With the new Season of The Bachelor Australia now underway it seems fitting to share my experience with the show and divulge a little of those behind the scenes secrets that I often get asked about. Part One of my story is all about the audition process. So for those wondering how to get on the show, read on…
The day I submitted my application for The Bachelor I had been feeling particularly miserable as my latest dating attempt had once again failed dismally. It seemed like only a matter of time before I was given the line that I had become all too accustomed to hearing,
“I’m just not ready for a relationship, you’re great, but the timing is wrong.”
ARGHHHHH even repeating that line in my head makes me want to pick up my computer screen and throw it at the wall. I was at my desk at my 9-5 office job when I had a peek over my partition to make sure everyone was busy and typed into google, “Bachelor Australia application 2016”. I had seen the advert on TV a few times that week and thought that would be one dating scenario where the guy could not tell me he wasn’t ready or the timing was wrong! As I scrolled through the questions, I realised it would take a while to complete (3 hours to be precise) so i got myself a cup of tea and began answering the questions because what else was I at work to do? ;p
A few weeks later I was in the lunchroom getting my usual 3pm coffee hit when an interstate number came up on my phone. I answered with the tone of annoyance I usually give to telemarketers.
“Hi, is this Tiffany?” Came a friendly voice down the line.
“Yes” I answered hesitantly.
“Hi Tiffany, this is Rochelle calling from the Bachelor Australia, how are you?”
I almost dropped my phone. Rochelle went on to tell me that my application had been successful, and if I was still single, would I like to come along to the auditions?
The application process had felt more like buying a lottery ticket, yet there I was realising I could actually end up going on the show. When I received the email detailing audition details for mid-Januray 2016, it had seemed like forever away but it came around very quickly.
I had been a ball of nervous excitement as I walked up the stairs of the Duxton Hotel where the auditions were being held. I had been told to dress nicely but also to show my personality and style. I was amongst the first to arrive, which was unlike me at the best of times. I crossed a long room to where two tables were set up with a young blonde girl managing check in. Some paperwork, a mug shot, and a name label later and I was seated alongside 20 other eagerly awaiting single women, each sussing the other out. I did what I normally do in awkward group situations and made an attempt to crack a joke at my own expense.
“So who else did a nervous poop this morning?” I joked.
Some looked at me strangely, some nervously laughed, one thought I was hilarious. I liked her immediately, she introduced herself as Nikki (yes she is an absolute sweetheart in real life too). Moments later the double doors in front of us had opened and one girl rushed out in tears followed by a dozen other down trodden women. The doors closed again and about five minutes later a handful of women walked out, all smiling, clearly the chosen few from that group to proceed to the next stage of the auditions.
“Hi, I’m Tiffany, I’m 29 and I work as a Training Administrator” I had said.
“Welcome Tiffany” said Ellen-look-a-like, “tell us a love story.”
I launched into fairytale telling mode: “There was once this girl” I had began, not realising that at this point everyone in the room had thought I was telling a love story about two women (the irony of that now lol!), “she went to a music festival in Miami” I continued, “and from across the crowd she saw a tall guy wearing a cookie monster cap, having a great time and she wanted to be a part of his fun.”
“Oh!!” Ellen-look-a-like interrupted! “For a second I thought you were telling a love story about you and another woman!”
There had been laughter and agreement from around the circle. I laughed too, feeling silly, “no, no, I was telling the story in third person, like when you tell a fairy tale!”
We all had a laugh and I could tell that Ellen-look-a-like was impressed. From that moment I had a feeling I would get through to the next round, which I did. Other parts of the audition included: dancing to Justin Beiber’s ‘Sorry’ (Nikki and I ripped out the old classics like the lawn mower, the sprinkler, the shopping cart), forming groups of three and telling the rest of the group why you deserved to be in the house more than them, diving for a rose which was thrown onto the floor (most of us took a step back but a couple really went for it), walking across the room pretending it was the red carpet and you were going to meet the Bachelor and vocalising what you were thinking and how you would introduce yourself, and a couple of debates on controversial topics.
After the audition was complete we all sat around nervously waiting to find out if we had made it through to the next round. Ellen-look-a-like read out the names of the girls who were to remain in the room, the rest were free to go. Five from my group made it through to interviews including myself and Nikki. We were then escorted to a holding room and told what order our interviews would be in. This would be a 10 minute filmed interview with some of the production team including the executive producer. The five from my group were all really awesome chicks, in fact we had exchanged phone numbers and started a whatsapp group together after the auditions so we could all keep each other updated.
When it was my turn I was led down the hall into the interview room by one of the shows producers who introduced herself as Sommer. I felt strangely calm despite being hyped up on coffee and adrenaline. I didn’t have any of my usual nervous habits – nail biting, leg jiggling, picking at my skin – it was as if an alter-ego had taken over and I entered the room with confidence. I sat in a chair in front of a panel of four strangers with lights blinding me…it felt more like an interrogation set up. The lead interviewer was a middle aged man that was almost drooling with excitement at the fresh prey before him, he introduced himself as the executive producer.
The questions seemed to be fairly generic: “what kind of man are you looking for?”, “have you ever been in love?”, “what are you like when you’re in love?”, “what are you like at a party?”, “what do you do for fun?”, “how do you handle conflict?”, “are you affectionate?”
Then the executive producer said “woman must be intimidated by you, this bubbly blonde with a beautiful smile, how do you deal with that?”
I had felt like laughing and thought they were typecasting me all wrong. I made some weird sound and started to panic that my confident alter ego had left the room and it was just me sitting there, the not confident, anxious, insecure me. After what seemed like minutes I said, “I guess I try to make people feel comfortable by smiling and being friendly. I don’t think anyone is intimidated by me. I’m the person who fills empty silences with inappropriate jokes.”
“What do you mean?” they asked,
“Well, for example, I was at a funeral reception and to lighten the mood I started telling a people that the last time I had been in a church was in Croatia. I was with a friend in this tiny church standing behind the altar pretending to lead a sermon when I fluffed.”
“Fluffed?” he enquired,
“Um, yeh, like a small but audible fart.”
They all cracked up laughing, as had the people at the funeral. I had either nailed my coffin or nailed the interview, either way I left that room feeling similar to how you feel after finishing an exam, both elated but anxious for the result. I had been told I would receive medical forms in the next few days and to keep an eye out in my email. In the whatsapp group with the other girls from my audition, it appeared the others had been told that they would be sent a medical form in the next 2 weeks if they were successful. So either I was a step ahead or we were not all being honest, or both!
In the month following the audition, I had been asked to do the most extensive medical test I’d ever done (at my own expense of $400). I also had to complete online psychological testing and have a phone interview with the shows psychologist. I debated whether to divulge that I had anxiety and depression but figured if it was meant to be it would be, so I talked it through with the psychologist and it didn’t effect my chances. During this time, I had also interviewed for a promotion at my work which would have been based in Broome, with a large pay rise, a fancy title, and more responsibility. On a Monday in February 2016 I was offered the job promotion and then on the Wednesday my phone rang and Sommer told me I had been chosen as a Bachelorette. I didn’t sleep for several nights before I came to the decision to quit my job and take a chance on The Bachelor.
I finished work 2 weeks later which had been so hard because I was meant to keep it secret that I was going on the show but I couldn’t help but tell my boss and a couple of my closer work friends and by the time I had my going away party at work, everyone was giving me roses so they all knew anyway! In that last 2 weeks I had several chats with Sommer about my red carpet entrance. Did I want to bring any gift for the Bachelor? Did I want to do a performance? Had I thought about a way to stand out on the first night? What was I prepared to do to ensure I got some time to talk to the Bachelor? Was I going to interrupt other girls? What would I do if they interrupted me? The manipulation had already begun. The intentional build up of pressure and anxiety to want to make a strong first impression on someone who was the prize in a game of love. I also received the extremely lengthy Warner Bros. Contract which would effectively be a gag order until the end of 2016.
I then still had 2 weeks to go before I would be headed to Sydney which gave me plenty of time to pack. I was sent a pretty specific list of what to bring (and what not to). I managed to fill my allocated 2 suitcases to the brim but I was not a savvy as some of the other contestants in getting onto brands to gift clothing. At the start of March 2016 my Dad took me to the airport. We were looking around the waiting lounge for other potential contestants when Dad pointed out two girls who were both wearing black heeled boots, black leather jackets, jeans and a full face of makeup – these turned out to be Rachael and Natalie. Meanwhile I was wearing a loose comfy outfit, my glasses, no makeup and my hair pinned up on top of my head like a pineapple. No one would have guessed me to be a contestant!
As I was placing my carry on into the over-head compartment I heard someone calling out my name and much to my delight I spotted Nikki sitting a few rows back. We had both told everyone in the whatsapp group from our auditions that we had not gone through out of fear of losing our place on the show. I was delighted to have her along, if not a little intimidated as I knew what a catch she was! Several hours later we arrived in Sydney and the excitement/nerves had really kicked in. As I was heading towards the baggage claim area, I realise I’d left my carry on bag on the plane and had to go racing back for it…I was off to a great start holding up the other 5 girls from Perth and 1 from Adelaide…classic Tiff.
Frazzled and out of breath, I had apologised to the other girls as we made our way to a white van where we were instructed to hand over our phones and our passports which would be returned to us when we left the show. Despite instructions to not talk to each other we were exchanging introductions and giggling nervously as the van headed off for the hotel…
To be continued …
Until Next Time