We popped the question to Zakiyah Everette on Wednesday afternoon, one week after she helped crown the winner of the summer-hit reality show “Big Brother,” and she said yes. Several times.
That question: With CBS’s cameras no longer spying on them, are the Charlotte preschool teacher and the New Jersey DJ – who fell in love, then out of love, then back into love with on national television – officially dating outside of the house?
“Oh yeah, we are,” she confirmed. “Yeah. Yeah. Yup. Yeah.”
In fact, she was telling us this by phone from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where she was picking up a rental car with said boyfriend: fellow former houseguest Paulie Calafiore, visiting from New Jersey for the week to hang and get a tour of Everette’s hometown.
“We got a Mercedes,” she said, giggling gleefully. “I have like a little hooptie Honda ... and we’re wanting to drive around town in something nice.”
Shortly thereafter, she retweeted this:
Everette said their first stop would be SouthPark Mall – “we’re gonna go get some shoes” – and as promised, that’s exactly what they did:
Then later that evening, the pair showed up at the Charlotte location of Carolina Ale House:
Everette said she also gave Calafiore a tour of the uptown EpiCentre complex (home to Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar, which she calls “my spot – my favorite restaurant”), and planned to try to do a hike up Crowders Mountain with him and maybe check out Lake Wylie before he heads back home to the Jersey Shore on Friday.
Then next Tuesday, Everette said, she’ll make a trip up to New Jersey to visit him.
All this is to say, it seems like things are going pretty well for “Zaulie.”
It hasn’t always been this smooth, of course.
From the first couple of episodes, Everette seemed to be enamored with Calafiore, which fit with comments she made before the season began.
“I’m ready for a showmance,” she told CBS online talk show host Jeff Schroeder at the beginning of the summer. “I’m trying to be like you and Jordan.” (Schroeder and Matthews native Jordan Lloyd met on “Big Brother” and are now married and expecting their first child.)
Everette, who started the game single and turned 25 while in the house, also said: “I am gonna use my looks and my flirty abilities to my advantage. ... If I really fall for somebody, then I’m gonna know – like, he’s gonna prove himself to be genuine towards me, and we’re gonna take each other to the end.”
But although Calafiore returned the affection, their romance became rocky and a string of spats led to Everette winding up on the nomination block on Day 52. In a diary-room interview that aired shortly thereafter, Everette said: “I didn’t come here for no boy. I ultimately came here for a half-million dollars.”
On Day 55, Calafiore passed up a free opportunity to use the Power of Veto to remove her from the block.
“It sucked when he didn’t use the veto on me,” Everette said Wednesday, with Calafiore by her side. “(But) a lot of people don’t know that Paulie regrets 100 percent that he didn’t use the veto on me.”
On Day 58, she was evicted and sent to sequester in the jury house. One week later, Calafiore joined her – and got a chilly reception.
“When he first came in, I didn’t talk to him for four days. I went off on him, and then I just kept quiet for like four days,” Everette said. “I didn’t say anything to him. And then we finally sat down and talked about everything. Everything that was ever said, anything that was ever done.”
After hashing it all out, “we got along ... and that really rubbed the other girls the wrong way. So that caused a lot of drama. They weren’t accepting of that. They honestly just kind of shunned us away.”
Eventually, it all came to a head.
“It was a very uncomfortable setting to be in,” Everette said. “Jury house is supposed to be a relaxing time ... and it was just so drama-filled – so catty amongst those girls. It honestly sucks, because I would have liked to get along with them, but it didn’t end up being that way. But it’s alright; I still have love for them. They’re still good people, I’m sure.”
And in the end, she said, everything worked out for the best.
She was happy with who won: “Honestly, I felt like Nicole (Franzel) was the best choice. I feel like both (her and runner-up Paul Abrahamian) played a great game, but I really felt like Nicole was deserving. She was very strategic. A lot of people call her a snake, but she knew what she had to do to win. So no bad blood. I’m actually gonna see her and Corey (Brooks, Franzel’s “showmance”) in a couple of weeks. We’re gonna hang out with them and have a good time. They’re definitely people that I’m gonna keep in my life.”
She experienced personal growth over the course of the summer: “I feel a lot stronger. I feel like a wiser person. I’m not as naive as I thought that I was before. ... Everything happens for a reason, and in God’s particular order, so no regrets at all. And yeah, I would definitely do it all over again. It was fun. It wouldn’t be summer camp next time around, though – I would be coming there for business.”
And she found love:
As for what’s next?
“Honestly, I’m just gonna listen to God ... I’m just gonna have to pray on it,” said Everette, whose most immediate plans are to do some modeling and then to finish her master’s degree in Child and Family Development: Birth through Kindergarten at UNC Charlotte (she hopes to resume classes in the spring and graduate the following spring).
After that, “if God wants me to stay in Charlotte,” she said, “I’m gonna stay in Charlotte. If God wants me to move to New Jersey, than that’s where I’m gonna go.”