Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Maine native Cameron Hamilton on the reunion episode of the Netflix dating show “Love Is Blind.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

About a week and a half before Valentine’s Day, Lauren Speed-Hamilton said she was pretty sure her husband was planning something special for the couple to do, but he was trying to keep it a surprise.

This seems especially appropriate for a couple whose two-year-marriage involved a pretty major surprise. Cameron Hamilton, a native of the Penobscot County town of Lee, proposed to his future wife on the Netflix dating show “Love Is Blind” without ever seeing what she looked like. The two had only talked to each other through a glass wall for several hours, over a total of nine filmed “dates” on the show.

They were married in November 2018, during the filming of the show, and became audience favorites when their episodes began airing in February 2020. As they prepared to celebrate their third Valentine’s Day as husband and wife, the Atlanta-based couple said the fact that they were able to commit to a lifetime bond without ever laying eyes on one another is not very surprising. Not to them, anyway.

“Looks can be distracting. If you’re on a date and just thinking about how attractive they are, your mind doesn’t think of deeper questions. Removing that component definitely allowed me to dig deeper and talk about some difficult things with Lauren,” said Hamilton, 30, a 2012 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston who runs his own artificial intelligence solutions company. “Asking about having kids or spirituality are tough things to ask about on a first date, most of the time. But when I started talking to Lauren, I was shocked at how deeply we connected.”

Speed-Hamilton said the connection she made simply talking to her future husband was so emotional she ended up crying on their second date, which was really just a conversation.

“Who cries on a second date? But we were talking about our families and how much we loved them and how much of a priority they are to us, and we just both got so overwhelmed,” said Speed-Hamilton, 34, a native of Detroit, Michigan, who runs her own video and media business. “The fact that we met in such an unconventional way really deepened our relationship fast. We weren’t focused on surface things.”

Maine native Cameron Hamilton married Lauren Speed in 2018 after meeting on the Netflix show “Love Is Blind.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

A VERY PUBLIC ROMANCE

Though they didn’t know exactly what each other looked like, they had some idea. They had talked about race, for instance – Hamilton is white and his wife is Black. Speed-Hamilton had done some modeling. When they saw each other for the first time, in an episode of “Love Is Blind,” Speed-Hamilton told her fiance he looked “like a prince, like Prince Charming.” Hamilton dropped to his knees and asked, “Will you still marry me?”

Unconventional is probably understating the way the couple met and have lived their first two years as a married couple. Their appearances on “Love is Blind” in 2020, including footage of their wedding, led to them being dubbed “audience favorites” by the media, and they were written about in the New York Times and other national publications. They both embraced their celebrity and decided that working in entertainment – and making money at it – would be part of their married life.

So in addition to appearing in a reunion episode of “Love Is Blind” and doing media interviews, they launched their own ad-sponsored YouTube channel called “Hangin’ With the Hamiltons.” On the channel, which has more than 660,000 subscribers, they field all sorts of questions, about everything from race and future family plans to who does which chores. They announced plans this week for a book about their life together so far, called “Leap of Faith,” scheduled to come out sometime this summer.

Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Cameron Hamilton will publish a book about their experiences called “Leap of Faith.” Photo courtesy of Cameron Hamilton

Hamilton says the fame can be annoying at times, especially when someone won’t leave them alone at a restaurant. But most of the time he and his wife are happy to share the details of their relationship. After all, Netflix already filmed them in bed, after spending the night together.

Besides the appeal of watching two good-looking people fall in love, Hamilton hopes the story of his marriage might inspire other couples, especially biracial ones. When Hamilton met his wife’s family, his future father-in-law asked him if he’d ever been “in a room full of black people.” Hamilton answered that he had, and he had dated a Black woman for several years.

“Race certainly wasn’t a focus for Lauren and I, but we hope that other mixed-race couples might find some solace in seeing us together,” said Hamilton. Speed-Hamilton said that the show’s premise “allowed me to date outside my race without even knowing” and that her early connection to Hamilton was so strong, “I didn’t care what color he was.”

A year after their episodes of “Love Is Blind” aired, most of the questions and comments the couple gets now can be boiled down to one: When are they going to have a baby? They mostly smile politely and say “hopefully soon,” but admit it’s tough to keep hearing.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of pressure. It’s such a personal question to ask a woman,” said Speed-Hamilton. “I tell people, I’m not pregnant, we’re taking our time, but maybe within a year or so. When it happens, we will definitely let people know.”

Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Cameron Hamilton say their two-year marriage is based on the fact they made a “deep connection” before ever seeing each other. Photo courtesy of Cameron Hamilton

MAINER IN THE MEDIA

Hamilton grew up in Lee, a town of less than 1,000 near Lincoln and about an hour north of Bangor. His father, Bill Hamilton, is chief ranger for the Maine Forest Service. His mother, Pam Hamilton, is a retired teacher and school principal.

In a strange coincidence that the couple “bonded over right away,” Hamilton said, Speed-Hamilton’s parents are also named Bill and Pam.

Growing up, Hamilton considered himself a “woodsy guy” who enjoyed skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling. But he was also somewhat of  “bookworm.” He went to Bates and graduated with a degree in psychology, while also performing in a hip-hop group. He then moved to Georgia for grad school, earning a master’s in neurophilosophy from Georgia State University and a master’s in artificial intelligence from The University of Georgia.

While living in Atlanta, he had done some work as an extra in TV commercials and other projects. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at how TV shows or films were made intrigued him. He worked as a data scientist and consultant before starting his own company.

Hamilton said that before going on “Love Is Blind,” he had been going on a lot of dates, but usually ending the relationship after one or two meetings, finding some reason the women weren’t good matches for him. He said he was acting “shallow” and, as a result, was lonely.

Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Maine native Cameron Hamilton, who met on the Netflix dating show “Love Is Blind,” live in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Cameron Hamilton

Still, when casting directors for “Love Is Blind” sent him an invitation to audition (he’s not sure how they found him), he was not thinking he’d instantly find love.

He said he thought of the show as an opportunity for an adventure, something different to try. He knows it was something most of his friends and family in Maine would likely never try.

“I know most Mainers are private people; I know I used to be. But I thought maybe it was just something I could have fun doing,” said Hamilton. “I remember thinking, ‘Who would be crazy enough to actually get married on a show like this?’ ”

The premise of the show was that 15 men and 15 women would be filmed, in Atlanta, speed dating each other while behind walls. The dates could be just a few minutes, or as the show went on, maybe an hour. Couples were told they could propose if they wanted to, if they found the right person. Hamilton said filming often lasted 16 hours a day. Most of the dating was filmed in two weeks, but filming for the whole show lasted about seven weeks. So he talked to a lot of other women besides his future wife.

The show’s first season debuted on Netflix in February 2020 and ran for 10 episodes, plus a reunion show. The second season is expected to be released this year.

Though he didn’t see himself getting married on a TV show at first, Hamilton said, once he started filming, he decided to take the premise seriously. He began thinking in a more focused way about what might matter to him in a wife.

“I didn’t go in trying to find someone to marry, but I also wasn’t worried about messing up or asking the wrong question,” said Hamilton. “In that environment, I was able to find out how in sync Lauren and I were. Our values were the same.”

Hamilton said he and Lauren talked about their families and about all the details of being a married couple, including children, finances, chores and spirituality. On “Love Is Blind,” six couples are seen getting engaged, but only two got married on the show. After getting engaged, the couples were flown to a retreat in Mexico. Then the couples lived together in an Atlanta apartment complex before the weddings. Two engaged couples split up on their scheduled wedding day. The two weddings took place at an Atlanta function hall, courtesy of the show. The Hamiltons had friends and family on hand for their ceremony.

Since getting married, the couple has lived in Atlanta but has come to Maine. Speed-Hamilton told the New York Times “it was one of the most Caucasian places I’ve ever visited” and that she had her first taste of mincemeat.

Hamilton says being in a sprawling metropolitan area like Atlanta, he’d like to come home to the quiet isolation of Lee more often. He and his wife might even get to do some of things they never got to while “dating,” like walking in the woods holding hands.

“I kind of miss Maine sometimes, being down here. I’d like to take Lauren up there more often, just take some nice long hikes and hang out,” Hamilton said.


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