Awhile ago, I shared a YouTube video explaining a pretty crazy, but fun experience I had of almost getting cast as one of the 25 women (or is it 30? I think it changes every season) vying for love on ‘The Bachelor.’ If you missed it, you can watch it HERE. But if you’re more interested in reading all about it and prefer not to hear me ramble (in a video, as opposed to a blog), I’ll explain it all here.
How it began…
Let me start by saying I am a huge Bachelor fan. I watch every season and get invested each time. My sisters and I are avid Fantasy Bachelor participants, and Lisa and I actually won some pretty awesome prizes for being in 8th place during Jake Pavelka’s season. But aside from that, I never actually wanted to be on the show. I would joke about it, and maybe daydream a little about what it would be like, but my enjoyment was just in watching it.
BUT – in February (ish) of 2015, a few months after I went through a very difficult breakup, my mom decided to nominate me. I think she thought it would be something fun, that even the fact that she nominated me would brighten my spirits a little, and if I made it on the show, then great. She told me she sent in the nomination, I rolled my eyes a little, and that was it. I completely forgot all about it for the next two months. Until…
I got an email. Subject: The Bachelor on ABC. At first glance, I thought it was spam and almost glazed right over it, but quickly remembered the nomination my mom sent. I opened it, and the email read: “…I work for The Bachelor on ABC and I received an online nomination for you. I am emailing to see if you are interested in being considered for the next season of The Bachelor. If you are interested please complete the attached application and email it back to me with some recent photos of yourself (see photo examples attached). The next step in the process is submitting a video of yourself via dropbox. Please review the tape instructions and give me a call when you have a moment to discuss the details…” Let’s be honest…what would your thought be? “Oh, no thanks, not interested.” or perhaps “Heck yeah I might be on TV and travel the world.” Yep, the latter was me.
So I went through the whole process, took a bunch of pictures (which I have to admit, was very awkward). I got all dressed up and pretty and had my sister snap photos while I tried to pose in a flattering way (these days, it’s not as weird with everyone always needing the PERFECT picture for social media, but back then, it was awkward). I picked out probably 10 or so that I thought were alright and emailed them back to her, along with the application. The application is the same as the ones you can find right on their website. It asked basic questions, like your age and location, what you like to do, your relationship history, etc etc. My favorite, though was “Do you drink alcoholic beverages?” I can imagine if I said no, they wouldn’t have pursued me any further.
A week or so later, she called me to explain the video-making process. No less than 5 minutes in length, wear something flattering, be yourself, don’t edit too much. We also had a great conversation about my family, my career, and everything else that made it feel like a casual yet very important interview. She really was such a pleasant person to work with through the whole process and made me feel comfortable (because casting yourself for reality TV is not normal). So we said our goodbyes, then I went home and planned out this audition tape.
I decided to have my friend Stephanie film/interview me. We have always loved the show and I knew she’d be excited to be part of it, and she was. We walked to a lake near my parents’ house to give it a nice ambiance (I was really trying, here), set up shop, and went. Fortunately, she had just gotten a new iPhone with a ton of storage, because the 10 year old camcorder I was using died shortly after I introduced myself. And even better, her phone’s video quality was way better. If you want to watch the video, I will link it below. Otherwise, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what they expect.
The Audition Tape…
It’s uncomfortable at first, I can’t lie. You are talking allllll about yourself…why you’re so wonderful and why you deserve love. It’s weird. But as the questions progress, you get more comfortable. Except talking about why your past relationships didn’t work out…that one is awkward no matter how prepared you are. But the questions are pretty standard: Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies/talents? What would your hometown date be like? What is your ultimate fantasy date? Things like that. Straightforward, but Bachelor-appropriate.
Dress-wise, I wore something that flattered my figure (because that’s what I was told to do) and did my hair and makeup nice, yet simple. I decided to film outdoors because the lighting is better (as long as you’re not directly in the sun – they don’t want to see any shadows on your face!), and it’s always a better picture that way. They also ask for a closeup shot and a full-length shot, so clearly we had to give it true bachelor style and do a slow-mo spin shot. At this point, I had so much fun with all of this that I didn’t even care if I made it on the show or not lol.
The next step…
After I submitted my video, I very quickly got an email response (probably a couple of hours later) stating that I had made it to the next round of the audition process. This was probably the most tedious and exhausting step. There was another application (The LFQ they called it…”Long Form Questionnaire”) and boy was it long. It took me a couple of days to finish the whole thing. In here, I had to list references (people that were close to me, but not my immediate family) that I assume they expected would speak highly of me, so I put some of my best friends in there. I also had to give all contact info for every. single. one. of my exes. Their phone number, their address, when we dated, for how long, all of it. I definitely had to do some digging to gather everything (and hoping it was all outdated information), but I didn’t want to leave anything out. I also kind of hoped they wouldn’t have anything bad to say about me….but who really knows about that one.
This step also included a confidentiality agreement, where basically if I said anything about me going through this process, I could be fined 5 million dollars. Essentially, they were looking to keep things as private as possible until the show aired, so that neither the future audience or future contestants would know who would be on the show. So if you were wondering, I did not tell anyone ANYTHING. (Besides my immediate family, but of course my mom being the loud mouth she is, had to share with my Nonnie.) And then with the confidentiality agreement, I had to send in a copy of my driver’s license, passport, health insurance, and 25 more photos. Yes, more photos. I sent everything in, and played the waiting game.
This was sometime in May, and they told me Finalists Weekend (where you get interviewed by the head honchos) would be at the end of July, so I figured I had some time to wait.
June rolls around…
and I get a voicemail from the casting director I’ve been emailing, asking me to come to NYC to meet her and the senior casting producer (I think? I can’t remember her title, but she was the lady in charge) for a quick interview. At this point, I was super excited. And so was my mom. I think it was the first time where I really felt like they were definitely considering me for the show. At first I thought maybe they were asking me to come to an open casting call (which would have completely negated my feelings that they really liked me), but I did some research and found out I was actually meeting them the day before the casting call. Win for Nicki.
Fast forward to the NYC meeting: My mom and I took the train down and met them at the Roosevelt Hotel (if you’re like us and never really stay at fancy places, this hotel was REALLY nice lol). We waited in the lobby for probably a half hour, then the casting lady I’d been emailing came and met me. You know what, let’s call her Jane to make things easy. She introduced herself, asked about my trip, and then kind of looked me up and down…for real. I think she was trying to be nonchalant about it but I caught her. Then she took me upstairs into a hallway above the lobby, sat me at a two person table, and told me the senior casting producer Maria (another pretend name) would be up to meet me. So I sat and waited for another while, then Maria came out and introduced herself. She was so friendly! Very easy to talk to. Surprisingly, she did most of the talking. I don’t remember a whole lot of our conversation, but she mostly described to me what finals weekend would be like. At first she said “when you come to finals weekend..” and then quickly corrected herself, “well, IF you come to finals weekend…” and went on to describe what it’s like (having an on-screen bachelor-esque interview, staying in your hotel room the whole time, tests to complete, etc.). She also asked me about how it would work with my teaching job (would I be able to leave for 8 weeks?, etc etc.). Her main question seemed to be, or at least the one that stuck in my head the most, was which contestant(s) on the current season I liked the most. This was Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season, and I felt she had a good group of guys. At that point, I really liked Shawn B. (too bad lol), and both Ben’s (Higgins/Zorn). And also let her know I did not like Nick (sorry). And that was about it. The whole conversation was probably 5-10 minutes, then she sent me off to meet up with Jane again to take more pictures. Yes. More pictures. Then they let me know when they’d be in touch for Finals Weekend, and sent me on my way.
The Waiting Game
I guess you could say it was a long summer waiting to find out if I made it or not. I made a “first night dress” Pinterest board, kept an eye on every upcoming open casting call, I think I even went on a date in between…should I be sharing all of this? Anyway, the time that they said they’d be calling me for Finals Weekend came and went and I was sure I was out. BUT! A couple of weeks later, a call popped up on my phone from a Los Angeles number, and I knew. I actually had a mouth full of peanut butter and jelly and had no idea how I was going to swallow in time to pick up the phone. I forced it down, almost choked, and with a very muffled voice, I very excitedly accepted the invitation to Finals Weekend. They told me when it would be, and gave me an option of which 3 days I wanted, then asked me which airport I preferred to fly out of, and that was that. All expenses were paid and they let me know someone would be in touch beforehand to get me prepared.
Preparing for Finals Weekend
Did you make it this far? I hope I haven’t bored you yet. A few days before my trip, I was emailed a travel memo and a breakdown of the weekend: what shuttle to take, where to meet my “handler,” and what to pack. They asked me to bring an outfit for my on-camera interview, and gym clothes if I wanted to get a workout in. So I packed WAY more than I needed, including things I’ve never used: certain makeups, hair products, basically anything that I thought would help me fit in. I think I felt too average for this show lol. But I packed my best black outfits, since that’s basically what my wardrobe consists of, and then a couple of white shirts to help make me look tan.
It was the night before my flight and I felt ready to go. Then Jane called me to check in and make sure I was all prepared, and to make sure I packed some colorful clothing. WHAT?! I seriously may have had one red shirt in my suitcase, and she said to really try to find a nice solid, colorful dress or two or three. And I don’t think I had any, but I scrounged up what I could find.
The Start of the Weekend
The next morning, when I got off the plane and onto the shuttle to the hotel, I noticed I was sharing the shuttle with a fellow-potential-contestant. I wasn’t positive at the time, but she was alone, dressed nice, her hair done, and fixing her makeup. So I say I didn’t know for sure, but I knew. And once we got to the hotel, I walked in kind of awkwardly, didn’t know where to go, but this mystery shuttle girl was greeted right when she walked in! Oh, goodie. I’m the outcast. If I remember correctly, I had to actually go up to the front desk and tell them I was there for The Bachelor, and they told me to have a seat and wait. Then the handler that greeted shuttle bus lady, came and greeted me, told me they weren’t ready for me yet, and hid me over in this corner of the lobby so that no one would see me. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently they don’t want you running into any of the other potential contestants so that if you get picked for the show, you’ll all be meeting each other for the very first time on night one. Well, sorry people, I already saw one of ’em.
So I sat there waiting for probably an hour…for awhile there I thought they forgot about me. But then she came and got me and walked me to my room. Again, another extremely personable Bachelor worker. They must have the best crew. But anyway, as she was walking me up, she had a headset on and was letting *someone* know that I was being walked through the hallway. I was a little confused, so she told me it was so that no one else would be walking through the hall at the same time. Ah, yes.
So actually, before I got to my room, I went to this little conference type room where I met some other people who gave me a Bachelor tote, and told me to fill it up with goodies. They offered me a drink, of course, but I opted for water (probably should’ve gone with the wine and I might’ve made it on the show). I filled my bag with fruit and granola bars for snacks to eat over the weekend, then they gave me SO MUCH paperwork to do while I was in the room. A personality test (1,000 questions), and a Fun Quiz (another really long packet, but it was actually kind of fun). They gave me the weekend itinerary, reimbursed me for my checked-in suitcase (so cool), and sent me to my room.
Before My Interview…
I was told what time my interview would be for the next day, and that Maria would be up to my room beforehand to prep me and help me pick out an outfit. But my first night there, they needed me to complete the personality test so that I could meet with the psychiatrist after my interview (yep), and then go have my blood work done to test for STD’s (yep), and then have my interview with the background investigator (yep). So I stayed up completing this personality test, which has so many repetitive questions, it makes you feel like you are insane. It asked questions relating to things like if you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts, how you handle criticism, how you react to things, I mean…a lot of stuff. It felt like it was taking forever and my east coast brain just wanted to sleep, but it wasn’t even midnight yet, Nicki, nope it was only 9:00!!
But I eventually finished. Got to bed and woke up forgetting where I was lol but quickly got excited and anxious after I realized what the day was about to bring. I ordered room service for breakfast, did my hair and makeup, then laid all of my potential outfits on the bed for when Maria came. And when she did come, she was very impressed with how I laid things out (again, probably should have kept things messy and disorganized to make me seem more fitting for the show).
While she was there, she picked out a purple dress for me, had me try it on and decided to have me go with that. It was very form fitting and I felt very unflattering in it, but I went with her advice. Then she also asked me about leaving my job, how my trip had been, and how I would feel if Nick were the bachelor. I kind of just gave her a look, and that was all she needed to know how I felt about that. Then I got picked up by my handler and walked to my interview.
Before going into the interview room, I sat and waited with Jane and another man who offered me drinks the whole time. I took a mimosa, then sat and conversed with them, mostly about past Bachelor contestants. Again, these people were awesome.
Then I went into my interview, which was staged like a Bachelor interview. It was a tiny little room, dark with some studio lights, and a single stool for me to sit on. There were 2 or 3 interviewers in there with me, again, all friendly and easy going. I started by introducing my name (which I think I thought I was being clever and said my name was Nicki Higgins), then began answering some questions. They asked me about my dating history, why my relationships didn’t work out, why I wanted to be on the show, and what I would do to impress a guy, and you know what I told them? That I would do a pushup. So the interviewer right there did a pushup with me. While I was in a dress. I don’t know what I was thinking, and I actually felt really weak while I was doing it lol GOSH I should’ve thought that through. But the interview as a whole was quick, and relatively painless, then I went into another interview with a whole panel of producers, and were they awesome? Yes they were. Some of these people I recognized from the Instagram posts of past contestants, which was really cool. (Oh SIDENOTE: They took another photo of me in my interview outfit – I imagined this was the most important photo of all). This group of people had a similar round of questions, but also asked me some other stuff, like if I would be willing to move out of my hometown for someone, if any guys tried to hit on me at the school that I teach at (weird lol), and then we shared some sarcasm back and forth. They were a lot of fun and I was kind of sad that it was over. But it did feel like a job interview, I can’t lie. I know you’re supposed to act natural and just be yourself for this, but like hello…this is to get cast on TV. So it was not natural and I definitely had some nerves. But it was fun.
Next, I sat and waited again, this time to meet with the psychiatrist. She took a look at the results of my personality test and determined that I seemed to be pretty normal (questionable), and asked me some other questions about my relationship with my family, hard times I’ve gone through, etc. etc.
Then I met with the doctor to get my tests done, and these people might have been the most fun of all lol. I imagine it can get pretty awkward when you’re peeing in a cup strictly so that you can compete with 24 other women for an engagement, but they didn’t make it feel that way. Essentially, as far as I know, they were testing for STD’s and any other type of disease that could potentially be transmitted and/or affect my ability to be on the show. (Don’t worry, that’s not the reason I didn’t get on.)
Next up was the background investigator. He was not as easy going as the rest, but still friendly. He was a bit more stoic, you could say. He asked me a lot about what in my past could potentially come up to haunt me on the show. Apparently this was so that the show could be aware of everything before some outside person came and dropped a bomb on them, but I couldn’t help but think they wanted to the bomb dropping themselves. This included if there were any inappropriate pictures or videos of me, if I was ever in trouble with the law, etc. Again, I didn’t have anything good to tell him. I did, however, let him know I was planning on starting a blog at some point. I couldn’t remember why he wanted to know this, but…he did. And that ends that interview.
The End of Finals Weekend
The day of interviews was a long day to say the least and I was exhausted. But I still had to finish the fun quiz. Luckily they paid for my food (Subway) and I chilled out in my PJ’s and answered all these questions. Now these are the ones you see in the bios of the contestants. They’re very random questions: If you could be any fruit, what would you be? What is your favorite color? What are your guilty pleasures? What are your religious beliefs? It was extensive, but much more enjoyable than the personality test.
After it was all completed and my handler came up and got it from me, I packed my bags, got into bed, and woke up nice and early for my flight home.
The end of Finalists Weekend brought another waiting game, so I pinned more first night dresses and analyzed the chances of getting on in my head (about 100 people go to Finalists Weekend, so I had about a 25% chance..not bad). This was also the time that they officially announced The Bachelor. Remember Chris Harrison tried to trick everyone into thinking it would be Nick? (foreshadowing…?) But it ended up as Ben Higgins, and boy was I a happy girl. Now all I needed was to wait for the call.
A few weeks later, I was busy coaching a volleyball practice when I took a peek at my phone and noticed a Los Angeles number calling me…and I freaked out. On the inside. I had a huge adrenaline rush and had a crazy amount of energy the rest of practice. I can only imagine what my players thoughts were with all of my jumping up and down and high pitched voices. Needless to say, I could not wait to end practice and check my voicemail.
When it came time, I went to my car, got myself settled, tried to mentally prepare, and pressed play. “Hey Nicki, it’s Maria from The Bachelor..blah blah blah…and unfortunately, they chose not to use you this season…” UGH. Some crazy talk about “compatibility” or whatever. (lol) I was sad. You definitely get invested when you’re that far along and dream up all of the cool things you’ll do when you get on the show. I was disappointed for sure, but so grateful to have had such an awesome experience. And let me just say, that voicemail (thought I left a lot out) was very kind and compassionate. I’m sure she gave a very similar message to dozens of other women, but she still took the time to explain and be nice. She even told me to PLEASE give her a call if I had any questions about it. Again, these people are awesome.
SO – there’s that. I obviously didn’t make it, but continue to look back on it, 4 years later, as a really fun memory that I will always cherish. If you’re going through the casting process, hopefully this helps! I know I was looking for some info like this while I was in the midst of it all.
PHEW! What a long post. Thanks for reading (if you made it this far) and I bet I’ll be joining you on Monday to see who Cassie yells at. 🙂