You might know Amber Bowles from Married at First Sight and her dramatic relationship on the show. She is a middle school teacher living in North Carolina, and we talk reality TV, Charlotte and Womanhood.

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Alice: Hi everyone. You might know Amber Bowles from Married at First Sight. She is a middle school teacher living in North Carolina, and we are so excited to have you on today. Thank you for being here.

Amber: I am really excited to be here too.

Alice: Yes, I recently watched your show because it was just released on Netflix. And so it was just wild. I loved everything about it. So thanks for being on today.

Amber: Yes, no problem. Honestly, once it got on Netflix, I feel like things got crazy.

Alice: Wow. When did it go up on Netflix?

Amber: Not that long ago. I feel like after quarantine started so, and because it released between June of twenty nineteen and September of twenty nineteen. So yes, it was out for a while.

Alice: Wow. And now everyone is just like, “Oh my gosh. This new show to watch. All my girlfriends have been talking about it.” Okay, but what is your favorite reality TV show? Is it this one?

Amber: I do love Married at First Sight and I enjoy watching it. But my favorite reality show, I love cooking shows. Does that count as reality TV?

Alice: Yes. I think that is great.

Amber: I am obsessed with cooking shows. I love anything with Guy Fieri. He is like my favorite.

Alice: Gosh. He is so great. I wish I could cook. Are you a good Chef then?

Amber: You know, I will cook things. I am good at preparing food, but I am not necessarily like a chef.

Alice: That is awesome. What would you be your favorite thing to try to prepare?

Amber: I love making tacos and like doing weird spins on tacos. I recently made the salmon tacos that were so good. Yes, I made this side of, it is like cucumber and orange salad. It was so weird but it was so good.

Alice: Sounds like really refreshing during the summertime.

Amber: Yes. So it was delicious.

Alice: Oh, that is great. So, are you still living in Charlotte? Are you still in North Carolina?

Amber: Yes. I live like, we are almost in Uptown.

Alice: Oh, okay. What is your favorite part about Charlotte?

Amber: Okay. So Charlotte is just the best city because it is a small big city. So I feel like I run into the same people a lot and I have gotten to know a lot. It is strange. I feel like I know everyone in Charlotte, but then there are still people to meet. New places are popping up on every corner because Charlotte is growing so much. I grew up in this area and ten years ago, there was nothing and now Charlotte has like all these breweries, like all these bars and restaurants. So it is fun because there is always something new to try.

Alice: Oh, that is really cool. Do you have a favorite restaurant that, like, if we go to Charlotte, we should hit up this one.

Amber: There are a few, honestly. One of them is Bakersfield. They have the best tacos and they have the best margarita in Charlotte, like the best margarita you will ever have. And you got to go there for margaritas. What else? There are just a lot of great places in Charlotte. I cannot even think of any other ones that I go to more regularly. Oh, I go to this bar called The Union and we always have great drink specials, but it is definitely a bar, not food.

Alice: Huh? Okay. I will have to hit it up when I can travel again after COVID.

Amber: I am not gonna travel again.

Alice: Oh my gosh. What have you been doing during quarantine?

Amber: So I have been working. I am teaching at a new school next year and my class actually is going to be a different type of class. I used to teach English, but I will be doing a literacy class. I have been working on my curriculum for my new class. So I have been doing a lot of work on that and then I have just been going to the pool a lot because I love just being outdoors and I have just been trying to avoid people.

Alice: I know. So crazy right now. Are you guys transitioning to teaching online as well? Like with the [inaudible]

Amber: Well, we just got word from our governor that we will be going back at least part-time. So, I mean we are preparing for kids like, we will be having kids in August.

Alice: Oh my gosh. Wow, that sounds really scary. Do they have things in place to keep all of you safe?

Amber: I mean, we just do not have the budget. That is what we– I do not think people understand is we barely have the budget for what we do clean now, and we get a lot of complaints that our school buildings are not clean. But I mean we just do not even have the budget for that. So I cannot imagine. We talked to the mayors. They already told us we are going to be responsible for cleaning our own rooms and making sure that they are sanitized. I mean, that is not in my job description.

Alice: Yes, that is like almost unaffordable.

Amber: And I mean, I got my master’s degree in education, not in sanitation. So I know nothing about how it should be sanitized, I just do not even know.

Alice: Wow, what a weird world we are living in.

Amber: Yep, really strange, especially in the South.

Alice: Yes, are people wearing masks in Charlotte?

Amber: Not where I live. I live in uptown where a lot of young people live here. So, I mean, I am old so I do not go out that much, but I will look out my window and there is a big beer garden across the street and people are just standing in line with no masks even though they have to wear one inside.

Alice: Wow, I am from New York City. So it is prevalent here and everyone is wearing a mask because everyone knows someone who has been affected. It is just insane. Can you talk about Married at First Sight? So did you watch the show before you went on? Were you their audience?

Amber: Yes, I actually watched it on Hulu before I went on. I watched seasons four through six and I fell in love with the idea once I watched.
Because season four, I was like, “Oh, I do not know. I do not know if I can do this.” Season five, I watched it and I fell in love with Ashley and Anthony story and they had like such a love story, it just to me, it looked like both people were putting in an equal amount of effort. So I was like, wow, Married at First Sight really works when each person is putting in their hundred percent. If each person wants it and is willing to work for it. And so that is what made me fall in love with the idea of going on Married at First Sight because it really can work, it just takes work from both people.

Alice: How did you find out about the auditions and about them coming to Charlotte?

Amber: So my best friend, she is like super, she just stays up on everything that happens at Charlotte and she texted me and Raven, my best friend and we are really close. We group move to Elementary, Middle School together. So she texted us in a group message, she was like, “You both need to try out for Married at First Sight.” So we are like, we will just both apply and see what happens. So Raven and I applied together and we did the applications. Yes, I mean both of us were like, there is no chance that we can get call back, like there is no chance. And somehow he and I both made it to the in-process.

Alice: That is amazing. Yes, what was that audition like? What kind of questions did they ask?

Amber: So it starts with, I do not know why anyone would wait like, who would go on the show because it is so much work. Who would go on the show for not love? I do not get it. It starts with a sixty-one question questionnaire and everyone takes that and it is like that is kind of how they start to weed out like who they might consider and then you go have a Skype interview with one of the producers or one of the field producers and then, after you do Skype interview, they have someone call you and they do these workshops and you show up to these workshops, and you do all these psych evaluations. So once you make it past the Skype interview, you do a three hundred fifty question survey, took me seven hours and it is like every question is literally asking you about how you feel about sex, children, money, relationships, parents, like family. I spent so much time. I was like, no guy would waste their time doing this if they did not want to get married. So that was where my mind was at because it really is the longest process and you do multiple psych evaluations, background checks, it is intense.

Alice: Wow, that is amazing. That is a lot of time and like they are really trying to like figure out the personalities and put you guys together.

Amber: So for them, it is like how do your values line up? So if I value family, they want to find someone who values family. If I value like budget, some people are more loose with spending, some people are more tight with spending, so they try to like– so there are eight areas they try to match you on and they try to make sure your values are at least aligned or you can, like sometimes they do the opposites attract thing. Like if say I am lacking in the family area, like Matt was, then they will match you with someone who is strong in the family area. So they are like, in certain areas they are looking for someone to compliment you and certain areas, they are looking for someone to like support you.

Alice: Interesting.

Amber: It is really like a lot of work. I mean this show is not for the faint of heart. That is why I always am so surprised when we have these poeple on the show for like fame. I am like, this is such a process.

Alice: Yes, they had to really work hard to get on the show.

Amber: Right. Why would you waste like, why would you waste your own time and much less with someone else’s is time, you know.

Alice: We have opportunity of falling in love.

Amber: Right. Like Matt and I end up having a talk where he basically end up saying like he does not even believe in the concept of love. Like, he does not believe you can love someone.

Alice: Why did he like to get on the show?

Amber: Yes. I mean, I think he regrets doing it.

Alice: That is intense. I am so sorry for what you went through.

Amber: I mean, it is okay now. I think I needed that, like, it was truly like a learning experience and I needed that to get to the point where I am now. So I think I would do it again, even though it is eight weeks of hell. It was like eight weeks of hell that truly shaped who I am now and I like who I am now a lot more than who I was last year.

Alice: Wow. And then for everyone who is listening who has not watched Married at First Sigh, so Amber Bowles was one of the people chosen to be married on the show to Matt. What is his last name?

Amber: Gywnne.

Alice: Okay, Matt Gwynne and he just did not have his heart in it. We were just talking about that and he ended up not even honoring the marriage but Amber, you put your heart and soul into it. We all saw it and watched and we were rooting for you on Netflix and on Lifetime when it first aired. Can you talk about the response the audience had after the show aired?

Amber: It was wild to me how many people related to my story because you know, you think when you are in this, you are like, “I am alone. No one would ever understand how I am feeling.” But it is crazy how many women and men have dated a Matt. Like, you know, everyone has dated their version of a Matt and Matt like is the type of person you date and you learn more about yourself. So I mean, and that is like a positive thing. It sucks that you had to go through it because he is very selfish. Sorry my dog is like–

Alice: Let me see him. Okay

Amber: Hi babies. Come her. I was trying to pick him up and I actually squeezed his arm.

Alice: Oh my gosh. He is so cute. Raise him up, please. Amber? Amber? I think I lost you. Hey, Amber, are you still there? For some reason I think you are frozen. Let me send you a chat. There you are.

Amber: Yes. Can you see me?

Alice: Oh, I can see you now.

Amber: I do not know what happened. I wonder why when I picked him up he screamed. I do not know what I am worried about.

Alice: He is so cute. Oh my gosh.

Amber: He is one of the cutest little puppy ever but gosh, he has like a little energizer bunny rabbit like– Lenny, can you relax, baby? Come here.

Alice: Come back.

Amber: I am just going to steal this toy from him. Okay, so back, where was the question? We could start over.

Alice: So I was asking you about the audience and what they thought when the show was airing because I think a lot of people were just so drawn to you and Matt and like your story, like everyone on your season had such a powerful love story and for us we were just watching yours as it slowly unfurled. Can you talk a little bit about the audience?

Amber: Yes. So for me, it was strange because I felt in the moment when it was filming, I felt so alone but on the last day of filming, I remember a producer or a video, one of the camera guys pulled me aside and he was like, “Just so you know, I have watched you these last eight weeks and I could relate to your–” And this was a guy. He was like, “I could relate to your experience so well.” He was like, he said, “You know everyone dates a Matt.” And after the show and people started reaching out to me, it seems like everyone has had their experience with a Matt, if not like, you know without Matt. But it just feels like I was not as alone as I thought I was. So that was really nice to hear and knowing that all these people– there was a lot of people who have messaged me and they are like, “Because I watched you ask for divorce on decision day, I felt empowered to leave my toxic relationship.”

Alice: Wow.

Amber: Because it is like, people are watching their relationships unfold on TV. If you think about it, like my relationship is like a lot of people’s relationships right now and so it is toxic and they need to get out but sometimes it is hard to get out when you are inside it and you cannot see it. It is hard to leave it. But when you can kind of start to see it, you are like, “Wow, this is super toxic. I need to leave.” And I think it took me at least– I would say after talking with Dr. Viviana, I was ready to be done with Matt.

Alice: Oh, wow.

Amber: For week five, when we had our recommitment, but I decided to give it a shot because I am just not a quitter and I just did not want to regret leaving it too early. And I mean that was probably a mistake on my part. But at least I know that I gave it my one hundred percent the whole time.

Alice: Yes, we saw you working for it. We saw you working hard and like always trying to form a connection so it was really inspiring to all of us watching. Can you talk about what is happening now? Are you officially divorced? I know in North Carolina, you have to wait a year and a day to be separated?

Amber: You do. I am working on it. Matt is really slowing the process of getting this divorce. So unfortunately, even when– I am getting an absolute divorce now, so Matt never signed the previous separation documents. I sent them to him three times and he never signed any of them and he had them since September twenty nineteen, like as soon as the show finished airing. I mailed them to him and now we are in July of twenty-twenty. He still never signed anything. With the absolute divorce. He has to somehow acknowledge that he knows what is going on and we had to give him a period of time where he can like, I guess, say no he does not want a divorce which I do not think he is going to do but he is yet to acknowledge he has even gotten the absolute divorce papers. He just has to, it is like a certified mail, I think he just has to receive the mail. But he had not even received the mail because he does not have a consistent home address.

Alice: Oh my gosh. Oh, no, Amber. I think I lost you again. You are frozen. Can you hear me?

Amber: So it is just really disheartening. I know I can still– yes, I can hear you.

Alice: Oh, sorry, I see you now.

Amber: Okay.

Alice: Sorry. I am sorry that internet connection is so wanky.

Amber: No, it is weird because like I feel like this was happening– So I live in an apartment building and we all have to use Spectrum internet and I almost feel like it is part of that, like everyone is online doing working from home. Internet is slow compared to what it should be.

Alice: Yes. It has gotten a lot slower since COVID because I think everyone is using it. That makes sense. Yes, hope it is not that bad.

Amber: Hopefully, we will be able to edit this out.

Alice: Yes. I will be able to edit it. Yes, you were talking about you were getting the absolute divorce and he just has to open or have the certified mail but his mailbox continues to change.

Amber: Yes, so it tooke me like a couple months to even get an address for him because I think his friend where he was living moved. So yes, it just has been really frustrating working through this divorce because he did nothing in the marriage and he did nothing in the divorce. Like he has truly wasted so much of my time and it is really frustrating.

Alice: And money, are you paying those legal expenses?

Amber: Luckily the show is paying for it, but we are getting to the end of our budget because they keep on just spending more and more money on this divorce. So we are getting close to the end of our budget and I mean that is going to be on Matt. I am not going to pay for it. He want me to divorce, he can pay it.

Alice: Wow. That is insane. But I am so glad the show is able to help you.

Amber: Right, they are, thank God.

Alice: Yes, and you also had some powerhouse women on your season. Are you still in contact with all of them?

Amber: Yes, so I talked to Beth and Iris the most. Deonna is just super busy with work and everything and I still talk to Deonna. We talked a lot on group message. We were all really close and I mean, we went through a shared experience together. So just brought us like so much closer. There are only three people on this Earth who understand what we went through. From a woman, from Charlotte like on our season who lived the exact same experiences like, it is just us three.

Alice: Yes. Oh, that is wonderful. What have you learned from each of them? They are all such different personalities.

Amber: Okay. So Deonna, I feel like her and Gregg have the perfect relationship. So just a lot of relationship goals there. You can learn how to– I felt like she did a perfect job of being playing hard to get but not too hard to get. You know, like her and Greg just did it right. Beth, all about self-empowerment. She is so inspiring because she just knows who she is and she knows who she is. There is no changing that and I kind of feel like same with Iris. The way she handled her divorce with Keith and the way she handled The break-up. I mean I was hurting for her because she obviously did not want a divorce but Keith asked for that on decision day. Just seeing how she handled it with Grace, I just learned so much from her.

Alice: That is wonderful. And what have you been up to since the show? It has been a while now. Like now, we are in quarantine, but what has life looked like?

Amber: I am still teaching and I love it. I think that is the number one question I get. It is like, “Are you still teaching?” Yes, because I cannot imagine doing anything else, like I want to talk and kids luckily are fun to talk to and I just love talking about books. So what a better place is that? Im in the English classroom, you know.

Alice: What have you read recently?

Amber: So right now, I am reading Inherent Vice which I do not recommend. It is crazy like, so it was written not that long ago but a setback, like the nineteen sixty-nine, nineteen seventy. It is like this guy, the main character is a private detective but he is always doing these drugs. So it is really hard to understand. It is good. It is just like, you are like, “Wow, is this real or not?” Because you are always questioning, like is this reality or is this not his reality?

Alice: Oh, okay. Cool.

Amber: But I also read The Five People You Meet in Heaven and that was so inspirational. That was a really good one. And then what else have I read over quarantine? I have been reading some teacher books and I have been reading Dare which is a book about anxiety, just with COVID going on, like let us just talk about this.

Alice: We all need that.

Amber: Like every time I step outside, I am like, “Covid?” So I have been reading some stuff about anxiety and just trying to work on that.

Alice: That is a great idea. Yes, and you have your own place. Are you still in there? Your studio and your puppy?

Amber: Well, I actually moved out of the studio. My best friend, and I have two guy best friends, so my other guy best friend, his name is Bobby, we lived together for a year and a half and then I moved out, got my own studio. And he was looking to move and he moved to my complex and got a two bedroom. So I end up moving with him.

Alice: Oh, perfect.

Amber: Right. We were already roommates for a year and a half. It is just so easy and it is not, honestly, I am an extrovert so I get so tired of being home alone all the time. So I think that is why and I am living in a twelve hundred square foot apartment versus the Griffin Studio, which is so nice. I felt like I did not have room in that studio.

Alice: Oh my gosh, Amber. I am in a 500 square foot one-bedroom in New York.

Amber: Hate it? I loved it because it is easy to clean but it is– I got like, we get bored a lot[?]. I would be like, okay, so it is like Saturday morning and I am doing nothing.

Alice: Especially during quarantine, I am like get me out of here.

Amber: That is how I feel until now at least with this my apartment I can like– I have a little workout space and I can do a lot more which is nice.

Alice: Well, nice. That is awesome. That must be so good to have your best friend with you during COVID.

Amber: Yes. Oh my gosh. I cannot imagine living alone right now.

Alice: Yes, just horrible.

Amber: That would be horrible.

Alice: Yes, and something that we always ask on this podcast is, what does womanhood mean to you? It can be like anything that comes to your head right now. I know it is like a definition that is probably constantly shifting and changing. But what is it right now?

Amber: I really love that question, actually. So for me a woman– like I feel like women are just so powerful and we embody growth because we grow babies inside us, and we grow. I feel like every stage of life, women have like this moment of growth that I do not know that men always have. Like we are just so introspective and when I think men can be introspective but we have this growth in us, like I feel like every year of my life, I can pinpoint a moment and say I grew here. So womanhood to me is just like growth, and like love, and power, all wrapped into one. It is very beautiful to me.

Alice: Yes. I think that is really lovely. I love that idea of growth and I am curious like how we will all grow together during this experience that we are living through right now.

Amber: Yes, because we have such a shared experience that you know, there is no other time in our lives that we have ever experienced anything like this. So it is such a strange crazy time.

Alice: Yes, it is almost like what you were saying like the shared experience of four women from Charlotte getting Married at First Sight but now it is like the whole world is sharing this one thing. I was going to say marriage.

Amber: No one is following the rules. I wish I was in New Zealand right now.

Alice: Oh my gosh, yes.

Amber: No COVID cases now because they yes–.

Alice: Wow, I just saw an article that said like the Prime Minister of Barbados is saying that you can live there up to a year now and just like work from home in Barbados and I am like, “I got to buy a flight. I hate New York now like, bye.”

Amber: I cannot imagine being in New York right now, they are pretty strict.

Alice: Yes, it is pretty strict. But it also feels a lot safer than it did. I mean it was horrible, but everyone is taking it really seriously, which is the good part about it.

Amber: We need the South to follow you.

Alice: Come on.

Amber: So listen South, I am stuck here. Come on guys.

Alice: Yes, another question that we like to ask on this is, if you had any piece of advice for a woman that you just met on the street, what would you tell them about anything?

Amber: I would give the advice to myself last year, so it is like your life does not need to be on a timeline. So you see, it is so easy to look around you and say, oh at this age I should be having this type of career. At this age, I should be married. At this age, I should have kids. And it is really easy to get caught up in the timeline and not in the journey. So enjoy every moment regardless of your timeline. You do not need a timeline. You just need to enjoy every moment.

Alice: That is great. I really need to think more about that.

Amber: — horrible that like, I want to be on a timeline. I think that is why I was rushing up married on national TV. Everyone in my family is like married by twenty-six, have kids by twenty-eight and I am just not on timeline. I am just not and like that is so beautiful and okay in itself to you know.

Alice: Yes, I think that is great. Come up to New York. We have no time left.

Amber: I love it. I know.

Alice: Just rolled up here.

Amber: Like I plan on being old and I do not know– if I have kids I have them if I do not, I do not like its honestly at this point, I do not really want to have kids because it is kind of fun not having them.

Alice: Yes, can you talk about what is next for you? Do you see love on the horizon?

Amber: Well, I am. So I have a boyfriend. We are dating for almost six months now or really between five and six months and he is just great. He actually has two daughters. So like yes, and he is just great, he is such a kind soul. So I love just being around him. So for my future I just hope I continue to grow– like we can grow together. That is scary.

Alice: Awesome.

Amber: In the future I want to grow with him and then hopefully I am thinking about buying my own house. Like that is the next big adventure of my life.

Alice: Amazing.

Amber: We will see how it goes. Once COVID started, I was like, you know, what would be really nice right now like having a backyard.

Alice: Yes.

Amber: And no one in it like this.

Alice: Yes, please.

Amber: That is why I think I am pushing. So that is where I see myself in the next six months. Like kind of starting to be independent and moving out on my own again. We will see how it goes.

Alice: That is amazing. Oh, Congratulations! Yes. Is there anything you else you would like to add to our listeners?

Amber: I just enjoyed– I love being here, and I have enjoyed talking to you. So and whenever you want, like if you have anything you ever want to talk about again, let me know.

Alice: Awesome. Thank you so much Amber for being on.

Amber: Yes, always I really enjoyed it.

Alice: Yes, I was very much like fangirling when you like DMed me on Instagram because I was like, I will just try it. But thank you.

Amber: So I love to listen to podcasts. I do not know if I am very good at them.

Alice: Well, this was awesome. I came to listen to this one.

Amber: I am definitely going to and I love like your, like I felt like it was all about women. So I am like, “Oh, yeah, I am up for that.”

Alice: Let us empower some girls.

Amber: Oh, yes, I mean like our world is set up to empower man. Let us empower women.

Alice: Yes, I agree. Definitely.

Amber: I am excited.

Alice: Yes. Thank you so much Amber.

Amber: Yes. Well, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Alice: Thank you. You too. And also, I just have a question. Should I reach out to your publicist about photos for PR for this or should I–?

Amber: Yes, that would be great perfect. So she is really good about everything and I know like she will and I am happy to advertise. I do not know, when do you plan on airing it?

Alice: In a couple of weeks because I have a couple to edit. I will definitely send you an email or her an email beforehand.

Amber: Yes. So whatever you want me to advertise and stuff, I am all about it.

Alice: Okay. Thank you so much. It was so nice to get to talk to you and like have an awesome future. I hope you will get your house and everything. That is awesome.

Amber: I am excited, and I am glad I got to talk to you. So, it is awesome.

Alice: Yes. Nice talking to you Amber.

Amber: Have a good day.

If you loved hearing about Amber, check out the rest of our interviews with women from all over the world.

And if you need a little pick me up from the stresses and anxieties of PMS, try our OAA Supplement (oxaloacetate), that can help with the gloominess, irritabilities, anxieties, and stresses of that time of the month.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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