Exclusive: Ali Leitza talks about her 'Love in the Wild' experience (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/09/2012
Love in the Wild contestant Ali Leitza was eliminated during Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC reality dating competition's fifth season-season episode.
Ali and partner Benjamin Clark finished last in Love in the Wild's fifth adventure and Ben was then selected by Michelle Sacco, his prior partner, during the subsequent Couples Choice Ceremony -- leaving Ali to choose between "unmatched area" occupants Ryan Smith and Jesse Wilson as possible new partners. However, Ali opted to select neither guy, eliminating herself from the competition as a result.
On Thursday, Ali, a 34-year-old from Little Rock, AR who currently resides in North Little Rock, AR, talked to Reality TV World about her Love in the Wild experience -- including which male contestant from Love in the Wild's first season has contacted her in the hopes of possibly dating, what her mentality was going into her first adventure with Ben and whether she still had finding love with him on the brain, whom she said was like "talking to a stump" while on the show, and why she believed Jesse was so into her from the beginning despite all his other options.
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Ali. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: You seemed to think Ben was going to be really funny during your adventure with him and that you two would at least have a good time together. But obviously, you said it was the opposite and he was angry and super competitive and stuff like that. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Ali Leitza: It wasn't necessarily the adventure that tarnished [my experience with Ben]. It was leading up to it. It was the simple fact that as soon as the ceremony happened, and Michelle and I spoke, the last thing I said to him was, "Just please don't make me feel like a third wheel." And it's like it went in through one ear and out the other.
And so leading up to the adventure, it was like, "Let's just get this over with. I mean, I'm no longer viewing you as a potential love match. I'm not viewing you as a friend at this point, like, I just don't want to hate you by the end of this." And that's kind of what was building until the Couples Choice Ceremony.
Reality TV World: Tara seemed to think Jesse was a real jerk and he's coming across to viewers as kind of a player. And I know you got pretty upset when Jesse tried to make a move on you the first night when you were paired up as a couple, which seems to be consistent with how he behaved with Tara, so would you agree or disagree with those comments?
Ali Leitza: I think Tara's a really great girl and I think Jesse's a really great guy, and unfortunately sometimes, alcohol and attractive singles don't always mix, and in the light of day, you realize you made a mistake.
I think Jesse's kind of been painted a little worse off than what he is in real life, and even [despite] our arguments, we had some good times. We laughed about things. The only things that seemed to kind of make it past the editing floor was our arguments -- and because they're fun! I mean, not that they're fun, they're entertainment and you know, they kind of build a storyline.
I mean, I would never say that neither Jesse nor I are that exact same person outside of what we're being portrayed. I mean, hey I said it, so therefore it can be aired, but it's not a total encompassing view of me or Jesse.
Reality TV World: So do you think you and Jesse just had different personalities and wanted different things out of life rather than there being certain instances which has turned you off from him? Is that kind of what I'm hearing?
Ali Leitza: I think -- my side of this is I came onto the show not necessarily doing this to begin with -- this wasn't my motive to begin with -- but I came across, or I was a bit more prudish than what Jesse wanted me to be. And my point of view was I'm older, I'm 34, and so therefore, I know what's at stake.
I'm not going to seize the opportunity to do the whole Jersey Shore-type of experience for the world to see. I mean, this is a classy network and I want to represent myself as classy. And so, I kind of took it upon myself to be prudish because I didn't even want to build the appearance of like what might have happened, you know?
So I think I went overboard in trying to be real prudish and Jesse wanted me to be normal. So, I mean, I totally see his side of it, like our bickering, but once you discover this is why we argue so much -- once you discover someone wants to paint themselves as a certain way, when that other person is pushing you beyond your boundaries in regards to whether they agree with your stance or not, that's what caused me to get combative.
It's not that I was so different from Jesse. It's just I kind set and drew my line in the sand and said, "This is what I'm willing to do." And every time he pushed me, it angered me to the point where it's not even what we were fighting about, it's the fact that you're trying to push me to that point. It kind of became a game. So, I think people didn't really understand what we were fighting about. It just made for good TV, so.
Reality TV World: Due to the fact you two were fighting and bickering a lot, Jesse still seemed to have feelings for you and was interested in you. So I just want to get your take on what I guess you think he liked about you so much. Do you think it was mainly a physical attraction that drew him towards you?
Ali Leitza: Jesse said in the beginning that he saw a couple of us girls, our little flip cards with our pictures, and he instantly was drawn to mine and said, "That's going to be the girl that I end up with." So, I think it became a bit of a challenge for him regardless of whether I was onboard or not, you know?
Most of us like a little bit of a challenge in our lives, so I think that kind of drew him to me -- the fact that I didn't take to him -- and I believe that Jesse is a very nice-looking guy and probably has a lot of girls that would be just completely beside themselves to get an opportunity to be with Jesse.
And I think he was kind of drawn to me that I wasn't one of those girls. I mean, he's a very attractive guy, but I wasn't feeling it at the time. And so, I think that kind of motivated him.
And then also, in all honesty, I think it was quite different from a lot of the other girls, because most of those girls had that Philly or California or Florida feel to them. I think I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb at times, and I think that might've been different from what he's used to. So, maybe that was a little bit of the attraction.
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship with Jesse and Ben like now? Were you able to become friends with either of them or did you just stop talking to them both after the show?
Ali Leitza: I've been on a pretty good relationship basis with Jesse. We spoke immediately after the ceremony and kind of cleared the air, and we've spoken a handful of times after that. We keep in touch enough to where like, if one of us wants to say something to another, we have a Facebook page where we communicate.
I have no ill feelings towards anyone on the show. So I mean, I'm open to talking about anyone. In fact, there are quite a few people that I do speak to. But the show is a sample size of real life, you know?
You have those people that, when you're thrown into a situation, you're going to want to keep in contact with and those that you careless whether you hear from them again and those like, "Hey if I'm ever in your city, I'll give you a call."
That's kind of what I have with this crew. There's a few that like, you know, when I get remarried, I'd love to have in my wedding. And then there's those that shouldn't wait by the phone for an invitation.
Reality TV World: Would you mind naming the people you'd like to have in your wedding?
Ali Leitza: Well, I would definitely invite [Summer Mack] and [Tara Locke], [Cina Luks], [Yanina Beccaria] -- like the original girls -- maybe some of the original guys. You know, [Jenny Blatt], I hope would be one of my bridesmaids when the time comes.
I mean, I hope I get remarried some time soon, so that we're not all with walkers walking down the aisle, (laughs) but I mean, mostly the girls. I think us girls bonded long before the guys came into the picture, and so, we have a closer -- if we didn't find a love connection, we have a closer friendship than maybe just like pairing up with a guy for a challenge.
Reality TV World: What exactly went wrong in your relationship with "Chase" Aaron Chase? You seemed to be with him for quite awhile, so was the spark just missing and what are your thoughts on him being paired up with Summer? Do you think they make a good match?
Ali Leitza: I would say it just wasn't there between Chase and I from the beginning. I didn't feel any instant butterflies in my stomach, and although he's a good guy, it's just there wasn't even a spark there when we were talking and just getting to know one another -- like this could be someone that I could carry on meaningful conversations with.
I can talk to a stump, and at times when I was talking to him, I felt like I was talking to a stump. He just didn't show a lot of personality. So, he just wasn't right for me. Summer, I think she's got a great personality.
I don't know that their love match will endure for years to come or if it's something that they're just enjoying their company now, and out of the guys there, that was the one she bonded with the most. I don't feel like her and Chase's relationship will stand the test of time like maybe [Kenneth Barrington's] and Yanina's. They seem more genuine.
Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets besides that from being on the show? Do you wish you had done or said anything differently?
Ali Leitza: I wish I would've worked out a little bit more prior to the show, because I didn't realize how out-of-shape -- or just wearing that those challenges were. So that's kind of one of the things that I take away from it. I don't really have any regrets in like saying that I would've done things differently, because I feel like there were a lot of sides of me that maybe didn't get shown.
So, I can't really speculate whether I would come off as a [different] person on the show. It's hard to say. I kind of think I represented myself kind of true to life. I kind of got a little catty towards the end of it. Unfortunately, that's not normally what I resort to, but all in all, I kind of said some things that were hurtful, but a lot of people did and mine just happened to be the ones that got aired.
Reality TV World: Are you dating now or still single? And do you think your portrayal on Love in the Wild will help or hurt your dating life?
Ali Leitza: Kind of indifferent. I don't know, I mean, I've given some people in my life, both girls and guys, some touching points to kind of kid me about. So, I roll with the punches, so I'm fine with it. I can make fun of myself.
So, I don't think it hurt my chances of dating. It might open up a whole new arena for me to date because my last 10 years of boyfriends and my ex-husband have all been professional athletes, so this might open some doors. I'm getting a lot of calls from high school kids, so that's a little concerning. (Laughs)
But I am kind of talking to someone, and actually, a contestant from last season [of Love in the Wild] has contacted me. So, you know, it's opened some doors. I don't know if any of it will pan out or maybe some of it will. But yeah, it's kind of changed my dating scenario.
Reality TV World: If you don't mind sharing, who is the former Love in the Wild contestant that contacted you?
Ali Leitza: Oh, I don't know if he would want me to say! Um, yeah okay. I guess I can say. His name's [Derek Leach]. So yeah.
Reality TV World: Very nice! Do you see anything happening between you guys in the near future or are you actually dating someone else/other people?
Ali Leitza: Well, I'm not in a rush to get in a serious relationship until I know he's the one, and I don't mean Derek, I just mean in general. So, I've kind of, off and on, been talking to a guy and Derek travels through Arkansas to meet with doctors, so later this month, I think he'll be traveling through and we might go out and have a drink.
So I mean, it's so early in us even talking that I can't even speculate whether anything will ever come out of Derek and I. And the other guy, well, there's a couple that are at least worth seeing if it leads to something.
Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Ali. Click here to read the first half.
(Photo credit NBC)
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