6:43pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor' Star Revealed as ABC's Next 'Bachelorette'
Hannah Brown, a former contestant on Colton Underwood's season of ABC's The Bachelor, has been cast as the next star of The Bachelorette.
Brown, who was known as "Hannah B." before she was eliminated on The Bachelor, was unveiled as ABC's newest star of the long-running reality dating franchise during the two-night finale for Underwood's Bachelor season on Tuesday night.
"I feel all the emotions but honestly, I'm just really grateful for the opportunity," said the 24-year-old beauty queen and interior decorator after being announced to lead the 15th season. "For a minute there, it was touch-and-go from my experience. But in my wildest dreams, [I did hope for this]."
Brown, who has often appeared to be at a loss for words, assured host Chris Harrison during a filmed phone call that aired on Tuesday, "I know I could do it and I want it."
The nervous star then went on to meet five of the men who will appear on her upcoming season, following in recent tradition for the Bachelorettes. "I hope they can put words together better than me!" she half-joked to Harrison. For the first time during the stunt, Brown — after a drawn-out deliberation — handed out her first rose to a contestant named Cam, who rapped for her attention.
Brown placed seventh on Underwood's season of The Bachelor, which makes her the first female star in the franchise's history to go on and lead The Bachelorette after placing outside of the top four finalists. An advantage of casting one of the top four finalists is that viewers get to know the soon-to-be star better; the final four get to show the Bachelor (and viewers) more about themselves during a week of hometown dates and are further along in their relationship, ultimately leading to a bigger heartbreak and higher likability from the franchise audience, who are collectively known as Bachelor Nation.
"This whole experience has been great for me and being a part of this has allowed me to be vulnerable and open," Brown told The Hollywood Reporter at the recent Women Tell All taping about the prospect of the starring role. "I came into this very ready for the endgame and so as Bachelorette, I would be very ready for the endgame of that, too."
The franchise could be rolling the dice by casting Brown, who had her biggest televised moment during the Women Tell All reunion show, which came after her elimination.
Host Harrison singled Brown out during the reunion show and viewers picked up on a not-so-thinly veiled hint that she might be cast as Bachelorette. Brown memorably struggled with the task of making a toast during a one-on-one date with Underwood and, when speaking to Harrison from the reunion show hot seat, he cheered to her getting a second chance and finding love.
The moment also let Brown open up to viewers in a way they had yet to see, as she spoke about how hard it is for her to be vulnerable given her background in the beauty pageant world. Brown was Miss Alabama and competed for 2018 Miss USA. She has used her platform to become an advocate for people who suffer from depression and anxiety, something Brown battled with as a teen.
"I have a pressure to be perfect," she told Harrison on the March 5 episode. "I come from pageants and for me, it wasn't always the best. I would put on whatever I thought people wanted to see of me and it's always been something I struggled with and I told [Colton] that I had the struggles that I had, and I needed to break that barrier and be vulnerable with him, and I did that."
She continued: "For so long I thought my life was going to be a certain way. I grew up in Alabama. I was going to marry the guy I dated for so long in college and start spitting out babies. I thought that was going to be OK for me, but it's not. I want so much more and I deserve so much more, and I don't know why I ever settled for that just because that's what everyone else did. And this experience and the relationship that I have with Colton just allowed me to see myself in a different way and be vulnerable with who I am, and who I want to be and what love I want to have and receive."
During her time on The Bachelor, Brown also caused drama. She sparred with a former Miss USA competitor, Caelynn Miller-Keyes (who told THR she wasn't interested in the starring role), and though both women agreed to forgive each other, the show never divulged what caused the rift. It's rare for a Bachelorette to get the ABC gig after clashing with contestants on the previous cycle's Bachelor. The franchise played up the pageant drama during Underwood's highly rated season, and the Women Tell All episode was up 40 percent in viewers compared to the year prior.
Time will tell how Brown performs once she's in the leading role, though she doesn't have much time to prepare. The Bachelorette goes into production this week and bows May 13. ABC will also air a two-hour reunion special ahead of the premiere (on May 6) titled Bachelorette Reunion: The Biggest Bachelorette Reunion in Bachelor History Ever!