On Thursday, October 27th, I had a great conversation with Joseph Adbin of Big Brother season 24 on TikTok Live. He was as gracious and warm as I knew he would be. We laughed a lot, covered a wide range of topics, and just had a good ole time. We are officially cuzzins now! 😉
The result is the following multimedia experience, which is to be consumed in order from top to bottom. Please click the triangle icon on all six video & audio inserts. Curl up with a nice cup of tea and…التمتع! – Tracee Loran
Press play for a little poetic ode to J.A. How many Big Brother S24 references do you spy?
On July 23, 1997, a new babe was born…
…On July 5, 2000, a new reality TV show was born…
…22 years later the two would meet and life for the babe is forever changed.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into with Big Brother. I was fortunate enough to have navigated it pretty okay.”
Many things had to happen for Joseph Abdin to make his Big Brother season 24 (BB24) debut.
Thing Number 1: He had to make that long 9-month journey to earth, and you know that can be a tricky ride.
Thing Number 2: The earth had to not implode on January 1, 2000. For those too young or too jaded to remember, following the publication of a three-page article titled “Doomsday 2000” by Canadian author Peter de Jager, alarmists predicted that as soon as we transitioned from 1999 to 2000 the world would be no more. Sidebar: I don’t think it was ever fully explained how a New Year’s Day extinction would work considering the various global time zones. But anyway…
Fortunately, the earth remained intact, and, in fact, it has evolved; technology continued to advance; social media became a behemoth of good and a lot of evil; and reality shows grew exponentially. It is the latter two that are (in part) responsible for the current popularity of Joseph Abdin, Esq.
Thing Number 3: Joseph was recruited to be on Big Brother, meaning he wasn’t forced to submit one of those embarrassing audition tapes that live in perpetuity. That’s a major win. But here’s the catch: The Florida native was an alternate; therefore, he wasn’t guaranteed a spot on the show.
Marvin Achi, the producers’ first choice, dropped out of the cast at the last-minute, paving the way for the first generation Syrian and Palestinian to glide into his destiny.
It’s hard to imagine BB24 without the lawyer slash fitness guru with more personality than Beyoncé has platinum records (dat’s a LOT of personality). Fortunately for hardcore BB fans (and BB neophytes like me) we didn’t have to live through that gloomy reality.
Joseph embodies such a warm spirit and giving heart that he was in his feelings about taking Achi’s spot. “Big Brother, he said, offered so much opportunity and love and support that I always felt like God, maybe the guy who didn’t go on the show had a family emergency…had an unfortunate circumstance. Maybe…all this that was given to me, you know, was for him.”
Joseph would soon discover that Achi is spreading #BlackBoyJoy and thriving, so everybody eats!
“I don’t think I say that to anyone in that house, except for Taylor…you can win this game…I think you’re gonna win this game…and I say it time and time again to her. And that’s because I genuinely believe it. And…even with me thinking she can win and she has a probability to win and everything, I’m still helping her because I’m perfectly happy with that outcome.“
The super dope fact is Joseph Abdin was a Big Brother season 24 Houseguest. Even though CBS may have fumbled the bag by not showcasing him more while he was on the show, Baba’s eldest is one of two reasons why Big Brother 24.5 is a thing. A HUGE thing. Enter Jaylor Nation.
If you’re a fan of BB24 you know about the special bond that Joseph shares with Taylor Hale, this season’s [SPOILER ALERT] winner. Taylor’s victory was historic because she was the first Black female Big Brother Houseguest to win; she had to withstand being put on the eviction block six times; and she endured some ugly bullying in those early days of the season.
Trying to mention Joseph’s BB24 experience without talking about his Taylor connection is akin to asking for a jelly sammich sans the peanut butter or Ben without Jerry. Go ahead and try it. It’s very important to note that Joseph and Taylor are killing the game individually. They can and do stand alone. They, at times, choose to stand together.
On the inside of the insulated world Joseph had an invisible S on his chest as he valiantly protected Taylor, to what many, even Joseph, would say was at the expense of his own game. What he didn’t know was that those simple human acts of kindness endeared him to a legion of fans on the outside. Black women head up the Jaylor (a portmanteau created by melding Joseph + Taylor) Fan Club because we’re accustomed to seeing melanated sistas, particularly those of a darker hue, being vilified and branded “angry”, not protected and celebrated. Post-Big Brother, Joseph has been rewarded for that loyalty. But he doesn’t think the gratitude is necessary.
Sorry, Joseph; your type of chivalrous goodness is rare!
The Jaylor story has just entered its first act, so there’s still a long way to go before the ending is revealed. And as I mentioned to Joseph during our convo, I feel protective of the duo as individuals and as a unit. My prayer is for their bondship (in whatever iteration) to blossom and not be pushed or tainted by outside forces, this includes Jaylor Stans who truly want the pair to win.
Taylor’s ears musta been burning because the former Miss Michigan USA hilariously crashed our TikTok Live party, but you’ll have to peep the entire conversation to see how it all shakes out.
“Like, at the end of the day, a lot of people’s journey is a pursuit for money. And I just didn’t want — because I have this path right in front of me — to allow it to bend my moral compass to something that I can’t stand by in any way shape or form.“
Ok, let’s back up a bit. Before BB 24.5, there was Day 51 when Joseph was betrayed by two members of his “Leftovers” alliance and became the seventh Houseguest to get evicted (technically he was the eighth person to leave because Paloma, who started some vicious Taylor lies, fled the House on her own volition).
Being evicted early and without the ability to say goodbye to Taylor – while upsetting for his fans — made Joseph a martyr and would eventually fuel the Jaylor plotline. But first they had to get through the rough days of looking for the light switch in complete darkness, i.e., not know what was going on with the other person. Taylor was on the inside broken by Joseph’s assumed betrayal (after Kyle & ‘nem don’ lied on Joseph’s name). For his part, Joseph was in the Jury House (the place where nine evicted Houseguests are quarantined until finale night) no doubt lamenting his abrupt departure and wondering how Taylor was managing.
But something else important also weighed heavily on his mind: What his family thought of his maiden reality show appearance. His brother, Adam, assured him that it was nothing but love.
There were, indeed, several proud nations…
“My heart drops every time I see Arab, Muslim, or Middle Eastern on media.”
Before Joseph entered the Big Brother house, there had only been five contestants of Arab or Middle Eastern descent on the series. American television has perpetuated the old tired, harmful tropes of Middle Eastern or Arab men for as long as there has been television. I think you know what those are; we’ve watched the same American TV shows.
I have at times enjoyed several of the aforementioned programs (I’m thinking of two specific Emmy-award winners) while simultaneously cringing at the bigoted and narrow-minded writing. Because of those lazy stereotypes we almost missed out on an incredible human being (Thing number 4). Joseph understandably didn’t want to fall into the trap or be transported back to a childhood of hurtful memories, so he was close to turning down the invitation.
The weight of defying ugly stereotypes about Arab men shouldn’t fall solo on Joseph’s shoulders. No one person should ever have to be burdened with dispelling decades of insidious characterizations and changing collective minds about their people. But the reality is Black and Brown folks often carry those heavy loads, whether the outcomes are good or bad. Thankfully, in this case, Joseph done good.
It’s going to take a few more Joseph Abdins to change the Hollywood narrative about Arab men, but he has hopefully started an upward trajectory. And you know La La Land loves to hop on a trend.
“I kept misbehaving or I wouldn’t even call it misbehaving, just not paying attention.“
“You’re so bad,” is an all too popular refrain spoken by parents and teachers who have mislabled children living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity, one of the most common childhood neurodisorders.
According to a 2016 Centers for Disease Control study, over 6.1 million children in the U.S. have received an ADHD diagnosis. Joseph is included in that statistic and like 2.8 percent of the global adult population, ADHD is still part of his everyday reality.
Teens with ADHD often struggle socially and academically; while adults with untreated ADHD face a lifetime of challenges including high unemployment rates and broken relationships. This makes what I’m about to say next so astonishing: Joseph graduated from law school a year ahead of schedule and passed the bar on his first try! His counselors basically mocked the idea of him being a lawyer, let alone finishing law school early. There’s a lesson in there and you don’t even have to look hard to find it.
There are three different ways that ADHD presents itself: Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsivity. While I’m not sure which ADHD category Joseph deals with specifically, I do know that his success and the rays of positive light he emitted on a highly rated network television program can inspire others — both young and seasoned — living with ADHD.
As a youth mentor, I’m always thinking about young people and how they navigate a world that is often cruel. I asked Joseph what he would say to a young’un not unlike himself who deals with bullying because of a perceived difference. His answer did not disappoint.
“The clock is ticking so make the best of it in every moment.“
Joseph Abdin slid into the hearts of Americans rather unexpectedly. His bondship with Taylor Hale has surely helped, and it’s been sweet to witness. We root for them to make “it” as a couple. Here’s where I insert an emphatic [BUT].
This incredible human being who comes from equally incredible immigrant parents (shout out to them for raising a good one) doesn’t need to be propped up by another person or an ideal. He can unequivocally stand on his own (the same is true for Taylor). TV shows, speaking tours, books, modeling gigs…e’rething and anything is possible. Not even the sky is the limit for the lawyer turned reality star. So, what does Joseph want for himself? What does he dream about when he wakes up every day?
When light is blocked by an object or a person, it casts an ominous shadow.
Joseph Abdin is walking in the light, unobstructed, with opened arms, and an infectious smile. Shadow not included.
Click here to watch my full conversation with Joseph Abdin, the most popular Big Brother evictee in the show’s 24-season history. Yes, I only watched one season, but my cuzzin Joseph is the only answer. Don’t @ me.