Love Stories: Deanna of TVLand’s ‘First Love, Second Chance’

Remember college? If you are like me, you are trying to forget. Test anxiety. Life anxiety. Late night studying. Late night eating. Trying to squeeze in a party or two. Trying to squeeze into your clothes after you have gained the “Freshman 15” or 20 in my case.

Oh yes, college. Good times…Not really.

But enough about me.

Deanna managed to find time for love in her college schedule.  That love, a first love, was John.  But although their love burned hot Deanna’s alleged jealousy burned even hotter and their “passionate romance” was undone by Deanna’s jealous outbursts”.

Reunited two decades later thanks to TVLand’s First Love, Second Chance (FLSC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific) these questions loom:  “Has Deanna learned to control her feelings?” And if so, is this “enough for John to forgive and forget”?

As a part of a series of chats with the cast of FLSC, here’s what Deanna had to say. (Check out what John had to say. Click here.)

Deanna from “John and Deanna” airs Wednesday, April 7 (For a sneak peek, click here)

The Ride: How frightened were you that your first love would not only not look the same as when you last saw him, but would look far worse than you could ever have imagined?

Deanna: I had seen him a few times over the years around town, so I kind of knew what he looked like now.  John was always into “fashion” and I figured he was every bit of a “metrosexual” now – living in the “big city” of Houston and all – and I wasn’t too afraid of what he was going to look like.  When I saw him, I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.  I thought he looked great.  I think we have both added a few pounds over the years that I call “living the good life” weight – but overall – he looked the same to me – in fact, maybe even a little better – because I saw him as an “adult” now as opposed to a young college kid.  It was nice to see that he had grown up a lot…[laughs]

The Ride: What if the latter was true – looked far worse than you ever imagined – what would you have done?

Deanna: I fell in love with John years ago for his personality and sense of humor – it was never about his looks.  In fact, we were good friends for a long time before we actually started dating.  The best relationships I have had in my life have started from friendships.  In fact, I stay in touch with pretty much all of my ex-boyfriends now – because we were always such good friends.  John is one of the very few “friends” that I had not stayed in contact with.  I was not afraid of what he would look like – and that would not have affected my involvement in the show at all.

The Ride: And did you focus on keeping in shape, looking your best, just in case you ran into that first love?

Deanna: I have been single for several years now, so I try to always look my best.  You never know what might happen.  I am not one to leave the house without my make-up – and NEVER without my lipstick.  I call it the “soap opera” look – in soaps everyone always looks good and has make-up on – even when they are laying in a hospital room dying – or giving birth – or lost in a jungle – or on a deserted island.  You never know when “Hollywood” might come calling – AND BY GOLLEY THEY SURE DID!!

John and Deanna Back in the Day (TVLand's 'First Love, Second Chance') photo: Courtesy of TVLand)

The Ride: How did you find out about the show?

Deanna: A casting agent contacted me via email.  He found me on my 20-year high school reunion website.  I don’t really know how the whole process works – but he found me and asked me if I had an old love – and I told him about John and it just took off from there.

The Ride: What was the selection process like?  I would think the casting people/producers would want to make sure that no one had any stalker tendencies.

Deanna: [laughs]… I knew John was not a stalker… and he was pretty much the “dumper” 20 years ago – I was the “dumpee.”  You should probably ask John this question because during our “rocky” relationship 20 years ago, I WAS THE STALKER!  I used to drive around just to see his car.  I didn’t trust him back then, so I was always riding around “checking his story.”

The Ride: You are pretty vulnerable on the show. Why were you so willing to let a national television audience see that vulnerability?

Deanna: I am super strong now.  I am not the same person I was back then, and a lot of that had to do with how soft, stupid, jealous, and weak I was when I dated John.  I didn’t like the person I was when I was with John, and I have spent the last 20 years gaining self-confidence and being the complete opposite from how I was then.

Now, I am the strongest woman I know.  I take a lot of pride in that, even though it has probably cost me MANY relationships – because I pretty much quit now before I get in too deep – or start to feel weak.  I guess I also wanted to show America that YOU CAN CHANGE, and sometimes it’s just that one particular person that brings out the absolute worst in you.  Either I have really changed, or I have never met anyone else like John – who made me SO weak.  But it was a great thing to learn – I always say everybody needs a broken heart – it makes you strong – but it HURTS too!

The Ride: Your friends have a lot to say when they met your first love for the first time. What did they have to say when you told them you were going to be on the show?

Deanna: I think everybody rolled their eyes!  I think that the people who love me – my friends, family, etc. didn’t like seeing me weak and naive like I was when I was with John 20 years ago.  I think they knew that the relationship probably wasn’t very healthy for me at the time.  I’m sure they were afraid we were going to “drum up” the drama and pain all over again.

I was so gullible and I just worshiped him.  He could do NO WRONG – and they didn’t like that – it really wasn’t that they didn’t like John, they just didn’t like seeing me so hung up on somebody like that.  I was 18-19 years old – way too young and immature to be THAT in love – and I think they saw that it wasn’t going to end up good for me.  They saw that I was about to get VERY hurt – and they were right.

The Ride: What did your family have to say?

Deanna: Mostly my family was just concerned that I was going to be portrayed in a bad way – or in bad taste on the show – and I don’t feel like it went that way at all.  It was a liberating, enlightening experience.  They are just concerned about my reputation and they know I am daring and sometimes I do wild and crazy things.  My family are all VERY conservative people.  I am the ‘black sheep’ I guess you would say – well – myself and my cousin Joshua, who was on Big Brother!  LOL  They just didn’t want me to do something that I would regret.  I just hope I don’t look like too much of a big fat slob on the show!  [laughs]

The Ride: So do you believe in love at first sight?

Deanna: No I do not believe in love at first sight, but I believe that you can certainly be attracted to someone the first time you see them or meet them.  I am a very old soul.  I never meet a stranger.  Every new person I meet I treat just like I have known them my whole life – so sometimes when I first meet someone, I usually know immediately whether or not we would get along very well – and mostly I get along with everyone.  A lot of people tell me that I am very easy to talk to – and that they feel like they have known me for a long time – even though I might have just met them.

I think you will see that on the show – because I did meet new people. I think I connect with people very well because I am honest, and I generally CARE about people.  When I meet someone new, I want to know everything there is to know about them – that’s just ME!
I have, however, been told a few times that someone fell in love with ME at first sight… but I know that’s just a classic “pickup line!” [laughs]

The Ride: Did you believe in love at first sight before you met your first love?

Deanna of TVLand's 'First Love, Second Chance' (photo: Courtesy of TVLand)

Deanna: I probably did.  I used to spend all of my summers reading Harlequin romance novels.  I must have read hundreds of them.  I LOVE good love stories – even today!  But when I met John I was very young and didn’t know much about real love at all, and our relationship certainly didn’t come straight out of a Harlequin romance novel.  I just knew that John stirred up a lot of emotions in me that I didn’t know how to handle at the time – even after the “Harlequin” training!! [laughs]

In fact, for a while in the beginning, I didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me – I just knew I was feeling a little “weird.”  Ha ha!  You can read all of the love stories you want, but love hits you like a ton of bricks – when you least expect it – and it is not something you can plan for or avoid – it just happens.  There is really no explanation for it.

The Ride: “Hopeless romantic” or “Cautious Cynic”?

Deanna: Now I am definitely a Cautious Cynic, but I used to believe in love.  I don’t even know if there is such a thing as “true love” anymore, but I will spend the rest of my life looking for it anyway.  It’s like the Holy Grail I guess – does it really even exist???  I guess it’s a lot like believing in God – you just have to walk by faith and not by sight.  And it’s also sort of like how a little kid believes in Santa Claus – you keep on believing until some older kid SHATTERS your entire childhood!  [laughs]

The Ride: What do you hope people get from watching the show?

Deanna: I hope people see what great things maturity brings to your life.  I think the reason why there are so many divorces today is because people get married way to young, before they even know themselves.  Divorces happen when people finally “grow up” and they learn who they really are – and they want to shed those parts of their “younger years” that don’t work and live life as the person they have become – not the person they were.  It’s kind of like when a snake sheds it’s skin – or like when a hermit crab gets too big for its shell and has to go out into the ocean to find a bigger one.  I feel like that happened to me when I got a divorce.  I didn’t want to be “that” person anymore, I just wanted to be ME.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of things you can’t shed from your past – like your children (not that anyone would WANT to), but it’s just sad that while you are growing up and “finding” yourself, the kids are kind of the ones who get the raw end of the deal.  Hopefully one day they will understand it all when they “grow up” – and the cycle continues.  I know I will definitely preach to my kids to wait until they are at least 35 before they get married! [laughs] 
There is no way it would have ever worked with John 20 years ago, but I could definitely see us together now – we seem to have a lot in common – it was even uncanny at times – as you will see on the show.
We were just way too young and had a LOT of growing up to do back then.

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