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Exclusive: Steele Dewald talks about his 'Love in the Wild' experience


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/10/2011 

Steele Dewald and his partner Erica Scherle were eliminated from Love in the Wild after he decided he was no longer interested in being paired with her and the only other remaining female contestant Brandee Dillehay determined she had no desire to give him a shot during last Wednesday night's episode of the new NBC reality dating series.

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On Tuesday, Reality TV World caught up with Steele, a 24-year-old pro golfer from Scottsdale, AZ, to discuss the season and some of his most memorable events to-date -- including whether he was shocked Brandee turned down his invitation to become a pair, why and when he decided he no longer wanted to compete with Erica, what made him think a relationship with Erica would never last, whether he admitted he was actually "scared of commitment," what changes he would make to improve Love in the Wild, and whether he is still currently single.

Click here to read our separate interview with Erica.

Reality TV World: When you asked Brandee to be your partner at the last Couples' Choice Ceremony and she rejected your offer, what was your initial reaction? Were you shocked or not surprised by her response?

Steele Dewald: You know, to be honest, I wasn't really surprised. I don't know. I honestly didn't know Brandee that well. We talked a little bit, but it was a last minute decision that I made. Looking back, I just probably would rather have taken myself off the show right away -- put myself in the unmatched [area].

But Brandee's a great girl. But to be honest, at that stage in the show, you don't really want to be there with somebody that you're not absolutely getting along with 100% percent. That's just how the show is set up. That's why it's such an effective show. It brings people together. 

Reality TV World: Do you have any insight as to why Brandee might have turned down your offer, thinking about it from her perspective?

Steele Dewald: It just kind of goes back to what I just said. We didn't have any real chemistry. I hardly talked to Brandee on the show, so I didn't mind that she said no, and I know that she didn't -- there was really no point for her to stay because we had no real connection whatsoever.

It would actually be just a little bit awkward. That's why I said, looking back, I probably should have just put myself in the unmatched.

Reality TV World: When did you first decide that you were not going to stay with Erica for the next adventure and did you give Erica any indication or signs that you were considering switching partners beforehand? It seemed to viewers like you started to close yourself off from her a bit but they never saw an actual conversation take place about it.

Steele Dewald: You know, that's because there was no actual conversation to be honest. Let's see, what's the best way that I can put this? Some stuff was brought to my attention just prior to going to the elimination, and they kind of swayed how I went about dealing with things.

Reality TV World: Would you mind sharing what those things were that were brought to your attention?

Steele Dewald: I can't actually. Sorry.

Reality TV World: No problem. Could you talk about why you chose to leave Erica then besides the factors you mentioned that you can't discuss? The show made it look like you were concerned that she was developing stronger feelings than you had for her -- was that accurate?

Steele Dewald: I mean, yeah, that was pretty accurate. One thing that they didn't show is, I don't know, she had told me about her past and she's been hurt quite a few times from what she said, and I just got to thinking.

I wasn't going to be able to make a long-distance relationship -- I just kind of realized basically how serious this was really getting -- and I wasn't quite sure if I could make that kind of long-distance relationship work.

She is a really great girl. I love Erica. We still talk all the time, but I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make that work. A date on that show is like two weeks of dating because you just get closer and closer everyday it goes by. If I would have spent like two or three more days or four more days -- whatever it was -- on that show, it's just only going to make things worse in the end.

Reality TV World: After you asked Brandee to pair up and she said no, and then Erica asked you to give your relationship another shot, what was going through your mind at that point? Were you completely convinced you didn't want to continue the competition with her and you had made the right decision or were you still a little unsure, maybe wondering that leaving Erica might be a mistake?

Steele Dewald: You know, at that point, I was just ready to go home to be honest... No, I mean, I was pretty clear that me and Erica would probably be good friends in the future, but I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do a relationship or have a relationship with her. So, that's how the show is set up.

There's no point in staying on the show if you're not going to be with somebody that you could potentially have a relationship with, and there's no cash prize or anything like that. So, there's just no point in staying anymore. So, I was ready to go home at that point and I think she was too.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Erica wanted to give it another go with you despite how you had just turned her down for Brandee?

Steele Dewald: A little bit, but to be honest, I think that since me and Erica had not been able to talk about it before we went in, Erica thought it was a lot of strategy I think -- strategy that I guess backfired. So, I don't think she really knew what was going on. It really kind of took her by surprise and I don't think she would have asked me again if we had been able to talk about it beforehand.

Reality TV World: It sounds like there was a little disconnect where she was starting to develop strong feelings for you and you weren't sure if you could return those feelings. Could you talk a little bit about how that came about? Did she tell you certain things to make you think she was sincerely interested in you or felt a connection and at what point did you realize your feelings stopped matching up with hers?

Steele Dewald: I think one night she kind of started to get, I don't know, she just kind of started to realize that we're going to go back to our real lives and she's like talking about what's going to happen after -- whether I'd be able to fly out to Nashville.

I just felt she was starting to take it pretty seriously, but I was too. I really liked her. I'm not going to deny that, but I just was not at the point where I could make that work.

Reality TV World: Erica bluntly said in her final words that you were scared of commitment. What's your response to that? Do you agree with that statement at all?

Steele Dewald: Well, I mean, I had a girlfriend for like three months like four or five years ago or whatever. So (laughs) I wouldn't say I'm the best at commitment.

Reality TV World: I didn't know whether it was just because Erica wasn't the one for you or something like that.

Steele Dewald: Yeah, you know, I wouldn't mind settling down with a girl. It's just that a lot has to be going right, like geographically. I'm traveling all the time and to be honest, I'm kind of a socialite.

When I go out, I talk quite a bit and a lot of girls can't handle that. Just because I'm talking to another girl doesn't mean I'm trying to hook-up with her or anything like that. But a lot of girls have a problem with that. I just haven't found a girl that, I don't know, I would really be willing to change all that for I guess. I don't know.

Reality TV World: Why did you originally go on Love in the Wild? Were you looking for a lasting relationship but then maybe changed your mind when you got to know the girls, or were you just looking for a fun experience all along?

Steele Dewald: No, I'm not opposed to a relationship. It's not like I'm going around saying I'm never going to be in one. If the right girl comes along, then I'm definitely going to pursue it.

But I went on Love in the Wild because it was a good chance to travel and meet 10 girls who I might be able to date someday or have a relationship with. It was just a fun experience. I kind of do stuff on a whim. I'm a spontaneous guy and it just seemed like a no-brainer to me, to be honest.

Reality TV World: You went through quite a few partners before you decided to stick with Erica for awhile. Could you talk about why some of the others like Vanessa Guerrero and Kym Nguyen didn't work out? What was missing there for you?

Steele Dewald: Oh, Vanessa. Vanessa, I got very annoyed with.

Reality TV World: Any specific reasons why?

Steele Dewald: I think that she took the situation more seriously than anybody on the show besides [Jason Jackson]. I don't know. She's a good girl, but we just did not get along at all. (Laughs) To be honest, it's tough to spend literally all day everyday with the girl you're with. You don't do that in real life. You don't go out -- you'll go on like a two-three hour date and then you're done.

You see them like a day later, two days later, whatever. You don't spend that much time with a person, so some people you can just be around for a long time and some people you can't. Vanessa was not one of those people that I could personally be around for a long time.

Reality TV World: How about Kym? What happened there?

Steele Dewald: I actually really liked Kym a lot. They didn't show this, but I actually wasn't in a position where I had a choice. Erica came to me and she said, "Look, I'm going to pick you. Are you going to say yes?" And at the time, I also liked Erica quite a bit.

So, obviously I'm going to say yes because if I said no, then she's going to pick somebody else and me and Kym, both, are going home. That's something they didn't show. They just made it look like I left Kym.

Reality TV World: Okay, so it was more of a strategic move to stay in the game?

Steele Dewald: Yeah. I mean, I could stay here with a girl that I also like or I could leave with a girl that I like. So, I just wanted to stay in the game. I wanted to get to know Erica.

Reality TV World: Why were you drawn to Erica? Was there anything in particular that you really liked about her and why do you think you made a good match when you guys competed together?

Steele Dewald: Erica carries herself in a way that is very attractive to me. Her personality -- just pretty much how she carries herself. She's very attractive, especially in person. I thought she was the hottest girl on the show. It's funny because I didn't think she had any interest in me whatsoever at first.

Even when she picked me, I didn't even know what to expect. I was like, "This is probably going to suck to be honest, because I didn't talk to her that much." I thought it was going to suck because of all the stuff I heard about her, you know, moving into the bathroom and struggling with Jason.

I just thought she was kind of psycho or something. And then when we got to the end of that first night, I just realized that she had really strong feelings for me. I was totally shocked. She's like the worst flirter on the planet. She is terrible. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: The show made it seem like you came very close to picking Jessica Soares over Erica during the fourth episode because you and Erica had been strategizing a way to stay in the competition and end up a pair again. Was that actually the case and would that have been the only reason you would've partnered up with Jessica? -- Was there little attraction there or something?

Steele Dewald: Yeah, our goal there was to -- I actually tried to get [Benjamin Hooker]. I don't know. Ben was not very smitten on Brandee at the time, and so we were going to try to get Ben to take Erica and Jessica to take me, and then in the next episode, switch back. We were in last place, so we were not in a good position. I didn't realize how bad it was between Jessica and Jason.

So, obviously Ben didn't pick Erica and I realized our last choice was for Jessica to pick me or for me to say no. I wasn't going to go with Jessica -- not over Erica. There's no way, especially if Erica's going home because I went with Jessica. And I knew that nobody was going to pick Jason. [Theresa Trujillo] and [Skip Sullivan] were getting along great and I definitely knew Erica wasn't going to go that route.

Reality TV World: Going off on what you said about finishing last, I have to talk a little bit about "the curse of Steele." Why do you think you did so badly in the adventures? Would you blame it on bad luck or maybe you weren't very focused on the challenge but rather the girls? What's the story there?

Steele Dewald: Definitely lacked a lot of focus. It was funny because the guy even told us before the show started, he was like, "Pay attention to the details in the directions," and what not. I just didn't pay attention, to be honest. I would screw up on the littlest things, but there's two parts to this game.

I'm a very, very competitive person, and when I get into that competitive mindset, there's no way I'm building a relationship with a girl. There's just absolutely no chance. I'm going to be fired up -- I'm going to be a lot like Ben.

So, you had to learn to balance that, and part of me was sometimes too lackadaisical to say the least. I was just very cautious that I didn't get overly competitive and start kind of ruining relationships with girls. That's what the show's about. It's about building relationships.

Reality TV World: When I talked to Love in the Wild host Darren McMullen, he said part of the reason you did so poorly in the adventures was because your "a little bit dopey." What's your response to that, any thoughts? 

Steele Dewald: Well I mean, from what I saw on the show, I'm pretty f***ing dopey.

Reality TV World: (Laughs) Darren mentioned you didn't have much luck finding the rope ladders and such.

Steele Dewald: Honestly, (laughs) I didn't have many good moments on that show when it came to the adventures by any means. Like I said, if it was more about money and competition and what not, I would have been a little bit more locked in and focused.

Stupid s-it, like in the fourth episode, with that whole ladder thing, I don't even think I listened to the directions. I heard ladder and I saw people walking behind the set with orange ladders, so automatically I was just like, "Alright, well I'm looking for an orange ladder." It's just stupid s-it, so.

Reality TV World: Why do you think things turned around for you and Erica during the last episode's adventure? What did you do differently?

Steele Dewald: I was pissed, to be honest! At first, like I said, I was taking everything pretty light-heartedly when it came to this whole curse thing -- just trying to have fun with the whole situation. But honestly, that was my competitive nature that kind of took over.

I was really pissed about this whole curse was f***ing terrible, and even before we went on, I wasn't talking to anybody. I was in my competitive mode and I was not screwing up that adventure. Let's put it that way.

Reality TV World: What are your thoughts on the last three couples that are left? After you were eliminated, who did you think had the best shot at winning and why?

Steele Dewald: I thought [Samantha Woods] and [Mike Spiro] worked well together. They're just both athletic, they're both very competitive, and I thought they would have a good chance. [Miles Haefner] and [Heather Pond], they're all good. I thought actually that Skip and Theresa would be a good couple as well.

Reality TV World: I want to touch on a couple of those matches. Samantha and Mike seem to be one of the tightest couples on the show and seemed to have no interest in getting to know anyone else. They've been together since Day 1, so why do you think that is? What is it about their relationship that has kept them going strong and why do you think they've been such a good match?

Steele Dewald: You know, you're so far along in a relationship after all the time that they've been through. They're like five months into an actual relationship at this point. (Laughs) So, I think they just spent their time together and they started to click. I think at this point, they've just gotten really, really close.

I think they've had their fights obviously, and they found a way to get through those and obviously they got through them okay. So, at this point, there's no way they're going to switch after all they've been through. It would be like damn near divorce.

Reality TV World: What can you tell us about Theresa and Skip because we really haven't seen a lot of them. Darren told me viewers haven't seen much of them because their relationship was kind of X-rated or too intense for cameras. Do you agree with that or do you think they were just a boring couple?

Steele Dewald: You know, it's funny because like Skip has a hell of a personality. He's very, very funny, but they haven't shown much of that. I mean, I know it tends to get a little X-rated back at the cabins during the day. I mean, there's not a lot to do on that show, so I don't blame them. Our downtime -- we have so much downtime -- I guess they just decided to bang it out all the time. I don't know. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: (Laughs) What was your reaction when Darren announced that all the pairs were going to be split up when so many of you had already established strong connections. Do you think that hurt your relationship with Erica or strengthened it, and do you think it damaged the show's credibility at all for its premise of wanting its contestants to really find love?

Steele Dewald: I think it was a good concept. I think the show should have gone about it a little differently. I think some people just avoided picking other people so they didn't piss their partner off. They should have paired people together that had showed some form of connection outside of that, you know what I mean? -- like [Derek Leach] and Samantha.

They should have paired them together and see what happens, but it is a good concept because if your partner leaves for somebody else, you're going to start to appreciate them even more. You get to a point on the show, as you do in relationships, where you probably don't appreciate what you have.

I think that was just kind of blowing that little test in there, I think that next year if they do it, they'll do it a little differently than they did this year though. Because everybody just kind of picked a safe partner, I don't know. It was kind of a boring deal.

Reality TV World: How much of you was looking forward to the adventures and potential rewards while you were on the show versus the time you got to spend just relaxing in the pool and bungalows talking and getting to know everyone afterwards? 

Steele Dewald: We looked forward to the challenges, to be honest. We just had so much downtime of hanging around in the pool and going on the damn hammocks. (Laughs) There was not a lot to do during our downtime and you're with the same people for so long that it's just tough to keep talking. So, we all looked forward to the adventures tremendously.

Reality TV World: Would you say going on the adventures truly helped you guys form relationships or did the challenges just make everything more tense than it needed to be between partners?

Steele Dewald: No, I think they're a good test, for sure! I think they were really good for relationships. It kind of puts you through that adversity that a normal couple might face in reality, and there is a lot of adversity in these challenges. So, I think it adds a nice aspect to building a relationship for sure.

Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets from the show?

Steele Dewald: Regrets. Uh, not really. Like I said, if I could do it again, I'd probably just put myself in the unmatched area and go home. It wouldn't have been fun for me or Brandee if we would have stayed there together. So, I probably would have just done that.

Reality TV World: Have you kept in touch with Erica or anyone else since the show?

Steele Dewald: Yeah, most definitely. We actually all just went out the other night -- like five of us in LA. I keep in touch with Erica and I like [Jess Debolt] a lot. Jess is a great girl; I talk to her a lot. Kym, a little bit. I've seen Kym a couple times since the show, and then the guys. I keep in touch with Skip and Derek and Miles a little bit.

Reality TV World: Are you currently still single, dating anyone, or changing your mind about wanting a serious long-lasting relationship?

Steele Dewald: Right now, I'm single. Like I said, if the right girl comes along, then it's definitely in the conversation. But until then, I will go on with my ways. (Laughs)

(Photo credit NBC)


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