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“To Rome For Love” Premieres Jan. 7 On Bravo

One of the stars of a new reality show about black women seeking love internationally said she decided to go abroad after ending a toxic relationship with her pro footballer fiancee.

“I wanted to be part of this experience because dating, it’s changed. It’s changed a lot,” Ashley Russell said of her new show “To Rome For Love.” “I’m from a small town, and I grew up in a single parent home. Everybody here knows everybody. I wanted to go outside the norm and experience something different.”

Russell is among a group of black women on “To Rome For Love,” who have struck out in America’s dating culture and opted to spend six weeks in Rome to explore relationships with Italian men. The Covington, La. native said that after her nine-year relationship with her pro-football playing fiancee ended because of his infidelity, she didn’t have anything to lose.

“I fell in love with a man who was very powerful,” Russell said. “So I was always in the back…I was second to his career. I was never secure about myself. It was hard coming from this relationship and trusting that I could find love again.”

While Russell was coy on whether she’d found her own “Italian Stallion,” she did say that she had no shortage of admirers and said her time with the show’s relationship expert Diane Valentine, changed how she saw herself.

Bravo Media/ Philippe Antonello/ Ernesto Ruscio

“Diane made me realize that I was enough,” Russell said. “It’s all about the person that’s inside. It had nothing to do with what I looked like. For a long time, I thought it was about the outer appearance. I thought that would help me find a man. She helped me realize that I’m an amazing woman with a lot to offer.”

Russell said that she hopes viewers – and especially black women – will take away from the show that all love starts from within.

“I just want them to keep their minds open about the process,” Russell said. “And as black women, I want us to remember that whether it’s Rome, whether it’s Tennessee, or whether its Louisiana, you have to love yourself. For people to love you, you have to accept yourself.”



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