'Married at First Sight' experts match the show's first-ever divorcee and interracial couple for Season 12
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/31/2020
Married at First Sight experts matched the first interracial couple, Clara and Ryan, and the first-ever divorcee, Erik, in the show's history during Lifetime's Wednesday broadcast of Season 12's Married at First Sight: Matchmaking Special.
Wednesday night's Married at First Sight: Matchmaking Special broadcast featured Married at First Sight experts Pastor Calvin Roberson, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, and Dr. Viviana Coles matching five Atlanta-based couples to wed at first sight on the show's twelfth season, which premieres January 13 at 8PM ET/PT.
Of the five couples, Clara, 27, and Ryan, 29, are the only interracial couple.
"I like guys with a little flavor. I am ethnically ambiguous. I have tasted every flavor of the rainbow and I love all men," Clara shared with Viviana.
She later added in a conversation with Pastor Cal, "If you're handsome, you're handsome. I don't care what shade of white, brown, orange, green or purple you are. I love it all!"
Ryan shared how he grew up in a very conservative, rural area and was "always a super minority" in his community. Ryan said his graduating high school class had about 700 students in it and he was "one of 10-15 black kids" in the whole group.
"So my upbringing was predominantly around white people. It taught me a different way to see the world. I've had some great interracial relationships," Ryan explained.
When Pastor Cal, Pepper and Viviana discussed matching Clara and Ryan on the Matchmaking Special, Pastor Cal said he liked Clara for Ryan because he wants a woman who is unique and quirky and they both come from solid families and adore their respective families.
Viviana said they are also both ambitious, goal-driven and strong.
"They are from different races," Viviana acknowledged, "but the two of them have spent the majority of both of their dating lives dating outside of their race."
Viviana's main concern was that Ryan has never told a woman that he loves her before and so she feared he may not be vulnerable on the show. She also noted he lacked dating experience.
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Pastor Cal seemed worried Clara may not be patient enough to break down Ryan's guarded walls, but the expert explained, "I believe he's more afraid of the word than what love is."
"I see them together -- and I'm liking it!" Viviana gushed.
"I am excited about this," Pepper said.
Dating outside of his race, however, has apparently presented Ryan with some challenges in life.
"I have a very distinct memory of being in college and dating a white girl at the time," Ryan recalled.
"An older lady came up to us and said, 'It's not right. It's not right. You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't be with him.' That stuff used to really, really bug me and bother me, but that is not the be all and end all for me."
The Married at First Sight experts also agreed to cast Erik, a 34-year-old who has previously been married and divorced.
"I was married before, but we were together and I was going through Air Force pilot training and I just had so many military commitments that I had to do. I had over two years of training. It was usually five days a week, 15 hours a day," Erik shared.
"After that, I did about three deployments and things started to fall apart. We ended up getting divorced three years ago. Once that relationship ended, I focused on getting to my career goals."
The experts considered Erik's past to be a bit of a red flag when considering whether he should be matched with Virginia, 26.
"He is our first person on Married at First Sight who has been previously married. I'm wondering how you guys feel about this," Pepper said, broaching the subject during the matchmaking process.
"I did ask everyone specifically if they have a problem with being matched with somebody who had been married before, and [Virginia] said she didn't mind," Viviana reasoned.
Married at First Sight's twelfth season was the first to consider divorcees in the casting process, and Pastor Cal expressed how he likes being more open-minded about potential cast members.
"I'm really happy about the fact we are entertaining people who have been married before -- as long as there are no children involved -- because I believe that someone who has been in a marriage and experienced life, they can tend to have more seriousness going forward," Pastor Cal explained.
Pastor Cal said Virginia could use Erik's stability while Erik could use his future bride's energy, and Pepper seemed to think the couple's basic approach to life would be the same.
In the Kick-Off Special airing at 8PM ET/PT, Kevin will sit down with a group of panelists and entertainment reporters to discuss the Married at First Sight franchise, beginning the countdown to Season 12.
The Married at First Sight: Kick-Off Special will feature behind-the-scenes footage of the five Season 12 couples about to get married with never before-seen-moments from the selection process and "previously unreleased secrets from the Married at First Sight experts," according to Lifetime.
The three additional couples who were matched to wed on Season 12 of Married at First Sight are Briana and Vincent, Haley and Jacob, and Paige and Chris.