Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' dating couple C.J. Harris and Lebya Simpson talk (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/06/2015
The Amazing Race eliminated C.J. Harris and his girlfriend Lebya Simpson during the 26th season's second episode Friday night on CBS.
C.J. Harris, a 26-year-old IT technician, and Lebya Simpson, a 25-year-old medical support assistant, were ousted from the race around the world after they arrived at the second Pit Stop in last place. The couple is from Tuskagee, AK. C.J. and Lebya have been dating for 10 years although they've known each other for 15 years.
C.J. and Lebya had started the leg in last place and basically never recovered. It all started with them taking the latest train into Nagano, Japan.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, C.J. and Lebya talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: Now having experienced a couple legs of the Race, how did your expectations of competing on the show differ from what actually happened? And if you were to compete again, would you do anything differently to prepare more?
C.J. Harris: Me personally, I don't know what you could do to prepare yourself for that. You have no idea what you're doing because you just kind of get thrown into it. I definitely would pack lighter! (Laughs) But I don't know about how to prepare. I don't know what you're going to do besides learn a lot of languages. (Laughs)
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, I think we better probably know how to play the game a little bit better. You kind of see how things are just going to go. There's a flow withThe Amazing Race, and I think we kind of got that towards the end. I think people definitely knew how to play this game better. If we were to do it again, I would love to definitely redeem ourselves.
I think we'd do a much better job, and I think people probably underestimated us. We just had a lot of problems, but I think we actually could've done so much better if we hadn't had all these problems. But that's just life. That's life and it's The Amazing Race. You never know what to expect.
Reality TV World: Did you feel the pre-existing couples did have some type of advantage over the blind-dating ones at the start? And knowing how things unfolded -- like how three blind-dating couples finished the first leg in first, second and third place -- do you still feel that same way now?
Lebya Simpson: I definitely -- before we started -- I thought the dating couples had an advantage to the blind dates because we know each other and we know our ins and outs. We know how to work with each other opposed to the dating couples who didn't know anything about each other.
But (laughs) I definitely feel different now. They definitely had an advantage. C.J. made a good point that he knows what buttons to push with me, so he tries not to hurt my feelings, so that probably hurt us a little bit. Whereas the dating couples, they didn't have anything to lose.
They were willing to say whatever because they knew they didn't officially have to go home after with their partner. With me and C.J., we want to move forward in our relationship and eventually get married, so we definitely have more than the dating couples.
Reality TV World: A lot of Race fans were worried the show would be changing its format by implementing this new dating couples twist. Did you guys personally like the twist? Do you think it helps or hinders the entertainment value of the show since it now includes the "date night" stuff and all that?
C.J. Harris: I personally thought it was a pretty unique twist because you need twists since there's been so many seasons of The Amazing Race. Now, the "date night" thing, I'm not too sure. But the blind couples at the starting line, I liked that. I think that's good and certainly makes for one hell of a first date. I think it's good.
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, I definitely agree that it's a great twist. The Amazing Race has been on for 26 seasons. I don't know any other show that has last that long, so with that longevity, you have to have some kind of something to shake things up -- whether fans perceive it positively or negatively.
I think this got fans talking about the show -- people that haven't watched the show in a long time and people that have watched for a long time. So, I think it was a positive thing for The Amazing Race, because it got old fans back that wanted to see something new and it also attracted new fans because they had a new twist to it.
Reality TV World: Which team did you view as potentially being your biggest threat while you were racing, and also, were there any teams in particular you thought you might like to align with down the road?
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, I personally didn't see anybody as a threat. Like I said, The Amazing Race had so many different circumstances that anybody could be eliminated for any reason at any point in time. So, I definitely didn't see anyone as a threat.
As far as people to align with, [Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn] were the people we would have aligned with first. And I hate that they went the first leg and then we went the second leg, but they probably would have been our first pick for aligning with someone.
Reality TV World: How are you guys doing now? What's the status of your relationship, any engagement plans in the works? (Laughs)
Lebya Simpson: We're still together and still working on our relationship. We're just trying to get everything in line. But we do plan on getting married. Isn't that right, C.J.?
C.J. Harris: Yeah, that's true.
Reality TV World: How were you cast onThe Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying to get on the show?
C.J. Harris: Yeah, it was our first time applying. We did it the old fashioned way. We made a video and sent it in.
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, our video was nothing special. I think we were sitting on his bed in his house. (Laughs)
C.J. Harris: We literally just answered the questions, like in interview form.
Lebya Simpson: Right.
Reality TV World: Were you two big fans of the show before competing on it?
Lebya Simpson: I was. I definitely had been watching it for a long time. I thought we'd be great for it, and that's why I was like, "Hey, we should do it!" But I never in a million years thought we would actually get on the show. So it's just amazing. We are so blessed.
To read the first half of C.J. and Lebya's exclusive interview with Reality TV World, click here.