Temptation Island's James On The Show's Diversity, His Love Life, And More - Exclusive Interview

Call it relationship doubt, pandemic stress, the seven-year itch — some relationships aren't designed to stand the test of time. How do you know if your love is for real? How about you surround yourself and your long-time love with gorgeous singles, ready to mingle, on a beautiful beach in Maui? If any setting is going to test your relationship and bring just about everything to the surface, it's this one. If this sounds like an absolutely bonkers scenario to you, don't worry; you can simply watch as the drama unfolds during Season 4 of "Temptation Island," currently airing on USA. 

After learning more about the show and the very unique dynamic that it brings to the screen, we had to pick the brain of one of the single contestants who made themselves known on camera. Cue James Patterson, the single (maybe?), gorgeous, and lovable personal trainer who joined the cast from Jupiter, Florida.

Patterson is a self-described Army brat who spent a bulk of his childhood moving from place to place. While the dynamic might be difficult for some, Patterson took advantage of the opportunity and learned how to get along with just about everyone, no matter their walk of life. When it came time to find love, he looked no further than "Temptation Island" and joined the cast as a single hopeful ready to establish some meaningful relationships. What was his time on the show like, what does his love life look like now, and what did he have to say about the show's authenticity and diversity? Here's everything Patterson shared with us during an exclusive interview.

James reflects on his upbringing and unique childhood experience

You're a self-described Army brat. What was life like moving and growing up, probably across the country, maybe across the world? How did that kind of lifestyle inform how you went about your love life or how you searched for love?

I do have a crazy and diverse background and upbringing. My dad was in the Army. We lived all over the States. We were in Hawaii for a long time. I recently moved down from South Carolina, now I live in Florida, but I loved being an Army brat. It opened me to a lot of experiences and meeting tons of different kinds of people and cultures. That's why I'm thankful that I can converse and be friends with people of all races, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc., and that translated to my love life. I've met, growing up, all different kinds of girls, and it's built me into the man I am today. It was a little crazy though, moving every one to three years, making new friends and not staying put in one place, but it benefited me overall.

What would you say really stuck with you through that experience?

Honestly, how quickly I was able to make friends with people and the bonds grew, even in that short period of time. Like I said, to this day, I always think back to my upbringing and how I was able to meet so many different people throughout growing up, and it reminds me that I'm able to converse and make friends with people. That stuck out the most and I've carried it along with me this whole time.

Did your parents give you a good example of a relationship? Are they still together? What does that look like for an Army relationship?

It's funny you ask that, because they're actually divorced. They've been divorced since I was probably ... nine or ten. Ever since I was little, TMI, but they really didn't get along like that, and they ended up getting divorced. The one thing I was always thankful for is that they stayed friends. They're literally the best of friends, [but] they couldn't be married. I'm so thankful for that, obviously, because a lot of times in divorce, kids only see in one parent at a time and you've got to schedule visits for birthdays, and it's a mess. My parents were grown enough to stay friends and I'm really thankful for that. Even watching the divorce and all that, it never turned me away from wanting to build a relationship with a girl.

I'm sure you probably took quite a bit from watching them. Maybe they're not married, but the fact that they clearly prioritized you and their friendship is a huge accomplishment.

Exactly, and honestly, even if I didn't take away a whole lot of positives from their relationship, I took away a lot from them, individually, as people. My dad was a great dude and my mom, great woman, and I took in what I can from them, and it's helped me shape into the guy I am today.

Why did James choose Temptation Island over other reality dating shows?

Why "Temptation Island"? Why not "The Bachelorette"? Why not "Love Is Blind?" Why this show? What stood out to you about this opportunity?

If I'm being honest, I like a challenge. If you watch the show, you know the concept. you're competing with 11 other dudes to win the heart or build a connection with one of four girls. That was just crazy to me and it stuck out right away. It grabbed my eye. I like the challenge and I wanted to put myself in that situation and see what I could do and how well I could do in that situation.

Definitely. The structure of this show is so unique as well. It's not just watching 30 men compete for one female lead or vice versa with gender. It's an interesting setup.

I tell people, it's a crazy concept and it's not like other dating shows, right? Up until watching, I'd never heard of a show like this before. I think that's what really grabs the audience's attention, because they can get to know the singles and they're also invested in the couples and their relationships and how everything intertwines. It's a great show.

That's a perfect segue, because I'd love to know what your initial reaction was like when you like found yourself in the middle of these established couples. You're single, you're potentially shaking things up. What was that experience and that initial "whoa" kind of situation like?

I underestimated the bond between the couples. Beforehand, coming to the island, I thought that it would be a walk in the park. The girls would see me and they'd be feeling me right away, and I really wasn't thinking about the other dudes, but when you get into the situation, you've really got to play your cards right, play your game right, and stay in it for the long haul because it's not going to be that easy. These girls have boyfriends, they're heavily invested no matter what the problems are. At the same time, you're going against 11 other dudes. I would say I underestimated it, but it was interesting for sure.

In your opinion, and based on your experience, what do you think really sets "Temptation Island" apart from other reality dating shows?

The biggest thing that I realized during it and after is the therapeutic sessions that these couples go through with Mark. People watching the show on the outside, they're thinking, "Is this really real?" Yes. These couples come to this island and they're really trying to figure themselves out and figure out if their partner is the one for them, and they're doing that through meeting the [singles], talking with Mark, and watching how their partner acts on the other side. That's what sets it apart to me. There's no show like it, the concept with the couples and the singles and then the journey and the growing up that these couples do as well as the singles.

Definitely. It's interesting as well, because going through those kinds of topics that the show is bound to bring up, that is unique from something like "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" where it's –

Straight up.

–cute dates and that kind of thing.

"The Bachelor," "Love Island," all that stuff, it's really straight up, singles and singles. With this show, there's so many different factors. Singles, couples, and the bonfires, those are always crazy. There's multiple factors that set this show apart.

What does James' love life look like now?

What did a day on set look like for you? Was it the same all the time? Was it really unexpected? Take me through a day in the life on set.

It almost feels like a dream. It was long nights and very early mornings, every single day. Getting up at 6:00 AM to get COVID tested, working around all the COVID stuff — I was really proud of the team and the cast, we handled that really well. Then it was going about our day, talking with everybody, figuring out things to do to keep yourself entertained. The parties were so much fun, different themes here and there. The parties and getting to know everybody, that's pretty much what we did everyday.

I'd love to know any behind the scenes, details or secrets or a funny story of something that you can share about the cast or yourself from the time on the show. Anything that really stands out to you.

The cast members [had] some funny characters. One in particular [was] Blake. He's such a good guy. You've seen him on there. Recently, he's been vibing with Ashley. Every night before he went to sleep, he said goodnight to every single one of the dudes. Every single night. It was our thing. It was funny. Taylor Patrick, that man was funny. He's got coffee running through his veins. He's got so much energy, so he always kept me upbeat, but really it was the cast themselves, great people, different characters. That stuck with me.

I know you can't really reveal anything, but if you can give us a hint, did the show impact the status of your love life at all?

It may have. Maybe not in the way y'all think, but it definitely impacted me for the good, especially for my future, with my love life. The show taught me a lot about myself, and so did the girls. A couple girls were awesome and they brought things out in me that I didn't know I had, but y'all have to wait and see.

This is what James took away from him time on Temptation Island

That's a good transition because I wanted to ask you one of, if not the biggest takeaway you took from your time on the show.

It was such a crazy concept and situation that I thought I was ready for, and I wasn't at first, but throughout it made me grow and it taught me a lot about myself.

It helps you to look at yourself in a different light, from a different perspective?

I was in a situation where I had to get along with 11 different dudes, all different characters, while getting to know these couple girls and trying to build a connection and bond with them. It helped me grow.

What are you hoping viewers will take from watching your experience on the show? Do you think you were presented authentically on the show as well?

Yeah, I hope when people watch me, they see a dude that was vibing, having fun and being real with the girls. Before the island, I told myself I wanted to be real as possible. I didn't want to be fake in any way, so I made sure I put my best foot forward and gave the girls and the guys the best version of myself. I hope the people watching the show realize that off the bat. What was the second question?

Do you think that you were presented authentically? What was that experience like for you?

[At] the very beginning, the cameras were a little awkward at first, especially the first mixer, when we're first meeting them girls and really getting to vibe and talk with the dudes. It was wild, especially with all the cameras, but you settle down, you get used to it. Everyone gets comfortable with each other, and by the end of the show, you don't even realize the cameras are there and you're truly being yourself. I was presented in an authentic way. I was vibing, having fun, and being real with everybody.

I think we talk a lot about authenticity when it comes to reality dating shows so much. There are so many shows where someone is presented on camera and then has to backtrack and say, "Hold on a second. That's not really what I'm like. Everyone in my life can attest that was not me in a positive light or an authentic light." It's interesting. It's cool that this is an experience that brings people to the table where they are.

However you act in front of the camera, that's how you're going to be shown. They can't fake how you act and what you say, right?

You have been described as someone who like really doesn't hold back their feelings, like, if you've got something to say, you're going to say it, right? Did that ever get you into hot water at all? Or were you mostly doing your thing and hoping everyone was going to be okay with it?

It's funny because I didn't want to be too transparent with people, with the girls on the show, because I feel like maybe it would rub them the wrong way with some things I had to say, so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and really listen and hope that they would grow throughout the show. When I'm feeling something, I don't hold back. I don't have time for that. I need people to know that I'm real and I say what I mean, but on the island, it's very tricky circumstances. You don't want to turn people off and rub people the wrong way too much. I was pretty real with them, for the most part.

James reflects on the future and Temptation Island's diversity

You've done "Temptation Island," what's next? What is your next move or project or hope for this like next season of life off camera?

I have a few things in mind that I'm going to do this year. I like to speak things [into] existence — manifest, as you say. A podcast is going to be done this year, [along with] YouTube [content]. I post a lot of fitness content on YouTube and social media, so I want to continue with that, and I want to go on another reality TV show, whether that's a dating show or a competitive show, something like "Big Brother" or another show for sure. You'll see my face again.

What kind of podcast topic or arena do you want to go into?

My thing is fitness, and it's going to be based around fitness, but, I've grown up and experienced so many different things, met so many different people I can talk about anything with whoever, so it's going to be about fitness, but we'll get into lifestyle, controversial topics, etc. There's going to be a lot in store.

When it came to like diversity within the show's format, how [did that play] into your experience?

I thought the show was very diverse. I feel like I'm not like your normal person. I'm a bigger guy. I got long curly hair, green eyes. I feel like I stick out for most people, so I was a part of that diverse cast. Iris, I believe she's Filipino American. There [were] a few African American people on the show as well, and then me being mixed Black and white, it was very diverse. I liked it. I like conversing with all different kinds of people, so I thought they did a good job with that.

Did any of those kinds of conversations about dating within different communities come up during your time on the show?

No, for the most part, the people of today, in this generation, no one really looks at race anymore when they're dating or different backgrounds and cultures. No one on the show had a problem with it. At the end of the day for me, if you're cool, you're cool. If I find you attractive, I find you attractive. I look at people's hearts and whether or not I find them attractive. Everyone did a good job, I feel like.

That's awesome, because I know that, having covered the reality dating circuit for quite some time, obviously there have been other reality dating shows, obviously "The Bachelor" comes to mind, where there's very like poignant attempts to have a cookie cutter kind of cast and it feels kind of curated in that sense, but this seems like it's been a far more representation of just love in general, which is really cool.

Maybe it's just me, but when I was on the show, I wasn't thinking, "Oh nice. They brought on a Filipino American girl, a Black girl, a Black dude." I see people and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good looking dude. He's a stud. Oh, she's very pretty. She's cool, he's cool." I don't ever think about race like that, but some people might. This show, it was very authentic, and if they were trying to be diverse in their cast and who they casted, I think they did a good job.

You can catch new episodes of "Temptation Island" on USA on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m.