Just when you think you've seen it all...
On Matt James’s season of The Bachelor, 30-year-old marketing manager Katie Thurston instantly stood out when she made her entrance. (Arriving with a light-up vibrator tends to have that effect.) While many were quick to write the move off as just another gimmick to gain Matt’s attention, Katie was only getting started.
Whether it was her openness about sex—and sex positivity, in general—or speaking out against bullying among the other women, Thurston became a fan favorite as the season continued. It didn’t lead to love with James, but now she’ll be the one giving out roses when The Bachelorette returns on June 7.
But things have changed for The Bachelorette since Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams’s journey to find love last year. For one, Chris Harrison is no longer the host (he stepped aside in February). In his place are Adams and fellow former Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe, both of whom take up residence at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, to help Thurston on her journey.
Given that the franchise has been mired in controversy over the last few years—including what happened when it came to light that James’s final pick, Rachael Kirkconnell, had attended racially insensitive parties—ABC is clearly hoping that this season is a turning point. Thurston feels that way too, telling Glamour that the producers are “listening” and “making the changes that are important.” As for specifics, the Seattle resident doesn’t elaborate but says she felt supported along the way to make the season her own.
But what about that very “unexpected” ending that Katie tells us is “a first” this season? And will she—and the franchise—continue to lean into tough, but necessary, conversations given what’s happened over the last year? Here, she tells us what to expect.
Glamour: How would you sum up your journey this season?
Katie Thurston: I keep calling it a wild ride, because that’s exactly what it is. You think you know what you’re getting into, and you think you know the format of falling in love, and you don’t. Life happens the way it’s supposed to, love happens the way it’s supposed to, and that was my biggest lesson through it all.
Did you feel extra pressure or anxiety after everything that’s unfolded off camera and on camera after last season?
There are always concerns going into a season, especially with everything that was going on, but I expressed my concerns and felt very supported. Going through it, it felt very refreshing. I felt like it was a fun season with great men. Tayshia and Kaitlyn being there was amazing as well, so overall it was a great experience.
What were some of the concerns that you voiced?
I just wanted it to be a good experience. Not only for me, but for the guys, for Bachelor Nation, especially; [I wanted to know] that they are listening and making the changes that are important.
In past seasons we’ve seen some important topics discussed, such as race, religion, and sex. Will we see those conversations on your season as well?
There are several conversations that are important to have—involving sex, for example—but also, family, divorce, losing a loved one. These conversations are very real, and these men have amazing stories to share. I’m just really excited for Bachelor Nation to watch that.
Do you talk about money and finances? I feel that rarely gets brought up.
That’s a good question. I don’t recall it coming up, because there were so many other things I was focused on. I’m my own independent woman; I’m not worried about money. I can take care of myself. [Laughs.]
Chris Harrison was the host when you were on Matt’s season, and now it’s Tayshia and Kaitlyn. What were some of the biggest differences?
What I loved most is these two women have gone through this. They were able to offer me a lot of advice that I was able to take to heart because they’ve lived it, they’ve gone through it, they understand. There are certain conversations I would have with girlfriends that I certainly wouldn’t want to have with my dad, like fantasy suites, or heartbreak. They were there to really support me from start to finish, and I’m so grateful for them.
Kaitlyn went through a lot on her season and was unfairly judged for having sex. Did you talk with her specifically about that?
Yeah, we definitely talked about it. You guys are going to see some conversations around that because it is 2021, and it’s important we talk about it, especially with our partners.
What are you looking for in a partner that maybe you haven’t had in the past?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned and wanted still is someone who is passionate. They gotta be passionate about something, whether it’s their job or their goals or their hobbies. Bringing that excitement to life, that purpose to life.
So what are some deal breakers for you with a guy?
The biggest thing is if they are unkind. It’s so easy to be kind, so if they are rude to a server, it’s a deal breaker instantly.
Did your journey end like you hoped it would?
I will say the journey ended in the most unexpected way.
What does that mean? Because I feel like we’ve seen everything in Bachelor Nation!
I think this is a first, definitely, in various ways, so you guys will just have to find out what that means.
What is one thing you wish you knew going into the season that you know now?
Probably to just let go and let things happen. That’s the hardest part, I think. I struggled with it from start to finish; if I embraced that more, I think I could have had a little easier time.
Well, it wouldn’t be The Bachelor or Bachelorette if it was easy, so I think you got the full experience!
The Bachelorette premieres on June 7 on ABC.
This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Jessica Radloff