Jillian Harris on Finding Her Perfect On-Screen Match — Exclusive
Most of you know Jillian Harris from her super down-to-earth stints on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. But did you know that the pint-sized Canadian sweetheart who loved and lost (in reverse order) for our viewing pleasure is back on the small screen?
That’s right, you read it (or had your handsome young lover read it to you while simultaneously feeding you grapes) correctly. Interior design maven Jillian got herself a new gig as the co-host of the brand new W Network show, Love It or List It: Vancouver. While the show isn’t streaming to the states right now, you can totally find it on the internet as long as you’re crafty and don’t tell us about it... (other than sharing the link below).
This isn’t her first go at the home game; previously she made everything a little purtier on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. On Love It or List It, Jilly and co-host Todd Talbot battle to please homeowners, with Jillian remodeling their current house while real estate agent Todd shows the family a bevy of beautiful new homes. Even though the chemistry wasn’t always a-flowing on Jillian’s searches for love, she had lots to tell Wetpaint (exclusively) about finding the perfect match with her charming co-host.
Wetpaint: We’re really excited about your new show, Love It or List It. You and Todd have the best rapport. Oh, we have so much fun doing it! Other than my cousin, Todd is the closest thing I have to a brother. It’s been eight months and it’s been a lot of fun.
Who was cast first on the show? Did you know each other before or did you meet then? I was cast literally like weeks or days before him. We met for coffee before the audition and he picked me up and we just chatted about his wife and kids and my new boyfriend, and my experience on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And we were just joking around and got the giggles and it ended up being a really good fit.
Had you screen tested with anyone else before him? Yeah, I actually tested with someone who was a really good friend of mine. He’s a real estate agent and secretly I wanted him to get the job, but I think Todd was really the best fit. And then there was also... I don’t know if I was single or seeing somebody, but there was this guy who was really hot and I remember thinking ‘this is not a good idea.’ I think Justin and I were like a week into our relationship and I remember thinking “okay, if this guy gets hired... it’s just like I don’t know, this is not a good thing, too much eye candy.’ And hopefully he doesn’t read this, but Todd has a better personality for this.
Let’s talk about Love it or List It. The basic gist is, you remodel the family’s house, and then they get to decide whether they keep it or sell it? What other factors come into play? Yeah, so we meet with a family, one who has a house that just doesn’t function properly for them, or it’s out of date. And while Todd is actually out there showing them the homes, I’m at the house renovating it with the design team. So, after a few weeks — or, the end of the episode, for you guys — I reveal to them a brand new renovation, with as many things on their list as we can do. And they get to decide if they want to take one of Todd’s houses, or stay in their brand new renovated home. Whoever wins, whether it’s Todd or me, we get the other person to buy us a glass of wine. So, we’re competing for wine, basically.
That would definitely fly in our offices. Do you find it easy to be rivals on the show with stakes so low? I think that it comes off as pretty playful, as if we are brother and sister or friends. We actually never fight or disagree. In fact, I probably have more stressful conversations with designers and contractors. Because, at the end of the day, Todd and I are really just doing our jobs and whoever wins or loses, the family’s always happy. Whether the family decides to move or to stay, they’re always happy with their decision. The rivalry gets to be fun. You know, I had some trepidation going into the show because I’m not the argumentative type. But we really have fun and never argue, and being an only child, I didn’t grow up arguing with a brother, so it fits into that. I don’t always approach things politically correct, but you always want to try and be the kind person. At the end of the day, it’s a business, and a business has to run. And if somebody isn’t doing their job, or it isn’t the vision you expected, sometimes you have to put your foot down and be the bad guy. And that’s the part I hate the most.
Did any of your experience on The Bachelor, with the girls in the house, help you with the arguing part of the game? Not really, because I never argued on the show. When I was on The Bachelor, there was no point in arguing, because if it wasn’t the right fit with Jason and I, it wasn’t the right fit. And what was supposed to happen with Jason and I happened. I made it to almost the end because we had such a strong friendship connection, but we didn’t have the lusty love connection, and that was really apparent for both of us. And for me, I think it was really hard for me to let that go, because the concept of the show was to find love. I really wanted to find that. But you fast forward even a few months later, and — no offense to Jason — but I was over him pretty quick. And I realized that, even when he was still Melissa, that there was somebody better for me. And thank God, because I found someone who is so perfect for me. And it was just the perfect choice. And Jason and Molly and Justin and I, we’re all friends, and it’s just something we can laugh about.
How do you make sure that you get the family what they need, but also keep it true to your brand and your concept? This show in particular, there are few occasions when we have to argue with the couples or homeowner, but I’ve put my foot down and viewers will see that. This is my personal business. I was designing for eight years, and now that I have my own brand, you realize that if it’s the wrong decision for the customer, or the wrong decision for the brand, I won’t argue for it. You have to put your foot down and say, “if this is the right decision for the customer, the right decision for the brand, we’re going for it.” Because trust me, it can be hard to say it, but you have to take that leap of faith and keep that ball rolling. There are tough conversations that have to be had, but I’m getting used to it, and it’s turning out to be fun. And the products are coming out great and the homeowners are always happy in the end.
For you lucky Canadian readers, Jillian and Todd spar for the best reasons (and the best reward) onLove It or List It Vancouver on the W Network on Mondays at 10PM ET/PT.