Sometimes, life changes in the blink of an eye. Fortunately for Serena Pitt, those changes have come in the form of new love and reinvention.”It’s definitely been a whirlwind. It’s been a crazy year. I was thinking about the timeline the other day. Almost a year ago, Matt’s season was airing and I was sharing that journey with the world and making my television debut. And now I’m here and engaged to Joe. My life has really changed in a unique way in the last year. Something that I never foresaw and could have never predicted, but it all kind of led me to where I am right now. I’m really happy. There’ve been tough moments through this year, but for a reason, and things are going really well right now,” says the vivacious Bachelor in Paradise star, fresh off gracing the People’s Choice Awards red carpet. On the heels of her first experience with the Bachelor franchise, she hesitated about taking the plunge to join the cast of Bachelor in Paradise. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to want to do that. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to do that.’ Just because The Bachelor was overwhelming and tough in a lot of ways, but once I did have the conversation with them about it, it was definitely something I was interested in. It almost worked for me last time. Maybe it’ll work for me this time. I liked the format of Paradise better. I just felt like it was more cohesive to my needs in a relationship and my dating style. My biggest thing was, why not? This opportunity might never come again. I may as well take it while it’s in front of me.” It was on those beautiful (scorching) beaches that she’d meet her future fiancé and dashing sauce mogul, Joe Amabile.
While it’s customary for hopefuls to arrive in paradise with a wishlist of who they’d like to meet, Serena went in without a preconceived agenda. “I was in Canada on lockdown between Matt’s season and paradise. So I think it was hard for me to have any sort of wishlist of people I wanted to meet because we didn’t get to see any of these guys, so I didn’t know what to expect from them. In some cases, I had chatted with a few of them, but I hadn’t met anyone. So I was really going in with an open mind. Joe was someone that I’d never met. I’d never done his podcast. We never crossed paths, but I obviously knew who he was. I was aware that he did do a Bachelor podcast and that he was single. I think I did ask if he would be there, just out of curiosity. I thought maybe he’d be someone I’d be interested in meeting, but other than maybe one or two comments, he really wasn’t on my radar.” Their connection took her by surprise, given that they barely knew each other and have a significant age gap. “I walked onto the beach and he was there. I was definitely surprised to see him. At the same time, I thought, ‘I don’t know enough about him to be able to know if I’m going to hit it off with this guy.’ I also knew that he was a lot older than me. I didn’t know how much older, but that was definitely in my head as well. So it just goes to show when you immerse yourself in that process and put a lot of the details aside, you really get to know someone for who they are. I mean, he wasn’t on my radar, but once I hit the beach he was definitely very much on my radar.”
From there, the chemistry was as effortless as it was instantaneous. It didn’t take Serena long to realize that Joe was the piece she had been searching for. “I dated some great guys, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right guys for me and it’s going to be the right fit. I think that’s what I was missing in a lot of my past relationships. It just kind of felt like something’s always missing, whether it was a want or a need or just compatibility overall. When it comes down to Joe, I love him so much and my feelings are 100% there for him. But then in terms of a partnership level, he’s really my teammate and we work really well. We communicate very well together and very similarly I think, which helps a lot in a relationship. I think a relationship needs more than just love, to make it work and to make it last. And I really saw those qualities in Joe, which made him an ideal partner.” Joe embodied all the ingredients required to make a healthy romance thrive. “There’s so much more than just being in love with someone. You need communication, you need trust, you need all of these other things to really make that foundation grow. I think the best part of Joe and my relationship with Joe is that as much as we clicked on the first night, there was really a strong friendship built in the first few days. As much as there was chemistry, I feel like the romance part of our relationship came a few days in. We really are friends before anything and we just like spending time together and hanging out. I liked him as much as I loved him, if that makes sense.”
Everyone assumed their biggest test would be after Paradise, when cold reality can cause many a spark to fizzle out. Contrary to popular wisdom, Serena has found that dating Joe in real life is a cakewalk compared to the perpetual upheaval of the beach. “People always ask us what the transition was like and if dating has gotten any harder since Paradise. And we both always say that dating in Paradise is so much harder than anything that we have experienced in the real world. I mean, you are dealing with drama and people coming down and all of these different obstacles, as well as the blazing heat and you’re tired and you’re sweaty. So being able to date in the real world, as much as we are combating long distance, which we didn’t have before…it has been really, really nice.” Serena has taken their geographical challenges completely in stride. “Our strategy, a lot of the time, just comes down to planning. So usually at the end of the month or at the beginning of the month, we go, it’s the end of December, January is coming up. What is our schedule? What do we know are hard dates that we have to be in a certain city or any events we have or [I could say] I have to be in Toronto for this event on these days. We really just try to set a schedule for the month of when we’re going to be able to be together and what city we’re going to be in together or be apart. This month has definitely been a little bit trickier. Both of us have had separate events in separate cities. So we spent a little more time apart than we did in November, but we just kind of do the best we can to plan and try to be in the same city as much as possible.” The key to making the distance work lies in the obvious. “My advice to couples is to – I feel like I’ve said this word so many times – but to communicate. We do our best to stay in touch throughout the day. We don’t really text much at all. We always pretty much call each other, even if it’s just for three minutes to ask, ‘Hey, how’s your day going?’ Unless someone’s out, we always FaceTime before we go to sleep. You have to know what works for you. I don’t think there’s a rule book for what the right way to do long distance is. I think it really comes down to structuring what makes sense for your relationship or what you guys feel like you need in a relationship. And for us that is spending quality time together, even when we aren’t in the same city. So, you know, talking before we go to sleep at night, talking through the day planning when we’re going to see each other so we have something to look forward to. That worked for us. Try planning with your partner and figuring out, ‘What do you need from me and how do we make this work so that we keep our relationship strong and our connection alive?’ That’s the best way to go about it. “
Post-BiP, Serena is entering the influencer sphere. Ironically, it’s the other side of a coin that she knows incredibly well. “I got a communications degree in university and a post-grad degree in sports and event marketing. I thought that I was going to go into the marketing space, maybe do experiential marketing, and then COVID hit while I was just kind of starting my career. So I pivoted into the public relations space of working for PR agencies. I really enjoyed that experience. I love working on the brand side of PR. And then after I went on the show, I went back to that. After I went on The Bachelor, I went back to my job at PR and then coming back from Bachelor in Paradise, I was a little overwhelmed with being in a new long distance relationship and engagement, so I did not go back to my nine to five job and there were a lot of opportunities coming up for me in the influencer space, which I kind of opened that door just before going on Paradise to explore what that might have in store for me.” It’s been a very fast learning curve. “I’ve been lucky enough to have a really amazing, supportive following. A lot of family and friends and my community have encouraged me and supported me in transitioning into the influencer space, which is a space that I never thought I would go into. I think I had maybe 40 photos on Instagram and 800 followers. And so I want them to know that I was totally okay with that, but it’s been a very unique and humbling experience. I’ve learned a lot about the influencer space that I think kind of gets overlooked and put down because it is so female dominated, but it is a huge industry. I can say from working on the side of PR that brands use it as a serious marketing tool for their products and for their companies. Getting to have a little bit of a taste of both working on the influencer side and on the agency side has been really cool because I am interested in this space overall, just as a marketing tool in general. I’m new to it and I’m still learning. I’m still growing and trying to figure out what I love and what I want to continue pursuing in the influencer space. But so far I think it’s been going well and I’m excited to see where it takes me.” When it comes to selecting brands for collaboration, maintaining her integrity is always top of mind. “I’ve been lucky to partner with some really amazing brands. I feel like people think that influencers take on any product and it’s all about the money. And I mean, this is my job. So money is a factor. I need to live and pay my bills. But at the same time, I truly don’t endorse products that I don’t believe in. Any product that I endorse, I either love the brand or I use the product. There are products that I’ve endorsed that I truly use on a day to day basis, months after promoting them. So I really try to only share products that feel organic to me. It can be overwhelming at times. There’s so many different products and so many different brands out there. I try to be as selective as I can be while also trying to make sure that I’m promoting something that I actually believe in. So staying authentic and knowing that this is something that I’m sharing with you that I use and that I have used and I’m going to continue to use.”
As an added bonus, the influencer pace has provided plenty of room to nurture a new relationship. “In terms of the structure of my lifestyle, I really value the flexibility. It definitely means that I work on Saturdays and Sundays sometimes, because I don’t have a very structured work schedule. Sometimes there’s a deadline that gets moved and there’s a lot of changes. So there’s not a lot of structure, which is definitely a change for me because I’m usually someone that settles into routine. But I definitely like the flexibility that I have and the autonomy that I have, especially being in a long distance relationship with Joe right now. Being able to work from home and then go see him is something that I really value. And I’m a creative person. I like to be able to be creative in my work. So I would say the autonomy and the creativity are probably my two favorite aspects.” Still, she wishes people would afford her fledgling career more respect. Behind every glossy photo and flawless reel is hours of work that audiences can’t see. “I think influencers get a bad rap at times. I was guilty of this too – thinking that it wasn’t a serious job or a serious legitimate career choice when I was younger. You think, ‘Oh, you’re just posting something on Instagram. You took this and you posted and it’s really easy and it’s not a real job.’ I remember when I was younger, I didn’t take it seriously either. And then as I went to school and I went into the PR space, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a real industry.’ Brands put money aside to work with influencers to market their products and it works. And they gained from that. It’s a service that influencers are providing and they deserve to be compensated fairly for. And then also working on the influencer side. It is not easy at times. The reason that I think people don’t realize that is because what gets shared is the final product, the curated reel, the edited photo from the two hour photo shoot that you’ve put into it. It’s difficult to have awareness around that, but just people seeing it as a more legitimate career path and industry is something that’s starting to grow just as social media grows. That would be something that I would like to see develop over time.” Besides navigating influencer life, Serena is eagerly anticipating moving in with Joe. “We’re heading into the holiday season. So we’re planning a lot of time spent with my family and with Joe and his family. We’re very excited to be moving in together in the spring. We haven’t decided on the location or an exact date. All the details are still being ironed out on our end. But once we make that decision, we’re excited to share it with the people in our lives that have been following us. That’s the personal side. Otherwise, going back and forth to Chicago, Toronto and wherever else life and work takes us. Professionally, I’ll just be continuing to grow and learning more about content creation and the industry I’m now working in.” You could say she’s building her own little slice of paradise.
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Serena Pitt Embraces Good Chaos. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Serena Pitt.