Two ‘Big Brother 15’ contestants have been fired from their day jobs for racial slurs they made during continuous live feeds of the show on CBS.com. According to a new report, contestant GinaMarie Zimmerman was terminated from her job at a beauty pageant agency just a day after her cast mate Aaryn Gries was fired over similar remarks. The comments come just a week after celebrity TV chef Paula Deen was fired from several companies she had lucrative partnerships and endorsement deals with -- over racist comments she allegedly made to a former employee.
Zimmerman, 32, and Gries, 22, reportedly engaged on camera in a conversation laden with racist and homophobic comments about other houseguests. Zimmerman was caught referring to an Asian-American cast mate, Helen Kim, in a conversation with another house guest, in which she said, “Andy was like, 'I'm gonna punch her in the face,' and I was like, 'Maybe that'll make her eyes straight.'"
East Coast USA, the agency Zimmerman worked at for five years, most recently as a pageant coordinator, released a statement to TMZ saying that they had been shocked by Zimmerman’s capacity to “display such acts of hate and racism."
"We have never known this side of GinaMarie or have ever witnessed such acts of racism in the past," a spokesman for the agency told the website. "We are actually thankful that this show let us see GinaMarie for who she truly is. We would never want her to be a role model to our future contestants.”
The rep added, “In a business where we are surrounded by beauty every day we are saddened to see something so ugly come from someone we put on a very high pedestal."
Gries was also observed on the live feed telling Kim to “shut up and go make some rice” and referring to a black cast member by saying, “Be careful what you say in the dark; you might not be able to see that b---ch.” Gries also described a gay contestant as a “queer.” On Wednesday, Zephyr Talent, the modeling agency Gries had worked for, announced that it had dropped her because of the comments.
“Aaryn, season 15 cast member of Big Brother, revealed prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone,” the agency said in a statement. "We certainly find the statements made by Aaryn on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Upon much consideration, we have decided to release Aaryn from her contract with Zephyr Talent."
The racial epithets immediately sparked outrage from viewers on the Internet, with one viewer even organizing a Change.org petition to fire Gries from the show. In response to the backlash, CBS issued a statement addressing the comments.
"’Big Brother’ is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 -- and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone,” the network said. “We certainly find the statements made by several of the houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a houseguest appearing on ‘Big Brother’, either on any live feed from the House or during the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program."