Exclusive: Jason Ewell talks about his 'Love in the Wild' experience
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/03/2012
Love in the Wild contestant Jason Ewell, who was one of the six "surprise" guys to enter the competition at the beginning of the season, was eliminated with his partner Vanessa Ramirez after they had finished last in the fourth episode's adventure and then all the individuals before them had found a match to resume competing as couples during the Couples Choice Ceremony, leaving no one in the "unmatched area."
On Thursday, Jason, a 25-year-old from Dublin, CA, talked to Reality TV World about his short-lived Love in the Wild experience -- including whether he expected much outside the show in terms of finding a strong relationship, what would've made it a "realistic possibility" for him and Vanessa to stay together once they got home, whether he's currently single or dating someone new, why he said his relationship with Cina Luks wasn't going to get off the ground, and whose side he firmly took in the Kenneth Barrington versus Jesse Wilson brawl.
To read Vanessa's interview, click here. To read what Cina had to say to Reality TV World, click here.
Reality TV World: When I just talked to Vanessa, she said you guys had tried to work things out after the show but failed to because of your busy schedules and the distance between you. I just wanted to get your side on that? Do you have anything to add about why things didn't work out?
Jason Ewell: Well, it's basically along the same lines, just outside of that scenario, real busy lives are re-introduced. Her career and schedule combined with my situation in California combined with the distance. I think we made a great connection, a lasting friendship and this bond that we'll share forever. But as far as continuing a serious relationship, there's definitely a lot of roadblocks in that way.
Reality TV World: You seemed to really like Vanessa at the time you two were leaving the show. Were you really disappointed you couldn't stay together and make things work considering you had developed feelings so fast or did it not come as a surprise to you that the relationship didn't continue because you had spent such little time together?
Jason Ewell: Okay, well, I'd like to consider myself a realist. And what I mean by that is once we got eliminated, or once I kind of knew that our elimination was coming up, I was already starting to -- I didn't expect much outside the show. If something happens, then sure, I'll remain optimistic. But I wasn't going expect anything.
I was definitely all about her on the show and I was definitely very disappointed that our time got cut short right when we were definitely gaining some momentum, you know?
I could see that, I guess, she was starting to let her guard down and sort of let me in a little bit during the time that we were together on the show. And so, you know, it was just a sad way to go out because it was right when we were getting started and we had to call it quits.
Reality TV World: Had you been able to stay onLove in the Wild longer, do you think things could've turned out differently? Do you think had you and Vanessa gotten more time there you would've left the show with more of a foundation or bond that could've been strong enough to keep you guys together once you got home?
Jason Ewell: There's really no way to tell, but if it's a yes or no question, then I'll say definitely yes. If we had more time together, our foundation would've been a lot stronger and it would've been a serious debate between us, if you really want to try to make this work out rather than just staying in contact. Our states are very close, but at the same time, there is still quite a distance.
I think, from a third-party perspective, everyone around us could see that there was a genuine chemistry and something about us being together that looked like -- it definitely passed the eye test, if that makes sense. So, if we were together longer, yeah, it definitely would've been more of a realistic possibility.
Reality TV World: Are you dating someone else now or are you still single?
Jason Ewell: I am still single. I do not have a girlfriend, if that's what you're asking. (Laughs) I don't know how to word it correctly, but yes, I am still single.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Cina last week, she said it was obvious you were going to pick Vanessa at the Couples Choice Ceremony because you two clearly had a connection while you and Cina didn't. Do you think you really made it that obvious? And if so, how?
Jason Ewell: Yes, I think it was clear just from -- yes, I think it was very obvious who I was connecting with versus who wasn't. I think Cina mentioned that we kind of had a buddy-buddy type of connection going on, and you know, we just never really went anywhere.
Yes, Cina and I got along great and we had a little bit of fun on the adventures, but we were there -- it was very obvious early on that we were there for different reasons.
I think she said I was extremely serious and, I don't know how she worded it, but -- I'll just put it simply -- we were there for different reasons. I was there, for what I believe, is the purpose of the show -- is to find someone -- and it's the adventures where you get to know someone better.
The point of the show isn't to do the adventures, it's to meet someone and, during those situations, you get to know them more. And I don't think Cina really got to know me and that's why she said I was "secretive" and "mysterious" and what not, because I think Vanessa might have something to say completely different. So I think it was very obvious who I was connecting with early on.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Cina and Vanessa, they both told me that you never directly came out and told either one of them whom you were going to choose at the last Couples Choice Ceremony. Cina said while it seemed obvious you were going to choose Vanessa, you still didn't let her know for sure. So could you talk about that a little bit? Would you argue you did tell the girls ahead of time and there was miscommunication?
Jason Ewell: I don't think I ever said it out loud or put into words like beforehand that, "Hey Cina, I'm going to choose Vanessa," or, "Vanessa, I'm choosing you." Because Vanessa was one of the new girls and when it was still a trio with them two and me, Vanessa had to do some work even though I was connecting with her.
I couldn't make her feel like she had a guaranteed "get out of jail free card," if that makes sense, going into the next episode. With Cina, I was conflicted going into the ceremony. There was a loyalty side because Cina did pick me first over ["Chase" Aaron Chase], but at the same time, she made it very clear it was over a coin flip.
So how much can you really invest in someone when it was a mere coin-flip that was the reason why she picked you, you know? If it's 50/50, then what type of confidence-builder is that? So when it was my turn to decide, there was a loyalty.
There was an existing bond that me and Cina had because of the adventures we had gone through, but realistically, it wasn't enough to continue on because I wanted to connect with someone and that was just not happening with Cina.
Reality TV World: When you felt the need to be secretive about your decision, was there a part of you that wanted both girls to assume you'd be choosing them so they wouldn't have much time to make other potential plans and think about someone else they might like to pair up with? Was there any strategy involved so you could ultimately stay in the competition?
Jason Ewell: No, there was no strategy involved. I just didn't want to hurt Cina's feelings, because there was that loyalty side. And my choice wasn't 100% percent leading into -- there wasn't any hesitation, no doubt about it -- I was leaning into one side more than the other.
It definitely was a hard choice, it was, because I wasn't there to hurt anyone's feelings or make anyone feel rejected. I was there for my own goals and priorities, and I'm sorry that Cina's adventure ended shortly on my behalf.
But at the same time, it was clear from other girls -- they kind of set the example -- that like, if it's not working with someone, go talk to someone else. And there wasn't a lot of camera time with me and Cina for a few reasons, because there really wasn't a lot of connecting going on.
Yeah we worked well together on the adventures -- during the adventures -- but it kind of showed that the couples that were connecting, they got camera time, and it was clear that me and Cina did not have a lot of time together onair.
So to answer one of your other questions, there was no particular strategy to prevent them from going to talk to anybody else. We're not together; You're more than welcome to meet the other guys. Please do so, so that you have an informed decision when it comes to you picking me, for example.
I took my time getting to know each and every one of the other contestants -- the other female contestants -- and as easy as it is to talk to someone and get to know them, you know pretty early on if there's a connection or if there's a chemistry or a small spark. So, and it was there with Vanessa.
Reality TV World: Did you try to get to know and have conversations with any girls in particular besides Vanessa and Cina? Did you keep anyone in the back of your mind whom you might've liked to pick had something happened with either of those girls?
Jason Ewell: I did take the time to speak with every single contestant. Let's go down the list. [Ali Leitza], [Tara Locke] -- I believe all the girls that are still there, the six originals and the six new girls. So I didn't have anybody lined up.
I'll answer that question. I put all my eggs in one basket, if that makes sense, between my two partners. Other than them, there were no other options outside of the two I was paired up with. I wasn't going to leave anyone. It was either my partners or no one else, and if that fell through, I obviously would've been in the "unmatched area."
Reality TV World: When I talked to Cina, she said you probably liked Vanessa because she reminded you of your ex-girlfriend. She also noted you liked dating older women. Would you say that's accurate, and if not, why do you think Cina got the impression Vanessa was the type of girl you'd normally go for?
Jason Ewell: Whoa, she came off very bitter didn't she?! (Laughs) You know what? There is quite a discrepancy between a 22-year-old and a 30-year-old, but no one's attracted to a number, to an age.
It's the person, it's the maturity, it's the conversation, it's that connection, it's personality -- I don't know if I said that twice or not -- but it has absolutely nothing to do with age. I've had deep intellectual conversations with young 20's. I've had conversations go nowhere with older women.
It has nothing to do with that. It just so happens to come with the territory that, as you get older, you have more to talk about. You have to invest yourself into someone as far as conversation goes.
A lot of Cina and my's conversations together never really went anywhere as far as getting past the name, where your from, what kind of food and music do you like -- that type of stuff -- whereas Vanessa and I connected on deeper levels -- family situations and living situations and past relationships.
It was not judgmental at all. It wasn't like speed dating, it was genuinely trying to get to know someone. And so, it never got to anyone reminding me of my ex, no, far from it. I think that's just someone's limited view on -- I think that's the opinion of a bitter girl that was eliminated.
Reality TV World: Had yourself and Vanessa gone into this week's Couples Choice Ceremony pretty certain you were going home or had you been expecting to survive somehow?
Jason Ewell: You know, I'm a realist as much as I'd like to remain optimistic. And what I mean by that is, I knew by finishing in last place during the adventure, that unless some crazy twist happened, we'd be on our way out. And it was very close, which made it that much harder!
Because Jesse even word for word said he wanted to dismiss himself, or something along those lines. And so, I kind of sat up a little more during the ceremony intrigued, like, it peaked my interest. And then he didn't go and follow through with that and ended up picking [Michelle Sacco] to stay on -- that whole mix. But yeah.
Reality TV World: When you joined Cina and Chase in the premiere episode, were you worried or intimidated by Chase at all? Did you think he was going to be some serious competition or did that not really phase you at all?
Jason Ewell: (Laughs) Well first of all, once I saw what we were being introduced to -- existing couples -- I'm thinking, "Oh geeze, we're here to be home-wreckers. What if they're a married couple or boyfriend or girlfriend or they've been together for some time?" So it was quite a surprise to find out they had just been picked literally minutes before we showed up.
So once I met Chase, I didn't make a judgment at first. I was going to let him kind of demonstrate what type of guy he was, and that's the point of the adventures.
Sure, I believe every guy there was competition in a sense that they were brought on for different reasons. Everyone there is a good-looking guy, they can talk to girls -- some better than others. But I wasn't going to dismiss anyone, because that's naive and arrogant.
Reality TV World: Vanessa was obviously one of the six "surprise girls" who entered the competition late. What was going through your mind when those girls stepped out in front of you and why did you end up picking Vanessa over Lindsay Furman and Michelle? I'm pretty positive those were the other two girls remaining at the time.
Jason Ewell: Oh man! When the girls walked in, I just started laughing. I think me and [Ryan Smith] locked eyes. We were just both cracking up to ourselves and looked over at [Benjamin Clark] and Ken and Jesse -- they're [all] kind of chuckling as well.
Once the girls walked in and everyone picked before me and it was my turn, I think I just -- it was something about her smile mixed with -- it was just in the moment and I think she, you know (Laughs) -- I honestly, I can't, I don't...
Reality TV World: Vanessa had told me you two "caught eyes." Is that true I guess? (Laughs)
Jason Ewell: I think that is definitely true. I think we caught eyes when she was walking in, and then I was definitely nervous as my pick was coming up. But I just went for it and the rest is history.
Reality TV World: This might be a bit of an awkward question to answer, but do you think you still would've selected Vanessa had you gotten to pick amongst of all the six new "surprise" girls first?
Jason Ewell: Yes, without a doubt.
Reality TV World: Ken seemed really confident about the fact Jesse and Tara had slept together. Do you know why Ken felt so strongly about that and how he came to be so certain that incident happened? Was that something Tara had shared with everybody or did word just travel fast?
Jason Ewell: I want to say primarily, it must've been the grapevine. The girls definitely would have their girl-talk sessions where all of them just crowd around together at a table or just the small, secret, political strategizing going on behind the scenes. So, I don't think he knew from words, without a doubt, from either of them, but it kind of came to light.
If someone didn't know, they definitely found out after that, and then more details surfaced. But I think it was just through the grapevine and kind of rumors, you know, where there's smoke, there's fire.
Reality TV World: You were there to observe the big conflict between Jesse and Ken at the Couples Choice Ceremony. What was going through your mind when you were watching them argue? Did you take Ken's side or Jesse's side and why?
Jason Ewell: Well considering I was on my way out and Jesse sealed the deal, like basically put the nail in our coffin, I was definitely siding with Ken. It just made it so much harder to leave after that had happened, because in a way, he might've been directly arguing to keep him and [Yanina Beccaria] together, but it was referring to us.
Because while Ali and Jesse were away at the oasis, Ken mentioned there was some serious bonding going on among the couples back at the cabin, and that included Vanessa and I. So I know he was directly/indirectly cheering us along and it was very obvious no one wanted to see us go.
They had seen me and Cina together, and other than getting along, there wasn't anything to kind of -- no one knew what was up with us -- Are we friends? Are we fighting? But with Vanessa, it was clear that we had something going on and Ken could see that, and he definitely didn't want to see us go.
Reality TV World: What was your overall impression of Jesse while you were on the show? Tara seemed to think he was a real jerk and he's coming across to viewers as kind of a player. Do you agree, disagree?
Jason Ewell: First impression of Jesse, he's definitely an alpha male and he might've had his own priorities and ways of going about it, you know? I mentioned that me and Chase do things differently and I think that goes without saying for me and Jesse. We go about things differently.
First off, an intimate hookup with someone and then you drop them in the next ceremony is like, that's not something that would even cross my mind -- I guess just different ways of going about it. And to lead someone on in that sense, it sucks when feelings get hurt because of it. But the ultimate goal -- I know he had a goal in mind, and that was to find a connection with someone.
So, he might not have been as fragile or as careful as he should've gone about it, but at least he never -- at least he was truthful, and he was chastised for it and now a lot of people hate him for being honest. But you know, I guess at times, he did have good intentions.
Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets from being on the show or do you wish you had done or said anything differently?
Jason Ewell: (Laughs) Well, not really. Honestly, I have no regrets. I was myself from the minute I got there to the minute I left and I think, at times, that might've been the reason why I didn't get a lot of camera time -- because I wasn't doing anything outlandish or over the top.
I really wish that map didn't sink under that waterfall in the last mission, because we were in good shape for most of that adventure. It just sucks to know that we were eliminated prematurely.
It wasn't because something fell apart or we were both checked out, it was something that happened during the adventure, right when we were gaining some momentum. But no regrets, and I'd do everything the same if it had to happen again.
Reality TV World: It sounds pretty obvious you applied to go on Love in the Wild to really find love, so why did you think you would find it on the show? Why were you optimistic about that form of dating?
Jason Ewell: I mean, I'm naive like that. I genuinely believe that -- also, I [watched] a marathon of the first season, so maybe I was just too hypnotized by it, (laughs) because the first-place and second-place couples, they made it work. They made a connection.
Yes, we're on a reality show and there's cameras on us, but you can't pinpoint anywhere, any situation, where you will find a connection with someone, you know? Husband and wives have met through friends. People that have been together forever just happened to cross paths at a random coffee shop, bookstore, you get the idea.
And so, I'm going to be put together with other individuals, other women, who are technically -- supposed to be -- here for the same reason. So my chances of finding love in the wild are that much greater, because other people are supposed to be like-minded.
Granted my first partner, it was definitely clear she wasn't there for that reason, but overall, I ended up finding someone that was open-minded, open-hearted like I was. You could see the night and day difference.
To read Vanessa's interview, click here. To read what Cina had to say to Reality TV World, click here.
(Photo credit NBC)
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