Let Yourself Shine

Big Brother Canada Contestant 
Tera Gillen-Petrozzi

Story by Michael Seguin
Photography courtesy of Global TV

Tera Gillen-Petrozzi’s Big Brother Canada audition tape sums it all up: “My name is Tera. I’m 37. I’m from LaSalle, Ontario. I’m a Mom of two and a Spin Instructor. My personality is a lot of extra! I am loud! I am energetic! And I am tiny! I am 5’0. I think I might have a thing called Little Woman Syndrome. I have the determination of the bull—a tiny, fierce bull.”

Tera was first introduced to Big Brother Canada in 2013, while expecting her second child.

“My brother-in-law first showed it to me,” Tera recalls. “I was pregnant, barefoot, feet up. Just watching a lot of TV. But as soon as I saw the show, I loved it! The concept of the game was so intriguing to me. I loved watching all the different competitions. I always wondered if I would be good at. I remember saying to myself, ‘I wish this show had come around when I was younger. I would have loved to apply!’”

Eventually, after consuming season after season, Tera came to a startling conclusion: “I thought, ‘Wait. Why can’t I apply?’” Tera states.

One evening last October, Tera set up her smartphone in her kitchen and recorded her audition tape.

Five months later, Tera was accepted to Big Brother Canada.

Tera and the other season 9 houseguests.

“When I found that I got accepted onto the show’s ninth season, I cried!” Tera explains. “Ugly cried! I couldn’t believe it! I’m just an average Mom from LaSalle. And now, all of a sudden, I’m about to be on the show I’ve been a fan of for years.”

Tera describes the experience of first entering the Big Brother Canada house as a deeply surreal one.

“Walking through those doors in early March was one of the strangest moments of my life,” Tera states. “I’ve never been so nervous! Arisa Cox, the host, was standing right there. And here I was, shuffling into this house with 13 other huge personalities! It was unbelievable. On that first day, we all met each other, put on costumes, were shuffled outside and had our first round of competitions,” Tera reports. “I remember just looking around and thinking, ‘Oh my God. I’m on Big Brother Canada.’” 

One of the oddest parts of the whole experience, Tera confides, is the sheer amount of isolation that she and the other contestants were forced to endure.

“We had to hand over our phones,” Tera explains. “We had no contact with the outside world. It was so beautiful and rewarding being on the show, but it was also a lot harder than I thought it would be. You really appreciate the little things in life when you’re locked away for so long. Some days felt like they flew by. Other days I felt like I’d been there for four years.”

Adding to the weirdness, Tera and the other 12 houseguests were filmed 24 hours a day.

“In addition to the three episodes that air every week, Big Brother Canada has a live feed running constantly,” Tera states. “At any time, people could log onto the website and watch you. It was intimidating, at first. But what was really strange was how quickly you forgot about the cameras. Stepping into the Big Brother Canada house was like stepping into a different world. You really got caught up in the game and in the other houseguests.”

And Tera’s age gave her a unique perspective amongst the much younger contestants.

“My dynamic with the other houseguests was different,” Tera admits. “I am one of the older houseguests and a parent. I am at a different stage of life than some of the other participants. That said, it was surprising to me how quickly we forged real bonds. Meeting everyone and hearing all their stories was such a beautiful experience. And it was such a diverse cast.” 

In total, Tera spent 69 days in the Big Brother Canada house. During that time, she competed in several of competitions.

“The cool thing about the competitions was that you never knew who would be good at what,” Tera explains. “They were so random and all over the place! And when you find a competition that you were really good at, it was the most incredible feeling!”

For her part, Tera excelled at the Power of Veto Competition—an event where she had to navigate a dark room to find the correct pieces to a puzzle board.

“For the second part of the competition, there is all this simulated rain pouring down,” Tera states. “We had to fight through this brick wall to solve a puzzle, match a number code and stop a laser beam. And when you win, I can’t even explain how good it feels. The adrenaline is rushing through your body. You feel like a superhero! It was so awesome!”

Tera ended up winning the third place on the ninth season of Big Brother Canada. 

“It was a huge accomplishment!” Tera states. “Obviously, I wanted to go on and win. But I am so proud of the final two! Even though I didn’t win, I was thrilled to see them move forward.”

And, in many ways, leaving the Big Brother Canada house after over two months, was just as surreal as entering it.

Levin and Farrah, showing support for their mother.

“One of the hardest things about the show was that, when you’re in the house, you don’t know what’s going on in the outside world,” Tera admits. “When I left, I had no idea that we were still in lockdown. And it was overwhelming seeing all the love and support I was getting from everyone on social media. There was a lot to catch up on!”

Big Brother Canada has concluded their current run of episodes. As of this moment, the show has not been renewed for a tenth season. However, Tera and others remain optimistic about the show’s future.

And for any aspiring future contestant, Tera has one piece of advice:

“Honestly, just be yourself!” Tera exclaims. “I am a stay-at-home Mom. I am as average as it gets. One of the things that I think is really cool about Big Brother Canada is how it shows all walks of life. It features so many different types of personalities. So don’t doubt yourself! If you want to try out, go for it! Be yourself, show them who you are and let yourself shine! And I’m obviously sending you good vibes.”

More information about Tera’s time on Big Brother Canada can be found on her Instagram page: @teragillen.

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