Marissa Jaret Winokur Talks Winning Celebrity Big Brother, Dealing with Omarosa, and Bonding with Ross Mathews

The Broadway star dished all about her experience with Celeb Secrets.

Hairspray’s Marissa Jaret Winokur was crowned the first-ever champion of Celebrity Big Brother last Sunday (February 25) and spoke to Celeb Secrets all about her big win!

“No. never. Not in a million years. Absolutely not” were Winokur’s words when we asked if she ever thought she’d win the entire competition. “My goal was final four; that was where I was like, ‘if I make final four, I would be a series regular, making this all worth it.’ The winning was a total surprise to me. It took me almost a full day to even accept the fact that I won!”

She also talked to us about what it was like staying in the house for 28 days, dealing with Omarosa, and her special bond with runner-up Ross Mathews. OH — and she revealed a pretty CRAZY behind-the-scenes secret from filming CBB that we didn’t know happened when we were watching!

Make sure to check out the full Q&A below and catch a brand-new season of Big Brother this summer on CBS.


Celeb Secrets: In Celebrity Big Brother, you guys are locked away from the outside world — you’re under surveillance and whatnot. What was that like for you and did you prepare in any way for it?

Marissa Jaret Winokur: “I did not and I should’ve prepared. I should have absolutely thought it through a little bit better. The producers had said, ‘you know, there’s going to be days that you’re going to go without going outside’ and I thought, ‘oh well I’m usually on set for 12 hours a day or I’m in a theater for rehearsals for like 10 hours, I’ll be fine.’ I never really thought about what that really meant. We did not see the sun for 28 days. Ross was the only one that brought like vitamin D with him and we were all using it. Mark was literally clear by the time we left; he was so pale!”

And did you think at any point, you know, teaming up with Ross [Mathews] was a mistake and if so, did you plan on abandoning your alliance?

“No, Ross was really like my ride or die. In the beginning it was me, Ross and Shannon and I was like really excited about that because Shannon also kept a huge target. I knew I wasn’t going to be the target, but I also knew she was going to play a smart game. I knew she was a fan of the show and that she was a poker player — I know a lot about her just from doing ‘Dancing With The Stars’ with her 10 years ago. Then I was like, oh no, I can’t keep this; she’s such a target; but Ross and I, were never like, ‘we’re going to final two.’ I think there was no one I wanted to hang out with more than Ross, so it just sucks what happened. There was never a moment that I thought, ‘oh, I need to get rid of Ross because like, he’s going to ruin my game.’ No. I would’ve gone home before that.”

Do you think like he was the easiest to get along with or was there someone else that you really clicked with in the house?

“I really clicked with Ari. I’ve spent the last three days literally on the phone with Ari. I love her and I think she’s got such a huge future. I obviously got really close to her when she had to be that baby.  I’m like the most maternal person — I am a mom in real life — so I had no problem with just sitting and taking care of baby Ari. I actually liked her better as baby Ari, but we got really, really close; just like I did with Ross. I know that me, Ross and Ari will be friends forever for sure.”

That’s so awesome. And was there anyone that was like super difficult to get along with or everyone was pretty good?

“Everyone was pretty good. I know there’s clips of Brandi [Glanville] and I having a disagreement, and that was literally the only time we had a disagreement. I’ve never met anyone like Brandi in my life, but we had a great time together. Everyone saw this, but at the end I was really true to her and Ari and I really wanted to figure out how to make that foursome some work, but you just couldn’t favor in the end.”

Was Omarosa as divisive as the show made her appear to be?

“No, no, no. She is a reality TV star. She did things in the game because she knew it was good TV. There was one time where she literally said to me, ‘what are you doing?’ and I said  ‘they just told me to leave the room.’ And she was like ‘that is reality TV 101 – if they tell you to leave the room, you stay in that room.’ Then the next day, Ari was crying and I went in to make Ari feel better and she was like, ‘no, you just need to leave, you need to give Ari some space.’ So I left, and then an hour later she was like, ‘why aren’t you in there with Ari?’ I’m like, ‘because you told me to leave!’ and she’s like, ‘but I told you to never leave the room when someone tells you to leave’ and I was like ‘OH. MY. GOD.’ She’s definitely an interesting person to have on a reality TV show.”

What was your most memorable moment from being in the house with everyone?

“It has to be laughing with Ross. I think when you’re on these things, you’re so starved for joy and happiness that when when somebody like makes you happy, you’re so much more happy. So just laughing and freaking out with Ross are my favorite memories from being in the house. There was a night where I truly believed that Metta [World Peace] was America’s player, and I remember going into the HOH room and we laughed so hard talking about how crazy and bad his gain was. We were like, ‘that means he has to be America’s player because he’s so crazy.’ And we were laughing so hard that like I couldn’t breathe. And in my memory of that show its honestly just laughing so hard with Ross in ways that I’ve like never laughed before.”

Do you have any advice for anyone that has plans to be on an upcoming season of Big Brother?

“Obviously make friends! Don’t go in playing so hard that everyone sees your game. That’s what got me where I was; I don’t even think the producer saw my game. You have to lay low because if not, you become a huge target. Also bring only comfy clothes and things to share that’s not too valuable. Sharing buys you love. For me, I brought enough headbands so that everyone could have one if we all wear a headband. I knew we were going to be in the house for Valentine’s Day, so I brought extra Valentine’s Day ones. I also brought nail polish and eye patches — it’s like high school. Sometimes you have to give your pencil to make a friend.”

Since we are Celeb Secrets, what’s a behind-the-scenes secret from filming that we wouldn’t know when watching episode of Celebrity Big Brother?

“That we get locked in rooms for hours and hours and hours. Those competitions that go by in 10 minutes are literally seven hours. You’re locked in a room by yourself for seven hours with nothing to do and you’ll be like on your microphone saying,’ hey brother, can I go to the bathroom?’ And nobody will answer you for like an hour. I would just start singing as loud as I could and then they’d be like, ‘please stop singing.’ And it be like ‘yeah, let me go to the bathroom!’ There was a night where Meta, me and Mark were just sitting in the HOH room locked in and we couldn’t get out for seven and a half hours. They would also blast music so they don’t basically have to monitor you if there’s music playing, but the music makes you crazy because it’s not what you want to listen to. It felt like we were on ‘Lost’ where they would play that crazy music in the morning.”

Written by Juliet Schroder

Juliet is the founder and executive producer/host of Celeb Secrets and Celeb Secrets Country. When not reporting on the latest news in pop culture and country music, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the latest fashion trends.

Juliet holds a B.S. in marketing from St. John's University.