Fans of Jillian Harris (from Love It Or List It Vancouver and previously from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette) can rejoice, as W Network is bringing audiences a raw, insider’s look into her and partner Justin Pasutto’s biggest life challenges with the four-part docu-series Jillian & Justin, premiering June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The Canadian original program follows the couple as they tackle the challenges of first-time parenthood and building their forever home, while meeting the demands of their careers and relationship.
I interviewed Jillian for the first time a few years ago, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with both her and Justin recently to ask them all about their new show, new baby, wedding plans and Jillian’s very popular – and sometimes criticized – website.

Can you share a little bit about your new show and why you wanted to do it?

Jillian: Originally we just thought that if we built or renovated a house that it would be great just to have the support of the Love it or List it production team, all the suppliers, all the perks of building of a new house, and it would be great to have that team behind us to help keep it moving along schedule-wise.

Justin: There are people that we can trust to help us with our home, like Kenny who knows construction and builds hundreds of homes a year, Francesca, from the design end who works with Jill, we thought it would be an awesome combo and an opportunity to build a home.

Jillian: And we figured if the host of Love it or List it is building or renovating a house, surely we should get it on camera, right?

For sure!

Jillian: But actually what ended up happening is after a couple of days of filming, the network came back to us and said, “Yeah, there is something more here. We would actually like to film a documentary about your life and we want to see it evolve over the next six months to a year.” And right away, Justin and I said, “Yeah, sure!” But it wasn’t until they started filming us in more private settings or more intimate settings that I started to get concerned: Oh my gosh, this is real life, not like Bachelor/Bachelorette, this is literally cameras, go-pros, iPhones, behind the scenes of our private life. And it was a little scary, but you know what it is really fun and we have something to hang on to as a memory for the rest of our lives and a really cool opportunity.

Definitely – and I’ve seen the first episode and I think it is going to be a hit. You’ve already led into my next question: Do you ever have any regrets about being so open and honest and raw, whether it’s on TV or online? 

Jillian: Well Justin and I aren’t really the most private people anyways and I have personally always been a bit of an over sharer. I am usually one of those people who walks away from a conversation thinking, “Really, did I really need to share all that? Did I really need to say that?” So for me it kind of comes naturally. And I find being a television host or even a blogger a little bit like any art form, it is like telling a story and for me I love to create the most interesting, vivacious life possible for Justin and I. And I like to share it with the world. And so that is kind of the perspective that helps me justify what we have just done. But, yeah sometimes it does bother me how much we have shared but at the same time I hope people are entertained by it one way or another. Whether it makes them happy or angry or sad or they think it is funny or whatever.

What have been your biggest surprises about parenting since having Leo?

Justin: Well, I definitely thought the whole diaper/poop program wasn’t nearly as bad as people would make it out to be. But, it is impressive how such a small, beautiful little human can create such a smell and disastrous nightmare. It is literally like the stories you hear about your kid peeing on you, you get a blowout of poop going everywhere, it happens! It honestly happens no matter how prepared you think you are.

Jillian: I think also, for both Justin and I, everybody talks about how much you’re going to love being a parent and how much you love your child and whatnot, but it is just mind- blowing how much your priorities change. Justin used to just live for the weekends, he’d get together with his buddies and go camping or go to an outdoor party or whatever. And even now, we just got the opportunity to go to Calgary next weekend, he was just like, “I don’t want to go for the whole weekend. I just want to go for the one day.” So we just like being at home, we like being together, we’ve enjoyed slowing down. I think it is just incredible how much it just changes your whole heart and everything that was important to you before all of a sudden is just not so important anymore.

In the first episode you mention your age difference. Has it ever really been an issue for the two of you?

Jillian: For sure, I think it has. Justin will probably tell you that I am still more immature than him (even though I’m older) and I might agree with him to a certain extent. But there was a time in our lives when we first met I was still single and in party mode, even though I was in my mid-thirties, I was always one of those people who didn’t want to get married young. I wanted to drag out my youth as much as possible. So when I first met Justin I was able to really keep up with him, but once I fell in love with him and realized I wanted to marry him, all I wanted to do was settle down and he wasn’t really ready yet because he was almost 10 years younger than me. And we really struggled with that for a few years in our relationship. It is not his fault, any 26/27 year old would probably want to party with their friends and everybody is starting to make a little bit of money and getting their new careers and doing all this stuff. And here all I wanted to do was get knocked up and stay in on a Friday night.

Justin: It wasn’t quite like Jill’s saying. It was totally out of the gate party mode, hang out with the guys, do whatever. Then it was literally overnight that Jill was like, “Nope, hey I’m a grown up now. Let’s have kids, let’s get married, let’s have a house, let’s go to the moon, let’s write a book, let’s do whatever we can that doesn’t involve partying or drinking or going camping.”

Jillian: Yeah, that was a bit of a struggle. And I think Justin in a perfect world, pre-Leo, wanted to wait a little bit longer to have a baby. But he also knew that I was the person he wanted to have a baby with, and that I wasn’t getting any younger so he kind of didn’t really have a choice.

And you are engaged now. Congratulations! Any wedding plans yet?

Jillian (to Justin): Any wedding plans yet??

Justin: Well according to Jill, it takes a year to plan a wedding, so I guess we are focusing on finishing the house first. Then baby number 2, maybe. Or the wedding, whatever way it works. We are juggling with three main factors here.

Jillian: In a few years. I doubt it is going to be in a year. The soonest we get married is maybe next fall (2018), but probably later. Not next summer but the summer after (2019).

Jillian, I was following along on your social media recently and I know you had an issue with some really mean comments on a blog post that you addressed online. I’m wondering where you think that kind of negativity comes from, and what the best way is to handle it?

Jillian: The best way to handle it is to ignore or delete it. But, part of why I do what I do on the blog and on TV is I like to be raw and I like to be real. I think it comes from the fact that I try not to sugar coat my life on social media. And I put it all out there as raw and real as I can. Sometimes I might come off as a hypocrite, sometimes I might come off as not perfect, I might say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. Yes, my brand is a business and I have had some people say I need to treat it as a business. I should have other people running it because then things would be more streamlined, yadda yadda. But you lose that heart and soul and personality and I don’t ever want to be perfect and that means that I am going to subject to scrutiny and I will be subject to negativity. Regardless of how many times I get it, it is always difficult to read and it is always difficult to see. I never get used to it, people say, “Don’t read the comments”, but the comments are kind of what I live for. I love interacting with my followers and fans. I love reading them, but you don’t know it is a negative comment until you’ve read it. I just have to understand that there are pros and cons to every career, and this is the one downside to what I do.

Speaking of blogging and running a website, yours has been so successful. Do you have any advice to give to other bloggers who are really hoping to make a business and career out of their online presence as well?

Jillian: You know, it is a really fun job and a really fun career. And like any other job it seems like it is easy. Justin’s brother said to me the other day, “Blogging is like the easiest job ever! I should be a blogger.” And it is fun but it is not easy, if that makes any sense.

I totally understand.

Jillian: The planning, the organizing, the failure, the ups and downs and everything. But if anybody is thinking about doing it, I would encourage them to do it because, especially if you’re a mom, you can be with your babies and work from home, which I think is incredibly valuable. You have to plan to be patient with yourself. Also, tell anybody who wants to do it to Google “Instagram Husbands”. Justin has heard me say “Can you take a picture of me?” billions of times and hates it every time. It does all take a lot of planning and coordination and time, much more than anybody would ever think. But it is fun, really fun! And I know I am really lucky.

How would you finish the sentence “This mom loves…”?

Jillian: I love mornings with Leo. I am literally tearing up. Yeah, that is my favourite thing, mornings with my baby. He has his bottle and I have my coffee. And sometimes we watch the news, sometimes we just play. But it is quiet, no emails, no dinging, no barking, just quiet, just him and I. We have little staring contests. And his smell! He has a smell.

Justin: I can see you pulling him out of his crib and he has that bed head.

Jillian: Bed head and the smell. We love his smell!

Thank you so much for the chat and I wish you the best of luck with the new series!

Jillian & Justin premieres June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on W Network.

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