Photos: Brandon Almengo
Television and podcast host Kamie Crawford didn’t plan on a media career. As a teenager, she wanted to become a doctor when a friend suggested she try out for a pageant. In her first two contests, she was crowned Miss Maryland Teen USA and then Miss Teen USA.
Those successes redirected her from the surgery to the studio, where she has become something of an expert on relationships. In addition to co-hosting MTV’s popular Catfish: The TV Show, which exposes online dating frauds and other scammers, she also fronts the network’s dating shows Are You the One? and Ex on the Beach and hosts her own in-demand podcast.
“I always had in mind that I wanted to help people,” Crawford says as she looks back. “I thought I would be helping people overcome whatever physical ailments they might have; now I’m doing what I always sought to do, but just in a different way.”
I’m doing what I always sought to do, but just in a different way.KAMIE CRAWFORD
Crawford remembers her teenage pageant years gratefully. First, they “gave me opportunities to be in front of the camera, where it was the first time in my life that I realized I could be good at something non-traditional that I had never thought of before.” Then, there were the different skills she learned, including effective communication. “I was 17, working with people who were in their 40s and 50s, and learning about business skills. I even learned how to pack better because I was on the road all the time.”
One thing that’s changed since, though, is what she says. “I had to communicate in a way that was mostly politically correct,” she explains. “You don’t want to offend anyone because you’re supposed to be America’s princess, so you have to appeal to everyone. I’ve learned now as an adult that it’s important to have a point of view. It’s something that I’ve definitely taken home from that experience.”
She’s certainly not shy about saying what she thinks these days. The title of her popular podcast—more than 3 million downloads of Relationsh*t since it launched in 2021 (“Hilarious, relatable and makes me feel so good,” says one reviewer)—signals her no-holds-barred approach. As do some of the episode titles: “Navigating F*ckboys,” “Interracial Dating” and “Not Everyone Deserves a Second Chance.”
She’s not just being provocative for the sake of it. “Relationships, in general, have ebbs and flows, and it’s important that we acknowledge it,” she says. “In the age of social media, everything is a highlight reel… no one’s really talking about the fact that relationships aren’t always roses and flowers and happiness.
There are tough times, too.”
Relationships, in general, have ebbs and flows, and it’s important that we acknowledge it.
And that’s not just true in romance but also in families and friendships. In the Black community, she observes, “We keep things on the hush a lot… your house business is your house business: you don’t take that outside. [But] not sharing can complicate things.”
In providing a platform on her podcast to discuss issues that often get pushed to one side, Crawford hasn’t only helped others. Going through a breakup, she realized that “I thought I had everything figured out, but I too was keeping secrets. It helped to propel me to bring in guests that could relate to things that even I was going through, though I wasn’t really talking about it out loud. It was almost like a sort of therapy and healing for me during that time.”
Though Catfish has exposed her to the dangers of online dating, she’s cautious, not anti. In fact, she met her boyfriend through a dating app. “It can breed some beautiful relation- ships, but I also know that the internet is a breeding ground for destruction sometimes—lies, manipulation and all kinds of things.”
With that in mind, Crawford advises due diligence. “Dating safety is very important to me,” she says. She has a protective eye on her younger sisters: “I want to make sure everybody is crossing their Ts and dot- ting their Is and doing their Google searches, because it is important.”
Crawford credits her “best mom on the face of the planet” with instilling the confidence that has fueled her success. “She told us every day how smart and amazing we were, how beautiful we were, how we were capable of doing anything that we wanted to do. But she also let us know that the world doesn’t owe you anything, so you need to go out and work for it.”
So, Crawford approaches life with a mix of optimism and determination— believing the best and doing her best. “When you’re open to it and you’re working for it, it’s bound to come your way,” she says. “I’ve had moments in my life where literally God has told me to move, and I have tried to stick my feet in the sand and been like, ‘No, I’m not doing this.’ And then, the second I do it, everything opens up for me.”
From her professional and personal experience, Crawford offers WayMaker Journal readers four keys to healthy relationships.
Come on. Don’t be afraid to make the first move when you’re starting out. “It’s OK to flirt a little bit and get to know somebody even if you aren’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship,” Crawford says. “It’s all practice. It’s all for the plot… so just explore, have fun. Just enjoy getting to know people, period.”
Communicate. By which she means learn how to argue. But before you do, understand your goal. “What are you trying to achieve? Because if you’re trying to hurt the other person, that’s achievable. But if you want for your relationship to be right, and if you want for the other person to really understand where you’re coming from, there’s a way to communicate.”
Compliment. This is for the ladies because “we generally receive compliments all the time.” But they need to “gas up” their guys too. “Compliment not just for the physical things, but for the things that they do for you that you appreciate—it’s good to acknowledge those things.”
Commit. Be prepared to work because, in long-term relationships, you can reach the point where “they could breathe wrong, and you’re like, ‘Oh God, not this person again.’ You kind of lose that sense of like excitement when they come in the room.” Be creative: for longevity, “some nice things need to be sprinkled throughout.”
What advice does she have for her younger self graduating from Fordham University with a degree in communications and media? “Girl, slow down, relax,” she says. She believed she was “going to be Oprah tomorrow… [but] that’s not how things work. I didn’t have half of the tools that I needed to be able to get to where I am. It took seven years, and I needed every last second of them to build up the confidence and resilience and just life experience that is necessary to be able to connect with people the way that I’m able to now
KAMIE CRAWFORD: MY WAYMAKERS
Stephen Hill, [when he was] at BET, told me when I was in Miss Teen USA that he thought that I should quit trying to be a doctor and come work on TV. I thought he was insane… [Then] I saw the light; I saw what Stephen was saying. He was definitely one person who put that nugget in my brain, like, “This is something that you could do.”
In the beginning, I had a TV hosting coach, Miss Barbara [Abel]. She taught me everything that I know and helped me to break down some of my walls, some of the things that were keeping me from being able to connect with people on the other side of the camera.