Rob Mills opened up about the other women who almost took the lead as the next Bachelorette
Though Hannah Brown is officially your next Bachelorette, the process of elimination wasn’t all that easy.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, ABC executive Rob Mills opened up about the other women that were in the running — and why they ultimately chose Hannah B.
“This is similar to when Colton was named the Bachelor and I was asked, why Colton and not Blake or Jason? I said then that it was basically a three-way tie and really a tough decision,” said Mills, senior vp alternative series. “And this was the same thing. This case was basically a five-way tie.”
“We met with Hannah B., Hannah Godwin, Tayshia Adams, Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Demi Burnett [all from Colton’s season],” he added. “And they were all great, but there was something about Hannah B.”
Mills said Brown had a special spark that he thought would translate well on screen.
“Part of it was that she thought she was the dark horse, so she came in and had nothing to lose, saying, ‘I don’t know, I’m just going to be myself.’ There was just something different that we hadn’t seen in a Bachelorette before,” he explained. “Very kind of charming and goofy. When she had her intro video for The Bachelor and she said, ‘I’m Hannah — all aboard the hot mess express!’, you think that’s probably just shtick. And then we figured out, no that’s actually true. I think that came through on the live show, too, when she met the first five guys.”
“I feel all the emotions,” she said after sitting down with host Chris Harrison. “But honestly, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity.”
“It didn’t happen for me with my first time around, but I do believe that it can happen,” she continued. “I’m just really so grateful and honored that people saw my heart and that I get to continue showing that and that somebody will hopefully share their heart with me.”
For more on Cassie and Colton, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
While there were mixed reactions to the announcement, Mills remains confident that Brown was the right choice.
“I think some people thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how is this person going to be the Bachelorette when they seem to really not know what to say or where to stand or what to do?,'” Mills said. “And then there are people who said, ‘We’ve never seen this before and it seems endearing and charming.’ And I was in that camp. I think it’s very easy to teach somebody how to pick up a rose or say a name, but you can’t fake the natural sort of charm and nervousness and everything that she had, and I thought that was really, really great.”
While Brown previously told PEOPLE that she doesn’t necessarily have a type, she said she’s looking for “someone with a good heart.” And yes, she’s ready for an engagement.
“This is something I really believe in,” she said. “And at the end of the day, I want somebody who loves me and chooses me. I’m ready for my moment.”
Though Underwood’s season didn’t end with a traditional Bachelor ending (an engagement!), Mills said the magic was still there — and will continue to make itself known in the upcoming season.
“I don’t think we want to abandon the fairy-tale aspect, just because we love it and it is the belief in true love,” said Mills. “And sometimes you get the fairy tale. But, like everything in life, it doesn’t happen all the time. You don’t want to say the show is going to be taking a sobering look at romance in 2019. It’s always going to have that sort of big, over-the-top feeling.”
He continued: “But I think as these people get closer and as these things become real — like talking about their future and meeting families — it’s going to be more intimate, both emotionally and physically. That’s when then the show sort of shifts into a more realistic telling. You’re not going to see anybody have to do anything.”
The Bachelorette will premiere on Monday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.