Even though they are the youngest of Avenue’s power couples, and young people have a reputation for capriciousness, reality TV stars James Jones and Linsay Willier were very meticulous in the development of their relationship.
Ironically, the two aboriginal stars met at a club called Cowboys. Willier had moved from the Sucker Creek First Nation to Edmonton in 2004 to study at Grant MacEwan and to dabble in some modeling. Jones, originally from the Tall Cree First Nation, moved to Edmonton where he began to pursue a dance career. In fact, he had just won a B-Boy competition at the club when he met Willier.
There was a spark — “We both quickly developed a crush for each other,” noted Linsay — but she was in a relationship at the time.
So for the next couple of years, they would run into each other at random locations, a mall, a coffee shop, stuff like that. So they struck up a great friendship. But in 2009, Jones was on Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Willier was the runner-up in Season 3 of Canada’s Next Top Model. And, before their stints on their various reality shows, they ran into each other again.
So Jones suggested they form a team, offering performance and motivational experience for young people of all types, not just aboriginal youth. He had the dance moves, while she had the beauty and the degree in child and youth care. Thus Dreams in Motion, a youth empowerment company, was formed.
“Gradually and slowly, it developed into a romance,” says Willier. “But since we had a great relationship as friends, and the fact that we were working together, we really wanted to take it slow. It wasn’t hard because the heart wants what the heart wants, but it was definitely a decision where we had to weigh the pros and cons.”
For their first date though, Jones took Willier on a five-day holiday to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Willier admits to the unusual nature of the first date, but they had already spent a lot of time together on tour with Dreams in Motion. And James wanted to impress his new girl, who traveled to Toronto, New York and Nassau, Bahamas, for Canada’s Next Top Model. So a typical “dinner-and-a-movie first date, wouldn’t cut it. Hence the trip to Vegas and L.A.
Even though L.A. would be an ideal place to make some career connections for both of them, the focus on the trip was romance. They took no meetings, made no business calls. It set a precedent for further romantic outings.
“We’ve had to learn how to shut off our work and say ‘we’re boyfriend and girlfriend now,’” says Willier. “We’re not going to check our emails, we’re not going to answer our phones, we’re not going to talk about contracts at this time.”
It was, and sometimes still is, a bit harder considering they are constantly on tour with each other. Dreams in Motion has taken its youth motivational performance to schools across the country.
“One thing we’ve learned is that during arguments, never do or say anything that the other person will never be able to forgive,” says Willier. “We always keep that mind, even though we’re mad in the moment or super annoyed because we travel with each other all time. Because at the end of the day, we want to be together.”