1:52pm PT by Jackie Strause
'The Bachelorette': JoJo Fletcher Promises "Very Diverse Group" for Season 12
It's already been a whirlwind experience for JoJo Fletcher, ABC's new Bachelorette.
The 25-year-old Texan who — after being blindsided as the runner-up on the last season of The Bachelor — only had about a month to regroup before setting out to film the new season of The Bachelorette, which premieres Monday.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this," Fletcher said Friday during a call with reporters. "I would say it was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life, but it was also one of the hardest. There was so many highs, but definitely a lot of low lows. It was a lot more than I think I expected, in every sense you can think of."
Initial news of JoJo's casting came as a surprise, given expectations that the reality dating series would tap a nonwhite woman to lead the show. The franchise has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, and speculation that another contestant, half-Caucasian and half-Filipino Caila Quinn, would land the spot led to hopes that season 12 would look more diverse than its predecessors.
When asked about the diversity on her season, Fletcher, whose mother is Persian and father was born and raised in Tennessee, told The Hollywood Reporter, "We have a great group of men," adding, "I think there is a little bit more diversity in my group. To be honest, I can’t remember all of the other seasons before me, so I don’t know how much diversity was there, but I can definitely say I have a very diverse group of men. They come from very different parts of life, and they all bring a lot to the table."
A look at Fletcher's suitors and their bios reveals 21 white and six nonwhite contestants, which, compared to seasons past, makes it one of the more diverse groupings. For example, the previous season of The Bachelorette with Kaitlyn Bristowe featured only four nonwhite men.
During the call, Fletcher was careful not to reveal any spoilers, but she did detail some of her fears going into the unique experience — last season saw a first for the series when Bachelor Ben Higgins told both Fletcher and his eventual winner, Lauren Bushnell, that he loved them. (Higgins and Bushnell are currently engaged.)
"I was scared that maybe heartbreak was going to happen again," she said. "Everyone thinks that when you’re on this side of it, you're totally in control — it's not a one-way street. And that fear of it not working out is kind of always in the back of your head."
Still, she said she has no regrets about the experience, giving a possible clue as to whether or not she gets her happily-ever-after in the end: "I am happy right now, and I’m happy the way the show went down."
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Check back on Monday to follow THR's live blog and follow along on Twitter via #THRose.