Viewers of Three's mega-hit reality show Married At First Sight Australia 2022 will recall contestants Domenica (Dom) Calarco and Ella Ding as the two feisty, down-to-earth besties who took on the rest of the cast after Dom was socially isolated by the show's self-proclaimed villain Olivia Frazer.
Now the two have launched their own podcast, Sit With Us, an inclusive platform focusing on everything from taboo issues like gun laws and abortion, to casual chats with celebs about their everyday lives.
The stars reveal they both spent their childhoods dealing with bullies (Dom was forced to leave Year 9 to be homeschooled), and say their experiences during and after the show triggered them enough to speak out.
Dom's marriage to Jack ended, which she says is largely due to trauma stemming from her time on the experiment. And Ella says she's finding it hard to trust again after it was revealed her TV husband Mitchell Eynaud is rumoured to now be in a relationship with fellow castmate Tamara Djordjevic, who also exhibited some questionable behaviour during the show.
"Bullying affects everyone in different ways," explains Dom. "People can put up a wall and deflect it. Me, I'm much more of a sensitive soul and I promised myself as that young kid that I would never let people treat me badly again."
During Olivia and Dom's feud, Olivia came across Dom's OnlyFans account and showed a revealing photo of her to other contestants. OnlyFans is a social platform in which members monetise content, including adult subject matter, from within their fanbase.
"She used that image to socially isolate me against the group, which worked," tells 29-year-old Dom. "It's a form of revenge porn. This is the kind of thing that happens to women all the time. That whole situation shone a light on the culture of bullying for me and the fact that it still happens, even to adults."
Since the show ended, Olivia has posted her own content to OnlyFans, after saying she had trouble finding employment.
A short time later, she faced a cheating scandal in which a video surfaced showing her husband Jackson kissing another woman. Fans of the show suspected it was a PR stunt for the couple, who launched Jackson's account on OnlyFans the very next day.
"I believe the kiss was real," says Dom. "I think he messed up big time but the crisis management was all a stunt. She said she made $40,000 in a week from that site, so it would make sense to keep it going."
For Ella, 28, life has been tough on the singles scene. She says she's still working on building her confidence up since her split with Mitchell.
"The way he gaslit me was a reflection of his own insecurities," she says. "In the experiment, I thought he was too good for me. Now that I'm back to my roots, I can see that I'm too good for him."
The cast of the show continues to make outrageous headlines despite no longer being onscreen. "People come out of shows like MAFS not knowing where to channel their energy. If you don't channel it for good, people can become even more insecure to the point where they have to project that outwards," says Dom.
Ella agrees. "Blaming the editing and behaviour like Tamara rubbing it in my face that she's with Mitchell, I'm so confused as to why anyone would need to do that."
As for Dom's relationship with Jack, fans have been eager to find out what happened between the former lovebirds.
"There was a lot that viewers didn't see," says Dom, sadly. "Jack and Jackson (Olivia's husband) were friends and I didn't want to be a burden. We had a fight before the commitment ceremony where Jack told me to get over everything and I became highly emotional."
When asked if there's a chance they could get back together, she responds, "Jack and I are at different stages in our lives, but you never know."
For now, Dom is "on all the dating apps" and Ella has been on two dates, but says, "I'm not sure he likes me for the right reasons."
It's a long road to healing, and the pair plan to use their new platform to do just that.
"When you put yourself out there so wholeheartedly, and then it doesn't work out, how do you then go back and do it again?" says Ella. "Those are the conversations we want to have."
Adds Dom, "If we can make a difference in someone's life, then I'll be so proud of that." adds Dom.
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