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Tuesday 15 June 2021

Adriana Fernandez: 'Big Brother' 2021 - INTERVIEW

You've been watching Adriana Fernandez closely, haven't you. So has the whole nation. Oh yes, and Big Brother has, too!

As the final intruder standing on 'Big Brother' Australia 2021, Adriana has well and truly made her mark on Australians, showing her prowess in challenges which require incredible strength, resilience, and endurance.

She also looks well put together during every milestone event on the small screen - from eviction nights, to early mornings, to sweaty challenges.

Ah, fashion stylist life - always look schmick in any situation or life circumstance. Even if it is keeping your actual head above water in an actual (frightening!) challenge for the benefit of us at home. And $250,000.

Adriana is one of EIGHT housemates left, with eighteen already gone!

That's a fantastic innings for Adri, who was actually asked to join 'Big Brother' Australia 2021, though absolutely underwent the rigorous process before officially joining the original BB housemates.

"I got a phone call, and I was asked if I was interested in being on 'Big Brother', so I automatically thought they want me to style a session on the show and then they said to me: “No Adriana we’d like you to be a housemate and I said okay… but I still had to go through the process, it didn’t mean that I had it, I had to do three different interviews with producers and do all the tests, psychology tests and every test you can think of, like heart rate tests, mental tests, strength tests, I did all of that," says Adriana.

"I spoke to the boys (her three adult sons) and (her husband) Richard and I said: what do you think? And it was it my youngest who said “Oh mum I’m not quite sure if I want you to do it, and I said: that’s okay if you don’t want me to do it, if you don’t want me to do it then I won’t.

"Two days later he said you know what mum you need to do it or you’ll regret it. So I said okay. You know, he knows I’m out there and I’ll give it a go, and I found out that 'Big Brother' wasn’t like it used to be and that’s what I said: I haven’t built my business up for somebody to put me on television then edit me the way they want me to be, and they reassured me they won’t do that.

"So then I thought what have I got to lose and I said yes to going to this ‘Big Brother’ life away from my phone, knowing the what time it is, away from radio, music and anything at all like newspapers, television, absolutely away from everything... and it was exciting. Every day was exciting.

"Don’t get me wrong: every day was hard. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer and, fast forward to today, he has good days and he has bad days. The day I was told I was going in the ‘Big Brother’ house is the day that I was told dad had cancer.

"So I wasn’t going to do it. Mum and dad are such 'Big Brother' fans and they said “You’ve go to go, you’ve got to go", and my sister said to me I will look after mum and dad while dad is going through chemo. I had my moments in there where you’ll see me cry, you’ll see me laugh, you’ll see me give my absolute all, you’ll see me fight, and going in as an intruder it was double the work.

"Because they had already aligned themselves and they had fought to get to their place, and all of a sudden I come in with five others (intruders), and it’s like: it starts again.

"But it was an incredible experience: a crazy experience and I’m glad I did it and Endemol Shine have been amazing. They looked after us if I needed to know anything. And you have to play the game. Some days you get in there and you think: what am I doing here? And all of a sudden you start to get the gist [of the game], and I was nominated to be evicted in the second week and I thought: I’m not ready to go. Obviously they couldn’t read me, but I was finding out about each and every person in the house.

"So it was great journey, and who would have thought - 55,000 applicants and I was one of the lucky ones who got asked to be a part of it but yes, I had to go through the whole process, all those tests so you’ve got to be mentally prepared for it…"

In fact, Adriana arrived at the same time another fellow intruder Gabe Criste arrived, and after the eviction of Charlotte Hall, Gabe soon spoke to Big Brother and expressed that he couldn't stay in the house any longer, saying that he had been "mentally, emotionally, and physically struggling" in the house.

"Gabe was such a beautiful soul and in watching him I realised he was like a little lost sheep in the house. With all respect, you had to go hard if you wanted to stay in the house," says Adriana.

And that’s why your emotional and mental strength is tested before you go in, of course.

"Big Brother is there for you to chat with 24 hours a day if you need him," reveals Adri.

How does Adri feel about how she has been portrayed so far?

"Good! I'm really happy with the way I have been portrayed," says Adri.

"There's so much that I did say that hasn't been shown, but I am happy with everything," she adds.

"The game is literally in your head the whole time: you go to sleep thinking about the game, and you wake up thinking: "how am I going to make it to through another day."

For Adriana, who has been a fashion stylist based in Sydney for many years (she's a Wollongong girl, and travels around Australia and overseas for styling work, styling everyday people, as we as celebrities and notable personalties), it's her moment in the sun to be recognised for the not only the work she does, but for strength of character, and good humour to boot!

Her portrayal as a strong woman is accurate - I've known Adriana for many years. She's definitely not 'mumsy' - instead she's showing you can be sexy at any age.

"That’s the reason I went on the show, to show women all the ways they can be in life!

"You know, I style women who start to doubt themselves and their personal style and in turn start to lack confidence.

For me, I like to train and I get in shape with my intense and regular physical training, but you can look good and feel good at any age.

"And I want to empower other women out there that they can do whatever they want!

I am here to agree! You've gotta make it happen - it's completely great accept to who you are as a person and be happy with your age and stage in life, but if you are not where you want to be physically and with confidence levels, meeting and hanging with Adriana can be truly life and perspective changing.

"I love that that’s what you represent," I say to Adriana.

"I want to show women out there that you know you can get exercise in the mornings to feel good, and you know, you don't have to wear expensive clothes to look good - it's all about how you put it together.

"You look good, you feel good, it's all about giving you confidence," says Adri.

During Covid, Adriana reveals she'd go get her car washed, and the only store that was open was Kmart. "So yeah, I started to know to experiment with how to put things together with less expensive clothing, and taking it to that next level on tying it all in. When I joined the [Big Brother] house I took my styling skills to the housemates, and it was fun playing dress ups."


Were there some alliances or unusual friendships that Adriana formed inside the house?

"I did have the attitude that this is a game, I'm not there to make friends, but I did make friendships in the house - it's hard not to make friends!

"Even know I made friends with so many beautiful people, it's all about trust for me anyway.

"You sort of know who you want to work with, and you know who is really playing the game 

and who is just telling you whatever you want to hear.

"The trust was one of those things that was very hard in the house.

If you don't know the game you might wonder why you'd need to build an alliance - aren't you all just there to win the whole show? But as Adriana says, "you need to have those alliances when you're doing a challenge."

"You may get nominated so you've got to have people who will back you up. At that point you've got to really get on side but everyone, and I had to learn how to do that. In the first week I thought, oh my gosh, this is crazy, I don't like lying, I hate lying. And I quickly picked up on the game. I think I portrayed myself as someone you could talk to, and what you said to me would stay with me. I really want to show Australia that I'm not one of those people that if you told me something in confidence then I would talk behind your back. That's not me.

"You know I was very upfront, and maybe I should have played the game a little bit more but I learnt a lot about backstabbing, but then you realise that it's all a game, it really is all a game. But on the outside that's not who they are," says Adri.

"I kept having to say to myself: 'Adriana, remember this is a game'.

The Big Brother house is based in North Head, Sydney. "I had to tell people that I was away on a shoot and that there was no reception where I was. I was gone for quite some time, obviously just my family knew where I was, but that was it."

Adriana reveals that Australia will vote in the last episode of 'Big Brother'.

"It's up to Australia. Throughout the whole thing votes are cast by the housemates, but in the end it's Australia who's vote counts. Oh, I'm getting so good at this keeping everything a secret thing," laughs Adriana uproariously.

Adri says that as soon as she was featured in her first article in 'New Idea' her Instagram "went absolutely crazy." In fact, it's steadily rising right now, as she becomes an even more recognisable face.

"People are starting to recognise me now and I find that so unusual! To me, I've just done something that's really no big deal. But it's funny because they look at you and they then turn away while they're recognising you. It just happened to me today at lunch. This couple were looking at me then come right out and ask, you're on 'Big Brother', right?

"It happened to me at Woolies the other day too. I'm just at my local Woolies and I could see staff looking at me... it was so funny and I'm thinking, but I'm here all the time, I'm here every week! But I think that's only for a short time and then I'll be forgotten," says Adri matter of factly.

We beg to differ. Adri's star is on the rise and rise.

Adri reveals the sleeping arrangements when she first arrived at the house. "The boys and girls were in two separate rooms, with one doorway going in. The boys were super respectful. I came in as an intruder and there was a big double bed nobody wanted, as the housemates believed the bed was cursed. So I thought right, I'll sleep in the double bed! I had to sleep with my sleeping mask on but it's very dark at night, but obviously they [the cameras] can see everything. And being a mum of boys I really enjoyed being with all the girls in the house.

"You know, I had no idea what time it was in the house, it was just hearing from 'Big Brother:' 'okay it's time to get up' or 'okay it's time to go to bed', but we'd never actually know the time. But you know what we were mentally and physically exhausted, we were always ready for sleep.

"Do you know what... the best thing was not having a phone. I loved not having a phone! I learnt a lesson: that my phone does consume a lot of my time. I learnt that we are so involved with this device that it's so sad. Life just passes us by.

"I came out hoping that I wouldn't be on my phone as much. Obviously in running a business you are on your phone, but it was the best thing I did, I absolutely loved it, just loved it. This thing becomes our life, but it was so nice to not be with your phone before you go to bed, and access your phone when you first wake up. It was so nice. You would actually have conversations and listen to what people say. And there were 15 hours a day of conversations, besides the challenges."

So, can you go to your room and just chill out? "You can but you're not allowed to sleep. I did almost fall asleep at one stage. You forget you have a mic on, and 'Big Brother' must've heard me breathing and asked, Adriana are you asleep, and I said no, no I'm not asleep!" she laughs.

"We had mics on every day,  for Sunday... we had Sunday off."

One of the best moments for Adri was when she beat Mitch on the beam. "Oh my gosh I was so proud of that and of myself. Josie, I'm telling you, I surprised myself with what I was capable of.

"Some challenges I wasn't as good at, but I always gave it a go. I would think of my dad to push me through, to get me through challenges. You know, I wanted to make my boys proud. There were one or two challenges where I said, I can't do this, it was physically hurting me, with pain in my lower back."

But when the electric shock challenge involved winning seafood to eat, "well you know me when it comes to food! When you've been eating spinach, tuna and chickpeas (alcohol is very, very limited in the house), you'll do anything. I thought, if I can give birth I can get through this! It's like one million elastic bands being flicked at you. Do you know what, it's amazing what the mind can do. And I found that women have a much stronger pain threshold than boys."

So, what will Adriana take from her time in the house?


"Being away from my family was hard. And in playing the game you learn if you want to do something, you can do it, you can make it happen. You've gotta push yourself and just keep pushing yourself. And that means pushing yourself to limits you never thought possible. It doesn't matter what age you are; 'Big Brother' is a game for everybody, you don't have to be physically super strong. In the beginning you do mentally need to know what you're doing, and in saying that there were some challenges that required physical strength and sometimes I just couldn't compete with the boys. But I did alright, I was on par with them a lot of the time. I've got the personality that I get on with everybody.

"The other take aways from this experience is that I'm a very strong person to allow myself to be away for so long from my family, and everything that was happening in my life. I wanted to prove to ME that I could do it. Adriana has never had 'Adriana time', I've always had someone to lean on, whether it's my family or my husband. I was going in as a stylist, knowing I have a passion and love what I do, and I had this newfound confidence about me. I found that when I went in everyone started to dress up that little bit more, too! Even Sonia [Kruger, host of 'Big Brother] noticed, and I loved seeing her style when she'd connect with us from the outside.

Photo: Peter Brew Bevan

I ask, how do you feel that you might take this to the next level from a business perspective, and how do you feel that you can translate it to outside world stylist life?

"It's just really wonderful that with 'Big Brother' and its big audience, people can see my backstory and why I do what I do. It's like a sneak peak of me. I am what I do."

Adri reveals the the other stylist in the show Charlotte is someone "I call a friend."

"If I could bring her to Sydney I'd love for her to work alongside me. Her personality is brilliant.

"I love getting to know the people in the house, and what and who they are, irrespective of who they are in the outside world. You're living with those people, so you're getting to know those people, you create such a bond, and you know I was adamant that I wasn't there to create friendships but it's hard not to make friends. You're spending so much of your day with these people, there's nothing else to do except get to know them. So you must interact with everyone, but sometimes I just sit there and listen. I mean Ari for example, he's so intelligent, he's so intriguing, we were calling 'the human Google.'

What's next for Adri?

"I'd love for people to see who I am in fashion, and how I make them feel confident in what they're doing and wearing, and what Adristyling [Adriana's fashion styling business) is doing to make you look good, and knowing I can create looks where you don't have to have a lot of money. Styling is for everyone, it's accessible."

It's how Adri feels when she reads the testimonies. "When you read about people I've worked with and they say 'you've changed my life'... I love it. Do you know, anyone can change their life, anyone can prove themselves, and it just takes that one person to believe in you. It sounds crazy but when you dress well that's where your confidence just shines through.

"I wouldn't see myself being on [TV show] 'Survivor' though... only because of all the bugs and all the yucky things in the jungle.

"The next dream on my list is... to grab 30 family and friends and sail away!"

To see Adri's fashion stylist life, go here: https://www.adrianafernandezstyling.com

And follow Adri on Instagram HERE.

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