How Big Brother 21's Ovi Kabir Feels About The Cookout And CBS' Attempts To Embrace Diversity

Ovi Kabir in the pool Big Brother CBS

Big Brother 23 is rolling right along at CBS, and for the first time in the American version's history, there will 100% be a Black winner when the dust settles, thanks in large part to the efforts of The Cookout alliance. The people-of-color crew managed to maneuver their way through the house and ensure that all members made it to the final six without being eliminated. There have been some fans who claim that The Cookout's effort is reverse racism and somehow unfair to other contestants, but former Houseguests like Season 21's Ovi Kabir have added their own unique perspectives to the conversation.

Along with other minorities on the whole, Ovi Kabir was immediately targeted by Season 21 winner Jackson Michie, and recently spoke to EW about his thoughts on CBS' recent push for diversity, along with The Cookout's achievements in Big Brother. Kabir talked about the things he experienced during his season and how it may have ultimately led to Season 23 in a roundabout way.

From my season, we saw a lot of micro-aggressions. We saw implicit biases and heard a lot of racist remarks throughout that season. Cast members like myself could argue we were at a disadvantage from the get-go. It's really hard to go back and watch it. So I love to think of us as the straw that broke the camel's back. CBS is trying to figure out a way to mitigate that so it never happens again. The Cookout is not just one singular season. It is the culmination of all the past 21 seasons and the actions that have happened to our people of color house guests, to our African-American house guests.

Race was certainly a major topic in Big Brother Season 21, as hopefuls like Jack Matthews came under fire for use of racial slurs, along with several other incidents linked to Houseguests. The Season 21 finale itself even touched on the topic when Jackson Michie was straight-up asked by Julie Chen Moonves about criticisms from fans that his eviction targets showed potential racism. Michie was announced as the winner of the season minutes later, but was clearly still shocked to learn that viewers outside the house considered his actions racist.

Fast forward to Season 23, and some Big Brother viewers have taken a stand against The Cookout's prioritization of ensuring the season ends with its first black winner in the main version of the game; Tamar Braxton won Celebrity Big Brother Season 2. Ovi Kabir spoke about The Cookout and what his opinion has been regarding the alliance's mission this season.

The Cookout has done a really good job of doing what they're doing, but they're not playing a different game than what we've seen before like with The Brigade, which was a pact of four men making close connections. The difference is what is motivating it. It's not just to bring them further in the game. It is to ensure an individual winning who is an African-American player, 'cause we haven't had one in a normal, U.S. Big Brother season other than the celebrity season. They want to make history, and they're kind of unselfishly pushing away their own individual games to get to this point. I think it's really admirable. I can't even judge them on a game basis because some of the moves they're making are actually against their own personal game. I think Tiffany is a great example of that. She cut her closest ally because she feels that she needs to make sure The Cookout gets to the final six. In her heart, she cannot take a shot at another African-American player.

Ovi Kabir is right that Tiffany Mitchell put The Cookout's goal over her own gameplay, and as Big Brother fans saw this week, it may just cost her a chance at winning. This would typically be considered bad gameplay to many fans, which is something Tiffany herself has stated on the live feeds, so she may ultimately agree. Still, her actions played a vital role in The Cookout reaching its final goal. It's truthfully not any different from other large alliances making it through to the end, with the caveat that The Cookout did something truly unprecedented that made the goal all the more meaningful to the alliance itself.

Big Brother airs new episodes on CBS on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with live feeds available on Paramount+. CinemaBlend has been talking to the Houseguests about their game all season long, so be sure to read up on our recent interview with Claire Rehfuss and why she rejected hugs on the night of her own eviction.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

I like good television but also reality television. His day largely consists of balancing his workload between reporting on the latest and greatest news in Star Trek and other sci-fi, as well as 90 Day Fiancé, WWE, Big Brother, and more.