Our editor, Kevin Bourne, recently interviewed Jessica Castro, one of the stars from Season Two of the reality show Married At First Sight. They talked about her experience on the show and what she’s been up to since.
Kevin: So starting with the show. Just to give some listeners the background of the show, the show is Married at First Sight and in Season One (or throughout all the seasons), a team of experts would pair two individuals that they thought would make a good match and those two individuals would meet at the altar and determine at the altar whether they wanted to marry that particular individual. And so Jessica was on Season One [correction: Season Two], probably one of the more popular contestants on the the show I would say. And so today we’re just chatting about the show and what she’s been up to since then.
So first of all what led to your decision to even go on the show?
Jessica: So two years prior, I was in a relationship for seven years, kind of on and off, and we got engaged and then we moved in together. So we obviously started planning for the wedding and then things just really went not the way that I hoped. We split. So for two years I was single, getting myself together, and asking, “How did this happen?”, “Why did this happen to me?” At the end of the day, I’m a hopeless romantic so I was just working, living by myself and just trying to pick up the pieces of my puzzle, and trying to put them back together.
I got an e-mail actually. Because I was in entertainment since my early twenties. I did some modeling and some acting so I get tons of castings and auditions all the time. This one kind of stuck out to me a little bit, because it was kind of like The Bachelor, but with a twist. At that time I didn’t know what the twist was and I was like, “Alright, well I’m single and it’s been two years now”. I was going on dates in those two years, but no one was really catching my attention, or maybe I just wasn’t into it. It just kind of sounded like something right up my alley and I’m like, “I’m single. I live alone. I make great money. You know, I really am just missing just that one piece of the puzzle”, and so I decided to go in for the open call. Actually, when this happened they were actually casting for Season One which was going to be on FYI only. And you know, I went through the whole process. Well, first they explained what exactly the show was. If they to find your so-called “perfect match”, you’ll meet that person the day of your wedding and we’re all just like, “Ugh”.
Jessica: You mean I have to marry this person? And I tell you women just started running out the door; it was pretty hysterical. I think the room was…I can’t really recall exact number; maybe 40 women. And I think it may have dropped down to like 15-20. And then they showed us a clip, because the show actually started in Dutch and they wanted to bring it to the U.S. and so they had a clip of how it was airing over there and then women still kept walking out the door.
I mean, why not? This could be my fairytale ending, you know what I’m saying? Or start, so to speak, and so they gave me 24 hours to fill out the application because at first I was like, “I want to, but I really have to consult with my parents” because I’m really close to my parents, especially my mom. She knows everything and she’s like, “Uh, no”(laughing) and my friends were like, “Yes! Do it!” I’m like, “I’m going to sign it anyway” (laughing). And then I kind of like signed it behind her back a little bit and I went through the whole process but they didn’t match me. And then Season Two was when I was actually matched.
Jessica: My season was actually Season Two, but it aired on A&E and FYI so it was on two networks at the same time. So Season Two was when it really became a more powerful show on TV.
Jessica: At the end of the day, I just want to fall in love and start a family. For me, I was like, “This could be it. I mean, what do I have to lose?” At that time in my life, I mean, I really had nothing to lose. So I went for it.
Kevin: And so you’re probably one of the more well-known people from the show. Do you still get recognized in public?
Jessica: You know what? I do. It’s very rare just because this March actually made three years since the show actually aired. So it’s very rare and it happens at the most weirdest times. It actually happened last week at my job. I work now full-time for a non-profit here in Brooklyn and I was on the elevator and a woman got on and she looked at me and she says, “Wait, are you from that show?” and I was like, “Yeah” (laughing) and it’s super random because we both work in the same building in different departments so we’ve never seen each other. Yes, that was super random. It’ll happen every so often. Not as often as when the show actually aired or after everything really blew up.
Kevin: Now as a fan, I think the show is almost like therapy for people. Like when my wife and I were watching, we were kind of in a little bit of a rough patch and so every week we’re kind of like, “Okay, we’re going to sit down for our counseling here and watch Married at First Sight” (laughing). There’s certain moments where you guys would say something and I’d look at her like, “Yeah, you heard that?” So for you personally were there any lessons that took away from the whole experience?
Jessica: Absolutely! You know, it’s great that you say that because we heard that from a lot of a couples whether it be through messages on social media, or in person when they recognize us, they always said that we did have a lot of couples watching it and they gained a lot of experience, not only from us but from the experts as well because there were certain activities and homework that they made us do that other couples went and did it themselves. So what I know for me personally, my biggest downfall, and it was all over every episode, was my communication or lack thereof. And that was my upbringing. Whenever there were issues I just swept them under the rug and they kind of escalated and blew up in our face. So that was the one thing that I did struggle with. And I will say that from that I’ve learned to become such a better communicator, whether it’s with friends or family or a significant other. I do have my moments where I struggle because…that’s just how I always lived my life. I’m still learning that it’s okay to speak your mind because the person doesn’t know what’s going on in your head and it’s not therapeutic to keep it in because when you do blow up, it could be days or weeks or even months later after the situation has already happened. So for me, communication was definitely something that I learned from that process.
Kevin: Okay. So now moving on from the show, I saw recently on your Instagram you had posted a picture of J Lo.
Jessica: Yes (laughing).
Kevin: As a Latina woman, what does she mean to you? Is she kind of like your inspiration as a Latina woman?
Jessica: You know, my inspiration is my mom, without a doubt number one. She’s strong, she’s fierce. She’s been through a lot and she still does everything with a smile on her face. And she treats the world super kind and I think that’s why people quite honestly truly adore her, but JLo in the aspect of now being a mommy and having all these businesses under her belt; she’s an actor, she’s a singer, performer. Again, like I said she’s a mommy you know and now she’s found a relationship and she still has…it seems (I don’t know her) but it seems that she knows how to manage her time, her life, her kids, her relationship, her businesses, and for me, she’s the epitome of a strong, fierce, Latina because I’ve watched interviews where she stated that people were like, “You’re not good enough to be an actress” or “You’re not good enough to be a dancer”. And she was like, “Watch me!” and she went for it even though doors were being shut in her face. She still went for it and she tried and she proved a lot of people wrong. She never let no get in the way of her success. She still went for things and for me it’s all about going for what you want. And I see her as just that. For me, again, she’s just the epitome of a strong, fierce, badass Latina (laughing).
Kevin: So you talked about going after what you want. For you, what have you been up to since the show?
Jessica: Yeah. So you know, again, when the show aired and everyone’s like, “Oh my god, now she’s trying to be an actress” and “Now she’s trying to be this”, what a lot of people didn’t know was I was already in entertainment. I had already done some acting, I had already done some modeling. When I decided to do Married at First Sight, it had nothing to do with being anyone but myself and really just being true to me and true to what I want and that was wanting to fall in love and start a family. So there were many times where I had to explain that to people, but then I got tired of that. People are going to think what they want to think regardless. And so that was just a part of my process and my life. And then once I did that, I continued to be in the arts and I tried to do acting full-time and it just, it’s a tough industry. And God bless anyone and everyone who is in it and who is super successful. For me it became a point where I feel I got to an age where it’s not getting easier and it’s not paying my bills, going to auditions is not paying my bills, so I had to figure out what it is that I enjoy doing and what it is that’s really going to make me happy.
Honestly, it took a long time to figure it out. But I was glad to be a part of a non-profit organization which is here in Bushwick, which is where I’m from. I was raised here for over 30 years so I have a passion for it and it’s really helping people within the community and all five boroughs. Just really getting back on your feet and I realize they do a lot. When Puerto Rico hit, I have a lot of family there and they were doing their first relief trip. I wanted to be a part of that and I was very blessed that they sponsored me. So I was able to be on the ground after the storm, two months literally after the storm hit for five days to help give back, whether that was cleaning out homes, getting food and water. I was even able to see my family and spend a day with them, give them their needs, and everyday essentials. I also give back now. I’m a mentor for a teenage girl based out of the Bronx and I think that’s super important because coming from a home, or even just the background of my neighborhood as being rough,especially in the 80s, Bushwick was not what it is now, a whole different culture. Growing up in the ’80s was not easy.
Kevin: Not to cut you off. I saw that you were in the Complex documentary about Bushwick.
Jessica: Yes, it’s so crazy how that happened. I actually used to have a friend who is from the neighborhood. He’s a writer and director and he cast me in my very first short film so we became really close friends and he was like, “I know these guys from Complex magazine. They’re casting for a short film and you should come because you’re perfect for the role” and I’m like, “Alright great”. So I went in and we start talking to the guy and after my audition and I’m like, “I’m from Bushwick. I’m very proud of where I’m from and I say it to people all the time”. People are like, “You’re from Bushwick; the new Bushwick?” and I’m like, “No, no sweetheart. The 80’s Bushwick” (laughter).
People get really intrigued by that and these guys are like, “Oh my god. Wwe’re wrapping up a documentary. However, we need a family who is still in Bushwick, who has been there from the 80’s” and I’m like, “Oh my god, this is right up my alley”. So that’s how that came about. I didn’t get the role for the short film, but they put me in the documentary just because I’m from Bushwick. So that was really random but super great because the documentary was a success. That’s how that happened (laughing). But I’m always super proud of telling people where I come from. And so for me it’s super important to give back because I know what it’s like to not have that much (and not someone that I can look up to because I did have my mom and at that time I did have some amazing people in my life). But sometimes when you’re especially bullied as a kid, you feel like you can’t open up to family members and so you really don’t and you hold it in until it becomes…you become a danger to yourself. And I was one of those kids. I was bullied and I didn’t tell anyone. And so I know what that feels like. And so I think that it’s super important to give back in being a mentor to young kids. I actually just found out yesterday I was in the process of being a mentor for a high school kid who is prepping for college. I’ve been doing a census program and I just found out yesterday that I got accepted…
Kevin: Oh nice.
Jessica: …that I’ll be mentoring another child. I’m excited about that.
Kevin: Awesome. That’s good. Good for you for using the platform you have to give back like that.
Jessica: Yeah. You know it’s…I honestly didn’t think that this would be my life because I thought that from the show it would be something different, but the man up above had different plans for me. So I’m right in his wings (laughing).
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. And I saw at one point you were doing some modeling. Are you still modeling?
Jessica: You know, I will do things here and there. I have companies who reach out to me and they want me to like the product. I model for a company called Real Her makeup. I really love it because all of the products have affirmations on them. And for me that’s super important because after I went through everything that I went through with the show and afterwards, and because of that person, I really kind of lost myself and affirmations became really big because I started reading a lot of self-love books and self-help and attending workshops. And I started receiving tons of messages from women all over the world saying that I was an inspiration and I’m like, “No way!” (laughing) I’m just sharing a portion of my life that I didn’t ever think would happen. So, you know that was another thing that actually transpired from the show. Being an inspiration for all these women. But you know, modelling was something that I started at a young age and is something that I absolutely love to do. If I could do it full-time I would. Unfortunately, that’s just not what’s was happening so I do it when I can. I have an agent. I have a manager. I have a whole team. And so when the right project comes along, and it’s for me, then it happens. But it’s always going to be a side joy of mine. I love being in front of the camera. I love being me in front of the camera. I wish I could do that full-time (laughing). Really, I’m just going with the flow right now.
Kevin: Yeah. Now just a few light questions.What are you listening to music wise?
Jessica: I listen to a lot of Reggaeton. Being Puertorican and being from the island, I listen to a lot of J. Balvin and Maluma. I think that for a really long time, Reggaeton was a thing and it kind of like simmered down a little bit, but I feel like now it’s like really ? and there’s so many amazing artists. We still have Romeo Santos and Prince Royce, but I will say that I came across someone two weeks ago on Pandora and I am highly obsessed with her music and really her (laughs). Her name is Karol G. She has a song out called “Pineapple” which…it’s just a summer hit. I feel like the video is amazing. It’s very Caribbean; you want to dance. And then of course we have JLo who just came out with her new hit song, “El Anillo”. I don’t know if I actually said that right, but yeah that one too (laugh).
Kevin: And the last question. So what’s next for you? Like the rest of 2018 and beyond 2018? Is there anything you would like to do or anything that you kind of have in the works that you can share?
Jessica: Yeah. Growing up there were certain things that I wanted that I didn’t get as far as career wise, and so I feel like there’s always something amazing happening in my life without me even realizing it. Such as me working for a non-profit right now to really helping people who are not in the right state of mind or their living situations, and I really just want to see where this can take me. I know that there’s a lot of growth within the company and so I’m excited. I’ve only been here for four months; I just made four months last week. And I’m still learning a lot and I’m learning a lot about myself. So I just want to continue to do that and continue to give back to Puerto Rico. It’s been eight months and most of the island has still been without power. So you know that for me is really hard because I have family members who are on the island still struggling. It breaks my heart. I know that we will be back in June for a second trip and then we’re hoping and praying for August, if not September for a third trip. And so we’re just going to continue to help the people on the island as much as I can. You know it holds dear to my heart. And just continuing to inspire people just being myself. I never try to be someone that I’m not. When I’m struggling people know. When I’m happy people know. When I’m going through things in life people know. And I just want people to know that it’s okay. Not everyone’s life is perfect even though I’ve been on a factual documentary series doesn’t mean that I’m living a fabulous life because, trust me, it’s not fabulous (laughing). I still struggle like everyone else. I still go through my ups and downs like everyone else. I just want people to know that. Life is a process and I’m still working on mine every single day and so I’m just taking things as they come and going with it. I would love to eventually write a book on my experience…yeah I would love to even start something in the business. Like I said write a book and start a makeup line and these are things that I’ve tried to start; it just wasn’t the right timing. So I’m done forcing things and just kind of being Jessica and going with it and enjoying the ride along the way.
Kevin: And where can people find you? People who aren’t following you yet, where can they find you online?
Jessica: Yeah sure. Instagram. Pretty much all across social media platforms. So Instgram is @msjcastro. Twitter @ms_castro. Facebook is jessicastromafs, short for Married At First Sight, and Snapchat is just @msjcastro. So yeah, I don’t have a website because social media is such a huge platform. I took advantage of that.
Kevin: Yeah. Thank You so much for your time.
Jessica: Yeah. Thank you.
Kevin: Yeah, I wish you luck with all your ventures and I’m happy to see you using your celebrity – I’ll say “celebrity” – for good (laughing).
Jessica: Sounds weird (laughing). It sounds so weird because people are like, “Oh, you’re a celebrity”. And I’m like, No, I’m not (laughing) but thank you, I really appreciate it. I love that I can continue to speak on what I’m doing. I don’t want people to be like, “Oh my god, she’s still talking about the show? Like, get over it already”. I tell people I’m over it, but it doesn’t mean that I stop speaking on my experience, cecause at the end of the day whether I like it or not, it has been a part of my life journey. If I can continue to help another woman 10,000 miles across from New York then why not do that.