Kathryn Dunn has never had trouble being liked; so much so, she quotes Elle Woods from Legally Blonde: “Everybody likes me,” she says with a laugh.
Dunn, a bleach blonde Dallas native who has a past life as a pageant queen, Mavericks Dancer and broadcast journalist, was made for this level of reality-TV stardom. Last summer, she competed on CBS’s 21st season of Big Brother and was evicted from the social experiment house on day 58 of 100.
To viewers, she was the funny contestant constantly asking her housemates if they were “conspiring” against her. She says it was tough in the beginning because no one wanted to be her friend or in her Big Brother alliance. (“They didn’t think I was smart. They didn’t think I was physically in shape. They didn’t think I was a threat to win, so it was really humbling. It was a huge reality check.”) But things obviously weren’t that tough.
Her charm earned her three “showmances,” a term used when two people on a reality show are romantically involved. There was Jackson Michie, whom she says she didn’t hook up with, though they did spend a lot of time together. There was the “slight showmance” with David Alexander, who got evicted the first week. And then there was Nick Maccarone, whom Dunn connected with in the jury house and dated after the show ended. Was. The two have broken up, Dunn reveals for the first time. And in the “most dramatic way possible,” over an Instagram Live. Dunn tells the story like this: She made a joke at him. He took it personally. And after a phone conversation, that was the end of their relationship.
“Nick is one of my best friends and will always be in my life,” Dunn says. “I love that kid. There’s a lot of things that him and I have gone through that I can’t just, like, end a relationship.
“Even though we’re romantically not supposed to be together right now, that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be in my life.”
Dunn says fans might have played a role in the demise of their relationship. When you meet and fall in love on a reality show and the whole world gets to watch, people think they’re owed something. Or, like a nosy aunt, they think they at least have a say in the relationship. They messaged Maccarone things like, “Kathryn doesn’t really love you. If she did, she would be quarantined with you. Why does she hang out with all these other people, but not you?”
And a breakup announcement will only fuel the fans.
“The moment people find out we broke up, we’re going to have to deal with all sorts of questions,” Dunn says.
Maccarone says the country's current quarantine didn't help matters.
"Kathryn has helped me through a lot of things when we got out of the house," Maccarone says. "This quarantine hasn’t helped our relationship at all. We have barely seen each other in 2020. I think the stress of the world right now along with holding on to a long-distance relationship was extremely difficult. I have nothing but love for Kathryn and still consider her one of my best friends that I talk to daily. Just right now, it’s better off if we move on as best friends and can reconsider down the line."
Dunn’s relationship with Maccarone isn’t her first public fallout. After Dunn left for the Big Brother house last summer, her best friend, Marty Martinez, told the press that he and Dunn were in a relationship and Dunn cheated on him with her many showmances. Gossip sites lit up.
In an interview with AfterBuzz TV right after the Big Brother season wrapped, Dunn starts out excited, saying, "I hope everyone likes me." When the host begins to question her relationship with her best friend, Dunn knows something is off. And that it's possible not everyone likes her.
“If you want to find out who your real friends are, go away on a television show for 100 days and you’ll find out,” Dunn says.
She clarifies that the two weren’t in a relationship.
“Did we love each other? Yeah,” Dunn says of Martinez. “Were we romantically involved sometimes, probably more than others? Looking back on it, I can definitely see how the lines were blurred …”
She goes on: “Being away from him made me appreciate him so much more. I remember saying that I was going to go home after the show and try a relationship with him.”
That didn’t happen once she figured out he leaked personal messages and videos between them. While talking about it, Dunn starts to get choked up and begins to cry. It’s the only time in an hourlong interview that she shows any kind of emotion apart from bubbly and carefree.
“He just completely sold me out,” Dunn says. “It’s been a huge struggle coming back home and not having my best friend there. I had never felt so lonely than I did coming back to Dallas and realizing I didn’t have my best friend.”
Martinez did not respond to a request for comment.
About six months after Big Brother ended, Dunn is working in Dallas as a full-time influencer. It’s nothing new to her. Her background is as a Mavs dancer and senior account executive at a digital marketing agency, so Dunn knows how to influence.
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“I sound like such a millennial, but it’s so crazy that it actually is a full-time job now,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do — work for myself. I want to be socially aware enough to know that being an influencer might not always be a job for me. It’s very saturated. I might not always be relevant on social media. You never know.”
Along with influencing, Dunn is working with clothing brand Live Love Gameday to release her own line of face masks. Weekly, a portion of each sale will go toward organizations helping fight COVID-19. Dunn says she plans to donate to the North Texas Food Bank first.
Dunn is still under contract with CBS for another year, but if another reality show wants her, she’s not going to say no.
“Of course I want to be on TV,” she says, laughing.