Girlboss has evolved from a term feminists fawned over to an overly memed moniker that’s found a permanent home on Rae Dunn mugs and the shelves of TJ Maxx. But Roxanne Kaiser, the entrepreneur–cum–marriage-hater from season two of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, is embracing the title, complete with high heels, big hair, and collared crop tops. Though she seemed all business coming into the Netflix dating experiment, which sees couples break up and enter trial relationships to see if they’re ready for marriage, she admits the experience profoundly affected her. After making her stance against marriage clear throughout the season, she said yes to Antonio Mattei’s proposal in the finale episode, shocking the audience, Antonio, and even herself. “I never thought I’d be committed to one man for the rest of my life,” she told Vulture. “I’m not a romantic.” But give credit to creator Chris Coelen and the crew; Kaiser came into the social experiment willing to investigate her relationship with Antonio and views on marriage, and came out moved by the experience. “The change happens if you’re willing, and I totally was willing,” Kaiser said. “I hope that came through when you watched it, because I was really in it, trying to figure out my feels.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How do you feel about the term girlboss?
I love the term! I think it’s a very powerful thing to be a girlboss, especially now. I don’t care what anyone says: Girls have a lot more stuff to deal with and go through, period. Just having to be a woman is boss. Then also being a working woman, that’s such a perfect term. I love it. I hope you love it too.
Do you identify as a girlboss?
Definitely would consider myself a girlboss. And I like the word boss because I think that’s sometimes intertwined. People use the word bitch, and I think there’s a huge difference between that and being a girlboss. We know how to handle our own stuff, we’re powerful women, but we’re not bitchy. We’re just a little bossy because we know what we want and what we need in the workplace and personally.
How was it balancing a filming schedule while running a whole-ass business?
Oh my God, tough. Luckily, they were very considerate about my work. They knew how busy my schedule was. And it really goes back to that — being an entrepreneur, the girlboss mentality of, you have to make it work. And that’s where I was in that moment. I wanted to do this show. I promised Antonio I’d give it my all. I’d wake up earlier, stay up later. My makeup was not as pretty as I wanted because I didn’t have time to do it if we filmed a date night or something. In some scenes, I’m like, Yeah, we were busy that day because my eyelashes are falling off.
You said you were resistant to joining The Ultimatum at first. What were your initial conversations with Antonio like, and how did he convince you to do it?
I don’t even know how he got me to finally say “yes,” but it was the final push. He was like, “If we don’t do something like this, I know you never will.” If he got down on one knee and had the most extravagant proposal in the world, I would’ve said “no,” you know? It took The Ultimatum to hold me accountable, to really dive in my feelings and really think about being married. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.
That seems like such a surreal conversation to have.
He is all about love and all about us and our relationship. And that was a hard conversation for him too! I don’t think it sinks in completely when he’s asking me to do it. Like, I’m gonna let her go date other men and potentially be with other men physically and mentally. I don’t think that really set in for him until we were there.
That’s wild because he talked a lot in the show about the presence of other men trying to steal you away from him in real life too. Did you have any conversations about the emotional toll of watching each other date other people while you were filming?
During the show, we’re not talking to each other. Especially during the dating period, you’re not talking at all. And then, when you’re in the trial marriage — when I was with Alex — you’re encouraged not to talk with your ex as much because it really affects the way you’re gonna think. You would have someone in your ear talking constantly, like, “What’s going on? What did you do? What are you talking about?” Obviously, it happens, but you really try not to communicate. You’re not having those emotional conversations, and it makes it that much harder because you don’t know what’s going on in their mind. And it’s so emotional. I was watching it back and seeing myself, and I was like, this has made me a narcissist. I was crying watching myself cry. I mean, I was going through it mentally.
What was it like watching yourself?
I liked it because I felt like it was really showing who I was. Like, it was literally me — how I felt and how I feel. And I didn’t hold back. It was authentically me. And no, there were parts I did not love. There were parts I was like, “I shouldn’t have said that” or “I don’t like what I said.” But I cannot say it wasn’t me, and I liked that.
You and Alex seemed to be a good match at first — you’re both very business oriented, and it felt like your views on marriage were changing together. When was the moment you felt the relationship sour?
Looking back, when I was watching our dates, I was like, Wow, we were flirting! We’re getting along, and our day-to-day was pretty cool. But in my gut over time, something didn’t feel right. You know, we’re living together for a while, and after a couple of days, and then a week, I was like, Something’s turning in my stomach that doesn’t feel right with this guy. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that big night, the girls’ night, when I heard he betrayed my trust. I could never come back from that. But he’s perfect for Kat, which is fine.
Talk to me about how it felt to have that moment with Kat at the girls’ night.
It felt really tough to talk to Kat about that, because I had this feeling it might not have been well received or she thought it would have bad intentions. And that sucks. As a girl, you don’t want to be like, I don’t got your back. I wanted to have her back! Sometimes, when emotions are high, it just doesn’t come off as genuine and authentic. But at the end of the day, in my head, I was like, “She’s this boss travel nurse, and I feel like she could have done better in that moment with those emotions.” I just wanted her to know her worth. Truly. And I don’t know if it came off that way, but I think at the end, I was like, “You deserve more.” Because that’s how I felt!
I need to ask about that night Antonio ran to you. It was so Notebook-y.
I have all these texts from my friends, saying, “We didn’t think you would cry that much.” Like, trust me, me either. But that night especially was very intense, because remember, we don’t know where we’re all living. And it was very Notebook-y, like, “I’ve got to find Roxanne!” There’s a scene showing us hugging when he finally gets to me, which was intense because he had all these things on his mind. He thought maybe I was into Alex, maybe I didn’t respect him. He had no idea where my mind was at all. Is she gonna leave me? Is she gonna stay with me?
Okay, fast-forward to decision day. I know that, right up to the last second, you did not know what you were going to do. Can you talk to me about your thought process while getting ready that day?
I was really emotional. I was crying a lot that morning. I remember waking up thinking: I don’t want to just say “yes” because I’m on a show. I don’t want to say “yes” just to make Antonio, or my family, or his family happy. I remember being like, I’m gonna have to say “no.” But when I was doing my makeup, I remember thinking: When I say no, what’s going to happen? We drove to this together, how are we going to get home? And I was like, Okay, I can’t worry about any of that.
So what changed?
My gut. I’m a big gut person. When I saw him, and I looked at his face, I was like, I can do this. And one of the biggest lessons I learned being on The Ultimatum — I do believe this truly — is, like, love is bigger than yourself. When you’re a parent, love is bigger than you. It’s your children, right? I think just love, in general, is bigger than yourself sometimes. So it’s a big love for him that I committed to.