It's been a long and rocky road for Matt James, the Bachelor franchise's first-ever Black lead. Despite the series' much-publicized efforts to improve the show's diversity—which also included recruiting the largest and most diverse pool of contestants in the show's history—this season of The Bachelor has been far from immune to racist scandals and the general drama that inevitably arises after throwing a few dozen women in a luxurious Pennsylvania resort and asking them to compete both emotionally and physically for one man's heart.
Most damaging of all were the accusations that arose early on about one of the season's frontrunners, Rachael Kirkconnell, who was found to have "liked" racist posts on Instagram and attended a plantation-themed ball. To make matters worse, once Kirkconnell's actions had become widely known, host Chris Harrison defended them in an incredibly cringey Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay, who became the first Black Bachelorette in 2017—even as Kirkconnell herself admitted that there was no excuse for her actions in an apology posted on Instagram. As a result of the ensuing backlash to his remarks, within a few days, Harrison announced that he was temporarily "stepping aside" from his position as the show's host.
This season's contestants also distanced themselves from Harrison's remarks, with most posting a shared statement on Instagram in support of Lindsay. "We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized," they wrote.
Here, find a guide to the original 32 contestants on James' season of The Bachelor.
Milne is a 26-year-old photographer with a penchant for travel: She traded the traditional college experience for a DIY mix of programs across Europe, and recently moved to Toronto on a whim. She claims to be the queen of puns and dreams of becoming a Michelin restaurant critic. Her Instagram is here.
As a model and professional ballerina, 24-year-old Holloway is based in New York City and currently performs with the Dance Theater of Harlem. Her likes include hot chocolate and that time she performed onstage with Aretha Franklin (NBD), and dislikes include tomatoes and cheesy pickup lines. Her Instagram is here. She was sent home after the cocktail party on night one.
Andrews is a 30-year-old nursing student currently based in Costa Mesa, California. Her two passions in life are her 13-year-old son and her love of animals, with her dream job revolving around the care and keeping of beluga whales. Her Instagram is here. She was also sent home in James' first batch of eliminations.
As a true Midwesterner, Redman, a 24-year-old copywriter who was born in Minnesota and now lives in Chicago, is obsessed with cheese. And, as a true Gemini, her interests run the gamut from doing jigsaw puzzles to dreaming up screenplays for Hallmark movies to convincing unsuspecting pilots to let her take a turn at the controls (?!). Her Instagram is here.
Springs, 24, is a communications manager for a major social media company based in San Francisco. As an avid hiker and beachgoer, her ideal life would include a laidback, sushi-filled life in Hawaii with an equally ambitious husband (Matt, are you paying attention?) and two or three kids. Her Instagram (here) is private, but she got plenty of airtime when she was invited on James' first solo date of the season.
A 30-year-old journalist based in L.A., Vallejo has big plans to publish her first novel within the next five years. She loves post-punk music and is looking for a husband who is caring, humble, and philanthropy-minded. Her Instagram is here. She was sent home on night one.
Vaughn is a bit of a risk-taker: After a post-college stint in corporate America, she quit her job to completely switch paths and become a runway model. It doesn't stop there: Now 28 and based in Brooklyn, Vaughn also has plans one day to swim with stingrays. Her Instagram is here.
This 22-year-old Connecticut native is a model and also manages the marketing for her family's Italian restaurant. Jones loves the beach, DisneyWorld, and sneaking into abandoned asylums in the middle of the night. The usual. Her Instagram is here. She was part of the first group of women to be sent home on night one.
Curl, a 25-year-old from Albuquerque, already has something in common with Matt James: Like the Bachelor, she's also a realtor. Hopefully, they've got even more than that in common—Curl is looking for a stable, driven husband who loves her family and low-key date nights. Her Instagram is here. Curl, too, was sent home by James after the first night's festivities.
As a health food developer and entrepreneur in New York City, Pennetto recently developed her own "Funky Monkey Energy" nutritional snack company—which may help explain why she introduced herself to James by asking him to put her (meat)balls in his mouth. The 25-year-old is the mom of a bowtie-clad orange tabby cat and grew up on a synchronized ice skating team. Her Instagram is here.
Cruz is a 27-year-old San Antonio native who was crowned Miss El Paso in 2016. Now, she's a social media marketer with three dogs, a love of escape rooms, and big dreams to one day live in France—preferably with her amour. Her Instagram is here.
Anderson, 26, is a Chicago-based hostess who's looking for a husband as goofy and loyal as she is. In a truly fascinating juxtaposition, two of the fun facts on her ABC bio are that she would like to compete in an ultramarathon one day, and that she tripped over her own feet while crossing the stage at her high school graduation—so we'll see how that first one goes. Her Instagram is here.
This 29-year-old bank marketing manager is ambitious, daring, and adventurous. Case in point: The Renton, Washington, native's idea of a fun date is going skinny-dipping. Enough said. Her Instagram is here—you might recognize her as the one who declared night one to be BYO vibrator.
Epps, a healthcare advocate in Durham, North Carolina, is looking for a man who is respectful and emotionally intelligent, and who cares as much about giving back to his community as she does. The 28-year-old is also a huge Rihanna fan. Give this woman a rose already! Her Instagram is here, though it's sadly devoid of any pictures of the cute pickup truck she drove to night one of The Bachelor.
Matt will get along with Courneya just fine as long as he's not a cat person. The 28-year-old airline recruiter is staunchly anti-feline, but loves adventures, picnics, beautiful sunsets, and being up front about her needs and expectations. Plus, she loves Moana! Her Instagram is here. She went home on night one.
Keenan, a 21-year-old fashion entrepreneur, is currently finishing out her final year of college at NYU while living at home with her parents—including mom Cynthia Rowley. She's a woman of many talents and great taste: She can surf in high heels, has become something of a socialite around N.Y.C., and, like any rational human, hates when men wear flip-flops. Her Instagram is here.
A 27-year-old attorney in Virginia Beach, Hopkins is undoubtedly laser-focused and incredibly career-minded, but she also has a party-starting alter ego. That alter ego's favorite hobby? Belting out classic Disney tunes at karaoke. Her Instagram is here.
Another highly successful attorney, 29-year-old Maddox lives in Miami, where she spends her free time going to the beach and catching up with her friends at book club. She's a big fan of 2000s hip-hop and the Christmas season, but absolutely can't stand lizards and frogs. Understandable. Her Instagram is here.
Before moving to the U.S. in 2011, Tareke, 32, was born and raised in the small village of Adwa, Ethiopia, where she still runs a nonprofit that provides local girls with shoes. She's a pharmacist by trade and loves ping-pong, Beyoncé, and cozy wine nights. Her Instagram is here, and you can donate to MSYShoes here.
Make that two former pageant queens in the house:Pepin was named Miss Maryland USA in 2019 and placed in the top 10 at Miss USA. Now, the 24-year-old Puerto Rico native is a marketing director in Odenton, Maryland, where she's planning to get her boating license someday soon. Her Instagram is here.
Sienna is a 28-year-old event coordinator in Studio City, California, with big dreams. Among them: a five-year plan that includes getting married and adopting multiple dogs, and hopes of starting multiple companies focused on eradicating single-use plastics and promoting healthy lifestyles. Her Instagram is here.
If it wasn't obvious from her stunning head of curls, Snyder is a hairstylist based in Hudson, Ohio. The 23-year-old is looking for a husband who is punctual, decisive, and family-oriented, and who wants to join her in making the world a more beautiful place (and in sipping spicy margs in the great outdoors). She showed off her love of the outdoors by expertly navigating her way through the woods and becoming the MVP of James' first group date. Her Instagram is here.
James (no relation to the Bachelor himself, obviously) is a 23-year-old model and graduate student earning her master's degree in marketing in Happy Valley, Oregon. She's staunchly anti-picnic and pro-fancy European sports cars. Can't blame her! Her Instagram is here.
This 24-year-old hopeless romantic is hoping that Matt will become the first great love of her life. Kirkconnell works as a graphic designer and loves passing the time by doodling. If you're ever passing through Cumming, Georgia, beware—her biggest pet peeve is slow driving. Her Instagram is here, and we've got even more details about her here.
A Denver transplant who hails from Florida, Ste. Claire is an IT consultant who's on the lookout for a partner to join in her travels around the globe. The 25-year-old is nothing if not a high achiever: She ran her first marathon at just 16 and was inducted into her college's hall of fame for her leadership, service, and academics. Her Instagram is here. She was cut in James' first round of eliminations.
This just in: Trott, 24, is a broadcast journalist and podcaster based in San Diego who counts Oprah as her personal superhero and occasionally takes a turn on the other side of the camera as an amateur photographer. She's also a trained fire dancer. Casual. Her Instagram is here—where, yes, she did post about going on that amazing second solo date with James.
The first (alphabetically) of this season's two Serenas, Chew is a San Francisco-based flight attendant. Though she's got glamorous tastes—her idea of the perfect date includes fancy clothes and Champagne—the 24-year-old also counts chicken wings among her favorite foods. We contain multitudes! Her Instagram is here.
This Serena, meanwhile, is a 22-year-old publicist from Toronto. Pitt is "chronically hangry," per her ABC bio, and endlessly practical: Her ideal pet is a chicken, since it does double duty as a fluffy friend and egg vendor, and her #1 bucket list goal is to learn how to change a tire. And no, she's not related to Brad. Her Instagram is here.