Exclusive Interview with Too Close to Home’s Brad Benedict

Interview, Pop Culture, Television

This article was originally written for Talk Nerdy With Us.


Photographer: E-Studios Photography;  Groomer: Andrea Pezzillo; Stylist: Gabriel Langenbrunner

Talk Nerdy With Us had the chance to talk with Brad Benedict, who is one of the stars of TLC’s first scripted drama “Too Close to Home.” Brad talks about how he got into acting, his character JB, and his love of international travel.

Tell me about how you got into acting?

As a kid, I always loved to the center of attention, the showboat. I was the youngest of four siblings, so I think that was kind of born into me. My first acting job or acting experience was in high school. I was more of a jock, and I had an older sister who was in the high school musical and they did Grease. I was just so fascinated with her work and so inspired by her as my older sister that I tried out for Bye Bye Birdie, the spring musical, the next year. I ended up getting the leading role in that. I had to sing four songs and do dances and all of that. (laughs) That was the first time I really ever acted officially.

From there, growing up in Georgia, I didn’t think the Hollywood life was something you could truly get to. It [was] kind of a fantasy world. I just had a chance encounter with the person who worked out here in casting when I was in college. So I decided even though I was studying as a finance major, I was going to come out [to LA] after college, after I had a degree, and give the business my best shot. My studying as an actor, happened after I moved out to LA. I tried to get different acting teachers and other actors and really learn more about the craft.

After you moved to LA, what was your first professional acting job?

I believe it was a movie called Letters to God. It was a Christian film, and I was able to nab a small role as a young kids’ soccer coach. The story was about a boy who had cancer, and the family uses their faith to get through it, and I was the young boy’s soccer coach. I got to fly to Orlando for that, and I just had one scene. I put on an Australian; I think it was supposed to be English, accent but it turned out everyone was like, “Dude! I loved your Australian accent.” (laughs) I was like, “Yeah. Great. I was totally trying to be Australian.”

That was my first time getting a speaking role in either a movie or a TV show. It’s so funny to think back. I was terrified. You over think every single word that comes out of your mouth. It’s just funny to think about how different it feels when I’m on the set.

When did you move out to LA? How long ago was that?

I moved to LA at the very end of January 2008. I graduated college a semester early, in three and a half years and I had a job offer from a big Wall Street banking firm. But, I wanted to have a shot at experiencing Hollywood for a little bit. So I graduated school early, came out to LA, and the day before I was supposed to report to that job, I called them up and said, “I’m sorry guys. I’m going to try to be an actor.” (laughs) I’ve been here, in January, it will be nine years, and it’s been a very interesting, tumultuous at times, ride. But, I don’t regret the decision ever, even a little bit. I’m always encouraging friends to make the scary, challenging decisions in life because I feel rewarded for doing that.  

What would you say is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

A very simple one: activity breeds activity. It’s easy sometimes as an actor to sit and wait for things to come to you. I think being proactive instead of reactive, simply I guess [in terms of] that’s the business mindset of it, you got to go out there and make things happen. You have to go out there and create your own projects, be in classes, meet other actors, say yes to as much as you can.

As far as the creative side of acting goes, I’ve been lucky to meet Kevin Spacey, we play tennis together, and I asked him what his number one piece of advice would be for me. He told me that your only job as an actor is to service the writer and never to think or worry about your appearance or how you might look on camera or how people perceive you. You can only service the writer and try to tell the story that they put on the page. I think that that has been a precious piece of advice that I’ve tried to implement more and more.

If you had to give advice to anyone aspiring to be an actor, would that be the advice you would give them or would you tell them something else? What would you tell them if you would tell them something else?

Well, from a business perspective, absolutely I would try to make them remember that you have to go and be a go-getter and that it’s not going to come easy and that if it does, it’s an anomaly. You have to put in the work, and the energy and work that you put into your career and craft will inevitably have to come out the other end someway. I would encourage people to stay positive and work hard and remember that they are doing something that they have chosen, that they love.

From a more creative perspective, I still feel as if I’m a baby actor in the sense that I personally want to continue to develop so much more. I would tell that to a young actor: get around people who you trust, try to spend as much time acting as you possibly can, and hone in on the craft. You have to let the art happen. People call acting and film making an “art,” which I think there is an aspect of art to it, but I think first you have to learn the craft of it and then you can let the art happen once you get on the set and in the rehearsal space.

Let’s briefly talk about you are as a person. What are you doing when you’re not acting?

Oh heck (laughs). There is a lot of things but I’ve always had a huge interest in music, so I do some songwriting and jamming and things like that. Nothing professionally yet but someday I hope to get an opportunity to play some sort of musician as an acting role, but it’s definitely a big hobby. I’ve always been big into fitness. After college, after I lost my competitive outlet as a collegiate tennis player, I tried to put my energy into other things that I can now challenge myself instead of competing with others. Just two weeks ago, I joined a yoga studio, and I’ve been trying that out, and I’ve definitely been humbled by that experience, but it’s been fun. I love scuba-diving whenever I get the chance. It’s not always the easiest when you don’t get to travel, but I got certified a couple of years ago, and I’ve always been fascinated with the oceans and those ecosystems in general.

A lot of time you spend you’re just trying to get the next job. I’m currently working on a cartoon, so a big portion of my off time when I’m not acting is developing my own projects. My most recent one is finishing up a web series that I’ve been creating for several years now, and it’s called The Hollywood Box. It’s set in the world of competitive fitness, and that’ll be hopefully out to the world in the next couple of months here. I’m also now developing a comedic cartoon series that’ll be short-form and be released on Instagram and the social-media outlets and things like that.

Going back for a second, you said you played tennis competitively. Talk a little bit about that.

I played tennis at the University of Georgia. I went there and I actually walked on the team so I tried out when I got to school and got on the team. In 2007, we won the NCAA championship on a team that went 32-0 so we had an undefeated season.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about this in a while, but that whole experience helped me big time as an actor. A lot of times you’ll hear athletes do well in this arena because there is a lot of competition. But for me, a big part of it was [that] I was humbled through college tennis. Our team was great, but I was at the end of the bench, trying to fight my way into the lineup and keep my spot on the team. We had a lot of international players, and John Isner was on my team, who is top 20 professionally in the world now. So, just kind of always having to be the guy fighting for his life and trying to get an opportunity and finding his way to inspire the team has helped me as an up-and-coming actor in this town because you have so many defeats, you hear now so many times, there are so many people who shut the door in your face so having, in a similar way, gone through that on a team that didn’t have a lot of opportunities to play but still having to challenge myself to give it my best every day was really helpful when I came here and knew nobody and had no friends. One day at a time, I found ways to weave myself into the community and get some opportunities.

That’s so interesting. But, moving on to talk about your current series. For people who don’t know about it, how would you describe Too Close to Home?

Straight off; it’s a juicy drama, and it has a lot of complex, intertwined relationships. It’s set primarily in the fictitious town of Happy, Alabama. It’s a bit of a trailer park town. It focuses on a girl who had gotten out of town, Anna, who moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House to try to get away from where she grew up and the challenges of that life. After she has a sex scandal with the President, she ends up racing back home for the protection of her family and friends and all of the drama kind of goes from there.

I just think what is cool about it is that it explores family loyalty and things like that and forgiveness and just how the love of a family can be a blessing and a curse. I think it’s interesting how in our show you can see; it’s really beautiful to see how certain people with long-lasting family and other hometown relationships stick by each other’s side and also draw innocent people into dangerous situations. You see that as the series progresses. It also touches on a lot of seemingly, sometimes when you watch it seems like it might not be realistic when you look at some of the situations [the characters] might be in, but love, family, sexuality, drug addiction, abuse, violence, all of these big themes, especially now, we see are a huge part of our community and our society. I think that sometimes [people] tiptoe around those issues in television shows and I feel like we just kind of take them head on and then, at the same time, try to make it and entertaining part of the story.

This season is really exciting. We introduce new characters and we have some of our older characters returning like Heather Locklear. That was really exciting because she’s an awesome character. I finally got to meet her this time because I didn’t get to meet her the first time we shot and she was just so supportive and fun and excited to be there so it was a really cool thing to have her back.

“Too Close to Home” is TLC’s first ever scripted series. What is it like being a part of something like that?

First off, it’s just exciting. I think it’s cool to ever have an opportunity to be the first to do anything, so that was exciting for me when I first booked the show. Then you realize there is some responsibility and pressure that goes along with that because we want to speak to an audience that doesn’t normally watch this genre of show or this type of entertainment. Also, as a new show, just trying to hit the ground running and bring a high-quality product from the very beginning that we can entertain the fans. So yeah, I think it’s very fun to break some ground with the network but also just really pushes you to put in even more work and make sure you are doing your job as a part of the cast to make it the best it can be.

That’s what’s cool getting to work on a show like this is that you can see just how many moving parts there are and how many people are so influential to the show and its success. If one little piece breaks down, if one guy that might be setting the lights doesn’t do his job right then it can affect everyone for the entire day. I just think to be a part of a team again has been a very happy experience for me.

What was the audition process like for the role of JB?

I have representation in Atlanta, so my agent sent me the audition, and you have a description of the character. Things can get crazy when you’re living in LA, and things come up quickly so I think I got it in the morning and I needed to send a tape back to the east coast by that evening. I saw the breakdown for JB, my character, and it was a rugged trucker and I did not feel as if I fit the bill at all. (laughs) I have a little bit more of the all-American, boy next door type of thing. But at the same time, I did grow up in the South so I did feel connected to the material in a lot of certain ways. 

At first, I considered it, I was like, “man. I have another audition tomorrow, so should I just focus on that? Maybe I shouldn’t even try out.” But, I said “it’s my job and I’m just grateful for the opportunity.” Anyway, I ended up texting with my girlfriend and decided that it was actually pretty solid and when I started working with the material, it just felt right and flowed out of my mouth and I was able to connect to the thoughts of this character. I passed along my tape to my reps out here in LA as well, trying to get casted on both sides of the country. About four days later, I got a call that Tyler [Perry] really liked my tape and he wanted to fly me out to Atlanta. So he flew a bunch of actors for every role to Atlanta and we all basically mix-and-matched as part of the audition process in front of the producers, the network, and Tyler. We read our scenes and they kind of put it together from there. Kind of like a huge chemistry read, I guess. I had never really experienced that.

One fun thing about that, I was really relieved, Dax, the actor who plays Nick Ballard, I just happened to see him, he got on the bus, and they were shuttling us from the hotel to the studio and he was probably the first person I had ever met in LA while working on a job. We did a modeling job together about eight years ago. So having him there, we were just catching up on eight years worth of time basically because we’ve stayed in contact very loosely and I think having a friend like that there just kept me so loose and may have contributed to having a successful audition. Ir has been cool because he booked the role too, and so we both get to have our first series lead in the same show. It’s crazy how it all comes back around.

Talk a little bit about JB. How would you describe him?

It’s an interesting question because as an actor I feel like I’m trying to go deep into JB’s past and his thoughts and connect with the decisions he makes and empathize with him because if you watch, JB is pretty rough around the edges. He makes some violent choices towards a guy because he’s gay, he puts his hands on women; he’s doing drugs. From the outside looking in, I can see why he’s very much the bad guy, and people just want to jump to hating him, which I think is great. I love that the audience detests him because that’s just a lot of fun. 

For me, I just try to empathize with the character because, you know, if I don’t understand him then I don’t think it can go very deep. So I believe he feels remorse and regret for some of his actions but deep down I think he has to believe in his motivations. JB is definitely somewhat tricky because he’s impulsive and is often under the influence of some substance. His actions don’t always reflect his true colors or are those just his true colors? I guess that’s for the fans to decide and keep on watching. (laughs)

I’m curious because he’s a very different kind of character, did you find any similarities and yourself?

Yeah. First of all, just having a brother is important, while his is a half-brother. I think it’s nice to be a sibling. I have four siblings and just understanding those relationships. A lot of times you are trying to do the right thing, or you’re trying to help those around you, the people who are close to you, and somehow, someway it gets turned around, and you end up looking like you were …  trying to be the good guy and end up the bad guy. That’s something I can really connect with him on because people are so complicated and so impossible to always understand what their true intentions and thoughts are that you can kind of get caught up in the tricky personal situations.

You kind of touched on it a little bit but what can fans expect from the new episodes? Obviously, the last episode ended on quite the cliffhanger.

(laughs) All I can say is that these next episodes up the ante even higher and I’m excited for the audience to meet new characters, new power struggles, and possibly some new love triangles. You definitely start to get more information on these characters so I’m really excited to share with the audience the inner-cloth of everybody. It’s going to be one heck of a ride. I really think Tyler pushed the limits and is going with a bang with the writing on these next eight episodes.

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what brings out your inner nerd? What do you “nerd out” over?

Oh my lord (laughs). Let me think about that. I’m definitely a nerd so that shouldn’t be tough … well what do you nerd out over?

The thing that I’ve nerded out most over lately is international travel. I thought the first time I traveled overseas a couple of years ago, I thought I was just going for vacation but when I was exposed to these incredibly different cultures than the ones that I had grown up with, I think that just put a crazy travel bug in my system because you come back and you literally feel like, “Oh my gosh, after two weeks time I’m a new human being. I have an entirely new element to my soul and my psyche and my thoughts.” Not only for seeing the beauties of the world but then just to discover new cultures and to get to know about them, I have definitely been nerding out over that.

What’s the coolest place that you’ve traveled internationally?

I just went over to Asia; I was in Thailand and Bali earlier this year, and that was just, I think going to Bangkok [Thailand], that was the first time I had traveled to a more third-world country and just seeing the different ways people live. Even just driving in the streets alone is crazy. Immediately as you get off the plane, you are immersed in the different smells, the different languages; people look different, there are different rules for society, different laws. So just going to Thailand made me, as cliché as it might sound (laughs), you start to realize how small you are and it almost gave me a peace of mind knowing that all of my problems that I stress over are not such a big deal. It helps me approach life with a more happy-go-lucky attitude. Just saying that reminds me that I need to get out and into another world, because people really come back full after that.

You can follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram. The new season of “Too Close To Home” airs Wednesday, January 4th

Exclusive Interview with This is Us’ Chris Sullivan

Interview, Pop Culture, Television

This post was originally written for Talk Nerdy With Us.


Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Talk Nerdy With Us had the chance to talk with Chris Sullivan, who currently stars as Toby on NBC’s new fall drama, “This Is Us.” Chris talks about how he got into acting, his character Toby, and his love of horror movies.

Tell me about how you got into acting?

My very first audition I was 14 years old, it was my freshman year of high school. My mother abandoned me at the audition and said, “I’ll be back in an hour. Audition or don’t.” [laughs] She had seen some performative qualities in me, and I had pretty much dipped my toe into every other extracurricular activity. I auditioned and got it. I had two lines in “The Sting.” And I have been acting ever since.

What was your first major acting job?

My first major acting job was a national tour of a Broadway one-person show called “Defending the Caveman” and I did that, on and off, for about four years, about 1,000 performances. That was an hour and forty-five minute monologue, no intermission that we would do in about 2,000 seat theaters all over the country.

Have you always wanted to be an actor?

I think so. Once I experienced it, there was kind of nothing else. The only other thing that stuck with me up to college was that I was a competitive tennis player for about a decade. I went to college on scholarship and competed at the regional and national level as a junior and played for Loyola Marymount University my freshman year of college. Then gave it all up my sophomore year of college to focus on acting.

If you, today, weren’t an actor, what career would you want to have?

I thought about that recently. I think I would probably like to teach or I would probably [want to do] some kind of service. My minor in college was, I was trained to be a dependency counselor. The program was called Alcohol and Drug studies. They trained for people to become dependency therapists.

What would you say is some of the best career advice you have ever received?

Oh wow. Well, when it comes working on film and television, I think, oddly enough it’s so simple and kind of off the mark, but it is a very kind of Buddhist thing. I heard Helena Bonham Carter interviewed once and she said, “When you’re working on a film, if you’re standing and you can be sitting, sit. [laughs] And if you’re sitting and you can be laying down, lay down.”

And why would you say that that’s some of the best advice you have ever received?

I think it speaks a great deal to self-care and conserving your energy and while you’re working, being present and aware of your energy levels. I recently talked to someone about Daniel Day-Lewis and how people like to make fun of him for staying in character for some of these more challenging roles that he takes on. But, after hearing that and delving into some larger characters myself, it takes more energy to get out of that character than it does just to be in that character. So what he is doing is not an egotistical thing, it’s more of an energy conservation thing, I’m guessing. 

I obviously haven’t spoken to Daniel Day-Lewis about it. I don’t know; there is something simple just about that advice. When I heard her say that, I was like, “Oh. That makes sense.” It’s come in handy on several occasions. The only other advice that I’ve gotten that I try to stick to is, “Show up on time. Do your job. Don’t be a dick. Go home.” [laughs]

That’s some good advice.

I think that applies across the board. It’s a motto for life.

If you had to give advice to anyone that is aspiring to be an actor, would that be the advice you would give them? Or would you tell them something else?

Yeah, I would say, “Show up on time. Do your job. Don’t be a dick. Go home.” But that’s when you’re working. If you’re aspiring to be an actor and you’re working your way towards working, I think it’s the job of the actor to experience as many things as possible so that you can relate them to other people. So my advice to an aspiring actor is to go live life.

We know about you as an actor, but not you as a person. What do you like to do when you’re not acting?

I like to play music; I like to write music. I have an ever-changing group called “The Benevolent Folk.” We put out an album about three years ago. I like to read, I like to play tennis, I like to spend time on the beach now that I am out in California.

What is one thing people don’t know about you that they would be surprised to learn?

I get pedicures frequently, and I get my toenails painted.


[laughs] Yeah. I’m looking at sparkly blue toes right now. It makes me laugh. And it looks good. It looks much better than regular man feet.

Let’s move on to talk about your current project, “This Is Us.” What was it about that project, and specifically your character, that you drew you to want to be involved?

I wanted to be involved because to have the opportunity to work with Dan Fogelman is a chance that any actor would jump at. And to work with John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, the two EPs [executive producers] and directors, is another opportunity that any actor would jump at. But, it is also a rare opportunity to be given a chance to inhabit a character that is so well-written and so realistic and so honest.

Would you say that Toby is similar to who you are as a person in real life? Why or why not?

I think I bring some of myself to Toby. I think Toby medicates tough situations in life by using humor and comedy, maybe doesn’t take things as seriously as they ought to be taken.

When your character first crosses paths with Kate [played by Chrissy Metz], it was evident that a romance would be forming between the two of you. What can viewers expect for this pairing throughout the rest of season?

They can expect a romance for the ages! [laughs] That was supposed to be a joke. I think they can look forward to…I don’t know if I should tell them what to expect. They can expect two people trying their best to connect while fighting through their own individual feelings of shame, I guess, as it relates to relationships, and their weight, and their lack of self-confidence in certain areas.

I loved the first two episodes, and one of my favorite lines in the pilot episode is from your character and he jokes that dessert is his life’s work. What is your favorite dessert?

There is a restaurant in New York called Salumeria Rosi that makes a chocolate mousse that is one of the best things I’ve ever eating. I love it so much.

Sounds delicious.

It’s very simple; it’s just a chocolate mousse with chocolate shavings mixed into it with powdered sugar on top.

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what brings out your inner nerd? What do you “nerd out” over?

I probably nerd out over old horror movies, anything from the 70s.

Do you have a favorite?

I can’t remember if it is from the 70s or the 80s, but one of my favorite horror movies of all time is John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” starring a young Kurt Russell. That movie is terrifying.

What is it about old horror movies that you like so much?

I think there is something very honest in feeling fear. It’s something that everyone can relate to in some sense or another, obviously on varying scales. I think I like, especially looking back now, I like the low budget quality, I love the simplicity of a storyline where the only plot is somebody trying to get away from something else. It’s a very simple idea to wrap my mind around.

Have you ever been in a horror movie?

I’m trying to think. No. I really want to. I want to be in a zombie movie, I want to be in a horror film, and I want to be in a western.

You want to be in a western?

Oh man, boy do I. [laughs]

What do you think about today’s horror movies? Are you a fan or just of the older ones?

I think a lot of the horror movies that come out today are based on the new system of testing movies with test audiences and things like that. I think a lot of horror movies cop out in the third act and they show too much of the monster, they reveal too much, they are trying to answer too many questions.

I think the best horror movies are the ones that leave questions unanswered. Probably the best horror films I’ve seen in recent times are “The Babadook” and “The Strangers” with Liv Tyler.

I’ve seen that one [The Strangers]. That was a good one.

Holy cow. That was a great movie. They don’t answer any questions; you don’t really know why. That’s what makes it scary. As soon as horror movies start answering the question why, the whole movie starts to fall apart for me. 

There’s a movie called Fun and Games that there was an original foreign version that was amazing and then they remade with Michael Pitt from Boardwalk Empire. The remake is just as good as the foreign version. 

See, now we’re going to go on for hours talking about my favorite horror movies. [laughs]

It’s not something I watch a whole lot. But, I like good ones. I don’t like some of the silly ones.

Yeah. Have you seen “Let the Right One In”?

No. Is that a good one?

There you go. Yeah. It’s fascinating, it’s a vampire story, but it’s modern day, and it involves two teenage kids. There is a foreign version, and there is a remake with Chloe Moretz, and they are both very good.

“This Is Us” airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@SullivanTweet).

Exclusive Interview with Adam Woytkiw

Interview, Pop Culture, Television

This antically was originally written on Talk Nerdy With Us.


Photo Credit: Adam Woytkiw

Loyal Bachelor Nation viewers will remember learning in the first episode of JoJo Fletcher’s season of “The Bachelorette” that contestant Alex Woytkiw has a twin brother, Adam. Even though Adam did not compete on the show with Alex, Talk Nerdy With Us still wanted to talk with Adam about Alex’s time on the show, what life has been like for both of them since the show ended, and what he nerds out about.

Viewers of “The Bachelorette” did not get to know you like they got to know Alex. So what is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I’ve been married for almost three years. It freaks people out seeing such a young couple. (laughs)

You, like Alex, also served our country, correct? What branch of service were you in? What made you want to join that branch?

I served in the United States Marine Corps for five years. I joined the military because I always felt that serving was a great way to give back to our country.

Unlike Alex, you have found the love of your life, Sarah. How did you guys meet?

We met through a mutual friend at a hole in the wall sushi spot.

When I talked to Alex, he told me that your wife was the one who initially put him up to “The Bachelorette.” How did you feel about him going on the show?

The whole process went by so fast that I didn’t really have a chance to realize what was happening.

What was it like seeing your brother on television and seeing his personal, romantic relationship with JoJo develop?

It was really interesting to see him put himself out there for the world to see. He never does that usually.

What has it been like dealing with Alex’s new found “celebrity”? Or is he still the same guy that he was before he went on the show?

Not much has changed since the show. He still acts as ridiculous as ever (laughs). Aside from all of the random girls saying hi during dinner, everything has pretty much stayed the same.

Since Alex made it pretty far on the show, I’m sure that you have been mistaken out in public for him. Describe those “fan” encounters for me. 

Guys and girls will walk up to me and ask for photos. I try to explain to them that I’m not Alex, but it typically doesn’t bother them. It’s so easy just to take a picture and go with the flow that I’m sure by now that I’m in half the pictures Alex is tagged in. (laughs)

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what brings out your inner nerd? What do you “nerd out” over?

I usually nerd out hard during movies. I’ll do research on topics while a movie or TV show is airing and try to poke holes in the concept or background information. My wife hates that I can’t just sit down and let a movie play without playing on my phone.

You can follow Adam on Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat (theyqs).

Exclusive Interview with Bachelor In Paradise’s Christian Bishop

Interview, Pop Culture, Television
This article was originally written for Talk Nerdy With Us.
Photo Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell

Talk Nerdy With Us had the pleasure of speaking with 26-year-old Christian Bishop recently, who was a contestant on this past season of both “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”

Christian was approached by the casting directors for “The Bachelorette” at a fitness expo. He had made a new year’s resolution, and a promise to his mom, to say “yes” to opportunities more often and to be more open to a relationship. So, of course, he said yes and soon would be on his way to meet JoJo Fletcher.

It is for similar reasons that Christian said “yes” to being on “Bachelor in Paradise,” a spin-off of the main Bachelor franchise shows. “My chances of meeting someone on [Bachelor in] Paradise were a lot higher,” he explained. “The experience on ‘The Bachelorette’ was awesome, so I had to give it another shot.”

Christian arrived on week 2 of the show. At that point, there were relationships that had already started forming among the cast members. “[It] definitely is awkward walking into a completely new group with a bunch of random fresh relationships,” he said. “I was torn because I personally had an issue with trying to talk to women that my friends from JoJo’s season were already dating.”

He ended up asking Sarah, originally from Sean Lowe’s season of “The Bachelor,” on a date. “I wanted a practical relationship and thought, worst case, we would be good friends,” he said of the reason why he asked her out. “The fact that she lives in Los Angeles with me seemed realistic.” However, things didn’t work out in paradise for Christian. Sarah ended up picking Daniel over him, sending him home in the same week he arrived. When asked whether or not he and Sarah still have a relationship after paradise, Christian admitted that they are “cordial but do not really interact.”

Photo Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell

I asked him whether or not he considered pulling an “Ashley I.” and asking to stay on the show for more women to arrive. He said, “Not everyone gets the ability to stay longer just because they choose to. [It] takes a certain type of individual to get that treatment. At the start of the show, I shared who I was interested in meeting. The young lady that was number one on my list showed up at the very end. [It was] disappointing, but fortunately, we were able to get together after the season.”

Unfortunately, Christian did not get a lot of airtime on “The Bachelorette” or “Bachelor in Paradise.” As a result, there are a lot of things that people do not know about him. He shared one thing that people would be surprised to know about. “Becoming a husband and good father is my number one motivator and priority in life,” he said. “It’s something I think about often. The thought of giving my kids that traditional family lifestyle is second to none.”

Since Christian left his corporate job with a Fortune 500 company to go on “Bachelor in Paradise,” he has found himself employed with a new company. Currently, he is the director of production and content for BidChat, a broadcasting company that uses an app to allow personalities, celebrities, and influencers an opportunity to use their fame and following to raise money for different charities. Christian’s job entails creating content and producing different mini-shows to help promote the company.

One of the company’s first and biggest campaigns that they have done has been #Howl4ACure, which was launched with MTV and the cast of Teen Wolf to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. According to Christian, the cast has broadcasted on the platform and interacted with fans during those broadcasts to help raise money for cystic fibrosis research. Those broadcasts trended in 10 countries.

Starting on September 19, Christian and BidChat are kicking off Bachelor Week on the platform with some of your favorite contestants from the most recent season of the show. Check out the promo video below and follow Christian on Twitter (mrcbishop) for more information.


Exclusive Interview with The Bachelorette’s Alex Woytkiw

Interview, Pop Culture, Television

This interview was originally written for Talk Nerdy With Us.


25-year-old Alex Woytkiw was a contestant on this past season of ABC’s The Bachelorette. Bachelor Nation will remember him as the guy who beat out fellow contestant Chad Johnson for the rose on the infamous two-on-one date. He made it the top 6 before JoJo Fletcher sent him home. TNWU caught up with Alex to discuss his experience on the show, his thoughts on Nick Viall being named the new Bachelor and what makes him nerdy. Read our interview below.

First, I have to thank you for your service to our country. I know it’s a big sacrifice.

Thanks. I really appreciate that.

A lot of our readers asked: What made you join the Marines in the first place?

To be quite direct I was in college, and I hadn’t decided on what I wanted to do with my life yet and felt like I was having a lot of fun in a fraternity, hanging out with friends all the time. I was doing well in school, and I just felt this need to do a little bit more. So, I packed up all my bags and went and joined the Marine Corps like two months later after deciding. It’s not one of those cases where I grew up thinking I was going to be in the military. It was very spontaneous and just random I guess.

So did you graduate college or did you just leave school?

I went to two years of college. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of had this personal epiphany where I felt like I was not doing everything I could be doing with my life.

And you just recently got out [of the Marines], right?

I got out on … August 7th was my last day in the Marine Corps.

So how has that transition been for you so far?

It’s been really cool. I feel like the transition right now, moving up to LA, it’s kind of weird because I’ve been in such a structured lifestyle in the Marine Corps and had this constant paycheck coming in and it is like I was on autopilot almost for the last five years, being able to just be content with my life, my job, and everything in between. Now, I’m feeling the stress of normal civilian life along with the whole transition out of the military that I think a lot of military members experience and you don’t really know how it feels until you go through it because it’s totally different. I can wake up at whatever time I want, and no one is going to yell at me for it (laughs). But, it’s cool. I’m just trying to stay focused and just do it right.

Before we get into more questions specifically about the show and since it kind of relates to your occupation, I have to throw this question out there: What did you think of the “Former Child” meme that went viral on the Internet? I know I saw you post about it on your Instagram account.

(laughs) I don’t know. I think for me, my personal perception was that I loved it. It thought that it was funny because I think I was a great former child, like I am one. So I looked at it and optimistically want to hope it was just all in good fun. If someone wrote that with ill intentions and to try and bring me down or for whatever reason, then I want to say “shame on you.” When that first circulated, I was still in the Marine Corps. People don’t understand that in the Marine Corps I was part of special operations. I just wasn’t allowed to talk about that stuff while I was on The Bachelorette, so people don’t realize that. But for me, as the guy who has the background in the military that I have and the experience, if someone were to try and make fun of me and call my occupation a ‘former child’ and be seriously trying to make fun of me, I would say it’s pathetic. I looked at that meme, and I got a kick out of it. I was hoping that whoever developed it, made it with that intention and not to be hurtful.

Moving on, tell us why did you decide to be a part The Bachelorette?

During my time in the military, I was traveling a lot and deploying. I would meet a really cool chick and then after that, I would leave for a couple of months to train, to go deploy, or whatever. It was just so hard to maintain a real, growing relationship. I came back from deployment in January, like the third week of January or so. My sister-in-law, my twin brother Adam’s wife, put me up to it and thought that I should give it a good old college try. She put me up to it, and I went because why not? (laughs).

Alex Woytkiw 1

I don’t know how much you can talk about this but what can you share about the application process?

I can tell you that my experience, from what I was told, was unique compared to the standard application process. From what I understand, the typical process is like five-six months long. It is really, really exhausting, no just with the testing that you have to do and all the proper procedures. Cause I experienced that, the blood work, the drug testing, the psychological exams, all the basic stuff but for a typical application it spans so much time that people are essentially putting their lives on pause trying to stay single if they already know that they got cast or something, or maybe they think they got to the final 100 or something in the process, so they are actually holding out, hoping for the opportunity. For me, I applied, and I was filming the show in two weeks. So, it was a very fast process for me, and I didn’t really have to stress. I got told the day that I met the casting director and a couple of the producers that I, like the first conversation I had with the franchise, I was kind of already told that I pretty much got cast. So I didn’t really have to stress about it.

Did you know, because you were casted and then on the show within two weeks, that JoJo would be the Bachelorette before you made your decision to go?

No. I was only told that it was gonna be one of maybe four or five girls. So essentially the top six, and you know that the number one girl wins, so there’s only five people. At that point, I think that’s where they were at in Ben’s season; they may have been in the top five or top four. They told me top six, so I went and did my research because I had never seen the show before. I watched like maybe two episodes with my sister-in-law, did my research, decided that I was comfortable with any of the top six girls, I would be willing to at least go on a date with them in real life, so I figured it would be worth going on a date with them on TV. Then, I found out with the rest of the country that it was going to be JoJo when they did the After the Final Rose episode.

Describe your feelings and thoughts going into the mansion that first night and when you first pulled up in the limo and saw JoJo?

I was really calm about everything leading up to the limo (laughs). Then I was sitting in the limo, and I got out, I got out extremely nervous, and I had no idea what I was going to say. (laughs). I was trying to practice in the hotel room because I didn’t want to forget my name. So I was like “Alright. I’m going to practice introducing myself.” Then, I got out there and pretty much all I was able to do was introduce myself. It’s just a lot. You have so much production around you. Then, a girl like JoJo, who had just finished her season on The Bachelor was used to all the cameras, and was just calm and being herself. And then you’ve got a guy like me who has never been around cameras, freaking out. But, it was cool.

Everybody that watched your season of The Bachelorette knows that you and Chad had some drama. Can you explain a little bit about that? Did producing play that up or was Chad as really as bad as he was on the show?

Well, first, there’s no acting or script or anything when it comes to the show. So, my opinion of Chad is 100% my own. I don’t think that the show even portrayed him in the light he realistically was… he’s such a bad human being. I believe that they actually pumped the breaks on how they portrayed him because they probably wouldn’t have been able to show all of it, literally on television, on basic cable. How I felt that he was really acting like was more over the lines of how they showed him on Bachelor in Paradise. That’s how he was really acting the whole time, and they pumped the breaks and made him look one way, and I wish they would have given him the same edit or portrayal that they gave him on Paradise, where they show him being a completely out of control person. Because a lot of the stuff I’m telling him and my opinion of him was based on the stuff that people just simply didn’t see. So, me saying the things that I had to say about him during my season would have been completely acceptable and I think justified through the audience’s eyes if they would have been seeing him act they way he was in Paradise. They dumbed down how bad he was and then enhanced how much shit I had to say about him.

Right. It almost made you look like the villain in one way when really it was just a normal reaction that anyone would have had.


In your AfterBuzz TV interview that you did the other day, you said something to me that kind of stuck out. In reference to the Chad drama, you said, “Quite frankly, if you’re a guy that is living there, in that moment, and didn’t have anything to say about it, then you’re just running for the cameras and being PC about everything.” Were you talking about a somebody specific from your season or were you just talking about in general?

(laughs) I mean I could get down to the specifics, but it’s more so a general statement. What people don’t seem to get is that there are a lot of guys that were on the show that were doing interviews and having an opinion about a lot of stuff going on just the same way I was. The difference is that there is just so much time that the show has to show what people are saying and where everyone is at, and so instead of showing 12 different guys talking shit about Chad, they show one or two guys doing it cause they just don’t have the time to fit all that in. Generally speaking, I know that a lot more people, almost every single guy going through the show with me, had the same opinion about Chad or stuff going on. It was just that for whatever reason they decided they were going to show my voice because of maybe the way I was articulating myself, it maybe rubbed them better, or it was more entertaining or something. For me, if you see a human being act the way a person like Chad was acting, as a man you should think that that’s wrong. You don’t know these people; I don’t know these people, and I don’t operate under, “Hey, if I don’t know you then you need to earn my respect.” I walk around respecting everyone and then you can only lose my respect and that’s the difference between someone like me and a person like Chad. I had a problem with that because he’s treating everyone poorly and you don’t see it but that’s how it was happening. I think that any guy, any man that lets another man walk in a room and disrespect them the way Chad was disrespecting a lot of guys in the house, their only reason for not defending themselves is because they don’t want to be portrayed in a bad light, they don’t want to give the power to the edit or the portrayal. They want to control it and stay out of that kind of shit, and it’s like, “Bro,” or whoever it was, I don’t want to name names, there were multiple people. But, “Speak up. This is happening. Your mom, your grandma, that audience deserves to know how much bullshit this is.”

What was it like to watch the show back?

I did watch with family. I would have to say the only episode that I didn’t watch was the final episode. It was cool. It was cool to watch it back because I really liked the early, early episodes. It was fun to watch those back. Once the season got in a little bit deeper, I felt like they missed the mark on me and where I was. Like why I got as far as I got with her and I don’t know if my actual experience later on in the show was the right way of showing it. But, other than that it was easy to watch it back. I’ve only watched these episodes back one time. It’s not like I’m sitting over here watching every episode 20 times and loving it (laughs). It was a cool experience, and it was certainly not everything that I am. It’s nice that I’ve made a lot of new friends and connected with a lot of people through the experience and being on the show, but anyone that would just judge me exclusively off that show is missing a lot more to me than what’s really here.

Is there anything you would change about your experience being on the show?

No. I mean, if I were to do it all over again, I would certainly do it again, and I would do everything almost the same, I guess. I don’t know. I would actually, looking back, I wish that I would’ve been a little more, early, early on in the show, during filming, been a little bit more comfortable with JoJo on camera. I could barely communicate, (laughs) I could barely even hold a conversation because I was so nervous. But other than that, I’m pretty happy with how everything played out.

Last week on After Paradise, we learned that Nick would be the new Bachelor. Many people thought it would probably be Luke or Chase from your season. What are your thoughts on the whole situation?

It was random. I was with Chase when they announced it. So, obviously, I was with Chase, and he already knew that he wasn’t going to be the guy. He was expecting it to be Luke. I’m guessing Luke was expecting it to be Chase. It was weird. We were sitting, having a quick bite to eat and when they announced it was definitely a weird reality. I don’t really know Nick. I’ve met him one time. He was very polite, and we just had a brief encounter, it wasn’t like we hung out and spoke about life. But, he seems like a cool guy. He’s friends with a lot of people I know. And it’s just kind of funny that they decided to stick with someone that’s got a pretty big reputation on the show. I mean, he’s been around for a couple of years now, so they went with what they know instead of something fresh. The positive side to them choosing Nick over a guy like Chase is now Chase gets to get his life back on track and be focused on the future and not let the possibility of being the next Bachelor deter him from whatever makes him happy.

Finally, our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what brings out your inner nerd? What do you “nerd out” over?

(laughs) I nerd out over computers and “nerdy stuff.” Not necessarily the physical structure of a computer but more so the radio frequencies, just RF communications, in general, is kind of a niche that I got into over the last couple of years when I was in the military. I’m actually pretty nerdy. I like to watch YouTube documentaries on space and robots and stuff like that.

Make sure you follow Alex on Twitter (@real_alexyq), Instagram (alexander_yq), and Snapchat (hahayq).

A New Generation

Pop Culture, Television


(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word).

When the winter television season started, Hilit Jacobson was more nervous than most.

Hilit, an AU freshman, had good reason for being nervous. On Nov. 25, 2013, she, her twin brother Jonah, and 7 of their 13 half siblings starred in the first episode of Generation Cryo, MTV’s newest reality show.

“I learned more about my immediate family than I ever thought I would,” Hilit said. “I got to hang out with my siblings more than we probably ever will in a few given months. I got to go to California like six times in half a year, and I got to meet an outstanding crew who helped make our show as real as we are as people,” she said.

Over the course of taping, the siblings discovered similarities among themselves. Most of the siblings on the show, Hilit, Jonah, Breeanna, Jesse C., Molly, Will and Jesse B., share the same dark hair color.

Hilit’s brother Jonah, in the first episode, discovers that he, Hilit and Breeanna have the same bottom lip. Two of Hilit’s half brothers share the same name, Jesse C. and Jesse B.

Their physical traits might be the same, but their connections with each other are not.

Hilit says she’s closer to some of her siblings than others because she’s known some of them longer and and hung out with others more often.

“We’re all family and I love each of them,” she said. “It’s like you’re meeting someone who you know is your brother/sister, but you don’t actually know them, so you skip the awkward stage of ‘oh nice to meet you, blah blah blah’ and kind of just get into it.”

The Beginnings

Hilit grew up in Atlanta knowing that she was different. Her parents never hid from her and Jonah that they were conceived by donor insemination. She remembers that her parents would read children’s book to them on the topic. “My parents must have told us we were born differently from even before we could comprehend anything at all,” she said. “Knowing we were born using a sperm donor was like knowing we both have brown hair, nothing too shocking.”

Hilit was never curious to learn about the sperm donor.

“The only thing that made me curious was to know what he looks like, and that need wasn’t even too strong.” Hilit says her father is “100% my dad, we just don’t share DNA.” Hilit said they connected with the first half sibling through the Donor Sibling Registry when they were 8 and her half sister was 9. Hilit’s mom found out about the site when it was just starting up and signed up their family.

As the site gained popularity, the Jacobsons kept connecting with more siblings who come from California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Amsterdam. The Jacobsons have currently connected with 13 half-siblings.

The MTV Stage

The Donor Sibling Registry website is how MTV found Hilit and her family.

MTV contacted the Donor Sibling Registry website creator Wendy Kramer who gave them a list of families to contact. Then, MTV interviewed the different families and eventually Hilit’s family was selected for the show.

“I guess they liked us best,” Hilit, a Public Communication major said.

The show focuses specifically Hilit’s half sister, Breeanna. It shows her journey meeting some of her half siblings who help her search to find out more about their sperm donor. Once they began filming, Hilit saw that the show brought out many different feelings for everyone involved.

“It pushed us out of our comfort zones, but respectively, pushed us even closer as a family. At times, filming was tiring and annoying and boring, and at other times, it was exhilarating and adventurous,” she said. “There were parts we had to film that were hard, because of a deep conversation we needed to have.”

Sometimes she said these conversations hurt people’s feelings and even caused tears among her family members. One part of filming that further connected the family was the process of discovering the donor.

“Some want to [find out about the donor], but only want to meet him, some want to get to know him, some wanted to see a picture, some wanted to search for him but not see or talk to him, some did not want to have anything to do with it, or him,” she said.

In one episode, the siblings who wanted to search for the donor finally heard back from him. He said he would be fine with anonymous contact but only that.

“That means no name, location or any information that would give away where we could physically find him or search for him by name,” Hilit said.

Some siblings were confused and taken-aback by this response because they had already found out personal information through their own search. Hilit said that “they felt as if they had violated him and and his choices.”

“It’s a hard thing to figure out, what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said. “I do not see it as going against his privacy because he did become a donor knowing what could potentially happen in the future. It’s a mutual journey from the siblings’ side and from the donor’s.”

Once the show aired in November, Hilit realized that she had no reason to be nervous. She was more hopeful that the audience could take something away from Generation Cryo.

“I hope those watching saw more than just a documentary-style television show, but a love for family, a place for personal growth, and the simple joy of taking part in an adventure.”