Alicia Kenworthy- Star of TV show "Find My First Love", Writer, Comedian and Political Advocate


Photo credit: Provided

I remember a very long time ago stumbling upon a show in which Americans attempt to track down their long lost love. One episode touched my heart and it was the story of Alicia. We got connected a long time ago online somewhere.

 Video Credit : FYI TV

Hi Alicia! 

Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me. I guess we have been “connected socially online” since I first saw your story. Social media is such a funny thing.

I honestly have to say that I have absolutely no idea how I managed to see “Find My First Love” in Australia a few years ago but your search for Benjamin was like watching a dream come true. 

Photo credit: FYI TV
I will ask you some more about the show later but I would like to begin with some background about you:

Whereabouts in the world are you is a good start!

Washington, DC! I grew up in Northern Virginia and attended college at Georgetown. It feels good to be back home. 

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Where did you grow up? I am from Melbourne in Australia so can you describe what it is like. I may have seen an Instagram photo years and thought how beautiful it looked there.

My hometown is Arlington, VA. Arlington itself has changed a lot over the past decade or so. As a kid, I remember it as a fairly diverse and middle class suburb. My friends' parents all worked in some kind of public service or for non-profits. More recently, it feels like Arlington's gotten a bit "fancier." People have a lot of money but I'm not quite sure where they get it! Lawyers and government contractors, surely. And Amazon has swept in with new headquarters in Crystal City, not far from my favorite Afghan takeout restaurant and a popular topless restaurant.


The District itself still mostly has the same energy I've always loved. For me, it's like living in a microcosm of the world. It's incredibly international. The kind of town where your Uber driver will likely know more about international politics than you do. The residents of DC are generally intelligent, civic-minded people who dream big in a selfless kind of way. And of course, it's also known as "Chocolate City," as it was once the first majority Black major city in the US. One of my favorite authors, Edward P. Jones, does a beautiful job of bringing the city to life through his work.


Aesthetically, I think DC is one of the more "European" places you can visit in the U.S. Much of the city was designed by a Frenchman: Pierre Charles L'Enfant. The monuments are striking by night. And nothing beats crossing Memorial Bridge at sunset with light dancing on the water.

Photo credit: Provided
 Why did you choose France to decide to study abroad? Where did you end up going?

I first fell in love with French in the 7th grade! It's funny: my middle school had a program where they had us study Spanish, Latin, and French each for 30 days before we decided which language to take. I'd always assumed I'd study Spanish (people will tell you it's the more "practical" choice, especially here in the States.) But something about French in that trial period just "clicked" for me and I never looked back.


When I was in high school, Arlington County Schools kicked off an exchange with the town of Reims, France in the Champagne region. I begged my parents to let us become a host family! 

We ended up hosting a boy my age, named Joris, with whom I got along fabulously. When I graduated high school and decided to take a gap year, his family offered to take me in. 

So that's what I did! I lived with my "French family" and attended a French high school for one year before college.

What did you study at school? What did you do after graduation?

I majored in French and Political Economy at Georgetown University. 

French was an obvious choice, and I threw Econ in there because my grandfather was a celebrated economist, and I always thought I "should" study something "practical" like that as a Washingtonian. But honestly, if I could go back and do it again, I would major in English. 

Econ was neither my interest or my strong suit. And so many great comics and storytellers came out of Georgetown's English department! Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney...


I graduated in '09 which was a terrible time to be on the job market. I lucked out, though, and landed a job with the French Trade Commission (Business France) in San Francisco. Mostly, I was responsible for helping French tech startups with their business development in Silicon Valley.


Photo credit: Provided

What is it about France? Do you return often?

Oh my gosh, what is it about France! It's everything. I fell in love, first and foremost, with the language, and then with the culture. I think it's the *humanity.* The French just... understand what lends meaning and pleasure to human existence. It's their appreciation for art, conversation and literature, the time and attention they put into food, how they know how to fully "unplug" and soak up vacation... 

France has enriched my life in ways I still really struggle to articulate. Honestly, for me it's almost a ... religion? I get a certain spiritual edification from it. 


When was the last time you went to France?

I do return every chance I get. Mostly in the summertime. My last visit was in July for my French parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We celebrated at a castle in Champagne and took a family trip to Normandy with my five adorable French "nieces." It really feels like... home. 


I feel caught between Australia and France at the best of times.  Do you still feel drawn to the country and culture?


I totally get that! I've struggled a lot with being caught between America and France, too. It's a blessing to know two cultures intimately but also somewhat of a curse. 

I think I'm finally starting to appreciate that feeling of being caught in between, but it's much easier said than done. 


What do you miss most about France?

Everything! Perhaps the conversation. There's a certain art to French conversation that's just so... intellectual and witty and flirtatious. I could sit around the dinner table for hours. I also very much miss the Champagne. And in the summer, the way the sun doesn't set until nearly 10 PM.

I have also spent a lot of time in France and developed amazing friendships with such a mixture of people I feel that I would not get the chance to meet back home. Do you feel the same?

Yes and no. My circle of friends in DC might be a bit more international/diverse than what I had in France -- though I was mostly in the countryside, and not in Paris. But my French friends hold a really special place in my heart. 

My French family, in particular. There are not enough words in either language to describe how much they mean to me! I also feel that living in France provided me with a worldview/general outlook on life that I never would have developed had I stayed home.

I also have my versions of a French Family, who were my host family the first time I went to Paris. I also have a French “grandma” and a French “grandpa”. 

 Trop bien! There's nothing better.

Are you still in touch with your old friends from your study abroad program?

Yes! I met one of my best friends, Mathilde, in high school during that gap year. We talk on iMessage and WhatsApp probably a dozen times daily. 

As for the "program" strictly speaking, I was the only one in that school! I'm still in touch with myself. Mostly.

What about your host family? Have they visited you?

I have a Zoom call with my host family almost every Sunday! We all met up for a vacation in San Francisco pre-pandemic. One of their sons married an American and now lives in California.

Photo credit: Provided

Were there any mannerisms that are particularly French that caught you off guard? (Kind of referring to things like the odd sounds they make. I was so confused with my host family with the hop and hop la. Oh! And especially the Raspberry. You know what it sounds like!)


Haha! I know what you mean about the odd sounds. I don't know if that particularly caught me off guard, but I remember being really surprised at how formal written correspondance can be. The first time I had to write an important letter in French, my host brother taught me to sign off with something like "Je vous prie d'agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes salutations distinguées" and I thought he had to be kidding.

I am aware that you are a writer already. I have read some of your work over the years and I was receiving your newsletters in my inbox! 


Oh thank you! That means a lot that you were reading. And I'm back at it! I've rebooted my newsletter on Substack. You can find me here:

But what is it that you most enjoy writing about? Have you done creative writing?

I love writing about personal experiences in a creative and entertaining way -- anecdotes, funny dialogue. Most of my writing, I guess, would fall under the umbrella of creative non fiction. But I LOVE to read short stories. My goal this year is to start writing some fiction of my own. I probably won't share any of it until I produce something halfway good, so don't hold your breath. But god, what I wouldn't give to write like Grace Paley or George Saunders.

So, let’s get back to “Find my First Love”

How did you come to think of participating in the show? Where was it advertised?

I found the casting call on Craigslist of all places! It offered to fly participants anywhere in the world in search of "the one who got away." I replied immediately, almost for fun, never imagining I'd actually be cast.

 Did your friends/family know what you were doing at the time?

Yes! They thought I was crazy but they also were 100% supportive of my going on the show. They know that once I have my mind set on doing something, there's no holding me back.

What year was this?

We filmed in March of 2014 and the show aired in March 2015, I believe. I remember celebrating my 28th birthday in Colmar just two days before they had me walk "casually" across the Pont des Arts and tap Benjamin on the shoulder.


We are about the same age and I was quite a reserved person when I was younger. So, I cannot imagine myself at that age being comfortable putting myself out there but also being in front of a camera and crew.


How did you feel about this?

I was a little bit nervous that the production company might "twist" my story or make it trashy, somehow. You never know with Reality TV! And since this was a new show, it's not like I had prior seasons I could refer back to for reference. 

I had to just kind of trust the producers and believe in their vision. Otherwise, though, putting myself out there didn't bother me. I love a good adventure! 

What about the posters and going on the radio?!

 Hahahaha. All of that was a little insane. But I was all for it! The crazier, the better. 


I believe you felt that finding the love of your life was worth it?


Most definitely! I've always been somewhat of a hopeless romantic and would do anything for love. I also knew Ben would, at the very least, get a good laugh out of it. I wouldn't have made such a fool out of myself if I thought he would be somehow mortified or put off.

Would you call yourself a hopeless romantic?



I am aware that this could be a sensitive topic to discuss but do you mind sharing with us if you still keep in touch with Benjamin?


Not too sensitive at all! We've talked a few times in the years since our breakup, but we don't speak regularly. I think it was a hard breakup for both of us and maybe we both needed our space to rebuild. 

We both still really appreciate each other and (I hope) wish each other the best, though. 


How long were you together after the show ended? In between which years were these?

We stayed together for two years! From 2014 to 2016. I moved out of our apartment shortly after my 30th birthday.


You moved for love! I have also had this experience. It is a huge sacrifice to make for someone you are in love with. 


It really is. I did have my French family and French high school friends in that area, so that made the transition slightly easier than had I moved to, say, Botswana.  But I think sometimes people underestimate how hard living abroad can be, even when you "know" a culture and speak a language fluently. I know I waxed poetic about how perfect France is just a bit earlier, but I missed a lot of things about home.

Photo credit: FYI TV

Was it an easy choice for you to make at the end of the day?

To move to France? Ha! I think I thought about it for all of five seconds, so yes, it was a pretty easy choice. The decision to leave and come back home was much harder. 

What have you been doing since being on the show? I saw that you went on stage at one point as a comedian. Do you still do stand-up comedy?

I love doing stand up! I haven't performed much comedy since COVID, unfortunately, but I have been doing plenty of on-stage storytelling, which is kind of stand-up adjacent without the pressure of getting laughs every few seconds. :)


My appearance on "Find My First Love" kind of inspired my foray into stand-up, actually. I got home with a broken heart and a bunch of stories that made my friends laugh until my best friend encouraged me to give it a go. Didn't really know what else to do with "reality TV" on my resume!

Obviously you would miss your friends and family but what did you miss in/about the US?

This is going to sound silly, but I really missed writing in cafés. Paris has more of a café culture. And in Reims, people definitely sit in cafés to grab drinks with friends. But there wasn't this culture of going to a coffee shop and working on your laptop. I was trying to work on a book idea I had at the time, and I felt so unwelcome at the bars and cafés where I'd try to set up alone with just my notebook. I ended up writing at McDonalds!


That and I also really missed people smiling. We have all these stereotypes about Parisians but I think the people of Reims exemplify them more so: strangers can appear so cold! It's that whole ... what is it, the coconut metaphor? Like you have to crack them open but they're sweet inside? Something like that...


Parisians, on the other hand, always struck me as really friendly.


How long were you there? Did you stay long afterwards? Were you able to write/work in France?

I left Reims in 2016 and spent another year back and forth between France and the US. 

After my breakup, I wasn't ready to give up on France just yet, and honestly didn't know where I wanted to build my life going forward. I ended up subletting an apartment in Montpellier for a few months and just kind of... figuring things out. 

I was lucky to have freelance transcription and editing work that allowed me to live and work wherever. I wasn't earning a ton, but the flexibility really helped while I figured out what I was doing with my life! 

At the time, I was also working on a book project that I've put aside for now. I learned the hard way that if you want to go somewhere and write, go somewhere no one wants to visit you! LIke, I don't know, middle of nowhere Missouri. 

When I lived in Montpellier, I ended up playing tour guide to friends who would come to visit me. I had a really fun time, but I didn't get much writing done unfortunately.

Photo credit: Provided

I imagine a lot of people would have reached out/contacted you?

After the show aired, I did get a lot of messages on social media! Which was really, really cool. The episode ended up airing in at least 12 different countries (maybe more by now?) Every now and then I'll still get a message saying "hey, I just watched your episode in Romania!" Or Italy. Or the Philippines.


I have previously made a huge deal out of it… but GAD Elmaleh. Le Gad. I am a little enthusiastic at the best of times. I noticed that he follows you on Instagram some time and messaged you about it. I am assuming also that he may have seen the show? Or is it your comedy?

OMG Gad came out of nowhere! I think he started following me for my comedy. I'd "liked" a photo of him with another one of my favorite comics, Mike Birbiglia, and he just ... followed me back. He's never actually interacted with me past that, though. Alas! 

How does it feel to have such a famous person in France just suddenly start following you?

It felt INCREDIBLE but it would have been even more cool if he actually talked to me, lol. I did attend one of his shows in LA, though, and he called on me to interpret one of his jokes from French to English, which is one of the highlights of my life.

Have you met many other French celebrities/people in the arts sector (writing, acting, comedy)?

I met Augustin Trapenard at the Cannes Film Festival once! Briefly. I gifted him a book by George Saunders and told him what a fan I was of his show, "Boomerang." I listened to that on the radio nearly every morning when I lived in Champagne. I also met Frédéric Beigbeder! Who agreed to speak with me for the book I've since set aside... I'll hold off on saying more until I actually one day publish it.

What opportunities did you get from being on the show and having articles written about you and social media users going crazy for the romance (obviously not me, haha)?

Haha, obviously not you! I guess the biggest thing is going on the show really opened up the door for me in terms of comedy and storytelling. One of the first storytelling shows I performed in back home was "Sucker for Love" at DC's Lincoln Theatre. I told the story of going on the show and moving to France for Ben! You can watch it on YouTube here:


When I got back to DC, I also landed a job as a Professional Matchmaker. People had started to seek out my advice on love and relationships so often that it felt like a natural fit! I didn't end up liking the sales-y aspect of the role, so I'm no longer doing that, but I had a blast while it lasted.


Seeing as you have lived overseas and done many things, can you perhaps describe how you feel about living abroad and learning another language? More for those who have never taken the leap or are hesitating to do so.

I think living abroad is one of the most profoundly beautiful ways to get to know *yourself.* I didn't really understand, on a visceral level, what it meant to be American until I lived abroad and learned about the subtle things that made me "different" in others' perceptions of me. Of course: sometimes it's terrifying! Navigating a different culture and a different language can make you feel a little... lost and off kilter. There were days I got homesick and broke down in tears from the overwhelm of just... trying to make myself understood. It requires a lot of vulnerabiity. But you learn about yourself and what you're capable of in those moments of vunerability, too. It also grounds you and gives you perspective. In a room of strangers, 9/10 I can tell who's lived abroad and who hasn't. There's a certain openness, a self-awareness, to people who have taken that leap into the unknown. Who have had to fumble their way through a conversation becuase they can't remember the word for "cucumber."

Photo credit: Provided 

I am also interested to know about the political advocacy that you have been passionately involved in back in the US.

Why are you so passionate about this?

Thank you! Oh my gosh, this could be a whole other interview in itself. The long story short is, shortly after I returned home -- in 2018? One of my closest friends, a Black man named Micheal, ended up incarcerated at the DC Jail. I'd always been sympathetic to the movement for prison reform and vaguely aware that mass incarceration was a problem in American society, but I'd never understood it on a visceral level. Micheal is the biggest teddy bear. He's a giver of bear hugs with an aversion to mayonnaise and a fear of the dark. Seeing someone I cared for so deeply essentially be caged and outfitted in shackles and chains -- learning how differently systems of policing, etc had affected our lives -- made the issue incredibly real and personal for me.

Please tell me more about that and elaborate on your involvement and activities.

At first, my involvement in criminal justice reform was mostly personal. I supported Micheal through his incarceration -- visiting him every week and advocating on his behalf. When his facility was overusing solitary confinement (23 days in a cage, 1 hour in the yard, for weeks at a time), I showed up at DC Council meetings to raise the issue. When his goodtime credit wasn't being properly credited to his sentence, I was on the one on the phone calling his case manager. When COVID hit the jail in March 2020 and we thought he might die in there, I participated in grassroots movements that helped convince the Mayor to grant him and others compassionate release.


And now... Micheal and I are a couple! We live together here in DC and do a lot of advocacy work together -- mostly lobbying and various creative projects. He's an incredible writer, as well. I still want him to publish a compilation of the letters he sent me over the course of his incarceration. That man's mind... you really have to read these letters, though. No one can make me laugh (or cry) more. 

What do you see in your future? What would you like to achieve?

I'm actually thinking of law school! Following in Kim Kardashian's footsteps and earning my JD so I can more effectively help people whose lives have been upended by this system. In a lot of ways, that may not appear quite as glamorous as drinking Champagne on the French Riviera, but it's something that fulfills me with a lot of purpose and meaning. And if one Reality TV star can do it, I figure I can, too. :) 

To someone who does not personally know you, you come across to me as someone so talented, beautiful, and caring. In addition, the support that you have given to me has really meant a lot.

Thank YOU!