Pastor Cal Interview: Married At First Sight
Pastor Cal Roberson is back for a new year of Married at First Sight, and he sat down with Screen Rant to talk about season 16, his own MAFS journey, and the future of the show. The relationship expert is also a proud husband, father, public speaker, and author. Onscreen, he shared memorable catchphrases and lessons, from, “You don’t just fall in love; you grow in love” to, “Marriage Ain’t For Punks.” Pastor Cal has been a cornerstone of MAFS since 2016. His give and take with the equally talented Dr. Pepper Schwartz is at the heart of the franchise, as the dynamic duo make matches that they hope will last a lifetime.
Outside his work on MAFS, Pastor Cal stays busy giving good advice, and supporting the non-denominational Progression Church in Atlanta, which he founded in 2013. He also runs his ministry and coaching organization alongside his wife, Wendy Roberson, and regularly hosts conferences and workshops. “Marriage Ain’t For Punks” is more than a catchphrase, as it’s also the title of his book, coaching organization, and conference series. Pastor Cal even bases his church teachings on the principle that human relationships are of the utmost importance.
Pastor Cal’s branding is all about the re-education of the heart. After showcasing his expertise on shows like Little Women of Atlanta, Seven Year Switch, and Ultimate Staycation, he’s spent half a decade guiding MAFS couples through conflict and self-discovery. He also hosted the MAFS’ spin-off Unmatchables in 2021, with former MAFS expert, Dr. Viviana Coles, to give MAFS rejects a chance at love. Pastor Cal is unapologetically excited about the future of MAFS, and is thrilled to heal relationships across the country, two souls at a time.
Screen Rant: How does the tone of the season shift culturally as the MAFS production moves around the country, and what kind of backdrop did Nashville bring to the table?
You know, every city has its own particular flavor, whether we’re in the New England area or southern Texas, or Miami. Every city gives its own flavor, and the people reflect that flavor. Nashville is quite interesting because it’s really a party city. So, the kind of freedom that you see there in downtown Nashville, you have the open buses all the time, and people partying, and it’s like the honeymoon or the bachelorette capital of the world. It’s interesting because you do see a little bit of that flavor in almost all the characters, all the couples in MAFS season 16. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun because these are, first of all, very professional people, and they come with a lot of energy and excitement. But also, there’s a deep desire in all of them to really want this, so time will tell. We’ll see what happens.
Screen Rant: Who are the leaders of the season 16 cast?
That’s a great question, and we never really know who’s going to emerge once it starts airing. It depends a lot on what the viewers feel, and what you guys are going to see as it airs. I don’t think anyone considers themselves a leader to be honest, I think they’re all trying to get through this very difficult process. But they’re going to be so focused on trying to make the marriages work. It’s just a strange phenomenon because no one really thinks about it in the cast when you’re in the show, thinking about how we’re just gonna make it happen.
Screen Rant: What couple seems the most likely to bring explosive conflict?
We don’t ever film for explosive content. We just put people together, turn on the cameras, and say be married, and that’s enough. But if I were to answer that question, I believe I’m going to give you a little sneak peace. You’re going to see some explosive content coming from Airris, Jasmine, Christopher, Nicole, Clint, Gina, Mack, Domynique, Shaquille, and Kirsten.,
Screen Rant: The whole crew, more or less (haha).
You know, marriage has every possible movie genre contained in it, drama, comedy… there’s horror, sci-fi, everything.
Screen Rant: People‘s exclusive on season 16 mentions that Shaquille has been working on himself in therapy over the last few years. Do you feel like cast members that come into the show, who have been in therapy, have a different approach to MAFS?
Absolutely. I can definitively say yes because if you’ve opened yourself up to therapy, to finding out who you are and how you can be better, it’s such an easier road when we have to give you advice, because you’re accustomed to taking advice, you’re accustomed to listening and following instructions, and being open to do whatever’s necessary. Now, having therapy is no guarantee that you’re going to be successful in the process, but it definitely goes a long way to a couple or an individual being more open to listen and better themselves. I’m a big fan of therapy.
Screen Rant: Is there any season 16 couple’s storyline you’re especially excited for fans to follow?
There are so many different nuances, and everybody has their own particular story. What I love about MAFS is that everybody can connect to the characteristics as individuals or couples. You have no idea how many emails I get or texts or DMs from people to say, thank you so much for this couple, because we’ve been trying to work this problem out in our own marriage, and this really helped us. So, I think that every viewer is going to find sort of a reflection of their own relationship (or of themselves) in the characters, which is why I’m so glad that we have five singles to choose from as you’re watching the show.
Screen Rant: Have you given Olajuwon Dickerson and Katina Goode any advice since they announced their separation?
I’ve been in contact with Olajuwon and Katina, and I still have great hope. I’m not going to say it’s over. I do have great hope for them. I believe that they really want this, but unfortunately, sometimes, you know, when you have conflict, you make decisions based on the conflict, and not based on whether or not you can overcome it. I think that they’re still in the process of trying to figure it out, but I have made contact with them, as I do with a lot of the cast members from previous seasons. We have talked through a few things, and I’m always available to them. I think they both are just incredible people.
Screen Rant: MAFS fans have been hoping that season 15’s Kristen Collins and season 14’s Mark “The Shark” Maher spark a romance. Do you see any logic in this matchup, or is it just good fan fiction?
It is great fan fiction! The funny thing about this, about the cast from previous seasons, often we’ll see people contacting one another from previous seasons, and maybe showing some interest there, because they all have the commonality of the show and the experience. So it’s easier to relate to some people, but you know what, if there is anything there, I think that would be fine, that’d be great. I haven’t been keeping up with that as much, but I do know them both. I absolutely adored Kristen. I think she is just a fabulous human, and Mark, we just communicated over the holidays. He’s just a great guy too, and whether together or apart, I wish them the absolute best, but it is good fan fiction. I’m not denying or verifying that.
Screen Rant: Are there any cast members you’ve personally identified with over the years?
There are so many (oh my gosh) I identify with, and I still keep in touch with quite a few of the cast members. I mentioned Mark, who I’ve seen great growth out of, in addition to Nate from the Chicago season. Nate and I, we keep in touch. Miles, Karen, and the list goes on. Bobby from Dallas, Bobby was one I just think has just an incredible heart, and he and Daniel are such a great couple, as well as in Chicago, even Ashley and Anthony are one of my favorites as well. So, there are so many couples that I do keep in touch with, and I can identify with some of the experiences. Yeah, absolutely.
Screen Rant: What have you learned from being an expert on MAFS that you’ve taken into your work outside the show, or even into your own marriage?
It’s been such a learning experience. I believe that the greatest teacher is also a good student, and Dr. Pepper and I always endeavor to be great students, and learn from the experience. When you talk to this many couples, you have to glean something for yourself. The idea of knowing how to handle great conflict in a short period of time, it’s valuable. I mean because these individuals only have eight weeks to figure it out, and from the time they first meet each other until the decision day is only eight weeks. They have to do so much to get to know each other, to build a foundation, and it’s sort of made me very grateful, honestly. When I see especially the ones who really put in the work, and I see them really struggling, and those who were successful and still have marriages now, and babies, it makes me very grateful, it makes me very appreciative that my marriage is a successful one. It makes me appreciative that they can overcome these challenges, and still make their families. Look, when I go through trials and challenges in my own marriage, I look at them, too. You know what, if they can make it marrying a stranger, my gosh, I have nothing to complain about. So yeah, I’ve definitely learned a lot. A lot of it is just stick-to-itiveness, persistence, and the ability to adapt. You know, it’s an awesome thing to behold.
Screen Rant: So, there are a lot of shows taking inspiration right now from MAFS’ success, from Netflix’s Love Is Blind to Bravo’s Love Without Borders. What do you think of these other shows’ premises and frameworks compared to MAFS?
You know it’s interesting. Of course, I’m spoiled. I believe that MAFS is the flagship, so I’m biased a hundred percent. Love Is Blind is a great show, as well as Love Without Borders. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, but all those are actually by the same production company, Kinetic Content, and it’s very interesting because all these shows are just different ways to either find love, or increase your attachment to your significant other. Love Without Borders is a very interesting and novel concept, but I don’t think I would do it personally, haha. I think they’re all fascinating social experiments, and bring successes out of all of them.
Screen Rant: After over half a decade on MAFS, what does the show’s future look like from your perspective?
Oh my gosh, onward and upward. I see us getting better. From each season, we learn more, and from each experience, we learn more, and we try to apply it to the succeeding season. So we’re always adding nuance, always changing, and always increasing. We’re always experimenting with different ways of making these marriages work. Going forward, we’re going to see more excitement. I don’t think we’re even done yet. I think we’re just hitting our stride as a show, and I think you’re going to see much more excitement, and much greater innovation as we move forward. So I’m very excited for you to see season 16 and beyond, because you’re going to be quite surprised at some of the innovations that we employ in future shows as well.
Screen Rant: Also, looking toward the future, could there be a space for LGBTQIA* participants on the show?
This is a great question and trust me, it’s not the first time it’s come up. It’s something that we’ve looked at and talked about. Logistically it’s a challenge, but I believe that going forward in the show, it’s always an open door. We’re always trying to find ways to be more inclusive. Of course, in season 16, we’re not featuring any LGBTQ couples, but it’s definitely being discussed moving forward. Here’s the thing, because one thing we don’t want to do, it’s like having an interracial couple, is having a couple for couple’s sake. Irrespective of their orientation, their racial difference, and what have you, you have to find people who actually are compatible. I think we’re doing an injustice to any segment of our population if we just put people together for the purpose of having someone. So, even if it’s an LGBTQ couple, they have to be compatible. People will often say hey, what about interracial couples? If we can’t find anyone who’s compatible, then hey, we won’t do it because we’re trying to make relationships work, which is why one thing that I’ve done is in addition to being on the show, because people contact me all the time, wanting to be matched. We have an app we’ve been developing based on my book, Marriage Ain’t For Punks. The app is to help people find someone compatible with them. So, I don’t want people to think that the show is the only place you can do it. I am endeavoring personally to get people to find their forever love through an app at MarriageAintForPunks.Com.
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