Leisel and Brayden from Down For Love (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Tina Tiller)
Leisel and Brayden from Down For Love (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureSeptember 28, 2023

A chat with Down For Love’s Leisel and Brayden, the best reality couple of all time

Leisel and Brayden from Down For Love (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Tina Tiller)
Leisel and Brayden from Down For Love (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Tina Tiller)

Ahead of the return of Down For Love, we caught up with season one’s golden couple: Leisel and Brayden.

Last year, a dating show with a difference captured the hearts of New Zealand viewers, and tonight, that unique dating show returns to our screens for a second season. Down For Love is the reality series that looks to celebrate disability and neurodiversity within the traditional TV dating show format. It follows the highs and lows of several New Zealanders living with Down Syndrome or intellectual disabilities, as they embark on a heartfelt search for love through a series of blind dates.

Down to Love is produced by Attitude Pictures and made in association with the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA), and the idea for the show grew organically from conversations around Down Syndrome and dating. “We wanted to do something in the area of love and relationships, because there are significant barriers for people living with disabilities,” series producer Robyn Paterson explained in 2022. “And I really wanted to bring more of a documentary lens to it, so that it could go beyond just entertainment.” 

The result is a heartwarming show that’s frank, warm and funny, and unlike many other primetime dating shows, an enduring love story grew out of those original blind dates. We first met Leisel and Brayden in season one when they hit it off over a round of minigolf, and viewers watched their romance blossom over pottery classes and get-togethers in Leisel’s beloved spa pool. After New Zealand fell head-over-heels for Leisel and Brayden’s love story, Netflix then picked up the show, and now the couple now have fans around the world. 

Ahead of their return to our screens in season two of the smash hit series, we sent Leisel and Brayden a brief questionnaire to find out what it’s like to find love on a TV show, and what their plans are for the future.

The Spinoff: What did you think of each other when you first met on Down For Love?

Leisel: I like him a lot, he was funny. 

Brayden: I thought Leisel was very pretty.

What are your favourite memories from your first date on the show? 

Leisel: Winning the minigolf and the free ice cream and having fun.

Brayden: When Leisel and I had ice creams at the table. I remember thinking she was funny and we talked and ate ice cream.

How did you know that you had found someone special? 

Leisel: He was kind, loving and made me feel happy. 

Brayden: I knew because we both love hot chips and spa pools. Also her beautiful eyes told me.

What was it like watching yourselves back on television? 

Leisel: It was fun and an adventure.

Brayden: It was really exciting! I have always wanted to be famous on TV so it was a bit of a dream come true.

How did you feel about coming back to Down For Love for season two? 

Leisel: Excitement to be on the show again!

Brayden: I feel blessed to be asked again. I loved being on season one so was excited to show the fans that Leisel and me are going strong together.

What do you hope for other singles going on Down For Love? 

Brayden: I hope they can find a beautiful best girlfriend or boyfriend that I have found. I hope they get to kiss someone special.

Leisel: For them to find someone special and to enjoy being on the show. 

What advice do you have for anyone looking to find love? 

Brayden: To be stylish and be yourself and don’t change for anyone.

Leisel: Be safe, be happy and look after each other. 

What do you love the most about each other? 

Brayden: Her lips are smooth like mashed potatoes. 

Leisel: We have lots of laughs together and talk a lot on the phone and FaceTime each other. We both love music and dance. 

What plans are you making together for the future? 

Leisel: Planning a life together, getting a cat and a dog. I will continue to work with my Nutrimetics business and hopefully some fashion modelling work and Bray will continue his music, acting, YouTube and dancing. 

Brayden: We would like to get married one day and live in a house on our own with two cats and a dog. We would also like to make our own TV show and travel around the world to meet our fans. We have big dreams and want to be famous together.

Down For Love returns September 28 to TVNZ2 and streams on TVNZ+.

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