Lifetime’s “Married at First Sight” (8 p.m. July 15) features a woman who the network says grew up in Richmond, but unlike most reality shows that give contestants’ full names, “Married” offers only the first names of its strangers who meet one another for the first time walking down the aisle.
Former Richmonder Amelia, 27, first seen in a “Matchmaking Special” and a “Kickoff Special” that aired earlier this month, says she just graduated from a medical school — presumably Tulane University Medical School or Louisiana State University School of Medicine — in New Orleans where the 11th season of “Married at First Sight” was filmed. She’s shown riding a unicycle and walking on a tightrope and labeled “the Driven Dreamer” by the show’s producers.
Amelia says her father raised her while her mother worked as a doctor. Amelia would like to find “somebody who would want to raise my babies while I’m at work.”
“I also fall in love very easily,” Amelia says in a clip from the show provided by Lifetime. “I think I fall in love once a day. But the thrill of falling in love with different people all the time is starting to wear off as I’m getting older. Probably my ovaries are being like, ‘Hey, anything going on up there? Any good candidates?’”
Enter Bennett, 28, who Lifetime says grew up in Montvale, N.J., and is artistic director of a theater company. He’s sought a life partner for years and been through a string of bad relationships, per Lifetime.
As is the custom on “Married at First Sight,” which is based on a Danish series, the couple meet on their wedding day, and the show, airing this season in two-hour weekly episodes featuring five new couples, follows the newlyweds over their first several weeks together. At the end of that time, the pair can choose to remain married or to divorce.
Lifetime declined to make Amelia available for an interview by phone, but she was willing to answer some questions sent via email, although none about where she grew up in Richmond, went to high school or if her family still lives locally.
QUESTION: What kind of a doctor is your mother? What kind of a doctor are you?
ANSWER: My mom is a breast surgeon, and I am JUST starting my residency in family medicine!
QUESTION: How did you wind up on “Married at First Sight”? Did you audition? Or did casting find you?
ANSWER: A bunch of my friends were getting called by casting, but most of them weren’t interested. My roommate had the phone number of a casting person, and he said I had to call. I was in my last month of medical school, and I still didn’t have any big plans for the months between graduation and the start of residency. I already knew that I wanted to do a few things during this time: go on a trip somewhere, hang in New Orleans a bit longer with my friends, and have some kind of new and interesting experience before totally diving back into medicine. Getting “Married at First Sight” fit the bill! I definitely didn’t think I would get picked though. A couple months later when I realized that I had gotten pretty far along in the casting process, the gravity of actually having to marry some random dude started sinking in. Only then did I really start considering the possibility of marriage, and, you know, it didn’t seem so bad.
QUESTION: Have you auditioned for other reality shows before this one?
ANSWER: I’ve never auditioned for any other reality shows, but I’m sure I would have if the opportunity had plopped into my lap as perfectly as this one!
QUESTION: Had you watched “Married at First Sight” prior to agreeing to get married to a stranger on the show?
ANSWER: I had never heard of the show. I really never watch reality TV, and I guess that’s probably what made the whole experience so enticing and mysterious. I did a bit of research and watched a couple episodes once I thought they might actually cast me — I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into!
QUESTION: What made you say yes to take this big life step in an experimental fashion?
ANSWER: I definitely didn’t have very high hopes that I’d be meeting my true love at the altar. I just figured that I had nothing to lose by going through with this — if my husband and I didn’t have marriage-worthy chemistry, we could just split up at the end. After running the cost-benefit analysis, a potential divorce just didn’t seem that bad if it meant having such a weird and wonderful adventure!
QUESTION: The Lifetime bio based on what you told producers in your casting interview says your grandparents had an arranged marriage. How did that come about? Was it part of a cultural tradition?
ANSWER: They didn’t have an arranged marriage. That’s an extrapolation that the magazines seemed to love and latch on to. They did, however, have a legendary, semi-accidental engagement after briefly meeting in Greece and trying to navigate a major language barrier for a couple days — she only spoke Greek; he only spoke English.
QUESTION: When and where did the wedding take place? If in Richmond, specifically what venue?
ANSWER: The wedding was in New Orleans at a very fancy hotel with delicious cinnamon buns.
QUESTION: What does your family think about you going on “Married at First Sight”?
ANSWER: They all think it’s pretty weird, funny, and great.
QUESTION: What do your friends think about you going on “Married at First Sight”?
ANSWER: I don’t think any of my friends are particularly surprised that I agreed to do this.
QUESTION: What was your first impression of Bennett?
ANSWER: The first thing that struck me as I started walking down the aisle was his hair — he had some of the most luscious locks I had ever seen!
QUESTION: On the show you mention your interest in creating art. Do you view this experience as more social experiment or art project?
ANSWER: That’s a tough question! Isn’t it funny how the word “experimental” can refer, on one hand, to something that’s rigorously scientific and, on the other, to something that’s daringly creative? That’s kind of how I thought of my participation in the show — it resides somewhere at the intersection between the science of love and a daring adventure into the unknown. Of course, I wanted to express myself — that’s a huge part of who I am! — but I also wanted to throw myself completely, unflinchingly into this wild experiment.
Rob Owen is a former Times-Dispatch staff writer. He can be reached at RobOwenTV@gmail.com or on Facebook and Twitter as @RobOwenTV.