Jasmine McGriff’s story is a familiar one. The 29-year-old Philadelphia native is an independent woman, successful in business. She owns her own home, has tight-knit bonds with her family and friends, but she feels as though she’s missing out on one very important thing: the love of a romantic partner. Following the end of her last serious relationship a few years ago, McGriff found her (possible) solution to meeting her match while watching TV at her parents’ house. They were watching Married at First Sight, and she was intrigued. The risks were obvious, but the possible reward was what pushed her to eventually apply to be on the show.
McGriff is set to share her journey to marriage and then love when Season 8 premieres tonight on Lifetime. And while she’s nervous about how people will react and the way in which things may work out, she’s hopeful that the experiment will uncover her Barack Obama — according to her show profile.
We spoke with McGriff about being “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of dating in Philly, what her parents thought about their daughter taking part in a show they watch, and why being matched to marry a stranger sounded like a good idea to her.
MadameNoire: What were your dating experiences like in Philly?
Jasmine McGriff: I was in a serious relationship a few years ago and was devastated but resilient after we split. I tried different dating apps with no luck, all of the men I was interested in turned out to be losers or liars and I don’t accept either! Nobody has time for that!
How did you find out about Married at First Sight and were you a fan of the show before?
I actually watched the show before at my parents’ house. My mom was watching it and told me the premise of the show. I thought it was definitely a HUGE risk, but thought it was kind of cool that experts pick out your mate. Takes a lot of the footwork out of it for those of us who are sick and tired of being sick and tired with the dating scene.
What was the one major thing that motivated your decision to try out for the show?
Honestly, talking with many of my single friends, we all were having the same issues with dating. I thought the process had to help and would find me a handsome, professional man that may be so focused in life that he wouldn’t have time to be on dating apps. I was very hopeful that I made myself clear about I who wanted to marry.
Were you nervous about being on TV and having to open up about certain private things? The sex life of the couples is often discussed, and if your parents tune in, I’m sure that can be awkward.
I was definitely nervous about being on TV and how I looked. I watch some reality shows and I see how stories can get twisted. And then there’s social media. People judge you whether it’s good or bad. I’m a pretty open person though so talking about sex didn’t freak me out as much; but I know my parents will be watching [laughs].
When you got the news that you were matched, how did you prepare for your wedding day? How does one mentally prepare to marry a stranger?
Once I got over the utter shock, I prepared by doing the normal running around one would do for their wedding. Hair, nails, last-minute things. I was going crazy but I was relaxed mentally! It literally didn’t hit me that I was marrying a stranger until the day of the wedding.
Your parents’ relationship is what you reference when it comes to relationships you look up to. What did they think about your decision to do MAFS?
My mom knew that I initially applied for the show but she didn’t know that I was still going through the process. It took months! My dad on the other hand had no idea about the show so he was shocked and very unhappy with such an untraditional process.
What would be your response to people who claim that going to these lengths, specifically marrying someone you’ve never met, is “desperate”?
I think to each his or her own when it comes to Married at First Sight. If having every inch of your life taped for the world to judge is desperate, so be it! I am not a person who did this show for fame, I was very honest in my search to find a real relationship. I signed up for marriage, and the gamble to find a lifelong partner may be worth it. Arranged marriages have been around for centuries and still happen in other cultures. And we’ve seen it work many times in the MAFS sphere.
Married at First Sight Season 8, set in Philadelphia, will feature four couples for the first time. It will premiere January 1 with a Matchmaking Special at 8 p.m. on Lifetime. The special will be followed by a two-hour premiere at 9 p.m.