Exclusive: Ryan Smith talks about his time on 'Love in the Wild' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/12/2012
Love in the Wild contestant Ryan Smith was eliminated during last Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC reality dating competition's fifth second-season episode.
Ryan was ousted from the show after his partner Jenna Gillund decided they should only move forward as friends and intentionally put them in danger of elimination in the "unmatched area." Ali Leitza had a chance to choose between Ryan and Jesse Wilson at the end of the Couples Choice Ceremony but opted out of the opportunity and chose to go home instead.
On Monday, Ryan, a 27-year-old from Boise, ID who currently resides in San Francisco, CA, talked to Reality TV World about his Love in the Wild experience and what his relationship with Jesse was like -- including whether he actually thought Ali was going to pick him in the end and why he wasn't disappointed she didn't, whose side he took in the Kenneth Barrington versus Jesse fight, and why he thought Jesse didn't do anything disrespectful or offensive when it came to his short relationship on the show with Tara Locke.
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Ryan. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: When it was Ali's turn to choose between you and Jesse in the "unmatched area" or send herself to the "unmatched area" and go home, what was going through your mind at that point? Did you think there was a chance she might pick you and were you disappointed at all that she didn't?
Ryan Smith: Not at all. Ali and I pretty much knew that we were -- I mean, there was no chemistry there. There was no attraction, I don't think, both physical or emotional or anything. I think we were just friends and we knew that at this point in the show, for us to go on, it wouldn't make sense and it would be better if we just kind of parted ways.
Reality TV World: It kind of seemed like Jesse had his "intimate relations" with Tara and then kind of lost interest in her afterwards. Do you think Jesse was, for lack of a better term, a player or maybe on the show to hookup with girls rather than find a serious girlfriend? What was your opinion of him while you were on the show?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, absolutely not. Jesse and I are buddies to this day and we will continue to be. I think he kind of got a bad rep. I think with that situation with Tara, it was two attractive people and they shared that intimate encounter. People on the show acted like that has never happened in the history of the world.
But the thing is, Jesse from Day 1 has shown interest in Ali, and that was his girl. He had a thing with Tara, and unfortunately it was kind of broadcasted through the cast and on the show, and it really shouldn't have been. It should've been their business, so I think he definitely was portrayed a little -- you know, worse than he actually is as a person.
Reality TV World: So when Jesse had that big blow-up fight with Ken at the Couples Choice Ceremony, did you take Jesse's side or did you see Ken's arguments as being equally, if not more so, valid?
Ryan Smith: Yeah I mean, they both had valid points, but I definitely was leaning more towards Jesse just because I had kind of gotten to know him a little bit better. I understood the situation. I understood what was going on. Ali picked [Benjamin Clark], but Jesse knew that Ben and [Michelle Sacco] shared this connection.
So in fact, Jesse could've gone home, but that would've ruined Ben and Michelle's chance of getting to know each other better. And so, instead, he did the right thing and picked Michelle. He had no interest in romantically getting to know Michelle. He did that for a single reason.
Reality TV World: Looking back to earlier in the season, why did you decide to keep Natalie Korzon over Summer Mack earlier in the season? And Summer seems to have gone through a few partners leading up to pairing up with "Chase" Aaron Chase. So why do you think that was? Do you think she was just trying to get to know all the guys better?
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Ryan Smith: There was a lot of strategy going on that's kind of behind-the-scenes with that ceremony. Summer and I, we were better as friends and we kind of understood that from moments after the challenge, I think, was the time when we were both kind of on the same page.
And then I had this attraction towards Jenna. And like I said, keeping Natalie at that point was just more of a strategic [move] rather than a favoritism over Summer or her, if that makes sense.
Reality TV World: Okay, so it didn't really have much to do with the connection you were feeling towards Natalie at all?
Ryan Smith: Um, not so much. Looking back, I definitely wish I would've kept Natalie over everyone, because I was definitely attracted to Natalie, and even more so attracted to her personality and just kind of the person she is. But I was blinded by another girl and that kind of led me astray. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Based upon what I've learned from your fellow contestants, it was obviously Ken and Yanina Beccaria who seemed to be the best match and had the biggest potential to make it as a couple. However, while you were on the show, which couple did you see having the best chances of actually winning Love in the Wild? While Ken and Yanina got along great, did you see them being athletic enough and having a strong enough team dynamic to beat everyone else in the last adventure if they made it that far?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, I think Ken and Yanina definitely have one of the strongest in both -- I think last season, I think [Mike Spiro] and [Samantha Woods] got paired up in the very beginning and they ended up winning it, and I think that goes a long way. I think Ken is athletic enough and he's a motivator, and Yanina can hold her own too. So I think, together, they have the tools definitely to go all the way.
Reality TV World: Why did you originally apply to go on Love in the Wild? Were you really looking for love or just a fun experience, the adventure, or maybe a combination of things?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, you know, I think it was a combination of things. Well, first of all, I actually had no real interest in going and doing an experience like this. And so, I was actually approached in a bar and got into a conversation with a lady that worked for a scouting agency, and she said, "Come interview!"
And I'm like, "You know what? Screw it. Like, what an opportunity just to interview!" And obviously, it progressed to me being on the show, and I really went on the show to compete and have a good time and the adventures looked like a blast but also, not necessarily to find love, but to find someone that would be fun to do these adventures with and hopefully develop something. But I never went into it with that sole goal of finding love, I guess.