It’s hard to win over fans on a romantic reality show. But Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton did.
Ms. Speed, 34, a content creator, and Mr. Hamilton, 29, an A.I. consultant, met on “Love is Blind.” The premise of the Netflix show is to allow singles to, well, mingle while they sit in pods, talking through walls. The idea is to put up some barriers in an effort to break down the barriers we all face in dating, the foremost being appearances.
It doesn’t sound like something that should work. It did. Two couples got married, including Ms. Speed and Mr. Hamilton, who tied the knot in November 2018.
But even if love is blind, a reality show is pretty opaque. I called up the couple to hear more about their experience.
What were you doing before the show?
Lauren: I was pretty much throwing myself into my business. I have a media business — do production work, videography, as well as photography, I’m a content creator. My dating life was pretty sucky if we’re being honest. I was almost ready to give up on being in a relationship or married. I’m in my 30s, my business was going well. But when the opportunity came along for the show, I was intrigued. The concept was so different because it wasn’t based purely on aesthetics. Lo and behold, I lucked out.
Did either of you try dating apps? How did you end up on the show?
Lauren: I tried the dating app thing one or two times and it freaked me out. I was afraid to find someone and meet up with them and them be a serial killer or something.
Cameron: I didn’t have any fear of serial killers. I was going out on a lot of dates but I was cutting them off after the first or second date because I wasn’t finding people who were a good match for me. I was liking the pictures but then I was basically ignoring everything else and so I was basically being shallow in how I was conducting my dating life and was feeling quite lonely as a consequence of that. I was reached out to by a casting agent. I didn’t apply.
Lauren: A casting agent slid into my DMs. It’s kind of crazy because I don’t know how she found me on Instagram. I don’t know, I must’ve hashtagged #lonelydating or something. I went through the whole application process, had to do Skype interviews, multiple Skype interviews. Also, they had to do a psych evaluation.
That kind of made me feel a little bit more ease about the situation, like at least they’re testing people.
What was it like when you first got there?
Lauren: It was pretty much like a group mingling, with the women on one side of the wall and the men on the other. We got to know each other, talked about the things that we were looking for. When it was time to go on our dates in the pods, each date was probably about seven minutes long.
Cameron: As time went on, the dates got progressively longer. We went on progressively fewer dates overall because you were just kind of focusing in on who you were most interested in. Really from the start, we were dating probably 16 hours a day, multiple dates a day.
Did either of you have feelings for other people?
Lauren: We did make connections with other people, however it was more from a friendship vibe. Up until close to the end, I went on dates continuously with Mark, Damian, and Carlton but after a certain point, after you connect with someone like Cameron and I connected kind of early on, you just kind of talk about the friendships with these people.
Cameron: Up until the end, I was going on dates with Diamond, I think Jess, and Kelly and Giannina. But like Lauren said, it was all very platonic. We would talk about the other person who they were interested in and I talked a lot about Lauren with Jess. She would talk about Barnett and Mark with me. That was just kind of how the dates went. It was all platonic basically but we formed good friendships, so it’s not a waste of time.
So let’s get to the point where you said “I love you.” Wasn’t that the first episode?
Lauren: I wanted to share that with him. Really, I wanted to see how he would react. You can tell when I said it, I was like, “Ooh, what is he going to say?”
But I just threw it out there just to see what would happen and he reciprocated it and I pretty much melted after that. I mean, it was over. It was over.
A lot of times, the conversations that we see on reality shows are about the relationship and not really about the specifics of who the people are. What did you guys talk about in the pods?
Lauren: We really bonded certainly on our love for our family. We’re both super family-oriented, very close with our parents, with siblings as well as just basically we’re really into the arts, very career focused and goal oriented. We’re both entrepreneurs. We both want to have children in the future.
Cameron: Both kind of extroverted introverts. Also, we kind of balance each other out where Lauren’s very upbeat and has this really contagious charisma, I’m more calm, cool, collected type. We balance each other out in that respect and kind of boost each other respectively.
Did you know what you would say when you got to the altar and were you able to communicate that with each other beforehand? Or was that a part of the show?
Lauren: I was pretty much kind of nervous all the way up until I got to the altar. In the back of my mind, I know that I really wanted to marry Cameron but I was scared. It’s a big deal. Of course I knew that I wanted to continue this relationship with this man. I don’t know if I told him that or not.
Cameron: I mean it was hard because I was ready to go and I think she thought maybe it would’ve been nice to have a bit more time. Thankfully, we’ve been married for a year and a half now.
Lauren: Yeah, I took the leap just because I didn’t want to stop my own happiness. I would’ve never probably have forgiven myself and thank God that I didn’t.
It seemed like some of the other cast members were blindsided. Were you directed to not reveal what your decision was?
Lauren: We had the power to do whatever we wanted to. We were free to talk to each other up until the wedding because we had a little break in between the bachelor and bachelorette parties and the wedding.
Cameron: Yeah, absolutely no one was forced to do anything at all. We all knew what we signed up for, people could walk away if they wanted to. We could tell each other, “Hey, I’m going to say yes tomorrow,” if we wanted to. There was no restrictions like that or producer involvement.
Lauren: The couples could’ve definitely talked to each other and shared what they wanted to do.
Cameron: I think a lot of people felt conflicted up until they got up there.
Were you surprised that some of the other couples waited until the wedding day to tell their partner that they weren’t going through with it?
Lauren: Throughout the process, I kind of had an inkling of who was doing well and who was having serious struggles.
You would think that the couples would communicate their plans to each other, that you wouldn’t kind of surprise your partner with that.
Race was discussed quite a bit in the show about your journey. What kinds of issues have come up, if any, since you got together?
Lauren: If anything, it’s just been a learning curve for the both of us. I was teaching Cameron about our hair and twist outs and braids and all that stuff. But he’s dated black women before so he’s kind of been there. Me, on the other hand, things are kind of more new for me than for him.
We haven’t really experienced anything strange in public besides a few stank looks here and there. We live in the South, so a lot of old ideals still resonate with some of the people down there, especially the older people.
Lauren, you spoke about things that are specific about black culture. Has anything surprised you about living with a white person?
Lauren: Actually, girl, I went to Maine and it was one of the most Caucasian places I’ve ever visited. I don’t know if this is a Caucasian thing or a Maine thing but, what’s it called, babe? Mincemeat pies. OK, Cameron says it’s a Maine thing but I’d never heard of it.
I guess it’s like a fruity pie, I don’t know. But as for white culture, not really anything shocking but, I wasn’t shocked by anything because I’ve been around white people, you know?
Lauren, has Cameron ever used your toothbrush?
Lauren: Not that I know of, girl, but I’m thinking about setting up cameras in the bathroom. After a couple of these press interviews, I’m kind of questioning if he’s sneaking in there or not.