'The Courtship' Regency-era suitors include this Long Island man
Bellport-raised Jaquan Holland has gone back in time to early 19th-century England, starring as one of 16 men wooing a young lady in a Regency-era environment complete with castle and period costumes in the new reality-TV dating competition "The Courtship." After premiering March 6 on NBC, it shifted after two episodes to basic cable stablemate USA Network, starting again from episode 1 this past Wednesday.
For Holland, 31, a teacher and freelance model now living in Los Angeles, the show represented not only an opportunity for romance with 26-year-old Seattle software engineer and former Seahawks cheerleader Nicole Remy, but also a chance for "Bridgerton" cosplay.
"To be honest with you," says the Brookhaven-born Holland by phone, "one of my favorite parts was being able to dress up, just because I'm a big fan of 'Bridgeton,' " the Netflix romantic drama set during England's Regency period (1811-1820), when the future King George IV served as Prince Regent, the acting monarch, until taking the crown upon adulthood. "When I saw the Duke of Hastings [a fictional, nonhistorical character played by Regé-Jean Page], I'm like, 'That's me!' So it was amazing how this opportunity fell on my lap."
"The Courtship," shot in the United Kingdom, offered other opportunities as well, since the men had to learn pastimes of the era. "Archery was more difficult than I'd thought," Holland says. "When you see it on television it looks really easy, but there's a lot of focus and a lot of discipline that goes into it. … Horseback riding was definitely my top of things I loved learning, because I had never really been on a horse before. So being trained by a professional, I'm like, 'I'm going to take and soak up every single thing.' "
As a Bellport High School senior in 2010, track star Holland — the son of divorced parents Nachelle Holland, a Bellport caregiver, and Maurice Johnson, a Florida barber — won the New York State Championship for public school runners in the 300-meter event. In 2008, he was part of the indoor track team that represented Suffolk County in the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. He went on to run track and field at Syracuse University, where he majored in Communications and Rhetorical Studies.
The eldest of four siblings raised by a single mom, Holland himself is the father of a toddler daughter, Zaia, from a previous yearslong relationship. After living for a time in San Antonio, Texas, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue modeling. Meanwhile, he works as a long-term substitute teacher, currently at the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy.
"Growing up in Bellport came with a lot of difficulties," he says, "but a big part of it was I always made sure I was able to take the experiences in my life and turn them into something positive. I like to look at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Living in Bellport definitely shaped the man that I am now, today."