Mia Emani Jones didn’t find what she was looking for in the Tampa Bay dating pool.
So, the 26-year-old Tampa woman headed to “Fboy Island” to expand her options.
Jones will appear on the second season of HBO Max’s reality dating show, which debuts July 14. The premise: Three women embark on a mission to find love among two types of men — self-described “nice guys” and “fboys.”
For the uninitiated, an fboy is a player. A guy who seems charming until he leaves your messages on read, cheats on you with your friend, or is just all around scummy. Exactly half of the 26 eligible bachelors on “Fboy Island” claim this label, and if one of them is picked by a single lady, he could take home the entire $100,000 in prize money. If a nice guy makes it to the end, he’ll split the earnings with his new beau. The bachelorettes — and comedian-turned-host Nikki Glaser — have no idea who is who.
Jones, a dental student and previous Miss Delaware winner, was optimistic as she jetted off to Cabo for filming earlier this year.
Ahead of the premiere, Jones chatted on the phone with the Tampa Bay Times about fboy taming, her favorite spots to find romance and how the “Fboy Island” cast compared to the local dating scene.
How did you get on “FBoy Island”?
My dad actually is a huge fan, and that’s how I found out about the show in the first place. He told me, ‘You should go on the show. You never know what’s gonna happen.’ And then I had a casting agent reach out to me. I filled out some paperwork, went to L.A., did interviews in front of the executive producers, came home, felt like they forgot about me and then a couple months later, they called me and said they wanted me on the show.
What was your strategy heading to the island, especially after watching the first season with your dad?
I went there for love. I went there to find a genuine connection. So to me, it doesn’t matter their status, like if they’re an fboy or a nice guy. I just want someone to like me for me and I can tame an fboy if I need. My mom did it with my dad, so it’s in my blood.
How did your mom do it?
Well, a little backstory is that my dad was the quarterback in high school and in college. My mom was the head cheerleader. I don’t know much but I have a feeling stuff went down in college. And from there, my parents have now been married for 26 years and they’re still married. And my dad just worships the ground my mom walks on.
Did it sound like your dad saw any of himself in the guys onscreen?
I think so. When we were watching the first season, he would sit there and be like, ‘He’s an fboy.’ I was like, ‘What in the world, can you tell me why?’ And that person would get eliminated and he’d go, ‘I told you so.’
With the other two girls, how were you working together to guess who were the nice guys and who were the fboys?
Planning your weekend?
Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Basically, “Fboy Island” was our life for two months. You didn’t have a phone and you didn’t have WiFi. We couldn’t check their social media at all. So we don’t know who these guys actually are. We would put our heads together after filming, like ‘What do you think? I don’t know, they all look bad to me.’ We became like sisters because we would tell each other everything. That experience together was great, because we were like little detectives. I think 99% of the time we were right.
How did the idea of potential prize money affect the process?
It didn’t add any pressure for me. I always went there for love, so it really didn’t matter. As long as I followed my heart and I stayed true to myself, then the money wasn’t a huge aspect. Yeah, it was there in the back of my head, like, ‘No, don’t like him! He might be an fboy. Remember, he can take the whole $100,000.’ I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to go with my heart instead of my head even though my dad told me not to.’
It’s 50/50 fboy and nice guy split when you go on the island. How does that compare to the Tampa Bay dating scene?
Oh my goodness, it’s the same. It’s like all the guys know each other. I don’t know how, but everybody in Tampa knows each other or knows their uncle’s brother’s cousin or something, and it’s strange. That was weird [on the show] having the guys know that you’re taking other guys on a date and they live in the same house.
You want the nice guy. You have the guy that’s probably an fboy. You have the guy that just straight up is an fboy. You have the guy who’s like, in between and you just don’t know. You have people that look like they’re not fboys and they are. It’s Tampa Bay on an island, and in a smaller setting.
What are your favorite date spots around Tampa Bay?
I have to say one of them is Datz. I mean, the mac burger is so good. And I love the Rusty Pelican in Clearwater. It’s nice on the water. And then if they want to go more of a party scene, @260first in St. Pete. I’m actually one of their bottle girls there when I feel like it. It’s just a fun environment. And then McDinton’s. Man, McDinton’s.