'Big Brother' Host Julie Chen Emotional Over Transgender Houseguest

by Raphael Chestang 6:20 PM PDT, June 17, 2015
Playing 'Big Brother' Host Julie Chen Emotional Over Transgender Houseguest

ET chatted with Big Brother host Julie Chen about the reality show including its first transgender houseguest, which she says had nothing to do with Caitlyn Jenner's story. Audrey Middleton is a 25-year-old digital media consultant from Villa Rica, Georgia.

NEWS: Big Brother Will Have Its First Transgender Houseguest

"Audrey's application was in last year before any of the Caitlyn Jenner story happened," Chen told ET.

Chen had a special message on Wednesday's The Talk urging Big Brother viewers to watch with "compassion."

"I hope you watch with compassion and an open mind to learn something about a community that you may not be familiar with," Chen pleaded, holding back tears. "This is Audrey's story to tell, and I'm looking forward to hearing it."

Later Chen explained to ET why the topic made her so emotional.

PHOTOS: Meet the New Big Brother 17 Houseguests!

"I just want to live in a world where we all have tolerance," Chen said. "It's emotional that we even have to talk about it and ask people for compassion."

As for the houseguests, they come from all walks of life and varying opinions, but houseguest Vanessa Rousso -- a professional poker player who is in a longtime relationship with her partner -- believes there's only one way that she'd be drawn into a potential blowup.

"The only potential for conflict is if we have someone who's bigoted -- especially homophobic in my case," Rousso said. "I'd probably look at it as an opportunity to educate that person."

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: First Look at the Brand-New (and Bigger) Big Brother 17 House!

Big Brother 17 premieres Wednesday, June 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Click here for your introduction to all the new houseguests.