When talking about the best Big Brother players of all time, there are several names that come to mind. Dan Gheesling, Rachel Reilly, Derrick Levasseur, and Danielle Reyes are just some of the contestants for whom a case could be made. There is one name that stands above the rest, however. One name that should strike fear into the hearts of anyone that dares to cross its path. One name that is synonymous with charm, wit, and manipulation. The man, the myth, the legend: Dr. Will Kirby.
Back in 2001, Dr. Will set the blueprint for how the game of Big Brother should be played. After three months in the Big Brother house, Dr. Will was declared the winner of Big Brother 2. He came back five years later for Big Brother: All-Stars, did it again, and proved just how naturally it comes to him. Even so, though many players have attempted to capture the same magic that he did, they have failed. Sometimes miserably. He hasn’t played since 2006 but don’t let that fool you: he is still the best there has ever been and the best there will ever be – a fact that Dr. Will, himself, agrees with. While the new season of Big Brother continues to heat up, Dr. Will so graciously agreed to an interview with SarahScoop.Com.
Dr. Will – Before Big Brother
Dr. Will, as he put it, “was born awesome and raised badass.” He was born in a small nunnery in Florence, Italy, went to kindergarten in Paris, France, but was mostly raised in North Florida. In order to gain the “Dr.” title, he attended college at Emory University and medical school at Nova Southeastern University, then completed an internship at Mt. Sanai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida. After all this schooling, Dr. Will had a goal, a vision, he wanted to be on reality TV. More specifically, he wanted to be on the hit CBS reality competition series that had just started the year before and had taken the nation by storm: Survivor.
That’s right. What many Big Brother fans don’t know is that Dr. Will had no plans to compete on Big Brother in the beginning. He actually applied to be on the other gigantic CBS reality show at the time. “I had never even heard of Big Brother. The casting team and producers had to explain the concept of Big Brother to me. As I was leaving an audition session in Los Angles and getting back on a plane to Miami, one of the handlers, in passing, told me that the first season of Big Brother was a disaster and that CBS was looking for some fresh faces to come in and save the franchise. No pressure there, right? But I love a challenge and I had a gut feeling that I would do well if I could just get on.”
A New Social Experiment
When Big Brother premiered in 2000, it was marketed as a “social experiment.” 10 strangers lived together in a house on the CBS lot in Studio City, California. The houseguests were cut off from the outside world and only had each other for entertainment. Their lives were filmed 24/7 for the next 88 days and aired on CBS five nights a week with one of the episodes dedicated to a live “banishment,” in which America would vote on which person they wanted to see leave the house. What set Big Brother apart from other reality shows was the online live feed option for fans who couldn’t get enough of the show. Fans could log on and see what the houseguests were doing at any time of the day. The first season of the show was, as Dr. Will noted, a disaster for CBS and something had to change.
Shockingly, CBS gave the show another chance the following summer. On July 5, 2001, Big Brother 2 premiered. With it, came a new social experiment. This season marked the beginning of the competition element that fans know, love, and obsess over today. America had less influence and the show became a game of human chess. A game that Dr. Will knew he wanted to be the king of.
“I knew there was pressure to entertain. And I hoped that if I could entertain myself on the show then I could also entertain the TV audience watching. Naturally it takes luck to win, but I also wanted to display wit and charisma and try to give my friends and family watching at-home a great viewing experience.”
“I hoped that if I could entertain myself on the show then I could also entertain the TV audience watching.“
On Being the “Villain”
A great viewing experience is an understatement. Both times he has competed on the show, Dr. Will has been a constant source of entertainment. His willingness to lie, manipulate, and backstab in such an unapologetic way made him a favorite amongst viewers. For Dr. Will, the role felt obvious to him.
“Bucking convention, in a time before it was acceptable to be the antagonist, it just felt more natural for me to be the season’s villain. And, very luckily for me, my gamble paid off.” His “by any means necessary” approach to getting to the end of the game worked and on day 82, Dr. Will was crowned the winner of Big Brother 2 by a vote of 5-2.
“I’ve always gravitated toward the more villainous characters – my childhood friends liked Luke Skywalker but I was enchanted by Darth Vader.“
Reflecting on his days in the Big Brother house, Dr. Will sees his time on the show as a positive experience, though not the end all be all of his time on this Earth. “I do think of it fondly. But if I’m being honest I have to say that if I hadn’t won then I don’t know if I’d feel the same way… very candidly, I really don’t think about my personal Big Brother experience all that much these days. Sure it was something that I’m relatively well known for but, in the grand scheme of things acknowledging my place in the universe, it’s just not all that important. Now do I have very specific moments that I cherish? Of course. And I’ve decided to keep those private.”
Being on such an early season of the show allowed Dr. Will to make the game his own. One of his most notable strategies is controversial amongst some fans of Big Brother.
“I created the strategic concept of “throwing competitions.” I’m highly, highly confident that I could have won many (albeit, not all) of the competitions I was eligible for but it would have made me a bigger target and resulted in an earlier elimination in the game. Take a moment and think back to the players that the fans called a “comp beast” or the “Veto King”. Did any of those people go on to win Big Brother? That’s rhetorical – we know the answer, they didn’t.”
It’s about more than just avoiding a target, however. Throwing competitions allows for plausible deniability – an important element to be used in manipulation. “From day one I recognized that if you don’t win the HOH competition then you don’t have to nominate anyone for eviction. If you don’t ever nominate anyone then you have a solid argument that you were never trying to eliminate them. I’m not saying it’s the right strategy for everyone but no reasonable person can argue that purposely losing competitions, specifically the HOH competitions, when you absolutely don’t need to win them, isn’t a viable means by which to propel yourself forward in the game.”
“Is it fun for the fans to say that I never won anything but the show? Of course. I totally get it. And it’s not completely inaccurate. But it’s also not a contextually precise statement.”
“Here is a complete list of what I have won: Big Brother 2, The Price is Right, life.”
On the “Devolution” of Big Brother
Though he has not played the game since Big Brother 7, Dr. Will stays involved with the show. Since Big Brother 15, he has appeared at the end of each season to host a jury roundtable segment, where he speaks with the houseguests in the jury house before they vote on who they want to win the game.
During his time hosting this segment, Dr. Will has seen how the show has changed firsthand. “There has been a transfer or a delegation, if you will, of power from the actual individual houseguest’s true personalities to the houseguest’s psyche as portrayed via their respective social media accounts. I truly think the worldwide embrace of social media has hurt the reality TV genre. Reality TV, social media, politics… in many ways it’s almost like we just jammed all those things in blender and hit the ‘puree’ button.”
“I wouldn’t use the word “evolution” when describing how the show has changed. In fact, I’d use the word “devolution”
Due to the 24/7 nature of the show, fans feel connected to Big Brother contestants unlike any other reality show. This can result in a toxic social media relationship between houseguests and fans which leads to passive gameplay.
“Social media didn’t exist when I played. Now some of the houseguests are unfortunately affected by that entity. Many are hyperaware of how they’ll be perceived and that means they can’t play unrestrained. This all goes back to entertaining the viewers – you can’t provide true, unabridged entertainment if you are worried about the comments you’ll get in your Instagram account.”
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Advice for Future Houseguests
As the greatest Big Brother player of all time, Dr. Will has some words of advice for future Big Brother contestants: “Please, no more daffy “pranks”. Please no more yelling in the diary room. And I’ll throw up in my own lap on live TV at finale taping if I see another contrived proposal.”
Being entertaining can be misconstrued. Real entertainment, real captivating TV, can only come from a charismatic personality. This is what makes a reality TV show legend. He hasn’t played the game in over a decade but Dr. Will is still remembered by so many and he knows this is no accident.
“The single most important thing is to remember that people watch TV to be entertained. Any houseguest can win the show through luck and boring gameplay, and unfortunately that happens relatively frequently. But so few interesting personalities actually jump out of your TV and make a lasting impact nowadays. As such, my advice to any future houseguest who wants to be in that #2 [best Big Brother player] spot is to place a premium on being naturally entertaining.”
Reality TV Retirement
I am sure there are many fans reading this who are remembering why they loved Dr. Will in the first place. They may be wondering frantically, “when will he be back on the show?” The answer may disappoint you. “They say that nothing is sadder than a pro athlete who plays past his prime. Well, I disagree. There is one thing sadder: A reality TV contestant who doesn’t know when to walk away.”
Walking away while in his prime was a no-brainer for Dr. Will.
“I see some reality contestants lose Big Brother, and then lose Survivor, or lose The Amazing Race, or lose an inscrutable MTV show… how many reality TV shows does someone have to lose before they say to themselves, “maybe I’m just not very good at reality television?” But, me personally, I am good at reality TV.”
It’s true – he spent five years on QVC, three years on Dr. 90210, participated in 2 seasons of Big Brother, and just filmed a segment for The Real Housewives of Orange County. Dr. Will has been on more than 40 TV shows. He is not just good at reality television. He is great at reality television.
For those dying to see him on Big Brother again, don’t lose all hope! Although he said that he is likely done participating as a contestant on competition shows, there is a chance he would come back. “It would take someone or something really, really exciting to drag me out of retirement and get me back on competitive reality TV. Sometimes I secretly wish that a new houseguest would motive me to play against him or her.”
Life Goes On
After competing on Big Brother, some contestants use the experience to propel their life in a different direction than it may have been headed. They might make guest appearances on The Bold and the Beautiful, they may compete on different reality shows, or they may make a documentary detailing their life after the show. Dr. Will, on the other hand, rejects the idea of “life after Big Brother.”
“Participation in Big Brother is just one of many things that has occurred in my life. I had a dynamic life before Big Brother, then I had a great run during Big Brother, and I have a kinetic life now – it’s all a continuum.”
Since appearing on the show, Dr. Will has gotten married, started a family, and excels in his every day life. “I’m much more well known these days for being a key opinion leader in the aesthetic dermatology industry than in the reality television industry. It’s a falsity to think that someone can only be a world-class expert in one field.” He tries to be a “world-class expert” in his personal and professional life.
“My main personal objective is being a great dad/husband and my main professional goal is to bring world-class aesthetic dermatology services to as many people as possible. I’m a board certified dermatologist with sub-specialization in aesthetic dermatology and I’m the chief medical officer of the nation’s leading aesthetic dermatology group, LaserAway. We have 50 clinics and are growing at a rapid pace. My life is all about bettering my family, friends, and co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, and patients!“
Final Words and a Challenge for You
“My finals words are just simple advice that is applicable to Big Brother houseguests but also to everyone: Live your life! Don’t let others make decisions for you and don’t ask morons for advice involving major life decisions. Good or bad, success or failure, you’ll respect yourself much, much more if you follow your dreams. Apply to get on Big Brother, rock my TV screen, win the show, move to LA! Let your freak flag fly high! And be so unbelievably captivating that I’ll be forced to come out of retirement and whip your butt in the Big Brother house!”
Who knows? Maybe YOU will be the person that forces Dr. Will out of retirement. We can only hope that someone does! We hope you enjoyed this exclusive interview with Big Brother Legend, Dr. Will Kirby!