The American reality stars’ fame rises and falls as fast as Cleveland sports teams. Over a decade ago, hopeless romantics tuned in to watch as one man chose the woman of his dreams on “The Bachelor” and the following year a woman chose the man of her dreams on “The Bachelorette.” Today’s Spotlight Interview, Jamie Otis, was one of these romantics who held hopes of finding her husband on Ben Flajnik’s season of The Bachelor in 2012. When the outcome was not what she intended (think: embarrassing kiss, competing against women instead of choosing her husband out of a group of 25 men), she met and married her now-husband Doug Hehner through the reality TV show, “Married at First Sight”, and is living every girl’s modern American dream.
In between a book tour, and her full-time-superwoman schedule, Jamie had some time this week to sit down with me and share her perspective on dating and marriage, influencer marketing, and living life as a rising social media celebrity. She also shares with us a sneak peek of her book, Wifey 101, and the honest picture of life behind the dream.
ZJ: You and your “hubs” (as you refer to your husband, Doug) are one of the cutest couples and America’s Sweethearts in many people’s eyes. You met him on Married at First Sight, which was America’s reality TV show version of arranged marriages, in a sense. Can you share with us what went through your mind signing up for the show?
JO: When we were casting the show was called “The Love Experiment,” not “Married at First Sight.” The casting producers asked if I was single & having trouble dating in NYC. Well, the answers were “yes” and “yes.” Then they asked if I’d like help from four professionals who are experts in their fields. They would help match you, and as you’re dating they would kind of guide you along. This sounded great to me, so I said “Yes.” It was about a month before our weddings that we found out that it was a show called “Married At First Sight” and it was two weeks before I said “I do” that they called me confirming they had a match for me.
ZJ: Did you have expectations for the outcome of “Married at First Sight,” and have they turned out as you pictured in your mind?
JO: I guess I’m a hopeless romantic because I always hope that the new couples on MAFSA fall in love and stay together, but that hasn’t happened since our season. It’s a bummer because you can see so much potential in some of these couples.
ZJ: It sounds like you juggle a lot at once: wife, reality TV star, nurse, and TV hostess. How do you do it, and do you ever consider giving up nursing for the life of a reality-TV/ social media celebrity?
JO: I absolutely love being a nurse. I work in labor and delivery so you can imagine how rewarding that is. That being said, it’s super HARD work. I’ve had shifts where I go straight from one delivery to the next without a moment to eat or use the bathroom. It takes a toll. I would never give up nursing because I worked way too hard to become a nurse, but I’ve definitely found joy in being a TV host! I’ve also written my very first book, Wifey 101: Everything I Got Wrong After Finding Mr. Right. I’m really excited bc it will be released on June 7th, 2016 and the first chapter is Available for free here.
ZJ: What made you decide to be a contestant on The Bachelor, originally?
JO: Honestly, I hadn’t watched “The Bachelor” before but my roommate was watching “The Bachelorette” and told me that this woman (Ali Fedotowski) was “The Bachelorette” and she got to date 25 different men to see if any would be her perfect man. I thought that sounded awesome and when the commercial came on asking “If you want to date the next bachelor/bachelorette apply here…” I signed up. I was hoping to be the bachelorette. Little did I know I’d have to fight 25 women for the attention of one man on “The Bachelor” instead. Haha.
ZJ: When you did not meet the man of your dreams on The Bachelor, what gave you confidence that other reality TV shows were the answer vs. dating in daily life?
JO: I was never planning on dating on reality TV again. (I definitely embarrassed myself on my first stint on “The Bachelor” and then again on “Bachelor Pad”), but when “The Love Experiment” called and told me there were professionals who were seeking to really change the format of dating, and they were willing to help me (I was terrible at dating!) it intrigued me. I really wanted help dating, and this seemed almost too good to be true.
ZJ: What was your social media presence like before reality TV, and how has it changed since stepping into that world?
JO: I didn’t know how to use social media, aside from Facebook. Now I have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope! That’s a lot of social media feed! I love social media because I really enjoy connecting with our fans. They’re really great people who have been supportive of our unconventional marriage from day one. It’s so sweet!
ZJ: I’m excited about your book release, Wifey 101: Everything I Got Wrong After Finding Mr. Right because it sounds like you get very deep and very personal. What can you share with us about the book?
JO: This is an uncensored book. I go into detail about mistakes I’ve made and obstacles I’ve overcome, both as a wife and well before I even planned on ever being married. My goal is that by sharing my mishaps and difficulties, others will realize they aren’t alone in theirs. I’d love for you to take a peek at my first chapter here.
ZJ: Do you actively work to build your social media presence, or has it grown as a side effect of your celebrity?
JO: I really enjoy engaging with our fans. I’m very active on my social media. Social media began as a job (we “live tweet” for every episode of our show), and it has since grown into a hobby. I post on every platform every single day. I like staying connected. Some “fans” have become great friends. Social media is great!
JO: Doug also enjoys social media! He doesn’t post daily like I do, but we definitely always read all of our comments, tweets, etc. It’s really fun to hear from complete strangers who are so supportive and happy for you. It brings smiles to our faces.
ZJ: I see you are selling precious, romantically-infused jewelry (Spoon Necklaces) on your website, inspired by spooning with your husband. Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur, and do you have plans to grow this aspect of your personal brand?
JO: I never saw myself as an entrepreneur, but I’ve gotta tell you – I LOVE it! It is so much fun to create unique pieces and see how others grow to love them! I recently created a simple “Wifey” necklace and overnight it became a best seller! It is exciting beyond words to own your own business. It’s like having a baby – if you nurture it and care for it, you get to watch it grow!
ZJ: Do you see yourself as a marketer?
JO: I’m definitely a marketer. As a matter of fact, had I not gone into nursing I was toying with the idea of going into marketing. I just find it to be fun and intriguing.
ZJ: Do you see yourself as an “influencer”, and if so, what does that mean to you?
JO: I suppose I am an “influencer” of sorts. I often get tweets asking me about the best beauty products I use or how I style my hair. I do YouTube videos to show my followers how I apply my makeup, etc. I love sharing my tips and tricks because if someone hadn’t shared with me, then I’d never know either. I like paying it forward.
ZJ: Do you market on behalf of brands? Can you share any brands with whom you love working?
JO: I’ve worked with a teeth whitening product. The first thing I ask a brand is to send me their product so I can try it out. If I find it isn’t a good fit for me, then I’ll let them know, but if I fall in love with their brand/products, then I’m more than happy to help promote it. My followers are eager to hear about the next best thing, and I’m more than happy to share the best brands and products with them!
ZJ: When did you begin gaining massive amounts of followers on social media/ blog, and what did you think about it all?
JO: I suppose right at the beginning of “Married At First Sight” I began gaining thousands of followers overnight. People are very intrigued by the choices I’ve made in my life.
ZJ: Who do you most admire in the world?
JO: I love Oprah. I feel like she is such a successful, business-minded lady who loves wholeheartedly and gives back daily. I aspire to be like her.
ZJ: If you were to give someone advice who is thinking about getting into social media and the world of influencing, what would it be?
JO: My best advice is only to promote products you actually love. At the other end of all social media accounts are real people who are eager to get the next best deal/product. And these people follow you because they trust you! Don’t ruin that great relationship you have with your followers for a bit of money promoting a product you don’t know anything about. Get to know the product and make sure you like it before encouraging others to buy it. No one wants to be scammed into buying a useless product, and everyone is smart enough to know the difference between when someone’s passionate about something and when they’re just trying to sell something.
ZJ: If you were going to give someone advice about meeting their partner on reality TV, what would that be?
JO: Ahh, this is a tough one. I guess my best advice is to be open-minded. People meet in strange ways all the time, but no relationship will ever advance if you’re closed minded and second guess everything.
ZJ: General words of wisdom you live by?
JO: Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.
Love with your whole heart and laugh with your whole body. Life is way too short.
ZJ: Favorite quote?
JO: “Don’t put off for tomorrow what can get done today.”
ZJ: What is your favorite thing to do outside of your life in nursing and working as a TV host or reality TV celeb?
JO: I love blogging! I love writing and making my jewelry too. I suppose I’ve turned my hobbies into a bit of a career. But the best careers are the ones when you don’t feel like you’re working at all. I also love horses and animals. I love taking my pups on hikes and long walks, too.
ZJ: Tell me about a time when you impacted someone’s life with your social media content. What was the result?
JO: I’m very honest with my blogs. I am also an open book. But talking about domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other sensitive subjects is tough – So when I released the first chapter of my book sharing intimate details that I’ve never discussed publicly before, I received an overwhelming response from women (and some men) who could relate to the struggles I had gone through. And that’s the goal. For all of us who have been through similar struggles to be able to support and love one another. Life is tough, no doubt. No one should have to bury their struggles and try to fight off the memories alone. Together we can get past the struggles of yesterday so we can live a brighter tomorrow.
ZJ: What is your biggest dream in life?
JO: My biggest dream in life is to be a great mother. I want to be a mommy to a bunch of little kiddos. I want to have a couple with my hubs, and we want to adopt a couple, too.
ZJ: Do you have any upcoming events or announcements you wish to share?
JO: My first book is due out on June 7, 2016. You can read the first chapter for free here.