Big Brother US star Nicole Franzel loses Olay deal after she and others mocked autistic housemate

  • 11/09/2020

Contestants of US TV show Big Brother All-Stars are being slammed for mocking an autistic co-star, with one of them losing a sponsorship deal with a major brand as a result.

Ian Terry has been open about being on the autism spectrum during the current season and fellow houseguests Christmas Abbott, Dani Briones, Nicole Franzel and Memphis Garrett were caught on camera joking about it. 

In footage being shared online, they laugh while discussing being "stressed out" by Ian's self-soothing technique - rocking back and forth during conversations.

Memphis says Ian reminds him of a horror movie character due to his autism, and that he fears waking up at night to have him standing over him.

After an outcry on social media, skincare brand Olay announced it's quitting a deal it had with Nicole.

"Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We no longer have a business relationship with this person and have no plans for future work together," Olay stated on Twitter.

"We have zero-tolerance for bullying and we do not support the behaviour displayed by this person."

Big Brother All-Stars contestants Nicole Franzel and Ian Terry.
Big Brother All-Stars contestants Nicole Franzel and Ian Terry. Photo credit: CBS

Ian won season 14 of Big Brother US and its $500,000 prize. When he returned for the 2020 All-Stars season in August, he opened up about being on the autism spectrum.

Among those criticising his treatment by the other housemates are other Big Brother US stars.

"[There's] a special place in hell for those who make fun of people with disabilities," tweeted season 18 and 19 runner-up Paul Abrahamian.

"Instead of laughing they should be standing up for Ian. He has a disability," added Janelle Pierzina, after exclaiming she was: "Absolutely disgusted!"

"I'm mortified by the actions of these Big Brother houseguests. Before leaving I reminded Ian to never let anyone laugh at him. Ever," tweeted Kaysar Ridha, adding in another tweet: "People who are neurodiverse and on the spectrum should be protected not trashed." 

Andy Herren also called out the show's producers for not stepping in, tweeting: "If production can tell houseguests to stop singing, they can tell houseguests to stop making fun of someone with autism."