By Alan Zeitlin, JNS
“Love is Blind” star Alexa Alfia says she is proud and won’t try to change minds of haters.
When it comes to finding your soulmate, putting all your eggs in one basket on a reality TV show seems like a recipe for disaster. But for Alexa Alfia, who is appearing in the third season of the hit Netflix show “Love Is Blind,” a key ingredient in romantic success is an adventurous palate.
“Love Is Blind” has an unusual premise: Participants go on literal blind dates in which they may talk but cannot see each other. They are placed in “pods” divided by thin walls, but meet face to face only if they agree to get engaged. After four weeks, each person can opt to ditch the arrangement or get hitched.
This season, Alfia’s Judaism is present throughout the show.
Prospective partner Brennon Lemieux surprisingly tells Alfia that his favorite dish to cook is shakshuka, a Maghrebi dish featuring poached eggs, simmering tomato sauce and spices that is also popular in the Jewish state. The revelation prompts her to say that she comes from an Israeli family.
“We had our journal, and I put ‘shakshuka’ and put a star on his name,” Alfia told JNS. “That was all I needed to know. How he really stood out to me was, he was the ‘shakshuka guy.’ I’ve made it countless times for friends over the years and people are like, ‘What is that?’ I’ve also become kind of like a spokesperson for shakshuka, getting tagged online and people are making it for the first time.”
Alfia’s Jewish heritage is front and center throughout the series. In one scene, her father explains to Lemieux what a ketubah, or marriage contract is. In another, Lemieux tries on a yarmulke and skillfully catches it behind his back after it slips off his head.
Alfia graduated from Tel Aviv University in 2016 and says that studying Jewish history taught her “time and time again, how people hate Jews. It makes me even more proud that we are still here.
“It’s never been something that’s crossed my mind to not be,” Alfia said of her Jewish identity. “I’m very proud to be Jewish. I’ve always been that way. I’m always proud to share my culture from a young age and having people over for Shabbat dinners with challah and having a great time. It’s very central to who I am. My personality and my mannerisms, a lot of it comes from being from an Israeli family and being Jewish.”
Asked about an article in Vulture, a website focusing on pop culture run by New York magazine, which warned readers she “may be a Zionist” (the phrase was later edited out) and similar online comments, she said her focus is on being her best self, not worrying about critics.
“What am I gonna do?” she asked. “I can’t change anyone’s opinion. I think all of us are born as good people and some are taught to hate a certain type of people. I can just be me and show you I’m not a bad person. It’s not my job to do that. But I’m not gonna hate myself because you have all this hate in your heart for someone that didn’t do anything to you. Israel is a country. It’s a tiny little country in the Middle East and we don’t bother anybody. People hate it.”
Alfia and Lemieux, 27 and 32 at the time of filming, respectively, did not grow up religious and are both from Dallas. Alfia didn’t face struggles, while he did. While she is Jewish, he comes from a Christian family. Despite these differences, their connection appears to be the most genuine of any couple on the show.
In the second episode, Lemieux tells her she smells good, and they share a romantic kiss as they first lay eyes on each other.
Alfia tells the cameras that while she could stand to lose some weight, she likes how she looks. Some have commented online that they’ve been inspired by her, as diversity of body types is seldom celebrated on screen.
“Honestly, I never saw it as being an issue, even when I was being interviewed, I was confused,” Alfia said. “I am very proud of the way I look. I’ve always been curvy. I’m happy to represent having a curvier figure. I’ve had people reach out to me to say they’re so happy to see that representation on TV and see someone love them so wholeheartedly.”
In one episode, she asks her man if he has seen the movie “Runaway Bride,” and she is clearly the funniest person on the show.
“Humor has always been my thing,’ Alfia said, adding that she gets it from her family’s sarcastic nature.
In one moving scene, the pair share a kiss upon meeting, and in another, Alfia tears up with joy when trying on her bridal dress. The show has some surprises; it’s binge worthy even though some of the guys appear to be wildly immature.
Alfia is a fan of the Cowboys and the Mavericks.
“As long as there’s a bar, I’m good,” she said.
She owns and runs an insurance company and said being on the show was easy, adding that while few people will have the opportunity to do so, they will encounter opportunities to take a chance on romance.
“I never struggled with the cameras, so I was just being me,” Alfia said. “I hope people find love in whatever way. I would just say people should allow themselves to be vulnerable.”
Ten episodes can currently be viewed on Netflix. The finale and reunion episodes will be available on November 9.