Defunct FOX reality show I Wanna Marry “Harry” was pulled from the schedule a little over a year ago. The final episodes never aired; however, they were broadcast on Hulu. The show was about American girls who flew to England in hopes of romancing “Prince Harry”, who was really just a Prince Harry impersonator, Matthew Hicks.
Matt ultimately chose one of the girls in the finale, actress Kimberly Birch (she denied acting for the cameras, despite acting since she was a kid and having an agent, saying, “It’s not like you’re given a script and you’re in a play and you’re memorizing your lines or anything like that [on this show]. There are cameras around, but you’re trying to be yourself. So what you see is who I really am in real life.”
They were a couple on the show, but lived on different continents in real life. Moreover, were forced to live apart until the episodes aired. Matt still lives in England and Kimberly still lives in America, New York, specifically.
Asked whether they had made it work, a few weeks after the show wrapped, in 2014, Matt replied, “We live in different countries [so] it has been hard to sustain a romantic relationship.”
In June of last year, Matt added: “We text regularly and we have been trying our best to further this relationship that we started on the show, and we’re hopefully planning a trip sometime this year , whether he comes to New York or I go visit him in England.”
He continued in another statement, “We shared a once-in-a-lifetime experience together and will always have a bond because of being on the show together.”
In a new interview, Kimberly says she was “brainwashed” by producers, manipulated into looking gullible, and she’s still dealing with the fallout a year later.
What was the casting call like? What did you know going into the show?
It was really vague. They told us that if you’re young, you’re single, you like adventure, and you like to travel — I mean, who doesn’t? — then this is the perfect reality show for you.
At first I was a little dubious about doing reality TV, because you can be portrayed in either a very positive or negative light, but my parents convinced me. I was just told that I was going to a country in Europe for a Bachelor, Bachelorette-type show. And that was it.
How long did the entire process take, from when you first flew out to the UK to the finale?
About a month and a half. They flew us out there and put us up in a hotel a week before we started filming. They locked us each in our own separate rooms, where we had no TV, no cell phones, no books, and absolutely nothing to do for a full week…
They do that with a lot of reality TV shows, I’ve read. It’s a way of removing you from reality and putting you in seclusion so you go a little stir crazy.
Were there any particular moments you remember that made you skeptical [that Matt was Harry]?
There was one moment, when we were in London. They always had chaperones from the production team with us, to make sure we weren’t talking to one another and we weren’t looking at things we weren’t supposed to be looking at. And we had to walk down one block, one short block, to get back to the car from where we’d had a date. We were told, “Just look straight ahead and keep going.”
You tell me to look straight ahead, and I’m going to want to look the other way. I glance over to my left and there’s a souvenir shop. They had little masks on a stick with the eyes cut out. Masks of Prince William, of the Queen, and one of Prince Harry.
I saw that picture and realized — I’m not nuts. Everybody here, on this set, on this production team, is crazy. I’m not. The whole time, you’re confronting them, saying, “This is all set up,” and they’re like, “Okay, yeah, you’re going crazy.” You’re so brainwashed into it that you go with everything in order to keep yourself feeling sane.
They actually had a therapist come on set at one point and talk to a few of us who were saying it wasn’t him. We found out later that it wasn’t a real, licensed therapist. It was just someone from the production team.
What did the fake “therapist”, who was really a member of the crew, say?
[The fake therapist said], “You have to learn how to trust your mind. I understand that you’re in a different country, and you don’t know what’s going on, but you have to trust the people here. It’s not good for you to keep questioning.” It was really crazy.
Did the producers encourage you to play along with a ruse?
No, no. They were really trying everything they possibly could to convince us that this was him. Even little things in the middle of the night — they have cameras in your room while you’re sleeping. Not the camera crew, just stationery cameras. They keep an eye on you and they can still record everything that you say.
Sometimes, people from production would stand outside your room, when you’d think that they didn’t know you were up. They’d whisper, “You have to get him back to Buckingham Palace. The Royal Family’s very upset. They’re not happy about the show. It’s this new thing they’ve never done before, and they’re trying to be up and up with social media, and the way that the world is.” They really messed with us.
Did anyone on the production team ever explicitly say, “This is Prince Harry?”
Yeah. Several times. The way that they did it was more subtle, so that it really got to you. Your own reality started breaking down, and you were totally lost as to what was really going on. After Kingsley [actor Paul Leonard, as the show’s butler-in-residence] sat us down and told us, “This is him,” production was like, “It’s such a great relief to let it out, that, yeah, this is Prince Harry, but this doesn’t mean you have to treat him any differently.” And then they’d always refer to him as His Royal Highness. They did a great job. I’ll give them that.
Are you still in touch with Matt [in 2015]? What’s the story?
[Laughs.] We still talk on a regular basis, which is awesome. We’re not in a romantic relationship as of now, and I think that’s mostly because of the way that our lives have been after the show. We Facetime at least once every two weeks, just to keep up to date. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what we both say. As of now, we just maintain a friendship. We’re actually meeting up in Croatia in August.
As an actress, is the show something you put on your résumé? Has it been helpful, harmful, or neutral for your career?
That’s tricky. In the acting world, being on reality TV can be viewed as a negative thing: like you don’t really know much about the actual craft, that you’re just trying to get famous. Some people look down on it; other people think, “Oh, good! She’s been out there, so she must know some people.” You need to feel it out. It depends on what I’m auditioning for and who I’m talking to.
I actually got a new manager from having done the show, because it looks good that I’ve gotten some exposure. But if you were to send a demo reel to an acting agency, you wouldn’t put the show in there. [via Fusion]