'Big Brother 16': Joey Van Pelt on Failed Alliances, Frankie's 'Unfair' Advantage
The first evicted houseguest of the 16th season — and the first Team America member — talks to THR about her ill-fated attempts at an all-girl alliance, her last-ditch efforts to remain in the house and who her No. 1 target would've been.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Thursday's eviction episode of Big Brother.]
Big Brother evicted its first houseguest of the season — and the unlucky castmember had a lot to say about her brief time in the house.
Joey Van Pelt, the 27-year-old artist from Seattle was unanimously booted with a 13-0 vote on July 3 following failed attempts to form an all-girl alliance, getting caught, copping to it and then creating an alter ego, "Alex" (her fake brother), to rally the houseguests into thinking individually. Instead, Van Pelt's failed tries rubbed the houseguests the wrong way. (Ironically, she was also voted the first member of Team America, a three-person secret alliance.)
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Van Pelt talks about why she wouldn't have done things differently, who she would've liked to work with in Team America and why Frankie Grande has an "unfair advantage."
Now that you've had a few days to decompress, how do you think you could have approached the game differently to ensure more time in the house?
I honestly don't know. I think I would have studied the game more, but at the same time, you can be a diehard fan — you just never know what they're going to throw at you. I honestly wouldn't do anything differently. I went in there and played hard and I wished the all-girl alliance was successful, but it wasn't. But everything happens for a reason.
How serious were you about forming an all-girl alliance? It seemed like you really wanted that to happen.
I did. It was worth it enough to me to try to get it done. Amber had said in a couple of her pre-interviews that she had wanted an all-girl alliance and she never even attempted it. It meant a lot to get it formed and at least try, but as soon as I tried and saw their faces, I was like, uh-oh, I gotta change my strategy. These women are not into this. They were just not onboard.
Why do you think your attempts failed?
I think it's an example of Westernized culture and how women are pretty much raised to be competitive with each other and not work together for a common goal. We all come from different places, and something in their environment said you need a guy to link onto to get where you need to go. I was never taught that. I have a fabulous mother and my boyfriend is absolutely amazing, so I don't know.
One of the more popular Big Brother strategies is to deny, deny, deny, though you went the other way when confronted about trying to get an all-girl alliance together. Do you think it cost you the game?
I do think it did, but at the same time, I was trying to put a comedic spin on what happened. At that point, I really hit the ground running. When it came time to change strategy and pick up my mess, I had to do whatever I could. In real life, I pull comedy to make things seem not so bad, so why not [do that in the house]: "Yeah, I started an all-girl alliance." It was pretty funny but yup, I'm out of the house. (Laughs.)
Did you get the feeling that the "Alex" alter ego wasn't received as well as you'd hoped by the other houseguests?
There's a lot of waiting time between when you hear you're getting nominated and when you're voted out, so the house was a very morbid place to be. So I thought, why not be the person to shake things up and create a new character and really spread the message of inequality of power in the house that was going on. My alter ego "Alex" said it better than I could have ever said it. It was too late. By that time it was like, let the outcome play and if I do leave, at least I left a message.
You were voted the first member of the Team America alliance. Had you been able to see that through, which two other houseguests would you have liked to have teamed up with?
I would say Hayden for one, and Donny, or probably Brittany. Brittany was my best girlfriend in the house and she was a genuine person who had a backbone in the game and I feel like everyone else was losing theirs. I don't know if America would've seen them like that, but definitely Hayden and Brittany. Donny and Frankie are the [first] two members of Team America now and with Frankie, you don't know if he's voted in because of his sister [Ariana Grande]. He is a funny guy, don't get me wrong, but when you've got that much pull before you go into a show and America's voting, how much is that genuinely his fans versus Ariana Grande's?
Were you surprised that Ariana was his sister?
Not so much. I wasn't surprised. Don't get me wrong, she's a very talented singer and she has a set of vocal cords. But it surprised me with the fact that someone that has so much pull — that's how we gain votes today is through social media — so maybe a little bit of an unfair advantage.
What would you have liked to have done with Team America?
Looking back, I wish I would've known how to deal with it a little bit more. And I wish I was there to use the alliance because that would have put a knife in the back of the Bomb Squad. I would've kept it a secret. When I was telling Hayden about the squad, it was my last attempt to stay in the house.
Thoughts on the Battle of the Block and the two HOH twist?
I love the twists this year because — I'm not a floater — but [someone like] Pao[la] … I know everyone is trying to play the game, but when you're in a game like that, I like that they created a twist where you cannot be a floater this year. You have no choice but to bring out your guns and go for it. It's going to be a fast season with that kind of twist.
Who do you think is in the best position? The worst?
Unfortunately, I think Brittany and Paola are in the worst situations. Paola is not a huge competitor, so she's going to be a pawn. She might last in there, but she's going to always have that on-edge feeling more so than the other players because she's at the pity of the others. Brittany is in a bad situation because she's not just going to do what Devin tells her to do. Unfortunately, having a backbone with this group of people is seen as a threat. In the best situation, it's Derrick. I didn't know who he was. He's very good at playing the game.
If you had the chance to go back into the house again, who would be your No. 1 target knowing what you know now?
Devin would be my No. 1 target. I say that with conviction. In reality TV — yes, they can edit it to get you to think [what producers want you] to think — if you're a villain in the show, they can't be editing so greatly that that turns him into a villain. The people who you don't like are the people who you shouldn't like, the people you love are the people you should love. Devin's the villain because he's the villain. As much as he's "Oh my daughter, my daughter," he's not a good person. People are like, "It's just a show," but he's not a good guy.
You were there for Devin's house meeting right? (Note: CBS aired Devin's house meeting on Sunday's episode after Joey's eviction, even though it took place before.)
I was there. He's just a weirdo. If you were competing for $500,000, you wouldn't want him as a roommate.
What's next for you?
Not a lot of people knew I was an artist, so I'm doing the cover art for my friend Brittany Myers' album, Rather Be. And then I've been asked to talk at a dinner for women up in Seattle.
The Hollywood Reporter will be chatting with the latest evicted houseguests every week following Thursday's live eviction episode. Check back here Friday for the second postmortem interview.
Big Brother next airs 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.
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