Lifetime’s Married at First Sight is back with Season 11 and fans are definitely feeling the love! Millions watched with excitement as 28-year-old Bennett Kirschner met (not for the first time) Amelia Fatsi, 27, on their wedding day. The quirky pair became instantly beloved on social media and embraced for their creative expression.
My first interview of the season is with Bennett Kirschner and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.
Why did he decide to marry a stranger? What were his dealbreakers? How did he feel when he recognized Amelia as his bride? And how did the pandemic affect the social experiment?
You will LOVE the entrepreneur’s heartfelt responses to these questions (and much more!) in this exclusive interview. Plus, as a BONUS… you can listen to his band’s newly released single, “Socks Off”!
Here we go…
Why Married at First Sight?
Truth be told, my application for the show was nothing short of serendipity. One day last fall, a casting agent for MAFS called a falafel joint where my dear friend happened to be working front-of-house. She picked up the phone even though it was before they opened. She later told me, ‘I never do that!’
The casting agent asked my friend if she knew anyone who would be a good fit for the show. As a kind of joke, she suggested the casting agent call me! When I answered the phone, the casting agent asked, ‘Did Jean tell you I’d be calling?’ I had no idea who this lady was or what she was calling about, but she was extremely charming.
We ended up talking for over an hour about my history in relationships, what I sought in a lover, and my feelings about marriage. By the end of the phone call, I had signed up for the process. It was complete happenstance.
Thinking back to the beginning of the process, did you have any dealbreakers you shared with the experts?
During the screening process, I made sure the experts knew that I wanted to be with someone who makes sacrifices for the people around them, without ever expecting any kind of recognition or reward in return.
In the past, I’ve fallen pretty hard for self-proclaimed narcissists…people who can be extremely nice, but prove to be unkind. I was thinking a whole lot about the distinction between those words, nice and kind, in the months leading up to this process.
I specifically said that I wanted to be with a kind person. Someone who would gladly make sacrifices for a loved one because their dear ones’ happiness is in-and-of-itself a reward. [I wanted to] avoid, at all costs, a nice person — someone who goes out of their way to do nice things for others, but has ulterior motives.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the bridesmaids coming down the aisle? (Bennett’s mother’s expressions were priceless, by the way.)
I was delighted when I first saw the bridesmaids! It was very easy to tell that these were eccentric people who had no problem being themselves and embracing the absolute dementedness of this situation. I figured this probably meant my soon-to-be bride had a similar mentality.
Let’s talk about your first impression of Amelia and the progression of your thoughts as you realized you had previously met her.
I’m not going to lie. When I first realized I already knew Amelia, the bottom kind of fell out of my stomach. I’d been preparing to get married to a complete and total stranger, but in the blink of an eye — quite literally — that expectation shattered into a million pieces.
My mind started racing as she walked down the aisle: where had we met before? What kind of impression had I made on her? And what the hell is her name?
When the officiant saved me by saying, ‘Bennett, meet, for the first time…Amelia,’ I felt a sense of relief. ‘Okay!’ I thought to myself, ‘At least I got her name!’
As we stood there at the altar, I began to remember that when we had met before, I was completely charmed by her. After all, when we’d met outside of this bizarre context, I was already attracted to this person. The experts were really on to something.
In your vows, you said you would never censor or restrict your feelings of affection in order to elevate or protect yourself. Tell us your lens regarding that statement.
I mean, I obviously wrote those vows for my new wife, but I also wrote them for myself. Going into a marriage, these were the standards that I decided I would like to hold myself to.
Walk us through why you felt it was important to include that in your vows.
I’m lucky enough to be inspired by the expectations that other people have of me. It’s those expectations that inspire me to follow through on my commitments. So in that moment, I stamped those vows into the public consciousness as a way of keeping myself honest and accountable. Amelia had a standard to hold me to, and so did my family and friends.
Pastor Cal believes that you don’t “fall” in love, you “grow” in love. Expound on your philosophy on love and whether you agree with Pastor Cal.
Yeah, I’ve heard Pastor Cal talk about that a few times, and I totally understand what he’s getting at. I do think he’s skipping the first formative stage of most relationships — the stage when you’re all beady-eyed; when anything your lover says or does seems like an act of God, when all you can think about is that one person. Depending on the tenor and texture of the relationship, this sudden infatuation can engulf us like a cool lake or consume us like hot, flowing lava.
In either case, though, it is without a doubt something we always fall into — one second, it’s not there, and then the next, out of nowhere, it’s all there is. But once we’ve gotten used to our love and that period of newness wears off, then Pastor Cal’s period of growth begins.
His singular focus on ‘growing in love’ feels particularly pertinent in the case of MAFS…or for that matter, any arranged marriage — because the falling may never happen. But regardless of whether or not it does, the growing will still be a necessary stage for the relationship to have a sustainable long-term future.
There are men that would be intimidated by finding out their partner just graduated from med school. How did you feel about that when you first heard it from Amelia?
I was delighted when I found out Amelia had just graduated med school. It demonstrated her ambition and her passion for serving others.
This social experiment is very difficult under more normal conditions. What are some ways the pandemic challenged the experiment and your life, in good ways and in bad?
You’re totally right to assume that the challenges of the pandemic were a mixed bag! In one way, the isolation was difficult. We spent almost all of our time together in a relatively small apartment, with almost no green space to enjoy.
But in another way, it was something of a relief. For the first time in our relationship, we had some respite from the constant cacophony of the cameras and the microphones and the producers asking intimate questions about our love life that hadn’t even occurred to us. We could finally be alone for an extended period of time, free from the hustle and bustle.
You’ve lived such an interesting life. Can you share an accomplishment you are the most proud of and why?
I’m extremely proud of the theatre company I founded in New Orleans and the many original plays that we have created together and produced.
Also, on separate occasions over the course of the past five years, I have found and wrangled two unleashed dogs on busy New Orleans streets whose temporary monikers were Judge Perez (named after the street) and Isaiah.
[They] were found sauntering against traffic during rush hour. In both cases, the dogs had collars on. After a few days of fostering them and searching for their owners, I was able to return the pups to their rightful homes.
As an avid music lover myself, I’m intrigued by your music. Can you enlighten us about your band?
Yeah! Thanks for asking! My band is a 12-piece pop-funk outfit called, TV Pole Shine that has been playing original music all over New Orleans since 2016.
What is your inspiration for making music?
I’m inspired to make and perform music for the same reason that I’m inspired to make theatre: it’s fun to perform; it’s even more fun to rehearse; and each step of the creative process brings people together.
Whenever we play at any given dive bar in New Orleans, the whole place tends to descend into a sweaty, smiling mess. As far as I’m concerned, there are few greater joys in life!
Do you have any new music coming out and if so, how can we find it?
We have a new EP, “Socks Off,” that just came out about a week ago — you can find it on bandcamp or any popular streaming platform.
In closing, share something we can look forward to seeing this season with you and Amelia.
There’s some great music over the course of the season! Amelia writes and performs a song for me, and two of my dear friends come and perform their music on one of our dates.
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Feature Photo Credit: Mike Lirette Photography