Date Lab: Will it be a picture-perfect match for this actress and photographer?

Courtesy of Rafael and Katie

Two locals, actor/marketer Katie McManus, 39, and freelance photographer Rafael Suanes, 40, share a common Virginia background and a love of travel. Is that enough to make it work? We sent them to dinner at Delia’s in Alexandria.


A boy with toy gun poses for picture in front of barricades at the police headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk, April 17, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Ukraine's government needs to provide guarantees to its Russian-speaking population in the east of the country to resolve the crisis. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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Interviews by Nina Patel

Rafael: I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I wanted to make sure I set the bar low, so anything more and I’d be surprised. I thought she was beautiful.

Katie: My first impression was — it was good. He was handsome. I was relieved. He put his hand out, and I said, “No, I definitely think we should hug.” That is how I am.

Rafael: It put me at ease. I realized she was going to be in for the date, not just as a formality.

Katie: He went to high school around here, and so did I. The majority of my very close circle of friends — none of them are from around here. D.C. is such a transient area. I’m always surprised when I meet another local.

Rafael: I expected a transplant like most people in the area. Meeting someone who grew up in the same area as I grew up was surprising. Her mom lives blocks from where I do.

Katie: He had just come back from a trip, and it happened to be Ireland, and I studied abroad in Ireland.

Rafael: Where I was staying in Dublin is across the street from the school where she studied abroad. It was nice to have a lot of things in common.

Katie: He was there for a week. I was very jealous and very eager to get back there.

Rafael: The conversation went back and forth the entire night. We’re both in kind of creative fields. We talked a lot about what the other person did.

Katie: He talked about his career for a long time. There was a point where I was like, I don’t even know if he’s ever going to ask me what I do. That happens on lots of dates with me. I like to ask questions. He asked me finally.

Rafael: She is an actress and a singer. She kind of dances, as well. She was telling me about the place she is going to work next week. I told her one of my clients has me cover some of their theater performances. She talked about her aspect of being in the plays, and I talked about my aspect of covering the plays as an outsider.

Katie: I think he was more shocked because I am a working actor/singer in the area. Most people don’t know that D.C. has a thriving theater scene.

Rafael: We were done eating. We weren’t going to order any dessert, so I suggested we go somewhere else, and she was cool with it.

Katie: He didn’t know where to go, so our waitress had a few suggestions. It was Jackson 20 in Old Town. We had to drive, and he insisted he drive and I leave my car there, so that’s what we did.

Rafael: We each ordered a beer at the bar. We both have the same taste in beer — we like IPAs. That was another weird coincidence.

Katie: It definitely was less formal. I could tell he was a little bit less nervous. He kind of took control during that second half of the date.

Rafael: I was very impressed with her. She is very down-to-earth. Very open. Very friendly.

Katie: He definitely came out of his shell a little more, which is always nice.

Rafael: I’m guessing we probably left around 11 or maybe a little later. At that point it was starting to snow. It was starting to come down kind of hard. I drove her back to her car.

Katie: We had a little kiss. And I think a hug, too. He asked me out while we were at the second bar. And he got my number at the very last second — right as we were standing by my car. He just said, “I’d really like to see you again.” I said sure.

Rate the date

Rafael: I would rate it a 5. I sent her a quick text to tell her I had a great time. She is going to be in New Orleans (for the holidays). I hope to hear from her while she is gone.

Katie: 4. I loved getting to know a new person. To me that is the most important part. I do think we are going out again. He has expressed that and has followed up with that. I think we will.


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