90 Day Fiance Star Mike Opens Up About Filming Before The 90 Days With Ximena - Exclusive Interview

If there's a show that truly embodies the idea of love without boundaries, it's "90 Day Fiancé." The successful TLC saga about international relationships, spousal visas, and the drama associated with navigating romantic partnerships has been successful season after season — and while some relationships have ultimately fizzled, the show brings back viewers time and time again. Maybe it's the relatability, the lack of Kardashian-esque wealth, the authenticity of the romances, or a combination thereof, but "90 Day Fiancé" has hit it out of the park every time, so it's no wonder that spin-off shows have emerged as a result. 

One such spin-off is "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days," which documents international couples before the K-1 visa application and process takes place. Will these couples make it together and tie the knot in time? Or will their relationship suffer at the hands of language hurdles, long distance, and compatibility issues, not to mention a global pandemic impacting just about everything? One couple trying to defy the odds in the upcoming season of "Before the 90 Days" is Mike and Ximena, a New Yorker and a native of Colombia, respectively. Will their relationship stand the test of time? Will it overcome the fact that Ximena doesn't speak English and Mike speaks only a smidge of Spanish? What about closed borders and travel restrictions? There were so many questions, so we set out to ask him.

In an exclusive sit-down with The List, Mike — who described himself as "just your everyday average person" — told us all about his experience filming "Before the 90 Days." He spilled about everything — from how the pandemic impacted his relationship with Ximena to just what about her first caught his eye. So if you're a fan of all things "90 Days" and are dying to know what happens in the new season of this hit spin-off show, you're in luck.

What motivated Mike to go on Before the 90 Days?

I love the "90 Day" franchise. I've gotten to talk to a number of people within the show, within "Before the 90 Days." I talked to Big Ed about two weeks ago. So I'm very familiar with the culture and how you have all kind of gone about it, but I'm really excited to learn more about you. So, first and foremost, I just want to know what motivated you to share your love story on camera?

So I met Ximena on an international dating app in the middle of the pandemic. It was February, March 2020. So there wasn't really much to do. I was like, let me just try this out, try this international dating app. So I'm like, all right. I didn't think anything of it and I matched. I'm like, oh. We started talking. And then I mentioned [that] I saw, like, a casting thing about it, and I was like, oh, let me just try this. Never heard back. Finally heard back. I'm like, oh. And when I visited, that's when we just did [the show]. Everyone tells me I'm crazy, but I was like, I don't mind doing it.

You only live once, so you might as well. And what was it like being on a reality TV show for the first time? Do you think you gave your authentic self on camera? Were you trying to be aware of how you were behaving? What was that all like?

Some points were a little stressful, but this is my first time doing it. I was always trying to make sure I don't look ... I don't make a, what's the word? I don't want to make myself look stupid. I'm just watching what I do, what I say. [I] tried to at least. But I think so far it's a pretty good experience.


Definitely do it again.

These are the challenges that Mike and Ximena had to overcome

I was going to ask, would you want to continue your journey through all of this?

Yeah, definitely.

Is there one element — and we'll get more into the production side — but is there one element of being on camera that you were surprised by or taken with how much you enjoyed it?

Well, I would say always, what's the word? It's just repetitive — that's all, sometimes. But other than that, it was fun.

And as you mentioned, you both met on a dating app. You've had a couple hurdles, language being one of them to kind of overcome, but what was it initially about Ximena that caught your attention?

Let's see. Her personality. She showed me, like, her family on video chat. But during COVID, because obviously she doesn't have a visa [and] I couldn't travel anyway because everything was locked down, Colombia was locked down, America was locked down. So once they opened it up, that's when I started to schedule trips and things like that. But yeah, just her family's amazing. The two kids are great. Well, she does look amazing, but that's not the whole thing. But yeah, just overall, just yeah, just, like, Ximena.

Oh, that's really sweet. Was it a love or attraction at first interaction kind of situation or did you have to grow through communicating and talking to one another?

We definitely had to grow through communicating because I guess being in a long-distance relationship, I guess jealousy gets involved. Like, oh, what's this person doing? We have to grow through that because long distance is definitely hard.

Definitely hard.

But yeah, we just have to grow through that. And then the relationship now, I mean, [you're] really just going to have to watch to see what happens.

What's the status? Can you share anything?

I have to just say December 12th is when [the new season] starts, so.

And where in the States are you?

New York.

You're in New York. Okay. So it's definitely, it would be a huge culture change on the onset, let alone just starting a life together.

Yeah. So yeah, New York's definitely a lot different than Colombia.

Definitely. And were there any concerns on the part of your family or friends when you started this whole experience?

I guess my friends and family have been like, I guess they were like, just be careful because you know how people are always looking out for money and things like that. Ximena is definitely not like that. But for anything deeper, you'll just have to watch.

[Laughs] All right. You're leaving me hanging.

Mike has already been recognized in public

We'll get more into the production side of things, but just kind of largely, you've gone through this experience. It's very unique. What would be either your biggest piece of advice or something that you've learned that you'd share with people who just don't have that or haven't had that one important love in their life yet?

If you know the person is for you, ignore all the haters and just be you.

Yeah, absolutely. And what was it like knowing that you were going to be exposing such a vulnerable part of yourself to millions of viewers?

That's definitely something I'm still working with. I'm just like other cast members. I reached out and things like that. It's like, don't listen to the comments, don't read anything. So that's what I'm doing. I'm just, when I'm not filming, I'm just day by day. I do volunteer fire department. I work in New York City right by the ball drop. So I just go to work, do my job, and do what I have to do every day.

Just live a normal life as best as you can.

Yeah. Except for there was the police were doing a checkpoint for inspections at my town and then the cop, he's looking at my car. He's like, "Wait weren't you on "90 Day Fiancé"? Because he saw the preview. I was like, "Yeah." So I was like, "I can't give you much details. You just got to watch it."

He's like, "Get out of here." So yeah, my town's small.

What's fascinating about that as well, and this is something that Ed and I talked about a couple weeks ago, but the instantaneous overnight fame and recognition that can come with being on the show and being within the franchise is so significant. Do you have any kind of expectation of that or any way you might deal with an increase of attention?

I mean, just be me. I'm not going to change who I am for attention. So just do my daily thing and just ignore haters, because my —

Authenticity is key, so.

Yeah. I try to be just authentic regardless whether I'm on camera or not, so.

This is how COVID-19 impacted Mike's Before the 90 Days experience

We're in a time — and I think TLC does this really well, but I think especially in COVID, which we'll talk a little bit more as well — I think people were really craving TV that they could relate to, especially in a time where we couldn't really interact with one another. And I'm sure that may have been something that you were aware of during the filming process.


I know that COVID definitely impacted filming and international travel. So walk me through that. What was that like?

So that, COVID, yeah, basically messed everything up. Otherwise I wouldn't have waited. I waited so long just to see her from when I first met because it was COVID. Colombia like a couple months in, COVID finally released. Well, Colombia finally opened it, [and] then America slowly opened. Then they were like, you got to get tested and all this. So that was the one major headache. I've had probably so many tests so far.

How's your nose doing?

It's all right. It's better now.

Yeah. Not bad?


Does Mike watch reality TV shows himself?

We at The List do something where we ask a couple questions to everyone. So first and foremost, what is your favorite reality television show of this year to watch yourself?

This year? I mean, I started to get into the TLC series, but I don't really ... Before this, I wasn't really too much into reality. I mean, back in the day I did watch "Jersey Shore."

Okay, that's fun.

And when they were filming, I was actually in Seaside. And I was in the club, I think it was Karma. Yeah. So I was there and I saw Mike, I saw Sammy. I saw they all just passed me.

Oh, that's so fun.

Our table was right by the stairs and they walked past us to like where they were sitting. I was like, oh s***.

A little glimpse into your future, perhaps.

Everyone's like crowding around you. But besides that, I just watch, like, Netflix series. Like "Roswell" now.

Okay. We all have that one show that I feel like defined our COVID experience. So mine was "The Crown." I watched every season of it, back to back, so.

Yeah. It was that. And then there was "The Flash," "Arrow," "Supergirl," ... "Legends of Tomorrow."

Oh, so you like the superhero scene?


Okay, fun.

I know that we are a little pressed for time. So before we wrap up, is there anything that you want to share about your experience on the show, about your life that I didn't ask? I always want to make sure that we've kind of covered our bases.

I think we're good. Firefighter. Detailing cars when I'm not filming. But yeah, just your everyday average person when I'm not filming.

The new season of "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" premieres Sunday, December 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on TLC and discovery+.