Last season, Becca Kufrin was enjoying newly engaged bliss after being chosen by Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr., only to have the fairy tale end with a blindsiding on-camera breakup by both Arie and the show’s producers. Months later, Kufrin is now holding the roses as the next star of The Bachelorette, which kicked off with Monday night’s premiere.
Aware of the drama surrounding her last appearance on the ABC reality franchise, Kufrin wanted to make it clear that she has moved on from the incident. After publicly stating that she had endured every stage of grief after her split with Arie, she announced last week that she gets engaged again at the end of her season. “It feels so good to say it, and this time, I think it’s going to stick!” she said.
Monday’s premiere opened with Becca in tears as she looked back at pictures of her and Arie and reflected on their relationship. Though some of her 28 contestants brought up her ex in their limo entrances — one even had a cardboard cutout of the former Bachelor in tow — the shadow of Arie quickly lifted as a hopeful Becca connected with a handful of the men vying for her heart.
She had her first kiss with Garrett, the recipient of the coveted first impression rose, and she cemented her status as a show rule breaker by eliminating one contestant before the rose ceremony because she questioned his motives. Since filming wrapped, she has admitted that she, like Arie, fell in love with two people in the end.
THR spoke with ABC’s newly crowned star shortly after her Bachelorette journey first began about why she decided to take on the role after the most controversial breakup in franchise history: “I just want to show everyone: you can go through the biggest hardships and still be okay.” Read the chat below.
When were you first approached to be the Bachelorette, what were your reservations? And what was the determining factor that led you to say yes?
We had been talking about it for a few weeks prior to the announcement [on After the Finale Rose in March], and it was just slow — bringing it up, seeing if I was ready, where my head and heart were at. Then it was officially in the works and moving forward about two weeks before that initial announcement. I was definitely nervous, just because I have such big shoes to fill. But when I was offered it, right away I knew I was going to say yes, because I still want love. I still want what I originally went on Arie’s season for, so there was no hesitation. It was just, “Yes, I want to do this. I want to find my person to spend my life with.”
America has grown protective of you since the Bachelor finale. Some in Bachelor Nation questioned the producers for filming the breakup and then airing it “unedited.” How were you able to forgive, return to the show and continue to trust the process?
I signed up for a TV show, and I understand with that, everything is going to be filmed. It was Arie’s decision to break up in that way, and that’s fine. That’s what he chose. At the end of the day, it got me to this place and I am so hopeful and happy to be the next Bachelorette. Everything happens for a reason, and with the way that it panned out, it all worked out for me in the end. It shows everyone’s side of the story and how it all went down, so there’s no question of what actually happened. You saw it all unfold.
The last thing America saw was the breakup, which has since sparked talks about there being less pressure for a proposal at the end. Going into the season, were you open to not having a proposal?
The cool thing about this is: this is your life. It’s your rules. You have to do what’s right for you in the end. Obviously, I would love to fall in love and find the person that I’m committed to and that I want to spend the rest of my life with. I do just want to nurture that relationship, though, and do what’s best for me. If the proposal is what’s best for us, it’s what’s best. I’m looking for a team, so I want equal partnership in whatever’s best for us.
[Editor’s note: Becca announced her engagement after this interview was conducted.]
Did you find yourself more guarded or cautious going into your season?
Being on this side of things, you have to be so open to everyone, because there are some huge personalities. Everyone is so vastly different, and some of the guys are people I dated in the past, and some are completely new. So I realize going into it that I can’t be that guarded. I have to get to know everyone. I have to stay open and show who I am to them and also get that from the guys. I feel like I’m not that guarded. I still want to be just as open as I was the first time around.
How do you handle the pressure of giving America the ending they want?
I actually don’t feel that pressure. At the end of the day, it’s my life. It’s my love. It’s who I find joy and dedication in. Unless you’re in this position, no one’s going to fully understand. But I would never want to pressure anyone into making such a huge decision, and I would hope that anyone watching back would give me that same respect.
What do you want people to know about you that they didn’t get to see last season?
I’m just excited for people to actually get to know me. I can be goofy and silly and awkward and relatable and just a normal human being. I want people to see more of that. I feel like there were a lot of moments where I was super blindsided, but I just want to show everyone: you can go through the biggest hardships and still be okay, still be strong, still know that every day gets better, and you can move on from the hard times and get through that and just be even stronger at the very end.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. What did you think of the premiere? Sound off in the comments, below, and head to THR.com/Bachelor for all things Bachelor Nation.