Exclusive: Kenneth Barrington discusses his time on 'Love in the Wild' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/30/2012
Kenneth Barrington and his partner Yanina Beccaria were crowned Love in the Wild's second-season champions during last week's finale of the NBC reality dating series, which featured singles attempting to find love in the Dominican Republic.
As the winning couple, Ken and Yanina received Love in the Wild's second-season grand prize -- an all-expenses paid first class trip around the world for two. The pair beat out runner-up couple Benjamin Clark and Michelle Sacco in the season's grueling final adventure, which took the couples two days to complete.
On Thursday, Ken talked to Reality TV World about his Love in the Wild experience and relationship with Yanina -- including whether he has any intention to reconcile with Jesse Wilson and move on since their heated arguments this season, what his trip with Yanina will include, why he was skeptical when the show began, and what he feared Love in the Wild would turn into had he not interjected at a Couples Choice Ceremony and spoke his mind about finding love to his fellow contestants.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Ken. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion and additional Love in the Wild interviews. Click here to begin reading what Yanina had to tell us.
Reality TV World: At the end of Love in the Wild's finale, it said you and Yanina are still dating and have been visiting each other often, so how are things going? Is your relationship still going strong?
Kenneth Barrington: Incredibly strong. We are in love and we see each other as often as possible. We've seen each other's families and we're meeting each other's friends, so our relationship, I would describe it as very, very strong.
Reality TV World: How did things go when Yanina met your family? And also, what was it like to be introduced to some of her family members? According to Yanina, things went wonderfully.
Kenneth Barrington: I have the same feelings. She has a great family. One of the reasons why I fell in love with her is her respect and love for her family.
So, those kind of core values were important to me. And I've met her father and brother and other family members, and I said the same thing to my parents that [they] had said to Yanina, "I feel like they already know me." So it's been fun kind of watching the show and hearing their feedback and getting to know them.
Reality TV World: A lot of contestants on other dating shows like The Bachelor have said that keeping the ending of the show a secret and not being able to spend much time with the person they ended up with between the end of filming and the finale was really hard on their relationships. So, how did that work for you and Yanina on Love in the Wild -- was it hard not to share the news with your friends or families? It seems like you let it slip a couple times right?
Kenneth Barrington: To be honest, yeah, we let it slip. I could see why it would be difficult for some people, but for Yanina and I, I don't think it was that big of a problem. We kind of enjoyed the secrecy of it all. We kind of embraced that and enjoyed sneaking around with each other. So, we tried to spin it in a positive way.
Reality TV World: Yanina said you are basically on the ball with planning your trip with her around the world. So would you mind sharing a few details about that other than what the show had supplied? When is it going to be, how long and what will it include?
Kenneth Barrington: Yeah, I'd be happy to. I think we've got a dynamite trip planned. It's going to start in September and we're going to fly into Tahiti and start our trip in French Polynesia. We'll island hop and probably go to Bora Bora and Moorea. We'll spend about a week there, then we'll fly into New Zealand and spend about four or five nights in New Zealand.
From New Zealand, we'll fly into Indonesia and we'll kind of island hop in Indonesia, making our way to Bangkok, which then we'll fly to Bangkok into Bhutan -- which is not an easy place to get to.
So, we'll spend about four nights in Bhutan, hiking the Himalayas. And from Bhutan, we'll fly into New Delhi and we will spend some time looking at the Taj Mahal, and from there, we'll fly into Dubai. And from Dubai, we'll go and take a safari in Northeast Africa. We'll probably do a safari in Kenya.
Reality TV World: Wow, well that all sounds horrible. (Laughs)
Kenneth Barrington: Doesn't that sound like a really nasty trip?! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: I'm excited for you two. So you and Yanina obviously paired up right in the beginning of the show and stayed with each other ever since, but that early on, I'm sure you didn't know each other very well and Yanina clearly wanted to hold off on the physical intimacy for awhile. So do you think the dynamic of your relationship was ultimately a friendship that grew into a romantic connection, or did you two automatically click and find that chemistry right off the bat?
Kenneth Barrington: I think I'd be lying if I said that right from the get-go, both of us thought that we had found the one, just because of the premise of the show. You're a little bit skeptical in the beginning of who you're partnered with. There are some contestants, I would say, that were there for the wrong reasons. They were potentially promoting themselves as an actor or what have you.
So you're always a little bit hesitant, I think, initially. But certainly after the first episode or second episode, I think Yanina and I both believed that we were there for honest and sincere reasons.
We had started to develop the foundation of trust that you needed to build on. So I was, at least in the second episode or so, convinced that Yanina was a genuine woman and was there to fall in love -- which is what I was there to do as well.
Reality TV World: You and Yanina won this season of the Love in the Wild and you were the couple who most resembled Mike Spiro and Samantha Woods from the show's first season who had also won. Did you watch Season 1?
Kenneth Barrington: I did. I watched the season because I wanted to kind of prep for the experience. So of course, I watched the whole last season right before I left for the Dominican.
Reality TV World: Well, you and Yanina really resemble Mike and Samantha in that you stayed together throughout, so do you think that's just a great coincidence or do you think you really had that much of an advantage over couples who weren't in relationships as long as you?
Kenneth Barrington: I believe that partnering with Yanina from Day 1 gave us an incredible advantage. Without a doubt, just going through the stress that we went through from the first few adventures -- and also dealing with the stress of having additional contestants -- it makes you create a bond much faster than you would otherwise.
So I think this final adventure really showed how effective Yanina and I could communicate. Right from the get-go, we were separated. We had to meet up at a base camp and just communicate through radio, and we were able to do that very effectively.
I think compared to Ben and Michelle, who partnered a little bit later, those are the kind of things you take from the adventure -- that communication is so essential, and Yanina and I were just better at that point than Ben and Michelle at communicating.
Reality TV World: How much of a role do you think athleticism really plays in Love in the Wild's adventures? When I talked to Yanina about this, she thought it was like 30% percent in that 70% percent of finding success in the adventures was team work and communication. Do you agree with her?
Kenneth Barrington: Yeah, I think that's fair. I always had a motto and said that in these adventures, you've got to think clearly and act quickly. So the thinking component mentally is essential. You can't screw up and you can't get last place. But there is a huge physical component to the adventures and some of the contestants were more athletic than others, and I would question it.
I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but some of the female contestants probably weren't as athletic as Yanina. And it would probably be very difficult for them even if they had partnered early on or had found a love connection. I don't know how you could get to the final adventure if you weren't athletically inclined. Even if you were very very bright, it could be very hard for you.
Reality TV World: I have to dive into your issues with Jesse Wilson a little bit.
Kenneth Barrington: I knew you would! Somebody's gotta ask me about it.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jesse this season, he said you guys hadn't squashed your beef yet because you just wouldn't get along in normal day-to-day life. Do you agree with him on that or would you actually like to reconcile and bury the hatchet eventually?
Kenneth Barrington: Well, if you would have asked me this question 48 hours ago, I would have said that Jesse and I can't get along. We're very different. But the fact is, he actually came to the finale in Chicago. So he watched the finale with us and then we spent the day with him yesterday, and we're not friendly, but we are mature enough to get along.
He's good friends with Ben and Michelle -- they are friends of ours, so yeah, I can co-exist with Jesse. I take offense to some of the things he has said about me publicly, but overall, my experience on Love in the Wild was so incredibly positive that it's kind of easy for me to brush nasty comments Jesse's said about me under the rug and move past it.
Reality TV World: Jesse also said he never had any intention of stealing Yanina away from you and that the only "scheming or strategizing" he was doing was trying to get people with the people they were supposed to be with in the end. He was referring to the moment he had picked Michelle and then Vanessa Ramirez and Jason Ewell went home as a result. So what's your reaction to that statement, and looking back, do you see his point now or are you still set in the original opinion you had of his "scheming?"
Kenneth Barrington: Well, yeah. I actually -- I still feel like what I said in that Couples Choice Ceremony was valid. The truth is, during that entire experience, there was just a lot of strategizing, a lot of scheming going on. I was a part of it. I used strategy effectively to get to the end with Yanina. That was my goal.
So strategizing wasn't a bad thing, but the problem I had with Jesse, was that I thought he was not there for genuine reasons. I didn't think that he was there to find a partner, and what was going through my mind was that if things stayed the same -- if contestants were approaching this experience the way Jesse was, the way I'll describe that is, he was approaching it as, "Let's just kind of get people partnered up. Friends can be friends."
People were talking about winning a trip around the world together as friends, like, "Would you do this trip with me if we were just buddies?" I need to make sure that that type of action -- I wanted to eliminate that. I wanted to tip the playing field into my favor, because I thought it was silly that you would win a trip around the world with a friend of yours.
So my goal was to -- I'm pretty verbose right now -- but the goal was just simply to identify Jesse as a schemer, identify that what he did with [Tara Locke] was not okay because people were there trying to partner up and find a loved one while he was treating it as if it was a nightclub and he just had a one-night stand.
He claims now that he was interested in [Ali Leitza] from Day 1. If he was interested in Ali from Day 1, then why did he sleep with Tara? Those things just don't flow for me. They don't seem to make sense. So what I said to Jesse during the Couples Choice Ceremony, it completely changed everyone's approach to the game at that point.
People were angry at Ali; People were angry at Jesse. The next Couples Choice Ceremony, people just left voluntarily because they didn't have a love match. I think if I didn't say anything to Jesse, people would have continued to just stay in the Dominican and try to win a trip around the world with their best friend.
Reality TV World: Jesse said he thought it would be better to keep Michelle in the game because Vanessa and Jason had finished the adventure in last place during the episode in which they got eliminated, so he was suggesting they had kind of sealed their own fate in a way. Do you see where he's coming from in that regard?
Kenneth Barrington: Absolutely. During the adventures, if you get last place, you put yourself in a real bad situation. There were so many twists though during this experience, that I don't necessarily believe that if Jesse didn't pick Michelle, Michelle would have been sent home. We had no idea what the producers could've thrown at us later on in that Couples Choice Ceremony.
So, I was really disappointed. I still am disappointed that Jason and Vanessa were sent home. Who know what would've happened if Jesse would've just said, "Hey, there's nobody here for me. I'm going to put myself in the 'unmatched area.'"
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Ken. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion and additional Love in the Wild interviews. Click here to begin reading what Yanina had to tell us.