We have an exclusive interview with James Huling, fan favorite contestant from seasons 17 and 18 of CBS’s hit show, Big Brother! With Big Brother 21 premiering on Tuesday, June 25th, we thought it would be especially fitting to get the scoop and learn what James has to say for future houseguests.
Before Big Brother, Huling grew up in Sumter, South Carolina. His family moved around a lot due to his dad being in the Air Force. He spent the majority of his childhood in South Carolina, where he had a hard time growing up due to bullying and struggling to fit in.
“I started running the streets with the friends, coming home late, and staying with friends. My parents at the time looked into a boys’ home that would be able to help me overcome what I was going through.”
Huling lived at Tara Hall Home for Boys, a non-profit organization in Georgetown, SC, from 12 to 17 years old. That is where he became the James that many Big Brother fans fell in love with – he learned to fish, hunt and found a love for country music. From there, Huling joined the Army straight out of high school. He joined the military because of 9/11 and was awarded the Operation Enduring Freedom Medal because he joined during war time.
Big Brother Image
During the interview, James Huling wanted to make note of his image on Big Brother. On the show Huling was described as “an Asian Cowboy,” but he doesn’t completely agree with this description.
“I consider myself a Southern Boy! It’s just a weird thing that I grew up in the deep south, below the Mason-Dixon line. Everyone always tells me my voice, clothes, don’t match my looks.”
Huling’s friends always told him that he needed to be on reality TV. They had never seen or heard anyone like him before. After being told this for years, Huling eventually agreed. “It was always a gut feeling. I woke up one day and went for it. I wanted to win the half-million dollars, of course. It would’ve changed my daughter’s life.”
On Reality TV Fame
Despite being incredibly popular with fans and even being asked to compete on two seasons in a row, Huling doesn’t see himself as a celebrity. “Celebrity??? I’m by far not a celebrity. Taylor Swift is a celebrity.” He does see an upside to being well-known though: “If I go into any town someone knows who I am. I love tweeting out to country singers that I grew up listening to, and they actually tweet me back! I fan out so hard, it’s crazy!” The downside to being well-known is a small price to pay. “I have to be dressed decent. I can’t go out of the house looking like a hood rat. The days I do is when everyone wants a picture!”
Despite the fact that the last time fans saw Huling, he was in a showmance, it is not often for him to date around.
“I am a very hard person to actually get into a relationship with. I have my walls up really high…The thing is, the Big Brother house makes you get to know people for who they are in the house. Well, at least the person with no distractions! Sometimes what works in the house might not work on the outside.”
Regarding his past romantic relationship with former housemate, Natalie Negrotti, Huling stated, “I hope she is doing good and wish her nothing but the best. I feel like things ended and the outcome didn’t have to be the way it came out. She listened to people she thought were her friends and went with what she was hearing instead of coming straight to the source.”
Like a lot of former reality TV contestants, Huling has some moments he looks back on and wishes he could change. “Looking back, I shouldn’t have jumped off the wall giving Nicole the HOH [in Big Brother 18] and I shouldn’t have voted out Corey,” Huling says. “Those were my crucial mistakes that probably cost me the game. You have so much pressure in that house, you have no idea… Most of the game is being at the right time at the right place.”
Life After Big Brother
“My life has been crazy, but in a good crazy way!” Huling’s status as a fan favorite has continued after the show. He often has kids come up to him to say that he was their favorite on the show, which Huling describes as “the best feeling in the world.” He has also been been able to use his platform as a reality TV contestant to speak out against bullying through Bullies Reality. Through this organization, Huling has spoken to kids at middle schools and at events about the dangers of bullying, a topic he feels strongly about due to his childhood.
Beyond that, Huling’s life since the show has been pretty simple. He spends a lot of his free time toying with items around the house.
“People don’t realize that about me– I love fixing things. I’m very handy! Jack of all trades, master at none… I’m very hands on!”
Huling also creates new memories by spending time with his friends and family. “[I enjoy] lake days with friends and Face-Timing my daughter about how she has aggravated her mother this time, planning events with Bullies Reality, two stepping, and planning on what country concert I can go to next!”
Advice for Future Houseguests
“Be yourself, be the person Robyn [casting director of Big Brother] and Production casted.” Huling goes on to say that sometimes you don’t know the real you until you are in the house.
“… the environment in the Big Brother house will bring out a new you and that’s okay.”
He also warns future houseguests to be aware of what they are doing. Big Brother airs only three days a week, but the live feeds allow fans to see everything that happens in the house. “YOU will be held accountable for your game play and WORDS on the outside world. Be careful what you say and stories you share. Yes, I’ve said some stuff that maybe I shouldn’t have said!”
His most important words of advice though? “Remember at the end of the day, it’s a game. Remember you are on the coolest summer reality T.V. show. Yes, you are competing for $500,000, but it is your summer. HAVE FUN!!!!”
We hope you enjoyed this exclusive interview with Big Brother’s James Huling! Stay tuned at Sarah Scoop for more interviews featuring Big Brother houseguests in the weeks to come and check out our other stories here!