'Bachelor' Star Juan Pablo Galavis on Being the Show's First Non-White Star and Whether He Found Love

Juan Pablo Galavis - P 2013
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Juan Pablo Galavis is the first ethnic star of The Bachelor -- and the former pro soccer player from Venezuela says viewers will get a taste of his culture and background when the ABC reality series returns this week.

"I am the Bachelor, and I am a Latino, and obviously it’s going to be me," he told reporters during a recent conference call. "So, there’s going to be a lot of Latino things in the show -- a lot, you know, just me. ... It’s going to be a lot of food, a lot of dancing, a lot of stuff.  I’m going to tell you, it’s going to be so different that you’re going to love it."

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Galavis -- who first appeared on Desiree Hartsock's season of The Bachelorette over the summer -- is the first non-Caucasian Bachelor or Bachelorette in franchise history. There have been a total of nine Bachelorettes; Juan Pablo is the 17th Bachelor in 18 seasons, as Brad Womack starred on the show twice.

While the franchise has featured a handful minorities as suitors, ABC and producer Warner Horizon TV have previously been accused of violating racial discrimination laws.

Galavis, 32, said he's been receiving positive feedback from the Latino community.

"People are just happy," he said. "And it just – it's not that I’m a Latino … because also I’m Spanish, you know. Another fact that [whether you are] a Latino or not, it's just, you know, it’s not easy to find somebody for the show, and also in The Bachelorette or The Bachelor to find people from different cultures. They don’t understand this show; they don’t want to be in this show.  So it's not easy and definitely their reaction has been great and I’m happy."

Galavis had been one of 25 men competing for Desiree's hand during the most recent season of The Bachelorette. He is a single father to a 4-year-old girl named Camila with Venezuelan actress Carla Rodriguez.

Galavis said his daughter was on his mind when filming the show -- noting that he missed her -- but said he doesn't seek her "approval" when dating. He said he introduces girlfriends to Camila as "a friend of Daddy's" and doesn't show any romantic affection toward them in front of her.

"[But] if I’m getting married with somebody someday, definitely I would be like, 'This is the one, she could be your stepmom,' and I introduce her as my girlfriend because I am 100 percent sure that I'm going to marry somebody whenever that has to happen," he said, adding that Camila is "not going to watch this show," citing her age and the basic concept. "It’s not even worth involving her into this whole process and tell her, 'Listen, Daddy’s going to go out with 27 [women] -- no, it’s not worth it at all."

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He added that he also found it hard "hurting people" but wanted to take the chance to get to know the 27 bachelorettes to find his one potential soul mate with whom he could have a family.

Meanwhile, in every season, a few of the group of potential suitors typically steps out of the limo saying or doing something wacky or memorable. This season, one of the women shows up … pregnant? Galavis -- who said he's looking for someone who is smart, honest, is into sports and loves to dance -- admitted that his "biggest concern" was that there would be some "crazy [women] getting out of the limo doing weird things." Still, he said, he tried not to judge anyone based on first impressions -- although the pregnancy was a bit surprising.

"I was like shocked, obviously, but I’m a dad and I know how that feels and, you know, single moms, single dads, you know, when they don’t have that other person to raise their child, it’s just tough in the sense they need that chance," he said. "And – if I’m able to give her that chance, it’s great."

Galavis, who admitted that meeting all the women on his first night of filming was both "overwhelming" and "intimidating," added that there was one significant difference between his time on The Bachelorette and as star of The Bachelor.

"Finally I got to go on my one-on-one date that I never went in the other show," he said.

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So, to answer the burning questions on viewers' minds, did Galavis find love? If so, he isn't saying.

"You have to watch till March [for the season finale], you know, that’s part of it," he teased. "I wish I can tell you, but I’m very happy. I’m a happy guy; I’m always happy. And you’ll see in March."

And would he get married on TV, a la previous Bachelor Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, whose nuptials are airing on ABC on Jan. 26? (Former Bachelorettes Trista Rehn and Ashley Hebert also were wed on TV, to Ryan Sutter and J.P. Rosenbaum, respectively.)

"Getting married on TV, I’m not sure," he admits. " You know, I don’t know. … I’m from Venezuela and weddings in Venezuela are big, and music – I don’t know how this works. I have no idea. So, I’m not even thinking about that."

The Bachelor returns with what is being touted as a "two-night premiere" that kicks off at 8 p.m. Sunday before moving into its regular time slot at 8 p.m. Mondays.