ENTERTAINMENT
09/03/2020 11:36 PM AEDT

Netflix's ‘Love Is Blind’ Contestant Says Her Story Is 'Bigger Than Race'

Lauren Speed was surprised when other Black women supported her interracial relationship.

Shakespeare thought love was weird. He thought it was capricious, unfair, dizzying, and uncontrollable. He also thought it was blind, which is the premise of Netflix’s new viral TV series “Love Is Blind,” in which the point is to commit to someone purely based on feeling … without ever having actually seen them.

The idea, if you boil it down, is that if we remove race, class, age, appearance, and all those other social hangups, the love that emerges might be more pure. So it’s only fitting that the show’s most beloved pair (SPOILER ALERT!!!) turns out to be an interracial one — just one of two couples, in fact, that actually gets married in the end. 

From the first episode, it was clear that Lauren Speed, a digital content creator, and Cameron Hamilton, an artificial intelligence data scientist, would be the ones to watch. 

And though love, for them, was blind, the audience could see everything. Any viewer could see that Lauren is Black and Cameron is white, and, in a recent interview with Essence magazine, Lauren opened up about those anxieties.

“I feel like me and Cameron’s story is so much bigger than race,” she explained when asked how she expected the world to react. 

“I wasn’t sure what to expect … I thought there may be some people who say, ‘I can’t believe she’s on here with this white man.’ But honestly, [we have] received support from all over — Black men, Black women, white men and white women.”

But Lauren talked about way more than just feeling supported by other Black women. She also dove into the politics of representation, and expressed what it meant to be a Black woman featured in a TV genre that often falls into stereotyping Black women, or underselling their complexities.

“It’s a conversation that Black women are having about being a Black woman at the forefront of a dating show and being desired,” she said. “Black women are shown fighting or [being aggressive]. I don’t want to say the name, but on another dating show, they’re not really the object of the affection.” 

In the same way that racial discrimination plays out in the dating world — especially online, where Black women have often been rated as less attractive than women of other races and ethnicities — so it plays out on many of these dating shows.

ABC’s “The Bachelor” was famously slapped with a racial discrimination lawsuit back in 2012 over its “deliberate exclusion of people of colour from the roles of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.” A judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Michael Kovac via Getty Images
Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette.

On “Love Is Blind,” Lauren thought it was important for her to be loved at her most authentic, which included wearing a bonnet. (Cameron, hilariously, said it reminded him of a beret.)

It’s true that the representation of Black people in general, and of Black women in particular, has often been flattened and stereotyped when translated to the screen. Most commonly, Black women are rendered as unreasonable and/or angry.

Ex-Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, for example, who was the first Black lead of the franchise back in 2017, criticized the show’s producers for how she was edited to look like an “angry Black female” in her finale episode.

Lauren also said it was also unfortunate, on a casting level, that there weren’t many Black men to pick from on “Love Is Blind.” In fact, this has been one of the major critiques of the show, since there was only one Black man on the cast.

In the end, of course, Lauren and Cameron did find love. The two married on the season finale, which was filmed at the end of 2018. And they’re still together! Their families get along. Her father comes over every Sunday for dinner. They don’t have a baby, but they do have a puppy, who is apparently teaching them patience for when they are ready to have a human child.

“We’re so happy. It’s just like every day we learn more and more about each other, and we honestly fall more and more in love with each other,” she told Elite Daily. “I’ve never been so happy. Cameron is so loving — the most loving man that I’ve ever been with. I feel so fortunate to have found someone who can finally love me properly.”