'MAFS 2024' Star Collins Christian On Family Sacrifice, Indian Representation & Arranged Marriages

The Married At First Sight star has gone from hosting weekly speed dating events to getting married on TV.

Married At First Sight 2024 contestant Collins Christian

Image Source: Channel 9

Throughout its 10 seasons until now, Married At First Sight has proved to be a reality show that's just as much about exploring family, culture, wider human connections – and drama, of course – as it is about romantic relationships.

As Collins Christian prepares to embark on his 2024 MAFS journey in Season 11, he's conscious of how his upbringing and heritage has helped shape who he is today. The 28-year-old's father was born in the state of Gujarat in India, while his mum was also born in India, but grew up in Lusaka, Zambia.

MAFS is a televised social experiment based on people getting married after meeting each other for the first time at the altar. You could perhaps describe it as an arranged marriage of sorts – a practice common in India and amongst many other South Asian cultures.

"Mum and Dad had an arranged marriage," Collins tells Draw Your Box, explaining his parents only knew each other for a few weeks before they got married.

"In Indian culture, it’s not like the western type of dating and going on 10 dates etc. Rather it's if your values, upbringing and faith are aligned, then you both know that’s the foundation you want/need to raise a family, and that’s it."

Collins was born in Western Australia's Kalgoorlie after his parents relocated from Zambia to Australia when Collins' sister was two years old. Like many South Asian immigrants, they were adamant about providing a bright future for their children, but it came with some sacrifices for Collins' accountant father and pharmacist mother.

"International degrees mean nothing, so it took some time for my folks to get back into their professions," reflects Collins. "During that time [after migrating], they needed money. With two young kids in a completely new country and away from everything they know, Mum and Dad had to resort to other ways of making money by working at McDonald's – both as kitchen hands.

"Finally, after some time, they got back into their professions, and it was the four of us in Kalgoorlie for 14 years. That's all I knew."

Collins and his family then relocated to Perth, which is where he was based, up until four months ago when he moved to Sydney. Like many children of immigrants, he has grown up with two cultures. On the one hand, he has learnt the values that stem from his cultural heritage, and on the other, he has embraced Aussie life.

"Saying this now gets me a bit emotional to realise and remind myself how much my folks have done for me and my sis," says Collins. "They always said, 'Our ceiling is your platform. Now go out and get it!' Be someone. Aim so high!

"Growing up in a Christian family, our faith is everything and that’s something my folks passed onto my sister and I. I'm so blessed I've got a mix of the Indian culture of working hard, being ambitious and aiming high, but then also the laidback, genuine 'everyone’s a mate' vibe of being an Aussie."

Collins isn't the first South Asian to appear on a reality TV dating show in Australia. Others include Sandy Jawanda on MAFS 2023, Aarthi on The Bachelor, Niranga Amarasinghe on The Bachelorette, and Ari Kumar on Love Island.

While Sandy and Aarthi's parents struggled to accept their children's involvement on a dating show, Collins says his parents warmed to the idea pretty fast.

"We're an independent family but have each other’s backs, so whilst Mum was very cautious about it all, it was quickly followed up by an overwhelming amount of support," says the executive assistant. "They all humbly said I was born for something like this. Dad's the typical Indian bloke who sits at the back smiling and waving. He was stoked!"

When it came to forging a relationship on the pre-filmed show, Collins hints that he had entered very new territory. While he may have gone on the show with certain expectations, his views could have changed after he said, 'I do'.

"If you've been in a relationship and it hasn't ended well, usually you'll remember the bad from that relationship and tell yourself, 'Yeah, I don’t want that again'," he says.

"I host weekly speed dating events and the more mature-age attendees always tell me, 'You know what you don’t want'. So, for myself, having never been in a relationship before, there are things I may say I want in a partner now but then through experience, realise that’s not something I'm after at all and vice versa." 

Without giving too much away, he shares that he does have a bit of a check list to kick things off.

"I look for someone who's classy, independent, strong minded, ambitious, has her own life and friends," he says, "but at the same time [someone who's] kind, caring, genuine, pure, has a good sense of humour, is spontaneous, up for anything and doesn’t take things too seriously."

While he's kept tight-lipped about the result of his MAFS union, he does note that one of the big highlights of filming the show was "meeting the others who are in the same boat as you from all different walks of life".

As for how he hopes audiences perceive him, Collins says, "I don’t feel any responsibility or pressure at all" when it comes to cultural representation, but he certainly wouldn't want to project a negative image.

"I just hope when I'm on the screen, that as a fellow brown person [the viewer] – you're watching and hopefully thinking, 'He's a good guy and not a bad representation at all'," he says.

"As a sports addict, with any Aussie that makes it to the top – I watch them thinking they're a great representation of our country. I really hope I do that too!"

Married At First Sight Season 11 premieres on Monday, January 29 at 7:30pm on Channel Nine and 9Now.