Getting denied by Alex Michel on the finale of the first season of The Bachelor in 2002 may have been the best thing to happen to Trista Rehn. She became the first Bachelorette and made the best of the opportunity, offering Vail firefighter Ryan Sutter the final rose on the show and marrying him on national TV in 2003.
Since Trista and Ryan’s fairytale came true, The Bachelorette has seen other fan favorites — Meredith Phillips, Jen Schefft and DeAnna Pappas — search for Mr. Right. Phillips ended her engagement to Ian McKee after less than a year, Schefft didn’t even choose a suitor at all and Pappas just recently ended her engagement to Jesse Csincsak.
Now producers and host Chris Harrison hope that an unknown woman will be the next Bachelorette to find love and happiness. “It’s something I’ve been championing for quite some time,” says Harrison, who has hosted all of The Bachelorettes and twelve seasons of The Bachelor. “I totally understand and I totally love the we’ve had — Trista and DeAnna have made complete sense — but I really just want to get away from it and try and find just that phenomenal woman out there who has no ties to the show and give her a shot.”
What kind of woman would make a great candidate? “Maybe it’s a double standard,” Harrison says, “but I think it’s tougher to be the Bachelorette than it is to be a Bachelor because I think overall our audience is more forgiving for the Bachelor than they are for the Bachelorette. You really have to be this strong, successful — and I don’t mean just money or a job successful, but ‘life successful’ — yet beautiful woman, but at the same time, on the other side, you have to be an endearing character that will root for.”
As daunting as the prospect of finding such a lady seems, Harrison is confident she is out there. “I got approached this morning at Starbucks,” Harrison says, “and this woman pulls me aside and I swear, she’s like, ‘How do I get my beautiful friend here on The Bachelorette?‘ And I said we are literally looking for her right now!”
Harrison adds that producers are not looking for a certain type. “We’re not looking for rich, heir to a throne, or a famous person,” he says. “You can be from any walk of life and have any story. Whatever story you bring to the table is your story. Don’t worry about how much money you have or what your name is, it’s how you can command a room.”
Even women who are weary of looking for love on TV should not disqualify themselves. “As the Bachelorette, everybody is there for you,” Harrison says. “That’s one of the great advantages. You realize that you have an entire network going out and casting around the country — for you! All the contestants are coming on to the show to fall in love with you. It’s a great position to be in.”
So if you’ve ever wanted to go on fantasy dates and chose among 25 handpicked suitors, or know someone who would be perfect, The Bachelorette is offering you a rose. Fill out the online application or nomination form at www.thebachelor.tv. “I really find that the women who come on to the show are very sincere and know how hard it is to find love out there,” Harrison says. “That’s why The Bachelorette always lends itself to being a special season.”
Men looking for love are encouraged to apply, too. “For guys out there,” Harrison says, “just know that we are going to search the country and when you show up that first night, you will not be disappointed!” — Cynthia Wang
Tell us: Would you, or someone you know, be the perfect Bachelorette?