‘Love Is Blind’ Team Details Rigorous Casting Process: Outreach, Social Media Cross-Checks and Why ‘Influencers and Actors Are Off the Table’

Dramatic. Conniving. Fame-seeking. If you turn on many reality TV shows today, these are some of the descriptors that may come to mind when thinking about the cast members.

The team behind Netflix’s “Love Is Blind” makes sure that the people they choose to go through the experiment are quite the opposite of those unflattering adjectives.

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“In a lot of unscripted shows, I think that a lot of times, you’re looking for someone who’s a certain kind of character with a certain charisma. We do not do that. We are not leading with that,” says creator and Kinetic Content CEO Chris Coelen. “We’re looking for people who are genuine.”

It’s a method that has led to success. The series, which launched in 2020, follows 15 men and 15 women from the same city who date each other from behind a wall. Within 10 days, some fall in love. If they get engaged, they get to meet. Then, they go on a week-long vacation and spend three weeks living together. In the end, they will either get married or end their relationship.

Over the past six seasons, 11 couples have tied the knot, nine of whom are still together.

Love is Blind. (L to R) Johnny, Amy in season 6 of Love is Blind. Cr. Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix © 2024
Johnny and Amy, who tied the knot in season 6 of “Love is Blind.”

While people can apply to be on the show, “Love Is Blind” casting begins with a local search within a 50-mile radius from the city of choice. And then the outreach begins.

“Outreach is essential because we have to get the word out on a local level. We want reporters, politicians, realtors, salon owners, pastors, nurses, teachers and everyone in between,” says Donna Driscoll, exec VP of casting and talent for Kinetic Content. “We want there to be a huge buzz around the city that we’re there and we’re looking for singles who are ready for a deep and meaningful relationship and marriage.”

Coelen notes it is essential for them to find people who wouldn’t necessarily apply. “We want to make that tent as big as possible, to get as broad a cross-section of people as possible,” he says. “Then we put everybody through the same process and same filter as we narrow down the pool of people.”

“Love Is Blind” has landed five Emmy nominations, and has been adapted into eight international versions. Season 6 spent five weeks on the Netflix Top 10, and was watched for 253.4 million hours.

As the show has become more popular, there are more applicants, which just means more work to find people who are “there for the right reasons.”

“I always encourage the team to get on the phone and talk to people about the fact that we’re in their city,” says Driscoll. For about two weeks, the casting team focuses on outreach. “Once we develop a relationship with people over the phone, if they find or think of somebody in their life that they want to nominate, they have a direct line to our team, and we have cast people out of that step.”

One of the most exciting parts for Driscoll is that this can “expand the idea of what a candidate for reality television might look like or do for a living.” The show has cast scientists, geologists, lawyers, engineers and tech executives.

What you won’t see? Influencers.

“Influencers and actors are off the table,” she says. “I want the people to come in and feel very authentic and raw — and that’s not to say that an influencer, model or actor could not do that. But I want to steer clear of getting somebody into the pod, as much as I possibly can, for the wrong reasons. With somebody who is an influencer … I’m really hesitant to go down that road just because I want to make sure that their heart is in the right place.”

After the phone interviews, which includes questions about relationship deal-breakers, the casting team moves along to Zoom interviews — sometimes one-on-one and other times, with four or five people — that can last up to 90 minutes. Here, potential cast members discuss everything, including past relationships.

Sometimes, things slip through. In Season 5, it was revealed that Lydia Gonzalez and Uche Okoroha had briefly dated before coming on the show. But there was no way the casting team could have known since there was no paper trail.

“We are so diligent from the get-go. We cross-reference Instagram accounts — three times — to make sure there’s no connection between handles,” says Driscoll. In fact, “time and time again,” they’ve had to call potential candidates and tell them they couldn’t move forward because of an Instagram connection. “Lydia and Uche did not have a committed relationship.”

Love is Blind. (L to R) Sarah Ann Bick, Jeramey Lutinski, Trevor Sova, Jessica Vestal in the season 6 reunion of Love is Blind. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
Sarah Ann, Jeramey, Trevor and Jessica during the season 6 reunion.

That checking will continue, as will trusting cast members as much as possible without going through their phones or direct messages.

During the Season 6 reunion, it was revealed that cast member Trevor Sova had a girlfriend at home — something he hid from casting.

“We did our due diligence with every single step,” Driscoll assures. “The thing that makes me upset is that it took someone else’s spot who could have been there for the right reasons.”

Potential cast is always asked many questions about their love life, including: Are you in a relationship? Are you seeing anyone? Are you in a situationship? Is there anyone that thinks they’re in a relationship with you?

“When we get them on the phone for the final call, we always ask, ‘Is there anything that you haven’t told us that we need to know specifically about your relationships?’” she explains. “We give them several opportunities to tell us the truth, and we know they’re human. We’re also human … We have to trust that all of what they’re telling us is true. Will all of our eyes be a lot more open after Trevor? Absolutely.”

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