Since they appeared on Season 5 of 90 Day Fiancé, David Toborowsky and Annie Suwan have been giving fans of the popular TLC series some major relationship goals. And lucky for us, the couple stars in many of its spinoffs, so we get to watch their love story, which seems to get stronger with every new show, blossom on screen.
If you don’t know their backstory, here’s how their fairytale romance began. As a 48-year-old divorcé who relocated to Thailand from Louisville, Ky., David was looking to reinvent himself in a new land, 8,000 miles from home. In a simple twist of fate, he happened to be at a bar where Annie, a 24-year-old Thai native, was on stage singing karaoke, and upon hearing her voice, he was instantly smitten. He offered to buy her a drink, and the rest went down in reality dating history. Although their journey to the altar was quite bumpy and included some cringeworthy moments, such as the hefty dowry request from Annie’s traditional parents and David’s excessive drinking during the duo’s joint bachelor-bachelorette party, their genuine love for one another prevailed, and they have been happily married now for more than three years.
The List sat down with the lovebirds over Zoom from their Scottsdale, Ariz. home, where they dished to us on everything from behind-the-scenes secrets to whom in the cast they are still friendly with to whether or not they plan on retiring from the franchise. Throughout our conversation, the playful pair seemed closer than ever and literally finished each other’s sentences. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve also been busier as well — making masks for first responders, filming 90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined, and even starting their own cooking show! Although a lot has changed during this uncertain time, one thing has remained constant, and that is David and Annie’s deep love and commitment to one another.
It took David only 10 days to realize Annie was The One
How did your appearance on 90 Day Fiancé come about?
David: We applied to be on the show. I had been living in Asia for over five years. Kind of reinvented myself. To put it as succinct as I can for you, I went through a really rough period of time after my divorce, economic hardship, health hardships. I went to Thailand and reinvented myself. Then along the way of working in China and working in Asia, I met Annie. I wanted to share our story because there are so many other guys who are my age that didn’t make it out of it. They either took their own life or went down a different path from the ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12s, in that hard period. I wanted to share that story.
From when you applied to when you were told that you were cast on the show, how long was that period?
David: It wasn’t a long time. I don’t remember the weeks… I forgot how long it took at this time.
Annie: Usually after you apply and the interview, I think it takes only a week. It’s very fast.
David: For interviews, but I don’t know when the exact final decision was made.
When you both saw each other back in Thailand, what were your first impressions?
David: Well, I heard Annie singing, and she has a voice of an angel. We have mutual friend who has a travel agency in Thailand. They weren’t open yet. There was a bar right next to it, which was outdoors. And when somebody has a birthday, they have karaoke. So she was singing.
Annie: Yeah, I have been singing since I was 12. That’s how I learn[ed], [by] practicing singing … be[ing] in front of many people.
But when you first met each other, did you know this was going to be something serious in the future?
Annie: No, not really.
David: It took me about 10 days. I can tell you one of our first dates is we went to the Thai-Cambodian border market… And she was buying for her little brothers and buying for her mom and for her dad. And to me, I was like, “What a genuine heart she has.”
Annie: I remember when he took me to [the] Thai-Cambodian market. Yeah, he was asking me whatever you want to shop. Over there, they have a lot of stuff. Well, I think I have everything I need, but the one thing I always want to give is… the extra money I didn’t have right now. I bought like a pencil, the pen, the book, the shoes for my brother, because the school [was] about to open. The socks and stuff like that.
David: It was getting into the colder season so she even bought jackets. Because it gets a bit cooler where her family lives, which is on the border of Laos in Thailand.
It's hard for the couple to watch this 90 Day scene without getting upset
Did you rewatch your season or did you watch it as it was airing?
David: I watched it as much as it was airing and then now, cause we have discovery+, so now I can go back and rewatch it and there’s extra scenes in there and so it’s become a look back and…
Annie: I mean, every time when you watch it, it’s like something you miss. “I didn’t see this scene. Oh, wow. I don’t remember seeing that.”
David: We love the show. We like to talk crap about everybody, including ourselves.
When you look back on Season 5, are there some scenes that are hard to watch?
David: I’ll tell you there’s some scenes that I’m so happy rewatching, like our engagement party. One of the hardest scenes is when Annie was saying goodbye to her mom. You just don’t know when… It was like, “I’m leaving on a jet plane.” You don’t know when…
Annie: I mean, [I didn’t] even know what I [was] doing [at] this moment. What’s supposed [to be] America in my mind. When I [said] goodbye to my mom, I don’t know. I [was] not even [sure what] my future [held]. It’s back into that. It’s even hard today to watch because I never say goodbye. Like I say, I never say goodbye to my family. When I have to go, I just say, “Oh, I go and talk to you later, see you later,” or something like that. It’s kind of like, I try to be the tough girl, [and] so [I] don’t show much emotion, but it is very hard.
That was definitely sad to watch. When did you see your family after that?
David: It was about 18 months. Because it took a long time. Over a year, because by the time we had left Thailand to come to America on the K-1 visa, it was almost April of the following year. So 18 months, by the time she got her advanced parole and her green card, and that was tough. Now they talked on video call, and then we went back a few times that year and then we were there last year right as the pandemic was spreading and we had to leave early.
So a big part of your season, at least in the beginning, was the dowry process. What can you tell us about that?
David: It’s a very traditional…
Annie: The dowry part is really the highlight of [the] season. You know the water buffalo with all the gold and that’s like what do you call it? [A] culture thing. David know[s] exactly what it is because he had lived in Thailand.
David: Yeah, I was very familiar with Thai culture. Part of the reason why our relationship has worked is I lived there. I had a better understanding of Thai people, Thai culture. I think that’s one of the [reasons] Americans … struggle with it. You look at [90 Day’s] Jenny [Slatten] and Sumit [Singh]. She’s lived there. She understands the Indian culture, whether she agrees and disagrees. But she understands. That’s what keeps their relationship so successful.
When she first arrived in America, Annie experienced culture shock
Annie, when you first came to America, what did you think about the country? Was it what you imagined?
Annie: Well, the first landing was in L.A. or Hawaii. Hawaii is beautiful. Honolulu, we spent 24 hours there and then came to LAX airport. It’s kind of like busy. A lot of people, different types of people. It’s like, “Wow, what is this? What’s outside the airport, I just can’t wait to see.” The one thing that shocked me, when they took me to Hollywood, I see a lot of homeless and I go, “Ooh, like that’s kind of [a] shock, like America.”
David: You know? Yeah, cause West Hollywood obviously is evolved. It’s touristy. And there’s a lot of people that are homeless there. Then, we went into the sex shop and she got a whole new side to see of America.
Annie: I have a lot to see. America is big country.
Have you ever been to New York? Because that’s where I’m from.
David: I grew up in New Jersey. That’s where I’m originally from. Edison. It’s the crossroads. Right where the interstate, the parkway, and turnpike intersect. I was in North Edison through high school. And after high school is when I went to Louisville. That’s why I don’t have a Southern accent. I don’t have a distinguishable accent. Just one thing I worked on over many years was not to be… Unless I’m drinking, then you can tell the Jersey comes out.
The reality stars keep in touch with their 90 Day castmates
Some of the couples did stay together on your season. Do you keep in touch with any of them?
David: David [Vázquez Zermeño] and Evelyn [Cormier]. In fact, they were here with us Thanksgiving and for Annie’s birthday. Molly [Hopkins]. We’re very close with Molly. Think the world of her. Talked to Andrei [Castravet] and Elizabeth [Potthast] because…
David: Yeah, it’s been a while, but we had dinner with them in Atlanta before the pandemic, the November right before it. Josh and Aika [Batterson], we…
Annie: Never see.
David: Yeah, we met when we first came out here. But they’re so busy, we haven’t seen them since then.
What do you think are the reasons why you’re a reality TV couple that stayed together?
David: Well, we went through… I was very unprepared coming back to America. Everybody says, “Do you think you were portrayed the right way?” Yes. I was not in a good place. I was unprepared. I can’t blame anyone else for how that came out… We stuck together. This is the advice I will tell every couple. We say this to everybody: “If two people stick together, you love together.”
Speaking of sticking together, what have been the positives and negatives of being quarantined?
David: The positive side is it just really, for us, showed how strong our relationship is. I mean, the negative is that we can’t do things that we would like to go do.
Annie: Not travel.
David: Yeah, we travel, but not like we would.
Annie: Wearing masks all the time.
David: Like everybody else, it’s been difficult. And I think when this ends, and it will end soon… Because really that positive thinking does create positive outcomes. We’re going to get through this. Better days are coming. I think we’ll all be stronger from it. Yes, it’s testing people, it’s breaking some. And I think after we come back [from] that, we’re going to say, “If we can make it through quarantining, if we can make it, we’ll make it through anything.”
Your cooking show, Spice It Up, is also a positive of the quarantine. How do you film that? What kitchen are you using?
David: Because our stove is in the corner — it’s not an island — it’s easier to film cooking segments when there’s an island with a stove on it. Otherwise you’re like back to the cameras. Spice It Up was done with a full crew. It was a lot of fun because that’s how we are. I don’t really cook well, but she is a leader in the kitchen.
This is how their 90 Day Fiancé: Pillow Talk segments are filmed
I also always wondered how Pillow Talk is filmed. Are you allowed to tell me about that?
David: It’s filmed in our bedroom. Especially as you see the last few episodes, that is our house. That is our bedroom.
Annie: It might have some set-up like to make it look good, beautiful. But everything is just in our bedroom.
David: Especially pre-pandemic when you had full crews, it was a lot of people. A lot of work goes into that. Because English not being her first language and for me, even listening to foreigners who are speaking in English, you have to listen. It improves your English, actually, understanding and comprehension.
On Self-Quarantined, you spoke candidly about getting anti-Asian messages. How does that affect you?
Annie: Well, just recently we went to a COVID testing. The one lady come[s] up and she looked at my face. She say[s], “Are you Asian?” I say, “Yes, why?” [She said], “Well right now, I’m really anti-Asian, because they treat dogs not well.” I say, “Well, I’m not [eating] dog. That’s not all the Asian countries, you see that? What are you watching?” She said, “That’s all of Asia.” I say, “Well, oh yeah, f*** you.” I’m not really going say that, but…
David: She was getting ready to stick something up her nose. That was a shock. But in general, that happened at the beginning on social media, you get some messages. Then, especially at that time, people are angry. 2020 was, I would say, the angriest year for multiple reasons. Everything that has been boiling came to a head. And we are now dealing with it. And I think as we move along, there will always be…
Annie: Yeah, [you] have some [people] like, “You all come here, you suck all the life of America.” And I say, “Excuse me, what have [you] done for this country?” I’m an immigrant, but it’s [a] pandemic. I donate, work my a** off. I just want to save my community, donate a mask, [I’ve made] over 800…
David: To 1,000.
Annie: Yeah. I was on 14 masks a day in the first week of the pandemic, when we cannot find mask[s]. “What you have done for the country you say you love so much? And you say I just suck the life out of you?” I’m very exhausted. Thank God a lot of people just back me up in a lot of stuff I have on social media; that’s helped a lot.
David: When you see our first part of [90 Day Fiancé: Self Quarantined], we didn’t have masks on the Asian market. You couldn’t find it. That’s what was the genesis for her to get a sewing machine and start making masks.
During the pandemic, Annie made masks to send to first responders
[On making masks during the pandemic.]
Annie: At first, I made just two [masks] by hand and I told David, “You know what I think, I can do more than this. Can you buy me a sewing machine?” … One day I pick[ed] up and learn[ed] how to sew. Usually I know how to sew it, but not from the machine, but from the hand. My grandmother taught me. I kind of learned it, but I learn really fast, so that’s why I make it not perfect, but it helped.
David: She shut down our kitchen and literally opened up a factory. When we lived in the condo in Old Town, Scottsdale, she would make them. She’d post and I’d get 10,000 messages. We mailed them to New Yorkers because New York was the hotspot at the time. We mailed them to nurses and frontline responders in New York. Then we stayed local. We gave them to prisons. We gave them to people working in the grocery store. There was a maid in a hotel that they couldn’t get masks.
Annie: Also, I have to thank some fans. When they saw I donated my time, my energy to doing that, they sent me some material at no cost to me, because it’s very expensive, material, very hard to find. It ran out everywhere. And some fans, they said, “I have elastics. I want to send to you.” And some nurses sent flowers. That’s the thing. It cheered me up more than just giving me money, because with their kind words, with their kind hearts … [they cheered] me up. Like [gave] me more energy to [do] that.
David and Annie are very popular on Cameo and have even help with proposals
Speaking about your fans, you get a lot of requests on Cameo. Have you gotten any interesting or unusual ones?
David: We do. We’ve done a Cameo for just about every reason. We’ve proposed to people. A lot of people obviously, they [needed cheering] up during the pandemic. There’s been a couple of them that really stood out. One was on Mother’s Day. It was a 20-year-old who said, “I’d been raped by my ice hockey coach and I’m suicidal.” We did the Cameo. I reached out to Cameo, they sent her an email with resources. She sent me a message. “Thank you.” And I sent her the suicide hotline and said, “There’s resources. Just know, as long as you have breath, you have hope. And we’re here. There’s people here who are professionals. I’m not.” That was one. We had a weird one that was for his grandma. I actually have a screenshot of it. When we were on [90 Day] Bares All, I don’t know if they used it, but we talked about it. Let’s see.
Annie: All the weird things, he always screenshots.
David: Yeah. I screenshot the ones that are a little bit, not as, I want to say normal, but let’s see if I have it and I can show you. I don’t know if you can… [Holds phone to the camera.]
Oh my gosh. Wow.
David: We didn’t turn it down, but I can actually show you the video that we did. We just, we twisted it on him in a sense. And just used humor, because people cross the line, but I’m not going to leave money on the table either. Cameo has been a way to really connect with fans. Yes, it’s lucrative. Cause we’re not celebrities. … We’re everyday people.
Annie: Yes, really. Every time I meet people because I know we know somebody, I don’t have to be fake. I don’t have to be always beautiful. Just be me. Like last time David’s been out to the corner with the shirt.
David: I got a shirt that has our picture on it. Well, I forgot to change because we were doing something we were working on and I had to run out, because it was getting late and I had to go pick up some things for the next day. I went to the grocery store and didn’t realize, cause I had my mask on, that I had that shirt on.
Annie: With my face and his face.
David: Fans asked, “Can we take a picture?” So we take a picture, and they said, “I wish Annie was here.” I said, “Well, here she is.” [Points to his shirt.] We’re everyday people who just happened to be on TV. We’re humbled by it. It’s been an awesome experience. I think a lot of the strength, as even Annie posted this morning, it cheers us up.
Annie: I was really tired this morning, long past two days, and like something in my mind makes me sad and I turn on my laptop and go look at the video posts I post on my Facebook. And it’s all they have this year is a positive energy, always a lot of fans who love me. I just want to thank them for that.
The lovable pair really enjoys sharing their life on TV
Fans relate to you because you’re showing your genuine selves and you’re also very positive.
David: Yes, we try to be very positive. We did a Cameo somebody had requested for one of the new people on the show… I wasn’t going to be denigrating to the other cast member. Somebody had ordered [it] to cheer her up and she re-posted it and said it made her cry. It was so touching… because obviously we don’t know them well enough, especially when they’re new on it. It’s tough coming to America when it’s a different culture, it’s difficult as it is. Obviously the fans, they love the show. They get into the show.
Annie: Yeah. I even now say to David, “That’s why I don’t understand why they have Strikes Back.” But after I watched a couple of times and I look at myself… they need some Strikes Back sometimes to defend [themselves] and to make the cast member feel better… When I see Yazan [Abo Horira] on Strikes Back. When I see him laughing, I say, “Oh, thank God. Yazan can laugh.” Because on the show, we always see him with all the situations. But with Strikes Back, he is with a translator. They sit in the car and laugh at themselves. That’s why we have Strikes Back. That’s [a] positive thing.
David: Well, maybe we can do one. Have Pillow Fight where we just come back and defend ourselves.
Annie: No. No.
David: Just a joke.
Annie: Yeah, that’s going to be on discovery+ because it’s doesn’t have a place on TLC. There are too many shows.
That leads me to my last question. What are your plans for the future? Are you going to keep filming spinoff shows or do you think eventually you’re going to get overwhelmed with it all?
David: No, we love it. We love sharing our life. We love discovery+. One, we love the content on it. So to be a part of it is amazing because I love travel. I love obviously cultures and food. And discovery+ has something for everyone.
Annie: Yeah. To me, as long as I have all the fans’ support, I won’t let them down.
David: And we love working with the folks. The producers and TLC… It’s like a family to me, I feel like.
I was going to say, you must be a family at this point.
David: Well, and the 90 Day Fiancé franchise, just not the cast members, but the fans, we feel like one family. And I think that during this whole 2020, as we left it behind, [it] has even endeared us to them. We love them. It’s like, yes, we’re on the show, but we’re all part of the 90 Day family … the producers and everybody who works on it, it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of this.
You can watch the happy couple on 90 Day Diaries, 90 Day Journey, and Love Games, all available to stream on discovery+.
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