Exclusive: Jesse Wilson dishes on his 'Love in the Wild' experience (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/09/2012
Love in the Wild contestant Jesse Wilson was eliminated during Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC reality dating competition's fifth second-season episode.
Jesse was ousted from the show after his partner Michelle Sacco chose to pair up with former flame Benjamin Clark instead of pursuing their own relationship, and he was left partnerless in the "unmatched area" alongside Ali Leitza, Ryan Smith and Jenna Gillund. Ali, who held Jesse's attention and interest throughout his time on the show, had a chance to choose between Jesse and Ryan at the end of the ceremony but opted out of the opportunity and chose to eliminate herself.
On Monday, Jesse, a 33-year-old from Oakdale, CA who currently resides in Manhattan Beach, CA, talked to Reality TV World about his Love in the Wild experience and all the drama that surrounded his name during the course of the season -- including why he really chose to pair up with Michelle and claimed it was a selfless act, what made him decide to keep Michelle around when it meant Vanessa Ramirez and Jason Ewell would be going home in her place, and whether he truly wanted to get back together with Ali when he confronted her prior to the last ceremony or had other intentions in mind.
Below is the first portion of our exclusive interview with Jesse. Check back with Reality TV World tomorrow for the concluding portion and to find out what his perspective was on what really went down with previously-eliminated contestant Tara Locke.
To read Ali's interview and what she had to say about Jesse, click here and then here.
Reality TV World: In your final words, you said you came to the show being 100% percent yourself. Could you elaborate on what you meant by that? How would you describe yourself, I guess?
Jesse Wilson: Well, it's more or less my intentions. I came with the pure intentions to find a partner and love if you will -- maybe not love in the short span that you're on TV, but potential love. So I went there looking to find someone as well as be in a tropical location and meet some great people and have the experience of my life.
So when I say 100% percent me, I meant that I didn't go there to be on TV. I didn't go there just to win at all costs. I didn't go there to be the villain or to create drama or whatever it may look like. I went there and I said, "Listen, my goal, my primary objective, is to find someone. If I find someone, then I win," and I planned on winning.
I planned on winning either way. If I find someone and I don't win the whole competition, then I win regardless and I go home happy. So, that's kind of what I meant.
Reality TV World: During last week's episode, Ben said he knew your intentions were good in that you chose to pair up with Michelle so that she could possibly be reunited with Ben following the next adventure. So is that really why you picked Michelle or was that what you just told Ben to remain on his good side and in the competition longer?
Jesse Wilson: That's exactly why I did it. Going into the previous week's ceremony, Ali and I had a very short conversation. I really had no idea where her head was. What we said was -- our deal was -- we either stay together as friends because we knew we weren't romantically involved, and we just go in as friends because we get along.
A side note, we got along a lot better than maybe it made it look. We also fought a lot too, but we also bonded pretty well. So in my head, I'm like, "Okay, we can work out as friends. We can win this and I wouldn't mind going around the world with this person." But maybe I did have feelings for her on both sides in the end.
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Regardless, we went into that ceremony with the idea that we either stay together or we go home, because we both know -- and we agreed, I had said this beforehand at actually the ceremony before this, I had said, "Listen, now we're all coupled up at least for the most part. There's not going to be anymore switching. There's no interest anywhere else, at least not above ground where anybody could see, so we're either going to stay together or go home -- choose to go home."
And that's what I walked through that ceremony thinking. And actually just before the ceremony, I thought, "You know what? I'm going to go home regardless. It's not worth it to stay with someone who's not going to love me back," if you will. "Whether it's three other couples out there, four other couples out there that might have a chance at love and winning this prize -- a trip around the world -- it's not fair to take that away from them."
So when Ali chose Ben, it immediately crossed my mind, I was like, "Listen, I have a plan." And Ben and I bonded from Day 1 -- actually, well before Day 1. There were a couple times we had seen each other and got to talk or whatever, but we bonded. We had a good friendship, and throughout this whole process, we're best friends. I had spoken to Ben before.
I hadn't talked to Michelle at all because they were at the Oasis. I spoke to Ben and said, "What are your feelings about her?" And he said, "I like her a lot. She's a great girl, she's right up my alley -- perfect." That's all I knew.
So as soon as I saw Ali choosing Ben, I'm two steps ahead on thinking, "Okay, that means Michelle's going to go home, which means Ben's without this girl that he likes, which means the next episode, he could be going home because he's with Ali -- who was self-proclaimed the worst athlete there -- and they're not going to get along and will fight like cats and dogs and then they're going to go home, and then Ben misses out on his chance to win the prize when he very well deserves it as much as anybody else." So I knew I had to pick up Michelle and tried to right the wrongs.
Reality TV World: So since you were trying to keep the right people together, did you see Ben and Michelle's relationship being stronger than Vanessa and Jason's? Is that why you were willing to keep Michelle around and keep her safe but ultimately send Jason and Vanessa home as a result?
Jesse Wilson: Well no, there's a couple things there. One, I didn't know how strong Vanessa and Jason's relationship was. I knew that they had clicked or whatever, and I liked Vanessa. She was an awesome girl. I liked Jason. I had no negatives nor too strong positives towards either of them other than I knew they were both good people and I knew they had something going on.
That didn't cross my mind. You know, realistically, they came in last. Their fate was determined on what we do and I plan on going home, so they would've been saved. But like I said, a monkey wrench was thrown into my plans. I wanted to go home. Ali chose Ben. I knew that Ben and Michelle, they came in second place.
So they, for lack of a better word, they deserved to stay more than Jason and Vanessa did, because it still is a competition. You still get ranked, and your rankings determine your choices, you know?
And Ben was a good friend of mine, so I'm looking after a good friend. There was no negative towards Jason. It's just Ben was a better friend, and it's sad that those two had to go home, because it should've been Ali and I. But that's the way the cards fell.
Reality TV World: Were you planning on confronting Ali and trying to work something out with her again ever since you two split up -- when she chose Ben and you therefore picked Michelle -- or did you just happen to spontaneously make that decision following last week's adventure, especially after realizing Michelle and Ben wanted each other all along?
Jesse Wilson: Well, I knew Michelle wanted Ben all along, and from that ceremony on, I knew this was my last week on -- I'm going home for sure. Every night we were there, I said, "This is my going away party." I, for the first time, knew my fate no matter what was happening. I knew I was going home. So, that's that part of it.
As far as Ali and I, as soon as that happened and I became the villain, if you will, because she set those actions in place or she started that, no one really looked at her and said, "Ali, you started this. It's your fault that things happened the way that it all happened."
Well, it was always me. It always looked like I was spiteful to stay and that I had to stay -- that I wanted to get back at Ken for some reason -- that all I wanted to do was get more TV time. I didn't care about any of that and I just sat there defending myself throughout the process.
I avoided Ali at all costs -- didn't look at her, didn't talk to her that night or the next day or [during] the next adventure. Just before I believe it was the ceremony, that's when I wanted to have that conversation you saw not to get back together with her.
I wanted her to know what my intentions were, because there was a lot of talk between that alliance, if you will, with [Kenneth Barrington], [Yanina Beccaria], ["Chase" Aaron Chase], [Summer Mack], and Ali, that I just wanted to stay to win and I just wanted to stay to get more TV time and I had no real intention of coming on the show to find someone.
That was wrong. I wanted to come to her and tell her to make sure that she knew that from Day 1, she was the one that I wanted to be with. And those things didn't work out the way they did. I wanted to apologize for her having to go through some stress or maybe for [undoing] some stress, although maybe some of it was brought on by herself.
But I wanted to apologize for anything negative she saw about me, and she was right. I don't like any negative about me and I didn't like my character being bashed. So I just wanted to make sure that she knew where I stood and why I came to this and what my reasons were. It was necessarily to say, "Hey Ali, let's get back together. Let's do this." I was just trying to make peace before I leave.
Reality TV World: Were you kind of hoping though that Ali would want to be your partner again after that conversation? Was that a motive for you at all or was it simply just to set the record straight?
Jesse Wilson: It wasn't a motive, but if I'm being 100% percent honest, in the back of my head, it would've been nice for her to say, "Listen okay, we argued a lot and yes I have feelings for you, so maybe we could try again." I'm a guy. We're, for lack of a better word, we're stupid like that, you know?
We lose a lot of our inhibitions and our intelligence when we're talking to a girl who we like or had liked and maybe was shutdown and rejected. So in the back of my mind, yeah. I would've liked to hear her say, "Jesse, yeah, let's try you and I again," something like that.
I would've had to go back and think about it, saying, "Okay, is this really what I want to do? Do I still see myself liking this girl?" But my motives for that conversation were simply to set the record straight and to apologize. It just blew up in my face. Like you saw, I just really wanted to apologize, and she thought it was more like me calling her out for ruining Ben and Michelle's relationship.
Reality TV World: So were you a little surprised then that Ali didn't end up giving you a second chance after that conversation or did you kind of see that coming?
Jesse Wilson: I was surprised that she was so quick, so defensive, without really letting me talk and letting me get my piece out. It was surprising that she just wouldn't let me apologize simply. I didn't really want her to have to speak and tell me what her thoughts were. I just wanted to tell her that I was sorry, for the most part.
Above is the first portion of our exclusive interview with Jesse. Check back with Reality TV World tomorrow for the concluding portion and to find out what his perspective was on what really went down with previously-eliminated contestant Tara Locke.
To read Ali's interview and what she had to say about Jesse, click here and then here.