Kaysar Ridha on if he is retiring from Big Brother
Kaysar Ridha knew his time was up. He and Janelle were targets from the moment they stepped inside the Big Brother: All-Stars house, and once Janelle was gone and he did not win Head of Household or the Veto, Kaysar knew he was next. But that didn’t mean the fan favorite couldn’t try to light a fire under some butts on his way out the door. “When it comes to gameplay and strategy, I think you all suck,” Kaysar addressed the house in his final pre-vote speech before then calling out Cody and Nicole for running the house.
Why did he go out guns blazing? And what did he make of Ian’s request to take that shot for him? We asked Kaysar all that and more when he called into EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) the morning after his untimely eviction, and he addressed his epic speech as well as whom he would have put up had he won HOH, his feelings on missing out on the jury yet again, and whether he is now retired from Big Brother. Read on for the full exit interview.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how are you doing the morning after, sir?
KAYSAR RIDHA: I'm doing fantastic. Thank you for asking. It's bittersweet, obviously. The experience being back on the show after so many years is something that I never thought I could relive and go through again. So it was truly a blessing and I'm sad to have that come to an end.
Let’s talk about your big exit speech. Lighting the house on fire on your way out as you called out Cody, Nicole, and Dani. What were you hoping to achieve with that?
I did know that there was something going on in that house and I felt as though people were just getting a little too comfortable. This is Big Brother, after all. And I think the fans deserve to see a little bit more fireworks, so why not light that fuse? I knew I was getting cornered. I didn't know who was entirely driving the whole thing, but I had a good sense, so I said, “You know what? Let's have some fun.” I don't take it personally when people are playing the game, and neither should they.
What was your reaction when Ian came up to you asking you to create a little smoke on your way out and saying, “Look, the votes aren't there to save you, but how would you feel about coming out strong on your way out?”
You know, I had mixed feelings. It was Ian, Bayleigh, Da’Vonne, and Kevin who all kind of asked for the same thing. They wanted me to do something about it. And my mixed feelings were such that I was like, “If you want me to in this house so badly, or you need such a thing, why don't you keep me to stay?” And I think they wanted to. I got the sense they were torn up. They also knew that they didn't have the votes, so they didn't want to out themselves. So I figured, would it be in bad taste to set this house on fire before I leave? Is that poor sportsmanship? I told myself, “You know what? I'm still here. I'm still in the house. I'm still in the game. Why not?”
I asked Janelle last week the difference between what Big Brother was like when you two started playing and what it is like now and she talked about how safe everyone plays now and how afraid everyone is to take a stand or ruffle any feathers. What do you make of that assessment and do you concur?
I couldn't agree more. Whenever I am asked what I think of the differences, a lot of the game now is taking place below the fold. And you can't really get a sense of what the details are. No one's coming forward and saying: “This is the stand I'm taking.” It's like nobody wants to ruffle any feathers. Everybody wants to vote the same, from what I can understand, in this new era of Big Brother. If you don't vote with the house, you're now an outcast and you're singled out. So that's all stuff that's come about more recently. And it took a little getting used to. I was sort of getting acclimated talking to some of the players that have played in the last two seasons and getting a sense of what that new culture is, but I didn't really like it. I'm used to just having played in the last All-Stars. That one was incredibly eventful.
We don't like it as viewers either. We want these two sides going at each other. We want everyone mixing things up. Do you think your speech will wake some people up? Do you think that's going to light a fire under anyone?
Absolutely. I think it backs people in the corner. I think that's why they were a little upset with me on the way out. And I think they'd been upset with me while I was in the game too. It’s part of the reason why I found myself on the block two weeks in a row and why I'm assuming my name was mentioned a lot in that house — because they knew that I'm constantly on a fishing expedition, trying to find out what's happening. They knew I was always onto something. And so the sooner that they can get me or Janelle out, the better, so I'm not surprised. I’m also a little bit disappointed that people weren't willing to take a stand. Maybe I'm a lot more aggressive than everyone else. I have no idea.
You looked legitimately shocked when Julie told you that not only was Memphis in that alliance of six, but that he was the one who created it. It's been about 14 hours since you learned that. Now that you've been out of the house, I'm sure that's been rattling around in your brain. What do you make of that?
Still impressed. I'm trying to figure out how that could have possibly happened. I'm not upset in any way. I'm genuinely impressed. It typically takes a lot to be able to get one past me. I'm able to kind of read the signals that maybe most people can't pick up on. And that goes for Christmas as well. I didn't really see anything suspicious, which is incredibly impressive. So yeah, I'm still a little shocked and I know it's just a game but I couldn't help but feel bad for Bayeligh or Da’Vonne, who are just not going to be able to see it. The instructions I left them are helpful, but are not exact or complete, but I think it's better than nothing. And I told them to essentially disrupt the house by going after, Cody, Dani, and Tyler.
You told Julie, “I didn’t come back for the money” and that “it was a call of duty to come back.” What did you mean by that?
I live my life in such a way where I believe that if you're in the pursuit of excellence, good things will come. And those good things typically are the things that we chase, like in the form of compensation and money. And I've always been that way — even when I had very little — that I don't want to waiver on who I am or what I stand for. And I think that's served me well. Especially as things sort of come together in my life, I'm proud to have stood by that position.
Through Big Brother, we will see a large sum of money being waived to attract people, to kind of fight hard and do certain things. When I got that call, I realized that I'm not really okay with the world in which we live in today and the uncertainty. And I'm not happy with the direction that our country is going in. Especially as a father now, I came to the realization that something needs to happen. And I'm not one to sit idly by and wait for someone else to fix my own problems. I've been always accused of carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. So I said, you know, I'm going to take time while everybody is taking time off to go on vacation somewhere and rest themselves — I thought, you know, why the hell not? Let's just go back into the house. And let's maybe use Big Brother as a platform to do something right now.
One of the things I spoke to some of the houseguests about when I got there was that when I was on the show 15 years ago, I used Big Brother as a platform to shine light on some of what I felt were the injustices and how my community was portrayed. And I thought we can elevate the conversation a bit by saying, look, not everybody who is portrayed the way that you believe them to be is like that. You can find articulate, well-to-do intellectual folks who don't want to do the things that you accused them of.
I didn't feel like I was in that same place anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't have to speak up about things that don't particularly pertain to me now. What I mean by that is that I think we have a duty to speak up for other folks who we feel are being wronged. If you see social injustice, just because it's not happening to you in that moment, it doesn't mean it's not your problem. And I really felt as though what was happening particularly to the Black community at this point in time is something that I could certainly associate with and has happened to me in some form in the past. So I felt like, you know what? I gotta stand up and make a better world for at least, if not for myself, my son, because I am a father now.
But as a human being, there's this common sort of a story I remember hearing growing up, which is that most people, if they see someone stranded on the side of the road will not stop because they just feel like someone else will do it or take care of it. Like, I'm sure someone will stop for them. And it turns out most people get left by the side of the road for longer than expected because they figured it's someone else's problem. I think we, as a society, need to figure out that this is not someone else's problem, and no one else is going to stand up and take care of it. We need to have the courage to be willing to lose the things that we love in order to gain so much more. And I think that's why I came back. I knew that I could be subject to ridicule. Hell, maybe lose my job. I don't know. But I figured if I'm not willing to do something about it and put everything on the line, then what was it all for to begin with?
And we got to see you having some of those conversations in the house, which was really nice. But even if winning was not your ultimate goal, I know you’re a fighter. We saw that in the house. But you once again fall short of making the jury. How difficult is that?
Bittersweet. Obviously, I told myself that I would love to go the distance in the game if I was able to set up a squad and get into a really good position. It was a struggle, as it was in the past, to be able o put something together that I felt like we could go the distance, and we just didn't win any HOHs. And we weren't able to consolidate power early on in the game. No one really had the confidence to come forward and say, “This is the squad. This is who we think we can go the distance with.”
I don't want to be teetering going to the second half of the game feeling like we [don't] really have a position of strength, only to fall short and be stuck in sequester — be the first or second person in and away from my family and wondering what's going on in the outside world. That's something that weighed heavily with me and would have been hard on my heart. So it is bittersweet. It's a little bit of a stain on my record. I wasn't able to break the curse of never making it to sequester. This is my third time in. Super embarrassing, but it's something I'm going to have to live with. I have to be the most memorable person to never make it in sequester. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this show
Well, that's what happens when you're a big target, my man. You were so close to winning HOH. Had you won that competition, who would you have put up on the block?
Although I didn't see Memphis as the target, I think it eventually would've come to me, because it's all about an information war within that Big Brother house. I think people don't realize it's not just a matter of the week to week, it's about who can actually own the flow of information. I think I would have understood a little bit more about what was happening and the dynamic in the house. A lot of what I uncovered was something that was happening circumstantial day to day.
I would have put up either Cody and Tyler directly, or I might've put up Dani and Tyler to just get a better understanding of the associations in the house. It's just to get an idea of who’s going to be fighting for whom and what that dynamic really was.
I could see for a brief second when you were talking to Julie that you thought you had been voted back into the house. What were your thoughts when she said that?
There were a lot of mixed emotions — extremely powerful ones. That's what it looks like when you are completely freaked out, terrified, having anxiety, and kind of excited all at the same time. It was emotional vomit.
You played three times now been voted out four times. Are you retired from Big Brother?
I think it's safe to say that this is it for me. I can't imagine going back. Not unless people want to see any sexy grandpas on national television.
I’ve saved the most important question for last: Do you think you’re getting an invitation to Nicole’s wedding?
Yeah, I'm going to be the entertainment.