Aaryn Elizabeth Williams (born September 3, 1990 in San Angelo, Texas) is an American reality television personality and former model from San Marcos, Texas. She is best known for her appearance as a contestant on the reality television show Big Brother 15, during which she became the subject of controversy due to contentious, racist, homophobic, and bigoted comments she made while competing on the program. She is currently a wedding coordinator, ranch owner and operator, YouTube vlogger, and entrepreneur making and selling Yeti tumblers online via Etsy under the name A Rancher's Daughter.
Williams was born Aaryn Elizabeth Gries in San Angelo, Texas on September 3, 1990 and raised on the ranch of her father, a German Texan. Before middle school, following her parent's divorce, she moved to Castle Rock, Colorado with her mother. There she attended Douglas County High School, graduating in 2009. From a young age, Williams took an interest in cheerleading, serving on an Elite Cheerleading All-Star team before high school. In high school she was a part of varsity dance and varsity cheer; from 2005 to 2007, Williams served as a coach at the Castle Rock School of Gymnastics. From June 2011 to April 2012, she served as an Ice Girl cheerleader for the Texas Stars Hockey Club.
Pageant and modeling career
While still in high school, Williams competed for and won the title of Miss Colorado Teen International 2007. Williams has worked locally in Texas as a specialty model, doing work for Maxim in Austin, Texas and was signed by Belle Petite as a promotional model. She was also signed to Zephyr Talent. As of part Zephyr Talent, Williams has landed numerous gigs in Texas, including modeling lingerie on the runway during Austin Fashion Week at La Zona Rosa Marketplace. She was dropped from Zephyr Talent after her bigoted comments on Big Brother.
Big Brother Appearance
Williams appeared on Big Brother 15 in 2013, still under her maiden name, Gries, as this was prior to her marriage. While in the house, Aaryn quickly formed a romantic relationship with David. She was also part of the "Blonde-tourage" alliance with David, Kaitlin, Jeremy, Nick, GinaMarie, and Jessie. After David was evicted, Aaryn won the "Big Brother BBQ" Head of Household competition in the following week. She chose to target Elissa for eviction, blaming her for David's exit. However, Elissa was granted that M.V.P. power for a second week in a row and was able to flip the vote against Nick, who was evicted that week. Aaryn was nominated for eviction in the third week, though her ally Jeremy was evicted from the house. She was nominated for a second consecutive time the following week, but worked out a deal with Helen and Elissa to stay in the game. Following the eviction of her ally Kaitlin, Aaryn won her second Head of Household competition in "Roulette Me Win", making her the first HouseGuest to hold the title twice this season. She kept her end of the bargain with Elissa and Helen, allowing them to control the nominations and orchestrate the eviction of Howard. During the double eviction week, Aaryn won her 3rd HoH in the "Summer School" competition and nominated Jessie and Spencer for eviction. After winning her first Power of Veto seconds later, she saved Jessie and instead backdoored Judd, who was shortly evicted in a unanimous vote. Aaryn won her 4th HoH of the summer in the "Way Off Broadway" competition, setting a record for the fastest amount of HoH wins in Big Brother history. With that, she is also tied with Drew Daniel, Janelle Pierzina, Hayden Moss, Rachel Reilly, and Ian Terry for the most HoH wins in a single season. She nominated Elissa and Helen, and then nominated Spencer as a replacement after Elissa won the Power of Veto and took herself off the block. After Helen's eviction, Elissa won Head of Household and nominated Aaryn along with McCrae. While Elissa's intention was to split up McCrae and Amanda, the plan went awry after Amanda won the Power of Veto and saved McCrae. This forced Elissa to be nominated Andy as a replacement, which led to Aaryn's eviction on Day 70 by a 5-0 vote, coming in 8th place. Aaryn voted for GinaMarie to win Big Brother, despite the majority of jury members voting for Andy.
Williams became the center of controversy after making remarks widely condemned as racist and homophobic by the show's live feed viewers as well as host Julie Chen. These comments led to a negative reaction from many fans, and more than 27,000 people signed a petition asking that Gries be expelled from the house before she was evicted. Former HouseGuest Ragan Fox also reprimanded Gries for her comments. She also became known by the moniker "Aaryn the Aryan" in several gossip blogs that covered the controversy.
On the controversy, CBS stated "Big Brother is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 — and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the HouseGuests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. We certainly find the statements made by several of the HouseGuests on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a HouseGuest appearing on Big Brother, either on any live feed from the house or during the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program." It was later speculated that the HouseGuests had been warned about these comments.
She was seen on the show's live Internet feed referring to Andy Herren as a "queer", and also referred to Asians as "squinty eyed". She remarked that Helen Kim, her Korean American housemate, should "go make some rice." In a notable confrontation with African American houseguest Candice Stewart, Williams flipped over Stewart's bed and aggressively mocked her with a stereotypical accent when Stewart expressed disapproval of the act and threatened to "raise hell" if it happened again. She also referred to Candice as "Aunt Jemima" behind her back and said she should "go make pancakes".
Many of Aaryn's racist and homophobic comments were eventually aired on the show, leading to media scrutiny and even more backlash from fans. Her comments in the house led to Aaryn losing representation from her talent agency and her job as a magazine spokesmodel.
Aaryn's mother apologized for the offensive comments after hiring a publicist, and spoke out against the exploitation of her daughter's words for ratings in an interview given to the Los Angeles Times a few days after her eviction. She further attempted to demonstrate Aaryn's racial tolerance by indicating she took a young African American man to her prom as her date, claiming the man was "one of her closest friends through high school". Further, she indicated "Aaryn's first true love was Cuban American, and she has cousins of Japanese descent who she truly loves; she has never discriminated against anyone for their sexual orientation whether within our family or not. Aaryn truly loves all people equally." Aaryn's African-American prom date identified himself to TMZ as Mike Miller, sharing prom pictures with the online publication. Miller claimed Aaryn was not "prejudiced or hateful." He also said Gries' sense of humor was that of a "smart-ass." Aaryn later apologized for such comments, adding that she had learned from what she said and that the experience has made her a better person. She also apologized for her comment about Texas in an interview with Jeff, a previous Big Brother player.
Williams attended Texas State University, with a major in psychology. Aaryn has worked locally in Texas as a specialty model doing work for Maxim in Austin, Texas and was signed by Belle Petite as a promotional model. She was signed to Zephyr Talent. On May 9, 2015, Gries was married to a man she met the previous year named Nick Williams. In September, 4 months after they were married they announced they were expecting their first child. Aaryn and Nick gave birth to Skyla Elizabeth Williams on June 14, 2016.