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Lauren Speed Reveals The Hardest Part Of Loving Cameron Hamilton

I had to learn how to be a wife ...

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As a person who rarely watches TV and doesn't get into a lot of shows, especially reality TV, I've been seriously pondering over what made me so invested in Netflix's #LoveIsBlind series.

The show was set up as a social experiment where they took 30 women and men, cut them off from the real world, and set them up on rounds of speed dating for 14 days to see if strong connections would be made. At the end of the 14 days, six couples walked out of the pods engaged, and they were whisked off to Mexico where they would spend time with each other for the first time. Only five couples made it out of Mexico, and they were thrust back into the real world to take on the task of meeting each other's friends and family and having to explain that they were in love and would be getting married in less than 30 days to someone they had just met just two weeks prior.

Whew chile, the mess of it all, but I couldn't stop watching!

After watching a cringe-worthy scene that involved the only black man that got shine on the show yelling at his fiancee, "That's why I don't date b*tches like you," a crass statement made after she couldn't quite process that he forgot to tell her he dated both men and women, I had little hope that a sista was going to make it out of this with a love story she could tell for ages.

But then there was breakout star Lauren Speed, who reminded me that the seemingly impossible was indeed possible.

The Detroit-bred, Atlanta transplant reeled me in from Episode 1 with her charming exchange with her soon-to-be real-life Prince Cameron Hamilton. By day two of the experiment, they were crying together and completely smitten over one another (while separated by walls mind you) and she became the first woman to get engaged.

Although I was rolling my eyes during the "I love you's" in the first episode, I was wiping my eyes by the finale. If I for one moment doubted Cameron loved Lauren before ever seeing what she looked like in Episode 1, all doubts were erased by Episode 9 as he never wavered, and tirelessly proved his love for her scene after scene.

It's not hard to see why there's so much hype around this couple, who has single-handedly driven the show to an international phenomenon. Here, we see Lauren, the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic, who is extremely independent, vocal about the plight of black people and the importance of a strong black family structure, fall for a man she wouldn't have otherwise dated under different circumstances. And he, too, was smitten throughout every single scene as she showed up as her full, authentic self (rocking a bonnet to bed on their first night together and all), and reassured everyone who would listen that he had landed the most beautiful woman in the world and he couldn't believe he was so lucky.

I hate to admit it, but this show made me believe in love again.

It made me wonder, what would life be like if you took away the distractions of social media, the followers, the titles, the accomplishments, the ability to Google and do your background searches, the doubtful opinions of family and friends, and able to date and fall for someone purely off of their character, soul and spirit with physical being an afterthought? Love in its purest form.

Last week, I caught up with Lauren and Cameron at the Love Is Blind finale party and they seemed even more in love than when they said their "I do's" in November 2018. I was curious to know how the marriage was working out for them after the honeymoon stage had worn off, and from the looks of things, they are proof that love is truly blind.

Here's what they told us:

xoNecole: You guys have received a tremendous reaction to the show as well as yourselves as a couple, what has been the most surprising reaction so far?

Cameron: Shonda Rhimes! It was awesome to see her tweeting about this show and saying that she was waiting on edge, just as we had been waiting on edge to see shows like Scandal.

Lauren: Yeah! It was awesome to see she was team Lameron. The love and support that we are receiving for our relationship is amazing.

How much did your family and friends know about the process when you were taping the show?

Lauren: Basically, our parents knew that we were going on a dating show that could possibly lead to an engagement or marriage. So, there were 10 days, or two weeks, where you couldn't talk to your friends or family. We were supposed to take those two weeks and focus on each other as a couple and the relationship. So, after we completed the show, it was like, "Hey mom and dad, I found somebody and I'm engaged." They were like, "What the hell? What do you mean you found somebody?" Then you had to explain to them that I met this person and I'm in love and it's kinda like…that's when things get a little…

Cameron: Yeah, they were skeptical on both Lauren and I's side. "We don't know about this, it sounds kind of sketchy..."

Lauren: Which is understandable.

Cameron: My parents advised me not to do it but I just had a feeling that it was the right thing for me to do.

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​While watching, I felt like the cast was given questions or prompts from the producers that helped move the relationship along. I think naturally when you first meet someone, you are afraid to go deeper on the first few dates, but you guys had to go deep pretty quickly. So, what do you think were some of the questions that really helped you to get to know him on a deeper level and vice versa?

Lauren: For me, when I asked him when was the last time that he cried. That's the type of stuff, like do you ask that on a date? No, not really. But that can tell a lot about a person. What makes you cry? What's important to you? What motivates you to get up in the morning? What are you scared of? What are your fears? Those types of things can tell a lot about a person, about their lifestyle, and their personality. So yeah, those are the type of questions I was asking. I went for the jugular with the deep stuff.

"What makes you cry? What's important to you? What motivates you to get up in the morning? What are you scared of? What are your fears? Those types of things can tell a lot about a person, about their lifestyle, and their personality. So yeah, those are the type of questions I was asking. I went for the jugular with the deep stuff."

Cameron: Yeah, we were asking questions like, What are things you have done that you are not proud of? What are your deepest fears? What really drives you? Where do you envision yourself being in five years?

Lauren: Yes, life plans.

Cameron:How do you want to raise kids? Do you believe in spanking?

Lauren: Yes!

Cameron: We are on the same page about that!

After getting married and living together, what did you guys learn about yourselves?

Lauren: A lot! Whew, you're about to make me get deep. Cameron's parents were married for 33 years and my parent's marriage ended in divorce. So for me, I haven't had an example of a successful marriage and what it means to be a successful wife to a husband. I had to learn how to be a wife and I had to learn to be a partner. I've been living independently for so long that I hadn't really evolved that part of myself. I had to learn to really grow and learn how to partner with someone.

"Cameron's parents were married for 33 years and my parent's marriage ended in divorce. So for me, I haven't had an example of a successful marriage and what it means to be a successful wife to a husband. I had to learn how to be a wife and I had to learn to be a partner. I've been living independently for so long that I hadn't really evolved that part of myself. I had to learn to really grow and learn how to partner with someone."

Cameron: Yeah, we had to learn how to be together as a team on a daily level. Even that kind of minute, boring stuff—or how to keep things exciting when you both are working from home all the time and you know, not get tired of seeing each other. Giving each other space when you need to, but also have romance, go out on dates and all of that kind of stuff too.

So, did you keep your apartment?

Lauren: NO…

You know we noticed that background from the house tour in your Instagram photos…

Lauren: We got married and I kept it for three months, so that was a little transitional period. So, I would go over there sometimes and come back, but after the three months, I was like, you know if we are going to do this, let's do this. I'm all in.

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I heard Michelle Obama talking about Barack and she said I hate the way he chews. So, what gets on your nerves that you guys do to each other? Can you share that?

Lauren: Ohhhh…

Cameron: I've got something too, but go ahead.

Lauren: Okay, I can't stand when Cameron leaves dishes around the sink. All you have to do is rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. It's nothing serious.

Cameron: I was going to say, you don't know how to load a dishwasher. There is no rhythm or reason to it, she just kind of throws it in there.

Lauren: At least it's in there…

Did it take the time you had in the apartment to figure this out or was this after you got married?

Lauren: He was like, "No, the cups go on the top and you have to rinse it before you put it in there." Probably after moving in, once you start to share space, then you are like, ohhh, he does this like this…

Cameron: Well, you know, I think the things that we work on, and have worked on, are things I would assume all married couples would work on. Despite the fact that the experiment was unorthodox, I mean we are a normal married couple in most respects. I'd like to think we have a healthy marriage and we're not perfect but we work through the things and I think that's the biggest part. We communicate, even though at times that we don't want to. We talk about it and we work through it.

"Despite the fact that the experiment was unorthodox, I mean we are a normal married couple in most respects. I'd like to think we have a healthy marriage and we're not perfect but we work through the things and I think that's the biggest part. We communicate, even though at times that we don't want to. We talk about it and we work through it."

For more Lauren and Cameron, follow them on Instagram! And check out the Love Is Blind reunion, currently available on Netflix.


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Featured image via Netflix

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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