EXCLUSIVE: MAFS’ Bride Melinda explains why it’s so important for her to speak out

"Backlash won't break me!"
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Alpha female Melinda Willis, 33, has been at the front and centre of some serious drama on this season of Married at First Sight. That includes locking horns with controversial groom Harrison Boon at a recent dinner party, who Melinda describes as “a walking red flag”.

Watch Below: Married At First Sight 2023 first look

After he managed to convince the table that there was no truth to earlier claims he had a girlfriend on the outside, Melinda wasn’t convinced and, not being one to suffer fools gladly, told him so outright. “Players like him often choose genuine, nice, good-hearted girls like his bride Bronte,” Melinda tells WHO. “Because they’re so nice, guys can walk all over them. I felt like that’s what I was seeing happen with Bronte.” 

Melinda adds that Harrison’s behaviour towards new friend Bronte “triggered” her and she felt compelled to challenge him. “Energy’s something that people don’t see when they’re watching it on TV. The way he was talking, I was sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t believe you.’ The sad thing was, Bronte’s such a pure heart that she’s just kind of lapping all his excuses up.” 

“I didn’t really know Harrison, but I had to call out his claims at the dinner party – if only to stand up for Bronte,” says Melinda. “I’m not scared to speak out.” (Credit: Nine)

It’s safe to say that Harrison and Melinda are not on the same page. “Once I meet a human like that and see what they’re about, they’re not going to be my best friend, now or in the future,” she explains. 

The Brisbane-based business owner says she has good reason to be wary of men like Harrison. “My previous relationship was quite a toxic one,” she explains. “Ever since, I’ve been really guarded.” So much so, she now admits that she was too quick to judge her TV husband Layton Mills, 35. “When I got to the end of the aisle and saw Layton, I was picking up mannerisms that were uncomfortably familiar to me. I was taken back into my previous relationship instantly and my guard went right up.” 

“I’ve travelled the world with Snoopy,” Melinda says of her ever-present fluffy toy. ”I’ve gone through every break-up with Snoopy and every business failure. He’s always been a comfort for me. I feel weird if I don’t have him with me, which is why he came on MAFS!” Her husband has had to adjust to an extra body in their bed. “I don’t think Layton is too fond of Snoopy,” she adds. (Credit: Nine)

However so far, viewers haven’t been impressed with Melinda’s on-screen confidence, particularly when she rated herself as a “nine and a half”, putting her new husband down in the process. “He may be punching [above his weight], just a little,” she said on the show. “I would swipe left.”  

Melinda now explains that she uses sarcasm as a defence mechanism when nervous and, unless you “really get to know me”, you wouldn’t understand the armour that she is often hiding behind. 

“My family all laughed when they saw it and said, ‘That is so you!’” she said. “In reality, I’m really the humblest person and I would never put someone’s appearance underneath mine, so it was just the way it all came across unfortunately.”  

“I think he was a little jealous that maybe Snoopy was taking too much of my time!” she said of her new husband. (Credit: Nine)

Success and working hard has always been important to Melinda, who works in fashion and beauty, and she makes no apology for that. She says she’s motivated by wanting to provide for her family, who are “such beautiful people, but who have struggled financially quite a lot”.

She adds, “We didn’t really have much money at all when I was growing up. There were four children, I had three brothers, so that’s where a lot of my masculine energy and confidence comes from. There was a lot of competition all the time. I was always challenged by my three big brothers. My drive and motivation, that grind and hustle, as well as being confident about speaking up, was born through having to always fight to be seen or heard among them. I constantly had to prove to them I could do it better.” 

Watch Below: MAFS star Brent Vitiello calls out this year’s “disgusting” male contestants

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Her dedicated work ethic and pattern for putting her career before relationships started early, too. Leaving home for the first time at age 19, Melinda started working on a cruise ship. It was an eye-opening time. “I’d never been out of Queensland before. 

I broke up with my boyfriend to chase my dream – and I’ve been hustling ever since!” she says, explaining the apparent hard exterior we’ve seen on MAFS so far is not who she really is. “I would definitely say you’re going to see a softer side of me.”

As for her marriage, Melinda says not to write her and Layton off just yet. “Watch this space,” she laughs. 

Watch Married at First Sight Sun., 7pm, and Mon.-Wed., 7.30pm on Nine.

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