Former Illinoisan destined for role on 'Millionaire Matchmaker'
Springfield native Chelsea Autumn, a cast member on the Bravo reality TV program “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” got her start at matchmaking in third grade at Butler Elementary School when she paired up her mother and future step-dad.
“I said to my best friend, Jasmine, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we were sisters?’” recalls Chelsea, the show’s “vice president of matching” who helps series star Patti Stanger play cupid to millionaires and the women who want to date them.
“Chelsea and I went to an open house at the school. Chelsea and Jasmine were walking through the halls holding hands, and I was following behind,” says Chelsea’s mom, Carley Mattimore, a Springfield child and family therapist. Also following behind was Jasmine’s dad, John Malan.
The meeting that night of the two single parents was followed by a wedding and a blended family of her two girls, his two girls and one girl of their own.
Like a romantic relationship, Chelsea’s route from Central time to primetime took a few turns.
Chelsea was 4 and her sister, Sherah, was 1 when their father, Russell Mattimore, was killed in a car accident. The family of three moved to Springfield from Macomb when Chelsea was in second grade.
After graduating from Springfield High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Illinois University in Macomb, the future TV star had one goal: “I always knew I wanted to live in California.”
So Chelsea (who then went by the surname Mattimore-Knudson; Autumn is her middle name) found a couple of Los Angeles roommates on the online community Craigslist and took off for the West Coast.
“I packed her Sebring convertible to drop her off at this apartment with people she never met. There was this walk between supporting her and having faith in her and making sure she was OK,” Mattimore said.
Chelsea, a fitness buff and healthy eater, got a job as a receptionist at a gym making $8.75 an hour. Seeking more rewarding employment, she posted her resume on Craigslist. Stanger — a third-generation matchmaker who runs an elite dating service called Millionaire’s Club — responded by e-mail, asking Chelsea how fast she could type. Chelsea began working for Stanger the next day.
That was seven years ago.
“The Millionaire Matchmaker,” which documents the love matches put together by the blunt, no-nonsense Stanger and her staff, will conclude its second season this week (9 p.m. Thursday on Bravo, Comcast Channel 35).
On Thursday nights, the Mattimore-Malan clan gathers around the TV to watch.
“We all scramble down to the basement,” Mattimore said. “We laugh, we chuckle, we text her during the show to ask, ‘What’s coming next?’ or ‘What’s the deal with that guy?’ We love when we see her personality shine. We watch for her laugh, the rolling of her eyes, her fierceness. We’re so proud of her.”
Adds Mattimore: “Watching her on TV makes it seem like she’s closer to me.”
This season’s episodes were filmed last June through September. Taping for Season 3 will begin in late summer. During production, Chelsea shows up in the office five days a week, but otherwise works with the firm’s clients mostly from home with help from a laptop and BlackBerry.
Not surprisingly, she’s often asked for dating advice.
“People over-analyze way too much and focus on the end result. I tell them, ‘All you’re doing is going to dinner. Even if it doesn’t work out for you, he may have a friend.’”
Chelsea, 28 and single, is allowed to date the millionaires she works with, but says she doesn’t want to “cross those boundaries.”
“Dating is hard in L.A., especially for someone in my job. I want someone with integrity, knows what he wants and goes after it. I’m looking for someone who wants to settle down and have a family. And someone who is tall. I’m 5’9” and wear heels.”
She describes her boss, Stanger, as a “big teddy bear with a huge heart. What makes me laugh is that people are terrified of her, yet love her at the same time. She’s like family to me.”
Stanger became a fan of Mattimore’s vegan chocolate-chip cookies after Chelsea shared them with her co-workers. When Stanger was to be a guest on the daytime talk show “The View,” she asked Mattimore to make enough of the whole-wheat cookies — known as “Carley’s Cookies” — to give to Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg and the other stars of that show. Mattimore sent a box of the goodies to New York, and they were presented to the hosts.
Chelsea’s job involves lots of traveling to see clients. In off-hours, she likes running on the beach near her L.A. home, reading and watching movies. A Scorpio, she studies astrology and hopes to become an astrology counselor.
She is a volunteer at a children’s charity, Hollygrove, where she spends one-on-one time with 6-to-12-year olds and is starting a program to match them with adult mentors.
Chelsea returns to Springfield two or three times a year, and her family members go to L.A. when they can. Her step-dad, Malan, is planning a trip next month.
“The big thing for me is how she made this happen,” said Malan, who works with computers.
“She went out to L.A. not knowing anyone, found a place to live, found a job and then got the job with Patti. Chelsea is strong. When she knows what she wants, she makes it happen. That’s the part I like best — she just went and did it.”
Mattimore describes her daughter as “very intuitive, has a kind heart, is good at organizing, is direct and can read people well. She can size you up immediately. Chelsea has a strong personality. She walks into a room and she carries that room.”
Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.