Married At First Sight NZ's Ben opens up about being 'shy, awkward' child

Ben from Married At First SIght
He told RadioLIVE's Ryan Bridge he was a shy child. Photo credit: Mediaworks

In what he calls the toughest interview he's done to date, Married At First Sight NZ star Benjamin Blackwell opened up on RadioLIVE's Your Sunday with Ryan Bridge about how his life took him to this point  the "villain" of local reality television. 

The 26-year-old has faced significant backlash from the public about his behaviour on the show, including constantly reiterating his lack of attraction to husband Aaron, and picking a fight with fellow star Hadyn during last week's explosive dinner party. 

But Blackwell told RadioLIVE on Sunday he hasn't always had such a fiery persona - he began life as quite an introverted child. 

"You know when I was a kid, believe it or not, I was quite a shy child. 

"I'm one of five children - I'm number four and I was the most awkward kid.

"I'm sure people I went to high school with probably see me on TV and are like, 'What the hell?'"

His upbringing was also shaped by his sexuality, gay in a fairly strict Catholic household. 

"My mum and my mum's family are quite Catholic. We were raised Catholic and went to church and I went to Catholic schools. In my summer holidays I would go to religious camps. 

"All my siblings don't really care. They were supportive of me from day dot. My parents - the next generation up - took a little longer to come 'round, and my grandparents, we just don't talk about it." 

When Blackwell finished high school he moved to the United States, and he said it was there he came into his own, outside of the "surban", sports-focused community of Upper Hutt. 

"My attitude and outlook on life changed." 

Now working at an insurance consulting firm in Auckland, Blackwell says his reception there after filming was less than warm. 

"In my department on my floor it's completely fine - they get me. People from other departments not so much - the reception is a bit icy. 

"Because of how I'm portrayed on the show they think I'm not the friendliest or nicest person in the world." 

But that doesn't bother him. 

"I would hate to be described as nice. I think I'm a friendly person, but nice is kind of dull to me. I would hate if I died and people described me as nice. 

"I don't people please. I have an opinion and I think people get upset about that." 

Again, he says, it goes back to his upbringing. 

"My family is quit a political family. My parents raised me to have an opinion, to speak your mind and never hold back.

"I think worst thing you could do would be to not have an opinion, just sit back and live your life under a rock. What's the point you know?"

When asked if he had a message for the people of New Zealand, including those who have left such scathing comments on social media, Blackwell took the chance to reflect on what he thinks is a national attitude to confrontation. 

"I know people in New Zealand want me to say sorry, but I'm not going to say sorry for anything I've done.

"People might find it a little bit brash but I think it's something I've picked up living overseas, particularly in Australia and in the States, people will confront something they don't like. New Zealanders try and avoid that - you don't want to piss anyone off because you might see them at Farmers. 

"I think it's healthy to get on with it and hash it out with someone, rather than 'rug sweep' it."