‘90 Day Fiancé’ Casting Director On Recruiting the Spinoff’s First Transgender Woman and Deaf Person

Reality hit “90 Day Fiancé” has grown into an entire industry for TLC, spawning countless spin-offs — and even spin-offs of those spin-offs. The series, which premiered in 2014, quickly resonated with audiences who were fascinated by the premise: Under the United States’ K-1 Visa process, in which an American’s fiancé from another country moves to the U.S. to get married, there’s a ticking clock. Xouples have a short 90-day time window (hence the show’s title) in which they must get married — or their non-American citizen partner will have to exit the country.

There are now dozens and dozens of “90 Day” spinoff series, including “90 Day Financé: Happily Ever After?,” “90 Day Fiancé: What Now?,” “90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way” and “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days.” As a matter of fact, there are also spinoffs focused on individuals like “Darcey & Stacey” and “The Family Chantel,” as well as international versions of “90 Day.” The “90 Day” Universe is arguably more sprawling than the MCU. And new ones keep coming: “90 Day: The Last Resort” premieres August 14, for example.

In the case of “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days,” the spinoff follows couples as they visit each other, often for the first time, with many going on to get engaged or terminating their relationships at full. 

With Season 6 of “B90” currently on air, the series has aimed to expand its diversity and representation efforts by including the first deaf person (David) and transgender woman (Cleo, who also identifies as neurodivergent) in its cast. (The franchise also broke ground earlier this year with its first transgender man, Gabriel Paboga, on “90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way.”) Variety recently spoke with casting director Brooklyn Bagwell about the “90 Day” recruitment process, including how her team broadened its scope for Season 6 of “B90.” 

How do you find the cast members for “90 Day” shows? 

The casting process is long, and we’re always trying to find ways to expand and refresh our outreach tactics. We work with immigration lawyers, scour social media, Visa forums, niche Facebook groups and make tons of cold calls every day.

As the franchise has grown in popularity, have you found more people reach out in hopes of being cast on the show?

Yes, since the show has gotten popular, we do get a lot more emails, which is great. 

How long does the casting process take?

It varies each year. We go through rounds and rounds of couples that we submit to the network. It can take anywhere from three months of casting to almost a year because we want to have the best, most diverse cast possible.

Have you ever cast a couple that was supposed to go on “90 Day Fiancé” but then they ended up on “Before the 90 Days?,” essentially where they’ve jumped from their intended series?

If we love a couple, we always want to see where it can go if they fit for another series. What specifically started “Before the 90 Days” was Nicole and Azan. We wanted to think outside of the box for “90 Day” and Nicole was traveling to meet Azan in Morocco for the first time. That’s what got us on this journey of like, “Wow, there are more people out there.” So yeah, it depends on the couple’s story. This season we do have Gino and Jasmine on, and they have met before [on “B90” Season 6] but we just felt that they were relevant for this series. 

Kim and Usman were also on Season 5 of “B90,” but they were brought back for “Happily Ever After?” Season 7. How do you decide which couples go forward with each series?

We like to pick our strongest couples to move on to “Happily Ever After?” because we want to see how their marriage plays out. Depending on what the couple is doing depends on what series they’re gonna go on next: they could go on “The Other Way,” they could go on “B90,” [etc.] Gino and Jasmine worked for this season of “B90” because they had so much going on.

With Jasmine and Gino, if they go through the K-1 Visa process, do you think we’ll see them on the mainstay “90 Day Fiancé?”

If they go through the K-1 process, it’s definitely possible to see them on the next season of “90 Day.” They’re constantly giving us all the entertainment, and they’re always opening up to us — I just love watching them together.

Throughout the years, diversity in casting has grown, specifically with this season of “B90.” There are two landmark members apart of the cast. Tell me first about how you cast [deaf participant] David.

Going into each season, we really strive to represent all kinds of people, and that can be challenging because we don’t want to share the same stories each season. David came from a social media post and we were just so captivated by his story: He is the first deaf person on “B90.” We felt like his story was so strong because there was so much to his story, and we found that he was so rootable and likable.

Cleo is the first transgender woman and autistic cast member that’s ever been on the show. Tell me more about casting her.

I love Cleo. When we first saw her submission, I was like, she’s gorgeous. We’ve never had a trans woman on “B90” and again, we want to stay relevant. We want to continue to find these diverse characters and I found that her story was so diverse.

Which cast members from “B90” have surprised you the most?

Big Ed. I always knew he was going to be a likable character, but I never realized how big he was going to be, or how relevant. 

Across all of the franchise, there are different spinoffs with individual cast members. For example, “The Family Chantel” and “Darcey & Stacey.” What goes into choosing who’s going to get their own spinoff?

It all depends on the story and where they’re at in their life. With Darcey and Stacey, they had so much going on and we couldn’t just put them in one series because they would have taken up the whole series. We found that their story was continuous with them being twins, they were both dating someone from another country and they’ve gone through some plastic surgeries — there’s so many layers to their story, they were just so entertaining. 

With “The Family Chantel,” when we cast Chantel and Pedro, we didn’t know where it was gonna go. As their story went on, we realized that there was something to their family. They were so willing to open up, and that’s important in the casting process: To cast people and couples that are willing to share their entire life and open themselves up and let us in.

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