Exclusive: Kolby and Russell Harris On Tackling Reality TV and ‘Love & Marriage: Detroit’

Love & Marriage: Detroit, the newest series in the franchise, from reality producer and Detroit native Carlos King, premiered back in June.

In a city where Black culture is strong, the series surrounded three couples, Russell and Kolby Harris, Brandon and Kristina Bowman Smith, and Anthony and Dr. LaToya Thompson.

Over the course of the season, secrets and past deeds haunted the couples as relationship cracks were exposed, and issues surrounding faith, resentment and broken lines of communication were tackled head on.

As the series finishes its freshman season with the second part of the reunion airing this Saturday (September 9). We caught up with The Harris’s about their experience.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity purposes.

The reality TV curse has claimed many marriages, with couples getting divorced after sharing their lives with audiences and prying cameras. Why did you want to sign up for the show?

Kolby Harris: I really wanted to display black love. I feel like black love is just beautiful, and I wanted to be a part of showcasing real black love.

Which of you had to be convinced to do the show?

Kolby Harris: It took me to convince Russell. I had to get him to see the bigger picture because he was only seeing the drama aspect of it. I’m usually the person who sees the risk in opportunities, and he’s the one that sees all the benefits but, in this case, Russell saw all the risk and I saw all the opportunities. That was a little different for us.

Whenever I think about how to tackle reality television, I always refer to the “Kandi model” [Burruss, star of ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’] each season she comes on and uses the show to promote her various ventures. Were you able to do any of that?

Kolby Harris: That’s what we are really working on. I feel like with your first season, there’s just a lot of unknown. There’s a lot that you don’t know, and there’s a lot that you don’t know what you don’t know. We were very native, very green going into this. I can say for seasons to come, we know what we are going to do differently, we know how we are going to move differently. It took us to get through this bumpy era to see where there could be potential growth from this.

Speaking of what you didn’t know, what did you learn about each other or about yourself that you didn’t know prior to filming?

Russell Harris: I didn’t know that she thought I had a communication issue.

Kolby Harris: TV is really a mirror, you are able to see yourself and ‘go oh I did that’, ‘I acted like that’, ‘I can be this way.’ For me it showed me that I overreacted to a lot of different things. I feel like it can be a tool to help you do better and be better as well, if you are willingly to do the work. I didn’t know I was so quickly provoked to things; I was offended easily by things. I will definitely apply those lessons moving forward.

Part one of the reunion has aired, we have the second part coming up. What was your mindset going into a “reunion.”

Kolby Harris: Going into the reunion it was awkward. I shared that I hadn’t talked to Christina (Bowman Smith) since we had wrapped filming. It was very weird to be in the same space as her, seeing how we hadn’t seen each other in a year. We stopped filming a year ago. I didn’t know what kind of emotions would come out of that. You don’t know what you are going to say, or how you are going to feel seeing someone after so much time has gone by.

Russell Harris: I’ve never watched a reality TV reunion before so I didn’t know what to expect at all. I was sweating and nervous. I didn’t know what was coming, or who was coming for me.

Kolby Harris: People said you looked bored.

Russell Harris: I didn’t know what was going on. I was just ready for whatever was to come. They said I looked bored.

Kolby Harris: In the reviews and comments, I’ve seen people have been asking was Russell bored? Primarily because a lot of it didn’t have anything to do with Russell. He was the easy-going guy of the show, he didn’t have a lot of issues or drama with the other cast members. He was just sitting there watching everyone else, making sure they didn’t jump on his wife. I think Russell kind of benefited because he got to watch everyone else throw stones.

Russell Harris: For me I was just being myself.

Kolby you touched on your relationship with Christina, since the reunion have you spoken with her or Toya (Dr. LaToya Thompson)

Kolby Harris: Yeah, I speak with LaToya all the time.

Hopefully there’s a season 2 and you both are back for it. How do you see yourself moving the next time around.

Russell Harris: Now that we understand reality TV, I think we would be more comfortable and aware of environments that we walk into. If you look at my facial express on 90% of the show, I was surprised at what was happening.

Kolby Harris: You won’t catch me going off on anyone telling them not to call my husband again. I’m going to be a little more composed season 2. I now know how production is set up; they are producers for a reason. It’s like fool me once shame on me, fool me twice I can’t blame you anymore. I know that in certain situations it’s going to be all cast, and I know when it’s all cast there’s potential for something to go down. I’m still going to be outspoken and be me because that’s who I am. In terms of how I do that, how I show up to do that will be totally different. We said going into the show we are not going to be who are aren’t. Who the cameras get is who we are. We aren’t putting on for the cameras, I’m not giving you extra. I’ve heard people say that I give extra, I don’t give extra. I can be a bit dramatic, naturally. If you know me, you know that. So, saying I’m putting on for the camera, being dramatic is not true because I’m always a little bit dramatic.

Now that season is over what’s next for you?

Russell Harris: I ended up buying the gym we see in the first season. I’m in the process of launching a boys’ boarding school as well. I have my hands in a few other things.

Kolby Harris: I have a lot going on, I can’t share too much yet. I’m in the influencer space full-time now, I’ve left corporate America since the show has aired. I’m excited about being in the entrepreneur space full-time, and excited for some projects I have coming up this fall.

You can follow Kolby on all socials @kolbyshantel and Russell @ruselllharrisjr and @anytimefitnesspontiac

Part Two of Love & Marriage: Detroit airs Saturday September 9th at 8 PM on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

You can watch Part One below.

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