Meet the New Bachelorette, Michelle Young: Everything to Know About the Season 18 Star
The ball is now in her court.
Young's season follows Katie Thurston's romantic run as the Bachelorette (which ended in an engagement to Blake Moynes this summer), and will be hosted by former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.
She made it to the coveted Fantasy Suites episode and secured a spot in the final two, though James ultimately picked Rachael Kirkconnell.
This time around, 30 men will get the opportunity to shoot their shot (okay, we'll stop with the basketball puns) and attempt to win Young's heart.
Here's everything to know about Young ahead of Tuesday night's Bachelorette season premiere.
She grew up in Minnesota.
Young was raised in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota called Woodbury. She attended Woodbury High School and lived with her parents Ephraim and LaVonne. She also has two siblings named Angela and Alex.
Young has spoken about her close relationship with her parents, previously saying her parents' opinions "mean a lot" to her. During her Bachelor stint, she hoped her parents would ask "the hard questions" during James' hometown visit.
She told Extra she's specifically looking for "qualities that I see in my parents' relationship," including someone she "can laugh with, somebody that is going to stick in with it and get through the difficult times, somebody who is a goal setter and supportive."
Basketball is in her blood.
Young was a fierce competitor growing up, becoming a standout basketball player who was considered a "lightening fast guard" and named "one of the greatest Woodbury players of all time," according to the town's local newspaper.
She's not only racked up a number of accolades (such as the Most Valuable Player award at the prestigious Minnesota Girls Basketball All-Star Tournament in 2011), but she went on to play Division 1 basketball at Bradley University in Illinois on a scholarship.
She's a fifth-grade teacher.
Young studied elementary education at Bradley, and upon graduating in 2015, she returned to her home state and embarked on a career teaching fifth grade at Echo Park Elementary.
Young is enjoying this moment in the spotlight, but has no plans to give up her career once her televised journey for love is over: "My heart is working with students and working with youth and molding their future," she told Variety.
In fact, she's working towards her masters degree in administration. "I always have wanted to be an elementary school principal," she said. "That's something that I am incredibly passionate about, and that's where fulfillment comes from for me."
Her entire Bachelorette season was filmed during summer break.
No absent notes were necessary for Young, whose entire season was shot during summer break, so that she could continue her work in the classroom.
The fifth grade teacher mentioned that although her students don't watch the show, their parents do and have been really supportive. Young expressed that it feels like she's living two lives, something that's been requiring a bit of balance.
She told Variety, "It is like a double life. At 7 a.m. during the week I'm Ms. Young. And then when I step out of the classroom, I'm back to Michelle Young — and Michelle Young's life looks a little different these days, but I think it gives me balance. Fifth graders will keep you humble, I'll tell you that!"
Her season was overseen by the show's first-ever Black producer.
Young's season of The Bachelorette made The Bachelor franchise's history when naming Jodi Baskerville as the first-ever Black executive producer. Baskerville has been a producer of the show for nearly 10 years, and took on the EP role at the start of the 18th season.
Young revealed she had a great relationship with her boss: "Jodi is my girl. Any minute that I get to spend with Jodi is wonderful," Young told Variety. "It was nice to have a woman of color by my side as we're navigating the days and the cocktail parties and the dates because this was the first time in my life that I'm starring as The Bachelorette."
The Bachelor franchise move is yet another step towards increasing representation both on and off screen. The most diverse group of contestants were featured on James' season, while roughly half of the contestants on Young's season identify as BIPOC.
In terms of leads in the franchise's history, James was the first Black bachelor (in 2021), Lindsay was the first Black bachelorette (in 2017), and Adams was the first biracial bachelorette (in 2020).
The Bachelorette premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.