house. I love him so much. It was just a sympathy vote. It was me just sending him off with a parting gift.
We thought that The Gremlins were over!
Rachelle: No! That was just me being nice.
You voted for Sabrina to win, but how would you have voted if Neda was in the final two?
Rachelle: 100% — My vote would have been for Neda. Even if it was between Neda and Sabrina, I would have voted for Neda to win. Jon played Neda’s game and I think Neda played an amazing game. She played like how I played…low at the beginning and then she started winning stuff. I think that she played an amazing game.
Let’s clear up who you voted for… They didn’t pull out your key.
Adel: Jon! I voted for my boy Big Jon! The pride and joy of Newfoundland.
What was this experience like? You were such a fan of the show…
Adel: I’m going to tell you guys the honest truth, I watched the first Canadian season and then I watched a little bit of the Big Brother USA’s sixth season…My boy Kaysar! I learned a little bit about the game from him. Big Brother is amazing. I saw all the American contestants as well as the Big Brother Canada first season contestants in the audience… It just built me up that much more!
You’re a part of this alumni group now. They’re always hanging out together. I’m not sure what your social life was like before, but you better get ready to hang with all of them.
Adel: It’s going to be an experience of lifetime! I’m going to make sure that I Tweet and take pictures! I’ll make sure that I have a good time not only with them but every single Big Brother fan across Canada and the United States. You holler at me, I’m hollering back!
Were you surprised that Jon evicted Neda?
Adel: Jon’s a hockey player. He’s a fighter. But you know what? The guy is so smart and educated. He knew if he was going to take Neda, he was not going to be a $100,000 richer today and that’s what the most strategic move of the whole season was. His game was his game.
Would you have still voted for Jon if he were up against Neda?
Adel: If Jon won the final HoH and took Neda, then the Princess of Persia would have had my vote. It was a strategic season and a strategic storybook ending to Big Brother Canada season two!
So you had one day in the jury house, how was that?
Heather: At least I got to experience it!
You got to meet Dan Gheesling from Big Brother USA. How was that?
Heather: I love him! I’m a Big Brother fan and meeting Dan was incredible. I loved it! He was an amazing player and I was so jealous when I saw him visit the Big Brother Canada house last year. I wanted to meet Dan, so having him meet us in the jury house was incredible. Hearing what he had to say to all of us was so helpful. It made me very enlightened to make my own decision on who to vote for.
You compared to being in the Big Brother Canada house to high school when it came to the bullying. Who would you talk to those girls today?
Heather: Well, surprisingly enough I had Ika come out to me and say sorry. At the end of the day, it’s a game. Yes, parts of the game sucked for me but it was an amazing experience. I think that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt and I would give them all a second chance.
You handled it all so gracefully. It would have been easier to lash out at them and fight fire with fire, but you were the bigger person and a lot of your fans admired that about you.
Heather: Thank you so much. That means a lot to me!
What are your thoughts on Jon winning?
Heather: He is like my big brother. I hope that all of Canada was able to see that. I adore the guy and I couldn’t be happier that he won this game!
Such a crazy night!
Neda: Oh god…what happened!? What did I do wrong! That guy…
You handled it very gracefully. You understood his decision. You understood this game.
Neda: I can’t be that upset at him because I would have done the exact same thing. I’m upset at myself for getting those last two questions wrong in the HoH competition. I am so mad at myself! I thought that he was much more of an emotional player than he is, so I thought he would play on his emotions and take me to the final two…I shouldn’t have done that! I should have taken him out earlier. I shouldn’t have brought him this far in the game…I really shouldn’t have!
What can you tell us about this experience, as a fan going into the house.
Neda: This has been the most amazing experience of my life. Every single day, I would wake up in the house and say “Oh my god, I am in the Big Brother house.” It was so surreal to me. It’s been the craziest experience ever, but I wish I had won.
Canada loved you and Jon.
Neda: I assumed that they would love Jon because of his goofiness!
Your friendship though. It wasessentially a showmance without the romance.
Neda: It was fun.
He has a girlfriend…
Neda: I met her! She’s amazing.
Was it weird being so close to the guy when he had a girlfriend back home?
Neda: No, there was nothing weird about that at all. People in the house were so annoying about it too. They were constantly bugging us, “Oh you’re a couple! You were cuddling last night.” No, we were awake and not cuddling last night! They were being such assholes about it! There was literally no romance involved whatsoever. I don’t know if he’s still my best friend, but we had a connection right away.
Come on…he’s got to still be your best friend!
Neda: Yes! Here’ the thing, I’m not mad at him because I would have done the same thing. I’m mad at myself. It’s going to be hard to get over it.
What are your thoughts on finally coming out of the house?
Sabrina: Coming out of the house is insane! There are humans outside of this house! For me, the whole world had stopped, that why I was ultra-sensitive! I don’t have emotional problems. I just cry a lot, I’m sorry for that. It’s just so crazy to see that life exists outside of the house.
When Jon was making that deal with you, how much did you believe that it was real?
Sabrina: I wanted to believe Jon’s promise to me, one hundred percent… He had never promised on his deceased grandparents or anything like that before, so that’s how I knew that he was really telling the truth. So it was the smartest thing for his game. It was too risky to bring Neda. They were both playing a really great game, so I knew it was easier for him to bring me and that he was going to win.
At the same time, Jon deserves to win this game. He’s awesome.
Who would you have wanted to bring to the finale two?
Sabrina: I wanted to bring Neda but truth be told, I changed my mind these last couple of days. I was going to bring Jon!
Jon: Thank you so much. It means a lot.
How much of a Big Brother fan were you?
Jon: Not at all…. [Laughs]
What was your strategy coming into the house?
Jon: To learn! To come in and just focus and study what everyone else was doing for the first two weeks and then base my game on what other people did.
Were you surprised when Canada put up Andrew and Sabrina?
Jon: No! I was like, “Right on!” That’s when I knew I needed to start playing the game. I had to win that Power of Veto to make sure that he left. I was more secure in the house with him gone. So, great move by Canada! Got me and Neda to work together that week.
Your friendship with Neda…it’s a showmance without the romance.
How did that friendship form?
Jon: When we started this game, she was the one person that I connected with. We developed a friendship before we started playing the game together. Even right now, she means so much to me. She is one person who I will hold dearly for the rest of my life like a sister. She’s an amazing individual who I definitely hold dear.
Was it hard getting close to her while having a girlfriend outside of the house?
Jon: Having the most beautiful girlfriend in the world outside of the house was definitely tough. In here, you have so much time to think. So many things race to your mind, so I was always wondering if my family was happy. If she was happy. If I was still going to come home to that girlfriend. I knew that I was staying true to her for the entire game.
When did you decide that you weren’t going to take Neda to the final two. Was this something you had figured out in the back of your mind?
Jon: For a while, I knew that there was no way that I would have been able to beat Neda in the final two. Whether she brought me or I brought her. She played an absolutely amazing game. I knew that standing next to Sabrina would give me a far better chance of winning than standing next to that mastermind Neda over there.
You swore on your entire family to Sabrina that you would take her to final two.
Jon: That was true! That was real to me. It was a turning point.