SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve watched the Big Brother Canada Season 7 finale.
Kyra Shenker, Big Brother Canada‘s first-ever gender non-binary houseguest, didn’t have the easiest time on the reality show.
For a whopping 69 days, Shenker faced a lot of the typical BBCAN challenges — navigating loneliness, figuring out how to survive, forging bonds — by themselves, often ostracized for their “emotions.”
Yet somehow, despite it all, they made it through to come in an impressive third place, and they arguably had one of the greatest evolutions ever seen on BBCAN.
Global News sat down with Montreal, Que. native Shenker the day after the show’s suspenseful finale to talk about their gameplay, the immense difficulty of Big Brother and what it’s like to be a role model for LGBTQ2 Canadians.
Kyra Shenker: Yeah. I think I had the biggest growth out of everyone, and I was very much alone. [If I made the final two,] in my speech I was going to say, “What’s more impressive, the man who climbs Mount Everest with equipment and a full crew watching his back, or the person who climbs to the top of the mountain blindfolded with only their bare hands in the midst of a storm? [Laughs]
At the end of the day, I did it by myself, and I had to learn… I’m proud of how far I got. My biggest detriment is getting psyched out in that last comp. I knew the answer was three! Unfortunately, I acted too fast, and that cost me $100,000. But it is what it is: I can walk away knowing I played the best game I could’ve played.
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Are you generally happy with your overall gameplay?
Obviously, there are a few things I would’ve changed, but overall, I did the best I could. It was an almost impossible feat going against those guys, they were a great, epic alliance. Unfortunately the people I aligned myself with weren’t great at communicating with each other. I was a target so early on, so people were scared to build game relationships with me. I was a liability because of my emotions but little did they know I never let my emotions actually impact my game decisions.
Being on the block Week 2 was a blessing in disguise because it woke me up. I needed that. You know what? If I was anything this whole game, I was human. I’m proud to have taken Canada on my journey with me, and I’m proud of how much I grew as a person and as a player.
You definitely evolved. At the beginning, you cared so much what other houseguests said about you, but as the season went on, you brushed any rudeness aside.
I had to develop a thicker skin if I wanted to survive, and my survival instinct is strong! These boys… I couldn’t change the fact that they were working together, but I needed to be smart and stop taking things personally. I had to make them think that I could be controlled, but also that I couldn’t be walked all over.
Would you say that being on Big Brother Canada has changed you as a person?
One hundred per cent. I feel like, as humans, we struggle to believe in ourselves. I was very self-deprecating at times in my life, and I feel like this show has taught me how resilient I am, and how much of a fighter I am, and how effective my voice can be. It’s made me more than ready to be an advocate for my queer family.
One really poignant moment was when BBCAN viewers were able to send you messages, and the LGBTQ2 audience especially felt a connection to you. How did that feel to hear that?
That, for me, was beyond touching. It was a huge reason why I even auditioned for Big Brother. I wanted to make some kind of difference. Growing up there was no genderqueer or non-binary representation in the media, so there was no one to look up to as a role model.
It was hard to discover who and what I was, and that struggle was very difficult and very long for me. I wanted to use this as a platform to use my voice, to give people someone to look at and relate to. We can make a lot of change happen if we just try. We’ve just gotta keep on fighting.