'Big Brother' cast change: Christie Valdiserri tests positive for COVID-19 and has been replaced
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/06/2021
Big Brother warns viewers to always expect the unexpected, but no one probably expected a cast change already -- as Christie Valdiserri has been dropped from the cast and replaced due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
Big Brother Season 23 cast member Christie, a 27-year-old professional dancer from Philadelphia, PA who currently resides in North Hollywood, CA, has been removed from the cast just days before the show's live premiere and move-in special after testing positive for coronavirus.
Christie, who was one of 16 houseguests announced by CBS on July 1, announced she will no longer be able to participate in the game through a video posted to Big Brother's official Instagram account on Monday.
"Hey, guys. So, I don't want to be sharing this news, but I tested positive for COVID and I have no idea how I got it," Christie said in the video.
"I have the vaccine and I've been following all the guidelines up to this point. I have absolutely no symptoms. I feel perfectly fine. So I'm really grateful for that, but it's really frustrating because I won't be playing in Big Brother this summer."
The first-ever bald Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model continued, "I just have to say that when you're faced with adversity, I'm just telling myself that it's for a far bigger reason and I want to believe that, and I don't know the reason yet."
Christie will be replaced by Claire Rehfuss, a 25-year-old AI engineer from Chagrin Falls, OH, who currently resides in New York, NY.
"I have had a roller coaster of emotions the past 48 hours," Christie added in the video.
"And as I've been reading through all the comments online, whether they're good or bad, I just have to say that I have put myself out there and shared this vulnerability of being bald and all the comments, good or bad, are affecting everybody else that also is bald and experiences this vulnerability."
Comments on Instagram and tweets on Twitter poured in after Christie's announcement from disappointed fans and friends.
Many people have called Christie an "inspiration," and former Big Brother winner Derrick Levasseur tweeted, "So Christie for BB24, right?"
Christie later tweeted on her own Twitter account, "The craziest part of all of this is how many people have reached out and told me their hair loss story. Loudly crying faceRed heart I just wish I could hug you all & remind you that you're going to be okay. We in this together. Representation matters!!!!!!!!"
According to Big Brother Network, Christie's replacement, Claire, is a "clever, driven and spunky" woman who was one of the first women to graduate with a Data Science Engineering degree from the University of Michigan.
Claire, who competed in speed-programming competitions during her college years, has apparently written code that's been on satellites and used in national election campaigns as well as by many of the top fortune 500 companies.
Claire and her fellow 15 brand new houseguests will be shown moving into the "BB Beach Club" house on Big Brother's Season 23 premiere airing Wednesday, July 7 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.
"This all-new group is in for a high-stakes summer full of Big Risks and Big Rewards, where one wrong gamble could cost them everything," CBS teased in a press release announcing the cast.
Big Brother executive producers Rich Meehan and Allison Grodner revealed to Entertainment Tonight how the houseguests will begin playing the game in teams and there will be another huge twist at the end of the premiere episode having to do with the theme of casino meets Big Brother Beach club.
For the first time inBig Brother history, the houseguests will apparently be presented with a double-or-nothing offer that may be too good to refuse.
The executive producers also shared how Big Brother's 23rd season will have the tagline, "Go big or go home."
Big Brother will continue to air three episodes every week this summer following its July 7 debut.
Beginning on Sunday, July 11, the series will air on Sunday and Wednesday nights from 8-9PM ET/PT as well as on Thursday nights.
Each Thursday night episode of Big Brother, hosted by Julie Chen Moonves, will feature a houseguest's eviction and air live on the East Coast from 8-9PM.
Big Brother follows a group of strangers living together in a house together that's outfitted with 94 HD cameras and 113 microphones, recording their every move 24 hours a day.