Tag Archives: taylor hale

Joseph Abdin: Walking in the Light

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…

Joseph Abdin (far left) pictured w/his siblings Adam, Jasmine & Abe | Credit: Joseph’s IG

…On July 5, 2000, a new reality TV show was born…

Big Brother S1 logo

…22 years later the two would meet and life for the babe is forever changed.

Joseph Abdin in the Big Brother house | Credit: CBS


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 | Credit: CBS

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.

Joseph Abdin & Taylor Hale | Credit: CBS

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?


Joseph & Taylor at an appearance in Canada

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.


November 2, 2022 · 10:48 am

A Beautiful Sword

One hot New York summer night I was home minding my own Black bizness on the couch channel-surfing (Yes, I still have cable and a TV) and I came across what appeared to be the middle of a Big Brother episode. I would later learn that it was the 2nd …or maybe 3rd ep of the 24th season. Note: I had never watched the previous 23 seasons.

Boss Grandma & Tracee

My grandmother has been an avid viewer since she was 71 years old (check the math), and I always wondered why. It seemed silly. Then earlier this year I caught the celebrity version with Boss Grandma (that’s how they know her in these Innanet streets) for the first time. “It’s an interesting social experiment,” I thought, “but I ain’t really sold on committing to three or four months of it!”

In fact, I was committed to NOT committing…until I saw this perfectly melanated queen being bullied on national television. That stopped me dead.in.my.tracks!

I didn’t know her name yet. I just knew that everyone in the scene, led by the muscular brotha, was ganging up on her.

Bells | Credit: Dean Edwards

Maybe it was because she reminded me of my goddaughter ‑ whom I affectionally call “Bells” ‑ a tall, graceful, gorgeously chocolate girly girl (the chile loves her some pink and bling!).

Or maybe it was because I knew the history of the treatment of Black women in this country, particularly those of a darker hue.

Or maybe I just hate an unfair fight.

D – All of the above.

Whatever it was I wanted to protect this brown skin girl. I soon learned her name – Taylor – and I committed myself to watching Big Brother 24 so I could help guard my new TV Little Sister.

So, I stayed week after week praying that Taylor would survive being “put on the block.”  Let’s park it there for a hot sec and ruminate on that very loaded phrasing. A phrase that eerily harkens back to what my ancestors experienced — being put on the slave auction block and sold like chattel. Now think about Taylor’s plight. Ugliness, right? But I digress…but do I really?

I had to watch each episode because that was my own way of supporting and protecting Taylor who, like me, was raised as an only child by a single Black mama in an urban Midwest city. I, Chicago. She, Detroit.

I wanted to safeguard my Lil’ Sis at all costs.

THE Taylor Hale | Credit: Taylor’s IG

When Daniel (who is white-presenting) got in Taylor’s face on some straight STOOPID, made-up bulldoodoo — dude had obviously blacked out as he was spitting venom and blowing his hot fone-kay breath unnecessarily so in Taylor’s personal space — I wanted to call my people and pull up! I was gon’ summon up the power of Mike Tyson, Rocky, and Draymond Green, and homey was gon’ catch these hands. Fa real, fa real (for legal reasons I’m obligated to say Daniel was in no real danger).

I was furious. I couldn’t help but think what would have happened if melanated Terrance or Monte had face-checked non-melanated Alyssa or Brittany like Daniel did Taylor. Imagine the narrative. Imagine!

I was totally oblivious to #BigBrotherTwitter until after the season had ended, so I had no idea that there was a community of Taylor Stans out there protecting her, too. Like Taylor, I was completely in the dark (since breaking free from the house Taylor has repeatedly shared how lonely it felt). My sounding board — much to their annoyance — had to be my friends who were NOT BB watchers. My Girls patiently listened as I fumed and ranted on about what “they” were doing to my Lil’ Sis up in that toxic house.

I watched and prayed and watched and prayed some more as Taylor overcame each obstacle. Homegirl was dodging eviction votes like Turner dodged water (Inside joke; ain’t my fault you didn’t watch BB24). Soon instead of merely surviving, she seemed to be thriving. Taylor was all that and literally a bag of chips (again, not my fault that you didn’t watch the season).

When it came time to vote for America’s Favorite Player, I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough. If I could have voted for Taylor 800,000 times I would have (for the record I did NOT). 

On finale night, Boss Grandma and I were 1000% LOCKED IN. I was griped with fear and anticipation. I was so nervous that all the ugly bullying Taylor experienced and sur-thrived would have been for naught. I was scared the bad guys would win.

Taylor Hale | Credit: Taylor’s IG

But then Taylor rose from the seat formerly known as The Block in her gorgeous crystal-encrusted jumpsuit (I mean the girl is a real-life beauty queen) and delivered the most powerful speech I’d heard on any reality TV show and honestly one of the best “fight for your life” speeches ever. Fuh real, fuh real.

I leaped out of my chair. Boss Grandma yelped, “That was good.” We were beaming. And I knew in that exact moment that Taylor Mackenzie Dickens Hale was the winner of Big Brother 24. I knew she snatched the entire bag. I just knew it.

When the inevitable finally happened and Julie Chen Moonves officially declared Taylor the winner of BB24 and America’s Favorite Player, I called those friends who endured my rants and screamed, “SHE WON!” They knew who I was talking about. Toljah, I was committed.

Big Brother 24 Winner Taylor Hale | Credit: Taylor’s IG

A friend later told me that I had missed out on the “Cookout” season. I was sorry that I didn’t get a chance to witness that special Big Brother history. But honestly, watching for the first time this year was too poetic. It was meant for me to see the first Black woman win the original Big Brother during my first time watching the popular program.

“I am not a shield. I am a sword.”

Yes, Little Sis, you are!

Joseph Abdin & Taylor Hale

Post Script: There is a Prince Charming in this fairytale, Joseph Abdin, a beautiful spirit with a kind heart who just happens to be super gorge with a TIGHT body. He’s now my TV Little Cousin (on the other side of the family; come on now, I ain’t about that incestuous life!). My Lil Cuz (who beautifully defied the Arab man trope often egregiously depicted on American TV) was ride or die and did what he could to protect Taylor in the House. While Joseph & Taylor’s story is still being written, I’m happy they’ve found each other. #TeamJaylor

To be continued…


Filed under Radically Fabulous People, Radically Fabulous Stories