TORONTO - Round two of "Big Brother Canada" will feature four contestants from Alberta, a couple of models and a Cape Town refugee.
The youngest of the 14 contestants announced Wednesday is Edmonton student Rachelle Diamond, 20. The oldest are 43-year-old father Paul Jackson of Toronto, originally from South Africa, and 32-year-old mortgage broker Sarah Miller of Langley, B.C.
Shaw Media says there's space for one more competitor yet to be announced.
Hosted by Arisa Cox, "Big Brother Canada" — which returns to Slice on March 5 (the premiere will also air on Global) — pits houseguests against one another in a series of challenges.
They'll vote each other out each week until one claims a prize of $100,000, a $25,000 gift card from The Brick and a $10,000 trip courtesy of Twistos.
All but two contestants are in their 20s. They include former minor league hockey player Jon Pardy, a self-described "goofy Newfie" who says he's willing to do "whatever it takes" to win the money.
"I don't think there's many (people) that I don't get along with," says the gregarious 23-year-old from Clarenville, N.L., who is hoping to form an Atlantic alliance.
"I'm there to play the game. I might be able to pretend to be friends but I have no trouble throwing away a friendship to get to the final two or three."
Montreal-based model Kenny Brain, originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., says he's "super-competitive" and spent the past several months reviewing every possible scenario he could encounter on the series.
But he says the fact that he doesn't hide his feelings could be a drawback.
"I'm an emotional guy," admits the 25-year-old Brain, who sports a robust but well-manicured beard.
"I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, more so than most people, so I think that if I make relationships that are actually 'real' in the house I'll have trouble doing what I need to do to get to the next step."
And the photogenic singleton says he's absolutely game for a "showmance" if it'll help him win the cash.
"If it happens, it happens — and I might even instigate one myself," he says.
Producers say the second season will feature an all-new "Big Brother Canada" house, outfitted with 85 cameras and more than 80 microphones to capture the shenanigans.
Last year's finalist, the flamboyant Gary Levy, was able to parlay his success on the show into an after-show gig with fellow competitor Peter Brown called the "Big Brother Canada Side Show." Also featuring Cox, that'll air Thursdays and feature interviews with eliminated competitors and special guests.
Montreal hair dresser and make-up artist Sabrina Abbate unabashedly admits she's seeking her "15 minutes of fame," but suspects she'll have to tone down her larger-then-life personality to win friends in the house.
"I am going to go in the house a little calmer than I really am because I don't really want to have a target on my back right away because I'm a large, loud character, as a person," says the 25-year-old Abbate.
"I love this game because I feel like you're acting all the time and I wanted to be an actress all my life.... I'm going to have to lie, I'm going to have to manipulate, I'm going to have to be a hypocrite."
Jackson, meanwhile, hopes he'll serve as a role model of sorts, noting that his troubled upbringing in South Africa has ingrained valuable life lessons.
The father of three came to Canada as a student refugee 27 years ago. He recounts a difficult upbringing that included his mother's death when he was six and an absentee father.
Jackson went from foster home to foster home before ending up with an aunt and uncle. In high school, he got involved with the country's volatile political movement, and found himself at the centre of raucous riots and demonstrations.
"As an ignorant teenager that I was, things are happening (where) you think you're part of a cause, you don't quite see the bigger picture of it all, you don't see the results of what could happen," says Jackson. "It wasn't a future for me there, that's for sure."
Jackson calls being on the show a great "experiment," although he admits his age could be a hindrance to winning the big prize.
"I'm not a young skipper anymore, I can't keep up with the young 'uns but you see I'm young at heart," he says, predicting his social skills will make up for what he lacks physically. "I've worked amongst children and let's face it, some adults are just big kids."
He expects to establish himself as a trusted confidant, but he's not above manipulating others.
"I don't think that you can play the game without lying," he says.
"I don't think that you can make a promise and keep it every single time, it ain't going to happen. I haven't seen one yet where someone's actually never told a single lie in the house. I don't think that's going to happen.
"How I tell it and when I tell it, that's a whole other story. I'll have to work on that when I get there."
The other houseguests are:
- welder and inventor Adel Elseri, 27, of Edmonton
- restaurant manager Andrew Gordon, 27, of Calgary
- reiki master Anick Gervais, 28, of Hanmer, Ont.
- Arlie Shaban, 25, of Claremont, Ont. (now living in Stouffville, Ont.)
- model agency co-ordinator Heather Decksheimer, 23, of Barrhead, Alta. (now living in Edmonton)
- hair stylist Ika Wong, 29, of Montego Bay, Jamaica (now living in Thornhill, Ont.)
- personal trainer Kyle Shore, 24, of Porter's Lake, N.S.
- freelance fashion stylist Neda Kalantar, 22, of Vancouver.
Fans are encouraged to speculate on the 15th and final houseguest on Twitter using the hashtag #FINALHG. The answer will be revealed March 5.
"Big Brother Canada" will air three nights a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays on Slice.
"The Big Brother Canada Side Show" airs Thursdays, while "Big Brother Canada After Dark" airs seven days a week from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. ET/11 p.m. to 2 a.m. PT.