JoAnna Garcia Swisher is ready for fans to see all of the highs and lows that will come on this season of The Ultimatum: Queer Love.
As Netflix drops the newest season of the reality show — which is a continuation of its hit series The Ultimatum — Garcia Swisher, 43, opens up to PEOPLE about what it was like stepping into the hosting role.
“It was really one of those experiences that I was profoundly changed by,” she says. “I didn’t know what to expect when they asked me to do the show. I was just so excited that Netflix was doing a show that was going to celebrate queer love. I was like, ‘Yes, I’m there. I’m in.'”
However, not long after the excitement, the pressure set in for the actress. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never done this before. How do I do this? How do I be there for them? How do I do all of it?'” she recalls.
Luckily, the cast and crew were quick to relieve her anxieties. “They just literally said, ‘Stop worrying’ — which is almost an impossibility for me. But I just was along for the journey,” says Garcia Swisher. “And [I’m] so humbled by the experience.”
Besides the support from the cast, Garcia Swisher says she turned to The Ultimatum season 1 hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey for advice.
“Of course I did [reach out to them],” she says. “Every season is different, I think. And so it’s like, you can’t really predict everything. But I went into this with an open heart, I tried to be the host that I felt was most true to me, and that’s sort of the advice that Vanessa [gave]: Just be you. And I thought, ‘OK, here you go.'”
Like the first season, The Ultimatum: Queer Love will follow five couples as they embark on a social experiment to test their relationships by seeing how a trial marriage would work with one another — as well as another partner. While one partner feels ready for marriage, the other doesn’t, so this ultimatum will help the couples decide if they want to say “I do” or call it quits.
This season’s couples consist of: Lexi, 25, who issued an ultimatum to Rae, 27; Mildred, 33, who issued an ultimatum to Tiff, 32; Yoly, 34, who issued an ultimatum to Mal, 36; Sam, 31, who issued an ultimatum to Aussie, 42, and Xander, 30, who issued an ultimatum to Vanessa, 30.
Garcia Swisher got a front row seat to the drama as she watched the five pairs develop new connections with the other couples and choose a partner for the trial marriages. (The trial marriage partnerships currently consist of: Lexi and Mal, Mildred and Aussie, Xander and Yoly, Vanessa and Rae, and Tiff and Sam.)
While helping the cast navigate their new “marriages” and ongoing love troubles, she says she leaned into her own marriage to former MLB player Nick Swisher for inspiration.
“It’s so interesting. My husband, I feel like he would do this job so beautifully too. He has so much respect for people in general and is such a great judge of character,” she shares. “Someone asked me [for] my five dating tips and the first one I gave was, ‘You’re the prize.’ Because my husband literally exists in this world believing that with every ounce of his being, no matter who you are, what you are, my husband always says, ‘You are the prize.'”
“And if you can really embody that notion, you can navigate things a lot easier or just have a lot more faith in the process,” she continues. “And so it left me feeling like there were so many times where I was sitting in that chair with these people and I thought, ‘I wonder what Nick would say in this moment.’ Because I have so much respect for him in that way. And I think he would add a lot of value.”
She adds, “And so our relationship and how he’s shown up for me really was able to shine through in the way that I was able to show up for them.”