The Untold Truth Of 90 Day Fiance's Paola Mayfield

"90 Day Fiancé" has become a cottage industry for TLC. The series, which is one part documentary about the U.S. immigration process and one part marriage-themed reality show, is no longer just a series. It's now the "90 Day Fiancé" extended universe — which also happens to be the same universe we're living in, and that universe has dramatically changed.

The world was a different place when the series first premiered in 2014. Donald Trump had yet to be elected into office and making the already difficult immigration process even tougher for those hoping to permanently settle in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic had yet to separate families as borders closed indefinitely. The Taliban hadn't taken back Afghanistan.

Like real life, each season of "90 Day Fiancé" has escalated from unbelievable to straight-up insane (though there's some speculation that parts of it are fake). Remember the star-crossed teenager hoping to move to war-torn Syria to be with a man she previously met on a dating app? At this point, the show's first season feels like a fever dream of couples whose faces (and drama) we barely remember.

Among those couples were Russ and Paola Mayfield, who quickly became breakout stars. Since then, Paola has appeared on six different spin-offs, including "90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?" Her story may not be the most sensational, but behind the scenes, she's navigated tragedy and near-catastrophic marriage issues, all while building a career. Not everything is what it seems on TV.

Paola and Russ Mayfield met in Colombia

On the surface, "90 Day Fiancé" is a show about love — but it's perhaps most renowned for portraying an onslaught of seeming immigration scams, obvious catfishing, and vacation flings-gone-wrong (or, in more specific terms, gone pregnant). That's part of what makes it so unhinged, but Russ and Paola Mayfield are nothing of the sort. Their relationship didn't start on a dating app or primarily exist on FaceTime. The couple actually dated in real life.

Paola met Russ when he was stationed in Bogota, Colombia as a field engineer in the petroleum industry. According to what appears to be his LinkedIn page, he landed the gig straight out of Oklahoma State College. In other words, he was still pretty young when he proposed to Paola. They say when you know, you know, but that's not actually always the case.

Though the couple might've ended up engaged in a world free of immigration laws, Paola revealed on YouTube that they only decided to get a K-1 visa after her tourist visa was denied. This wasn't a flippant decision, either. It was a grueling process that took eight months and involved packets of phone records, photos, and quantifiable proof. At the end of the day, they're still together — and the same can't be said for many past cast members, lest TLC run out of material for "90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life."

She has an education

Paola Mayfield is highly educated — and that's actually what brought her to Bogota where she met her husband and subsequently launched her reality TV career. The star, who was raised in Bucaramanga, moved to Colombia's capital to pursue a degree at Colegio Sabio Caldas. It's not clear what type of degree she earned, but her studies didn't end there.

Not long after college, Paola met Russ, moved to the United States, and started exploring career options outside of reality TV. She used education as a foundation where she honed her skills. According to the YouTube channel BeforeTheyWereFamous, she studied modeling in Michigan at the John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center. She also studied personal training in Georgia at the Body Design University and even received her professional certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Most recently, Paola attended professional wrestling classes in Florida — but we'll get into that one later.

Modeling was never Paola Mayfield's passion

Paola Mayfield's modeling career was integral to her storyline on "90 Day Fiancé." It was painted as the one thing that made the couple consistently butt heads. Paola wanted to move to a city with better opportunities for her career. Russ didn't, so she temporarily moved to Miami on her own. Paola wanted to book gigs modeling swimsuits and lingerie. Russ didn't approve, so she wore lingerie during a music video shoot and didn't ask for permission. Modeling actually led to one of the couple's biggest on-screen blowups, and as a result, Paola stormed off set while taping the "90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?" tell-all.

Behind the scenes, modeling actually wasn't Paola's passion. Though she signed with the Linda Layman Agency back in Oklahoma and took gigs as they came, it was never her endgame. "People thought that my biggest goal was to actually become a supermodel, and that's a lie," she admitted in a YouTube video. " ... I feel like I enjoy every single thing I do, but when I started filming the show, one of the biggest things that I wanted to do ... If I'm going to put [forth] effort, I want to do acting."

Since her reality TV breakout, Paola has found acting success. According to her resume, she's mostly done commercials (including commercials for AT&T and Nike), but she also appeared in a 2017 short film called "Pax Masculina."

Becoming a mom

The start of Paola Mayfield's "90 Day" journey was on the lighter side. Sure, she missed home. Yes, she had disagreements with Russ and her best friend Juan, but it's not like her husband tried to fist fight her brother like Andrei Castravet. Nor did police have to intervene after a domestic dispute like with Larissa Dos Santos Lima and Colt Johnson. Things didn't get really serious until "90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?"

During Season 3 of the spin-off, Mayfield revealed that she had a miscarriage off-screen. She soon discovered that it was caused by a rare blood mismatch. Paola has Rh-negative blood, and her fetus presumably had Rh-positive blood. In this situation, the mother's immune system can start attacking her fetus' blood cells. The solution is a RhoGAM shot, which helps prevent Rh-negative mothers from producing anti-Rh antibodies.

In the episode, Paola heartbreakingly revealed, "The happiness I felt when I found out I was pregnant was happiness I've been looking for my whole life." Luckily, she found it again later that year when she discovered she was pregnant — but this time there was the added fear. "I don't think a woman can ever recover from a miscarriage," she said (via People). "You don't want to think about it, but it's always there and now that."

Paola got the RhoGam shot, and the couple welcomed their first son, Axel, on New Year's Day.

Marriage issues

Paola Mayfield had some losses in 2017. Not only did she suffer a miscarriage, but she also lost her grandmother. As fans saw on the spin-off, Paola rushed to Colombia after learning that her grandmother's cancer had advanced. It was during that trip that she told her family (and the cameras) about her miscarriage. The events were strung together by a mere matter of weeks.

What fans didn't see is how the grief impacted the reality star's marriage. You know how they say loss comes in threes? Well, it almost did. Paola almost lost her marriage — and she at least partially blamed herself. "Last year was really hard," Paola wrote in a Facebook post. "I lost my first baby, I lost my grandmother, I lost myself, and I made so many mistakes, and all of this together almost ruined my marriage. I didn't know how to handle all these situations."

Paola never elaborated on her admitted mistakes. All we know is that things eventually turned around for the pair when Paola discovered her most recent pregnancy — but that doesn't mean they turned around in the court of public opinion.

How Paola Mayfield got out of Oklahoma

Fans haven't always supported Paola Mayfield's marriage — especially after she had the blow-out with Russ over modeling lingerie. Fans believed her husband was hindering her modeling career, and she was stuck in Oklahoma with few opportunities. There was such a public outcry that he was forced to defend their marriage on Instagram.

Time ended up proving everyone wrong. Paola did get her Miami dream, which sparked the same kind of regurgitated backlash. This time, it was Paola who was the villain, as people thought she made Russ give up his career to move to Florida. Of course, that was far from the reality, and Paola laid it all out in a YouTube video.

"Russ never actually like abandon[ed] his career for me," she said. "Like, what you guys don't know, it's like my husband made decisions, but he's not a person who actually is trying to make it public for everybody to have an opinion about."

So what did happen? Russ lost his job in Oklahoma, and Paola made the executive decision to move to Miami to find "better opportunities." Those opportunities immediately showed themselves, and — through a fan who reached out to the pair — Russ found a new job in a new industry that wouldn't tie him to Oklahoma.

Professional wrestler

In May 2021, to the shock of fans everywhere, Paola Mayfield made her professional wrestling debut. Uhm, what? The idea might seem random to fans, but as she explained in a YouTube video, it just made sense.

"I was in Colombia. I was watching fighting with my family ... and I was just looking at it, and I felt a little bit identified," she admitted. "Like I don't know. It just, it kind of like clicked me. It just came to me ... and I said, 'You know what? What if I try wrestling?'"

In truth, wrestling isn't a far leap from all three of Paola's careers. It's got the glamour of modeling, the athleticism of personal training, and the drama of reality TV (scripted or not). The day after watching wrestling with her family, Paola hit up her manager looking for a wrestling school and secretly enrolled in April 2020. She spent a year training before her debut.

Being the breadwinner

Fans watched Paola Mayfield struggle to find work in Oklahoma, but business has boomed in Florida. Over the course of the pandemic, Paola actually became her family's sole breadwinner — and she's thriving. According to various net worth reporting websites, the reality star is estimated to have a net worth between $450,000 to $700,000, which isn't as much as some "90 Day Fiancé" stars, but it's certainly not bad considering TLC supposedly pays "90 Day Fiancé" couples $500 to $1,500 per episode. She even basically employs her husband.

In a YouTube video, the reality star explained that Russ lost his job again during the pandemic, and he's supported her career ever since. "While I work, my husband actually stayed with Axel. He helped me with Axel and with things in the house, and not just with that — just to run the business, to be sure that we are answering all of our clients," she said. "... We're working together right now, but like, we're doing better guys."

A LinkedIn page that appears to belong to Russ shows he left his job as a technical product lead in June 2020. Paola, on the other hand, brings in money from her work as a model, personal trainer, nutrition coach, Zumba instructor, actor, wrestler, and influencer.

Van life wasn't all fun

Paola Mayfield's move to Florida wasn't without hiccups. The star and her husband quickly grew tired of their Miami hotel room and decided to chase that #vanlife. As it turns out, it's not as fun as it looks on Instagram. Who would've thought that you'd get annoyed with someone after being locked up together in a tin can on wheels?

"I'm not gonna lie," Paola said in a YouTube video. "Having my husband 24/7 in here is — and in an RV — is not that easy ... it is frustrating sometimes. You know, we have hormones. We have our days, and some days we do not have the patience to deal with so many things."

The pressure of their new lifestyle hit a breaking point at the end of July 2021. Rumors of a breakup buzzed around the Internet after Paola posted a cryptic tweet claiming, "sometimes is better to recognize when it's time to move on and accept that it wasn't meant to be for the long run." Paola's manager later told InTouch that the couple decided to enter marriage counseling and take a break as they worked on their issues — not get a divorce.

More marriage problems

Like many couples, Russ and Paola Mayfield have had ups and downs. In fact, there was a point where Paola was certain that she wanted out. In an interview with Us Weekly that was published months before news of the pair's marriage problems surfaced in the tabloids, Paola revealed that she'd had a couple major blowouts with Russ that led her to believe "it was the end." 

"I looked for an attorney," she said. "It was very, very hard, and it was very strong fight ... There was a moment that I actually said 'no more.' I said, 'Okay, I cannot do this anymore.' I was very stressed."

So what kept them together? In Paola's words, Russ helps keep her grounded, and they don't want to co-parent. They'd rather raise their son together. "He's an amazing guy, you know?" she said. "Like, I know what I have."

She already had a green card

When news of Russ and Paola Mayfield's marriage troubles hit headlines, there were rumors that the personal trainer was stuck in the relationship because of her immigration status. Fans speculated that as soon as she got her green card, she'd be out of there — but that time already came and went. Paola actually became an American citizen in April 2021, and as her manager pointed out to People, she's had her green card for five years.

"90 Day Fiancé" has long been criticized for publicizing obvious immigration scams — and not just by fans. Danielle Mullins, who imported her fiancé Mohamed Jbali from Tunisia in Season 2, allegedly tried to sue him for fraud three years later. In Paola's experience, she was actually heavily vetted by immigration authorities, but after she got her K-1 visa, she thought "90 Day Fiancé" did her favor. She didn't need interviews to get either of her green cards like most people, though it still took her almost a full year to acquire her citizenship once she qualified.

Why Paola Mayfield went vegan

If you haven't seen Paola Mayfield on the new spin-off "90 Day Fiancé: Foody Call," you might not realize she's actually a vegan. In other words, she doesn't eat any foods that come from an animal. The process was a slow transition, but in a YouTube video, the star revealed why she finally took the plunge.

Not long after moving to the United States, Paola developed stomach pain and bloating. Doctors couldn't exactly pinpoint the problem, so she decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It helped, but she didn't actually give up meat until she unknowingly ate something that disgusted her on Thanksgiving.

"They had these beans with meat, and I thought that that was beef ... and so I ate it," she said. "Then later I asked Russ, 'What was that?' And he told me, 'Oh, that was deer.' And I'm like, 'What?' Like I felt so bad because I have never tried deer before, and I would never do it.'"

From there, she flip-flopped between a vegetarian and pescatarian diet. She even picked up eating meat again during her pregnancy but landed fully on veganism when she learned more about the farming industry and animal cruelty. "One of my biggest, biggest thing is just about cruelty," she said. Now, her family eats mostly vegetarian, though Russ hasn't totally given up meat for good.

What about a baby no. 2?

When Paola Mayfield welcomed her son in 2019, she thought her family would stop there. "I need a break ... I'm done," she told Us Weekly, like every other tired mother of a newborn. At the time, Russ (ever the contrarian and now the partial house-husband) vehemently disagreed. "I would like Axel to have ... at least one more sibling," he said. Fast forward two years, and it looks like he might get his wish.

Paola has slowly changed her tune about motherhood. In 2021, she told Us Weekly, "I will definitely love to have a little girl, but I'm grateful either way ... biological, yes. I would definitely like one." Definitely. So what's the holdup? If you haven't noticed, she's a little busy with about seven different careers.

"If I were to get pregnant, my career would be done," she said. "... I'm in my 30s and I feel like I want to do wrestling for a couple of years, but if I get pregnant, that's not going to allow me that."

Instead, Paola says adoption is the "first step" to expanding her family. She hasn't yet started the process, but it's definitely an option.

Conspiracy theorist or pro wrestling heel?

Paola Mayfield is hardly the most scandalous "90 Day Fiancé" cast member. Most of her career, she's managed to avoid controversy outside of divorce rumors — but that changed in 2019 when the internet labeled her an anti-vaxxer and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist.

According to InTouch, it all began when Paola announced she and Russ were hand-selecting her son's vaccinations to "avoid potential risks and side effects," despite the clear lack of professional medical knowledge. Fans later discovered that the star was reading a number of books promoting vaccine opposition. Still, Paola claimed she wasn't an anti-vaxxer, replying to a fan on Instagram, "Stop with stupid anti-vax comments jus bc a parent want to know more."

Things only got worse in 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Hollywood Gossip, as Bill Gates fervently funded vaccine research, Paola posted one of his quotes about the importance of mass vaccination on Instagram Stories. It could've been a nice moment looking toward a rosier future, but instead, she overlaid the text "Not today, Satan." THG also reports that Paola seemingly ridiculed healthcare workers and shared debunked conspiracy theories claiming masks were dangerous. As a result, fans have tried to get brands to drop their sponsorships with the influencer, and she's poked fun at the outrage on TikTok

If anything, Paola is crafting an excellent narrative as a heel, an essential role in pro wrestling. One could only hope it's all for show.