No catfish! Frank GrimsleyThe winner of The Circle season 4 — and he did it by staying true to himself.
“I wanted to show people that I — as a Black man, as a Black gay man, as a Black plus-size man — that I can go into a game and be popular,” Frank, 29, told Us Weekly exclusively before the Netflix competition’s finale dropped on Wednesday, May 25. “I wanted to show representation in the game. A visual representation, not only to everybody that’s watching but for the other players as well. That we can exist in this space on TV and thrive in it.”
The Netflix hit debuted in January 2020. It is a lighthearted, strategic competition series that allows contestants to choose whether they want to play as themselves or as others while chasing a generous cash prize. The show’s competitive focus was not what made it a hit with viewers, but the genuine human connection that was created in the midst heated gameplay was.
The Maryland native spoke out. Use that he “holds no shade toward anyone” who chose to enter The Circle as a catfish or play strategically, it was imperative for him to “be himself the whole time.”
“I have an infectious personality and I know what I bring to the table,” the content creator explained. “And there’s something about me that other people fall in love with. I wanted to show those who were watching that I could just be me and play this game. I just kept saying, ‘I’m going [with] my gut here and following my heart.’ And I wanted to show people that you don’t have to be cutthroat, shady, or throw people on the bus to win this game.”
That doesn’t mean Frank didn’t face more strategic contenders who tried to take him down. When the contestants participated in anonymous challenges, catfish “Nathan,” also known as Alex Brizard, continuously tried to call him out as “a snake,” labeling him “Mr. Nice Guy” in an attempt to convince the other players that Frank was fake — something the former social worker didn’t appreciate.
“When you’re being genuine, people think you’re playing a game,” he told Us. “I’m literally being myself. To be continually pushed against the wall [it being]It started to bother me to be portrayed by other people as not being real. It really pissed me off.”
Frank added that while trying to ruin his reputation “was really manipulative,” there is a certain level of strategy needed in order to make the show more interesting. “[Nathan] threw a monkey wrench into a game that needed a little bit of fire,” he teased, admitting that the fake frat boy was “needed for the show.”
The ultimate catfish title, however, went to season 4’s special guests: Mel BAnd Emma Bunton from the Spice Girls, who played the fake character “Jared” and were able to up the prize fund by $50,000 after successfully fooling everyone about their true identities.
“I think the Spice Girls would’ve [gone]They have come a long distance! They would have, I believe. [gone] a really long way cause I had no clue,” Frank revealed to Us. “It was only when we had [figure out who they were]I began to think about things and analyze conversations, and then started nitpicking every detail. Jared was great! Even when we found out I was like, ‘That’s a joke. They’re not really here. It can’t be. There’s no way.’ [But] it was real.”
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Reporting by Kat Pettibone