In the digital age of romance, marked by fleeting dating apps and coquettish Instagram and Twitter DM courting, came Netflix’s unlikely dating reality show, Love Is Blind.
In its first season installment, the experimental romance series followed a group of 30 female and male participants who spent ten days alternating secluded rooms known as “pods.” Here, they could speak as freely and as long as their hearts desired with those of the opposite gender, but under one condition: they couldn’t see each other. The men who discovered their match through the strictly conversational connections were to ask for his lady counterpart’s hand in marriage, followed by a face-to-face meeting, couples’ retreat in Mexico, Atlanta apartment move-in, and ultimately, the big wedding.
28-year-old Diamond Jack emerged from the experiment as one of the women who left her pod with a proposal. She’d connected with 34-year-old Louisiana-native Carlton Morton, and after a few pod dates, he asked her to be his Mrs. Unexpectedly, their courtship disintegrated after a hostile poolside altercation at the luxury Mexican resort. The fight resulted in Diamond and Carlton calling off their engagement and returning home. The scene quickly became one of the show’s most talked about moments, narrowly due to the argument being rooted in Carlton’s tearful revelation of his bisexuality.
But though Diamond departed from the show without a ring on her finger, she didn’t leave empty-handed. The former NBA dancer and accomplished PhD student gained a fresh outlook on love and lastingness after her experience on the show and even a few things about herself.
Diamond Alexis chatted with Diamond Jack for a 20-somethings conversation about her new perspectives on relationships, marriage and self-discovery along with further details that the cameras didn’t capture from the climactic pool scene.
BET: Firstly, how did your family and friends react to seeing you on the show?
Diamond Jack: My friends were very supportive and so excited. They were like, “This is really you on TV right now.” Not everyone agreed with how my situation unfolded, especially family. I actually have an uncle that lives in New Mexico, and I think it’s a thing with older people, but when he saw the show, he assumed right away that it was live. He calls my mother and goes, “Go pick up Diamond from the airport! Go pick her up! She’s coming home!” [My mom] was like, “Wait, what? You know this was shot in 2018.” He tells her, “No, I’m watching them right now! She said she’s leaving!” My uncle, by the way, is over 60, so we had to excuse him. But I was dying laughing.
I could go to my mom because she’s very supportive of all the decisions I make. Sometimes she might not agree with everything, but she gets my personality and she gets me. I’m a Sagittarius so I’m adventurous and crazy and all that. But, it was hard for her to relate with what I was going through, especially now that everything has been released. I’ve received good and bad feedback. So, the people that really know this situation are the people who went through this whole experience with you.
Later, we learned that Carlton had a little prior experience on reality television. Was this something you knew about and discussed?
No, I didn’t know anything about his previous [experience]. He told me he was an entrepreneur, but he did not discuss that he was on television prior to Love Is Blind.
How did your family and friends react to the argument with Carlton?
They were still very supportive! My mom was really shocked with how I reacted because out of all the people who have seen me go off, she thought I handled myself very well. But people don’t know what they would do if they were actually sitting in that hot seat. So a lot of people were like, “Girl, I would have done this, or said that.” But, that’s just what they say until you’re actually put in that situation. But my mom was like, “At least I taught you how to curse!” [Laughs.] At the time that it happened, I had immediately called her and was so upset. When I get upset, she gets upset because she always has my back. So she was going off. But now, two years have passed and we expressed ourselves when it happened. We’re past it.
What were the next few hours like for you after he revealed his sexuality?
[I’ll start from when we got to Mexico] and we were in the hotel room talking. He’d say little slick stuff. At the time, I didn’t understand where it was coming from. But, I felt uncomfortable. That’s why [during the first scene together in Mexico] I removed myself [from the table] and went to the pool. I was like, “Okay, you’re just trying to get under my skin.” But I didn’t understand why. I thought we were in a good space.
When we went to the pool [that night] and he exposed his sexuality, it was a lot to process! One of the biggest things I wanted to do is show support. I wasn’t there trying to bash him, or make him feel uncomfortable or like he couldn’t be honest. Those were not my intentions at all. I was actually comforting him. I kept my hand on his back, I told him you can be yourself and not to hide himself because he thinks the world is not going to accept him. I was really trying to be there for him. But, at the same time, we’re talking about walking down the aisle in the next couple of weeks. I felt betrayed. I was shocked and hurt because I felt like we were able to open up. I opened up about everything and I felt [he was too]. I didn’t think he was hiding anything. I was just taken aback. That’s why when I said I needed some time to process it, I literally went to go do that. I went back to the room and I put myself in his shoes. I know this is something very hard to deal with, especially in front of the world let alone just between myself and him. I was just trying to deal with it the best way I could.
You mentioned at the reunion that you received death threats after people saw the show. Have those stopped since the reunion?
It was more so people saying negative things. Now, we’re quarantined, which means more people are watching the show. Last night, [for example] I got a lot of messages on my Instagram stories and account talking about how disgusting of a person I am. It’s crazy—you wouldn’t believe some of what people are saying. As of recently, I’m just getting a lot of hateful words and comments [from people just now seeing the show]. There hasn’t been anybody trying to attack me or physically hurt me though. Nowadays, I just ignore it. I have my little Diamond Hive coming behind people who are saying stuff. [Laughs.] They’ll come behind and [defend me] and go back and forth with people on my page. Some people were saying how they feel I’m biphobic and homophobic while other people have my back saying that’s not what I was doing.
[The other couples] understand because some of them are getting attacked as well, and it’s honestly over the smallest stuff. When I was talking to Lauren, she was saying that people were talking mess about this one scene and her hair and her edges, and I’m like, “Really?” But, you know I’m getting all the mess about my hair. So, I told her, “Girl, that little bit ain’t nothing. Look at what people are saying about me and my wigs!” But, I don’t let it phase me because I know I have hair under these wigs. [Laughs.]
Are you still in contact with Cameron and Lauren?
Yes! I actually watched the show at their house one time a couple of weeks ago. I just talked to Lauren yesterday for a little bit; I briefly spoke with her. We were cool on the show too, you know, as melanin sisters [Laughs.] We held it down—Black girl magic! But we were very supportive of each other and I was so happy for her. She was the person I would confide in about certain things because we could relate. I’d be like “Girl…” and she’d be like, “Girl…” and I’d be like, “...girl!” [Laughs.] But we’re still cool to this day. [I’m still cool] even with some other people on the show that weren’t shown as much. I actually just talked to them to see if they want to go work out with me.
One of the sweeter moments between you and Carlton happened at the reunion when he got on one knee and asked for your hand in friendship with the recovered ring. How is your relationship with him now?
That was very mature of Carlton to do. I really appreciate him for doing that and that’s why I accepted the ring. However, our relationship has not gone past that reunion. That’s to be perfectly honest with you. I wish the best of luck to him, but now I feel like it’s best for us to stay separate because I don’t think we can even be in the same room right now without having issues. I have no beef with him, but I’d just rather he stay away from me.
How has being on the show changed your perspective about dating?
Diamond Jack: I know people might say, “Oh, that’s bitter,” but it did [change my perspective]. I’m not bitter though. I think I’m more aware now that I’ve been through certain things in my life. I know what I want and don’t want, so I’m not going to sit here and tolerate people treating me any type of way. I know that nobody is perfect and we have to learn each other’s likes and I’m willing to do that. But if I see a strike one or two in the beginning, I’m not going to stick around for five, six, seven or eight more strikes. I’m taking that person for who they are. If they’ve shown their true colors in the beginning, accept it and make the decision as to whether they’re someone I can handle. I’ve been learning to be patient too. I feel like I was patient on the show, but I need to be possibly a little more patient because dating in Atlanta is very hard. It’s so hard, and that’s not to say it’s not hard in other places. But I’m trying to understand myself as a person.
What about marriage?
I used to really want to get married. All my friends are married or on their second child. So, I wanted to be married at a certain age too. You have a goal and vision for how you’d like your life to go. By this time, I thought I was going to be on my second child as well. But, honestly, this is God’s world and it’s whatever He wants for you. I’m starting to just accept it. I’m not trying to rush anything anymore or be like, “Hey, I need to be married and on my third child.” I’m really just taking it step by step. With marriage, I feel like it’s a commitment. I don’t want to get married just to say I’m married. I want to be married to someone and be deeply and truly happy. I want to be in love with that person. Needless to say, I have a different perspective now and I want to make sure [I have the] right person before I walk down that aisle.
If you could rewind back to your first day in the pods, is there anything you’d do differently?
I don’t know that I would, actually. I was being genuine and my true self. I was open to conversing with everybody although I made a connection with Carlton. I don’t feel like I shut other people down, but because I made that connection with him, I don’t know if I really allowed myself to interact more with other people. I was so caught up in Carlton and he was in my top three. Now I feel like if I were to go back, I probably would have been more open to deeper talks with other guys and not put all my eggs in one basket. I would have tried to talk to them and get to know everybody a little bit more. But you know what you like. For instance, when Barnett said, “Diamond, the stripper,” I was completely done with Barnett [Laughs]. I just felt like I needed to go on another date. But, I am happy that Amber and Barnett are happily married and are for each other.
[This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.]
(Photos: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)