90 Day Fiance Casting Secrets: Method, Mistakes, Upcoming Transgender Story

Like past seasons, this season of 90 Day Fiance has been filled with drama, surprises, and villains.

It’s enough to make some fans think that there’s a “script,” but it has more to do with editing … and with casting.

90 Day Fiance‘s casting director is opening up about that process, and mistakes made along the way.

The franchise looks forward to making better choices in the future, including casting its first transgender stars.

Variety spoke to casting director Brooklyn Bagwell, who has helped transform this series into a can’t-miss phenomenon.

“When I first started casting the show,” she recalled.

Bagwell continued: “We would work with immigration lawyers and scour social media.”

Mohamed Jbali and DanielleMohamed Jbali and Danielle
At one point, Mohamed Jbali and Danielle Mullins were a happily married couple. Or a married couple, at least.

“It was mostly on Facebook, visa forums, and cold calling every day,” Bagwell described.

“We would get in the couples that we really loved,” she shared.

“Along with these ancillary characters,” Bagwell emphasized, “which is super important to the casting process.”

Upon learning that they haven’t taken a test yet, Ron notes that they should do that, and should have taken one right away. Brandon vows to get one on his way home from work.

It’s not just that they need villains like Betty Gibbs or beloved characters like Miss Gwen.

They also need dirt on the couples.

“They have to open up their world to us,” Bagwell explained.

Jovi’s mother is a fan-favorite, and she’s also a favorite of Yara’s. Gwen is totally Team Yara and makes that clear. She loves her son but he has some growing up to do, she says. Jovi needs to get out of the mindset that he was just on the boat so now he should treat himself at bars and strip clubs. Now, she says, he was just on the boat FOR his wife and daughter, so homecoming needs to also be about them.

She detailed: “And that includes having their family and friends speak to us about their concerns.”

“I think it’s important that we speak to the fish-out-of-water moments,” Bagwell expressed.

“We want to find a foreigner who has never been to America before,” she shared.

Bagwell admitted: “It’s a red flag if they’ve been to America, because we want to focus on those first times.”

She added: “Then we also look for how much physical time the couple has spent together since they’ve met.”

Bagwell opined: “I think the smaller amount of time is better.”

Robert Springs and Anny on InstagramRobert Springs and Anny on Instagram
90 Day Fiance Season 7 star Anny Springs poses beside husband Robert Springs in this sweet couples selfie.

She then explained that this is “because it means all those firsts are going to be amplified throughout the 90 days.”

“This season, for example,” she noted, “Bilal [Hazziez] and Shaeeda [Sween] only spent six days together physically.”

Bagwell went on: “On top of all that, we obviously want those loud, captivating, relatable characters.”

“We want everyone to be successful,” Bagwell noted.

“Obviously, we want the show to be as entertaining as possible,” she admitted, “but we do want to root for them.”

Bagwell continued: “But yeah, we do love to follow those arguments and those tension points.”

Larissa Lima Says Who Is Against the Queen Will DIE!Larissa Lima Says Who Is Against the Queen Will DIE!
90 Day Fiance star Larissa Dos Santos Lima cautioned her erstwhile relative that he should stop his verbal attacks on her.

“There have been breakups after the marriage,” Bagwell acknowledged.

“But,” she praised, “the success rate is pretty high.”

Bagwell explained that this is “because I think they’ve just gone through so much to get to where they are.”

Ashley Martson and Jay Smith Are "Working On" Having a BabyAshley Martson and Jay Smith Are "Working On" Having a Baby

“Our internal searches before they even get on a Zoom or Skype interview with me are so intense,” Bagwell shared.

“We have LexisNexis on all couples, plus the supporting characters,” she went on.

Bagwell added that “there is an extensive background check that they go through to check for any past media or criminal history.”

Geoffrey Paschel New MugshotGeoffrey Paschel New Mugshot
90 Day Fiance alum Geoffrey Paschel had a new mug shot taken when he was transferred from county jail to a correctional facility following his sentencing.

“Obviously, we can’t get it all,” Bagwell tremendously understated.

“Sometimes things pop up once they’ve been on the show, and it’s super unfortunate,” she added.

“But we do our due diligence as much as possible,” Bagwell said, “to try to make that not happen.”

Geoffrey Paschel: Found GUILTY of Domestic Assault, KidnappingGeoffrey Paschel: Found GUILTY of Domestic Assault, Kidnapping

“Obviously, we don’t want domestic violence or child pornography or anything like that,” Bagwell said. “Those are all no.”

“But if they have other criminal records, like maybe a history of drugs,” she added, “maybe it could be part of their story.”

Of course, criminal records only tell part of a person’s story, so there are people who slip through the cracks.

Paul Staehle - every now and again she does thisPaul Staehle - every now and again she does this
90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? weirdo Paul Staehle runs, knowing perfectly well that cameras are watching the bizarre display, and then stops seconds later.

Bagwell did share which casting decision makes her most proud: Darcey Silva and Jesse Meester.

“I remember my first interview with them,” she recalled, “and I wasn’t sure really where it was going to go.”

“But,” Bagwell continued, “seeing where they’ve come and the amount of story they had was incredible.”

Darcey Silva, Jesse Meester in AmsterdamDarcey Silva, Jesse Meester in Amsterdam
90 Day Fiance stars Darcey Silva and Jesse Meester captioned this: “After the Mr. & Mrs. Meester photoshoot.”

“And then Colt [Johnson] and Larissa [Lima],” Bagwell added.

“I reached out to them for over a year,” she described, “and finally their visa was approved.”

She expressed: “It felt like that was a home run story to me.”

Larissa Lima BLASTS Colt Johnson: I Didn't Make You Fat, You Liar!!Larissa Lima BLASTS Colt Johnson: I Didn't Make You Fat, You Liar!!

“It’s so important that each season has a very eclectic, diverse cast,” Bagwell emphasized.

“And that is No. 1 when we’re casting this show,” she noted.

Bagwell added: “These last couple of years, we really homed in on that.”

Kenneth Niedermeier and Armando Rubio kiss at the altarKenneth Niedermeier and Armando Rubio kiss at the altar

“Stay tuned!” Bagwell replied when asked if trans or nonbinary cast members could be on the horizon.

“A transgender story is high on the list,” she shared.”

“We would love to find a Deaf couple or a blind couple,” Bagwell added.

Tarik Myers and Hazel Cagalitan and Girlfriend: 90 Day Fiance Fans Divided Over Throuple GoalsTarik Myers and Hazel Cagalitan and Girlfriend: 90 Day Fiance Fans Divided Over Throuple Goals

“We’d love to find a teenager or an extremely visual couple, like two very tall people,” she noted.

Bagwell then added: “Or an octogenarian dating an octogenarian.”

She affirmed: “It’s really, really, really important to us to feature all types of couples.”

Bagwell is really highlighting what sets 90 Day Fiance apart from a lot of other TLC programming.

For more than a decade, the network’s reality TV focus has targeted viewers who want to see straight, white, Christian families.

90 Day Fiance has a number of flaws, but it certainly highlights — and exploits — the diversity that gives humanity so much depth.

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