Reality TV star Shahaf Raz, who participated in the latest season of the Israeli edition of Big Brother, was named the sexiest man in Israel for 2022 by readers of Ynet's sister publication Pnai Plus magazine.
Now, almost six months after his debut in the show, Raz shared his feelings about his jump to stardom and his new title, which he won with over 40% of the vote, in a sit-down with Ynet.
“I don’t know which is better, they’re both pretty embarrassing for me,” Raz says as his cheeks turn red.
“I’m still trying to take in the fact I was nominated. It’s not obvious winning by such a large margin. I’m still pinching myself."
Do you feel sexy?
“To a point, but not to 'Israel’s sexiest man’ level. I can’t believe I beat [actor] Yehuda Levi and [singer Yonatan] Mergui, I voted for [news anchor] Omer Yardeni.”
But still, you won.
"But not only for my appearance, but sexiness, which includes more factors, I think. I think that being sexy means more than only looks. I think sexy means confidence and intelligence.”
“When I left Big Brother, the hashtag ‘Shahaf give me grandchildren’ was trending, and I realized that many mothers saw my maturity and my ability to accept others, and I would like to that was what helped me win the title,” Raz added.
“It’s 2022, and being the ‘bad boy’ isn’t cool anymore. I think what helped me win was being a kind and generous person.”
Raz also shared his favorite traits in a woman, such as confidence, intelligence and a sense of humor, which he says he finds in his partner Talia Ovadia, whom he met in the show.
When asked what she thought about his new title, Raz said: “I was already dating the sexiest woman in Israel, so it's fun. She said that ‘it’s good that they now realize what I did sooner’, something like that.”
Raz was an active participant during the latest season of Big Brother, solving conflicts between others and managing the house’s kitchen. Talia Ovadia, Raz’s partner, was also a participant during the latest season, and eventually was the one who was the series’ finale.
The two had initial chemistry between them during the start of the show, but it took some time before their connection grew deeper during the later half of the series.
When asked if he thought he would find love in a reality television show, Raz said: “Not at all. I still can’t believe it. I’m pretty cynical, and didn’t think a place packed with cameras and watched by the majority of Israel will be the place I’ll be able to open up and find love, but it still happened.”
He added: “The house made me softer, and I thought of Talia as something optional, I’m just glad about how everything ended up.”
The two became a famous television couple. “We’re admired as a couple. People like us as a couple. Me and Talia share the craziness of everything together, and we have each other, which is comforting.”
When asked how they’ve adjusted to their celebrity status, Raz said: “I think we got used to it pretty quickly. We don’t think much of it. We read and follow things posted about us, but understand that there whatever is being said, and there’s us as a couple, separate from whatever is out there, and I think this works for us.”
Raz is a 34-year-old publicist, who is working in one of Israel’s largest publish publicity firms is a creative manager. Now, with his new status, he admits he’s trying to keep his feet planted on the ground. “I remember I have a career, a job. This and my family and friends keep me sane.”
Many believed Raz would be eliminated from the show within the first two weeks. “Many of my friends told me that they were afraid I would be eliminated after the first week because I’m quiet. But that’s how I work, I don’t go around announcing myself. I watch and learn, and thankfully I managed to stay in the house, which helped me to understand how things work.”
When asked about what he thought of the entertainment industry so far, Raz said: “it’s interesting. I see it differently, but I’m not in it deep enough to know everything. Like knowing I’ve won the title of Israel’s sexiest man. It’s all happening very fast.”
When asked about how his friends and family reacted to his new fame, Raz said: “they support me, but also make jokes about it, and with good reason. I’m embarrassed by it. I find it hard to deal with attention and cameras. You learn how to handle it. I had some shoots in which I had to do and it was initially uncomfortable, but grew better over time. It’s something you learn.”
Despite of his calm temper, Raz was caught in fits of rage during his stay on the show. One specific incident he says has impacted him still, was between him and another person on the show, Kazim Khalilieh.
The two had a fight about meat patties, in which Raz eventually attempted to grab some of the patties and shove them into Khalilieh’s mouth. Raz says the incident still weighs on him. “I can’t forget it,” he says. “It was a momentary loss of control. It had nothing to do with the situation or Kazim, it was something inside of me.”
He added: “The house managed to get to me, and I felt weaker for it, and then I had to show my strength to compensate for my weakness. I see this incident as something much worse than what I saw on television. I’m glad Kazim has forgiven me for it, but it’s something to learn from to me.”
When asked how things look for someone who took part of the show itself, Raz said: “it’s hard. I saw that the latest season was violent and confrontational, and it didn’t feel like that. There were more tense weeks, and weeks where nothing happened. When I look at things from the outside, I can see how it’s abnormal, but you don’t see that when your inside of it.”
When asked why he auditioned for Big Brother, Raz said: “curiosity. Wanting to know what was behind the production, experience and fame, and I wanted to challenge myself. I felt like a mature man who knew a thing or two, and wanted to see what would happen if I was placed in an environment outside of my control.”
When asked if other participants in the show congratulated him on his new title, Raz said: “sure, Marnia, Dror and Daniel sent me messages. They’re the ones I’m in contact with today. Some of the friendships I had there remained, some didn’t. I still have some friends from there.”
When asked if he was in contact with Bar and Eliav, Raz said: “No, we didn’t talk to them yet. We don’t think about them much, we do our thing, and they do theirs.”
When asked if there was an option of him participating in other reality shows, Raz said: “Not yet, I need to take a breath. I’m not denying any options, but I need some time in my normal life before I do anything like that again.”
Raz gave some tips to future contestants in the Big Brother. “You can’t prepare for it, so don’t try. And I the best thing is being yourselves, and it’s good enough, you’ll make it. If it won’t, there are other things for you out there.”