Bachelor Contestants Share the Secrets of Season 23
On the eve of the finale of The Bachelor, Colton Underwood is ready to make a decision at last, but he had to weed through a ton of girls in order to find “the one”—30 of them, to be exact. Among those 30 were Kirpa Sudick, a 26-year-old dental hygienist, Courtney Curtis, a 23-year-old caterer from Atlanta, Sydney Lotuaco, an NBA dancer, and Tracy Shapoff, a 31-year-old stylist from Los Angeles. Although the four were involved with the franchise for many weeks, unfortunately, all were sent home before they could have a hometown date with Colton. Now the girls are armed with knowledge about the show—and they’re ready to tell all.
Why did you decide to submit for The Bachelor?
Kirpa: I decided to submit for The Bachelor after my friends encouraged me to apply. I had been using dating apps and wasn’t meeting any guys with substance, so as a joke, my friends told me to just apply for The Bachelor.
Courtney: Around this time last year, I'd semi-recently gotten out of an abusive and toxic relationship and just wanted a real chance at finding love with an eligible man. I was sitting on the couch with a friend while she was watching The Bachelor and the clip came on the screen saying where to apply. I said, "What's the worse that can happen?" and went online and applied.
Sydney: My friend told me to go to the open call in New York this past summer. I went for fun with a friend and never thought it would go anywhere past that. I was very wrong.
Tracy: I decided to submit for The Bachelor because I was honestly in a bad dating spiral. I had a boyfriend for seven years whom I lived with back in NYC and assumed I would marry one day. Once we broke up, I was ready to start dating. As an adult in my late 20s, I was having a great time, but after a while, I was ready to settle back down again and be serious with someone. I went through a few relationships where I was ready to be serious, and unfortunately, the guy I was dating didn’t feel the same way toward me. Heartbreak after heartbreak I started to become closed off to the idea of ever meeting someone. I would say I have the mentality of a “traditional dater.” I like to believe I will meet someone at the right moment and right time or be set up with the perfect guy, and that just hasn’t happened for me. I am always open to trying new things and at least attempting a first date (because honestly you never know who you will have a connection with). The Bachelor seemed like an interesting new opportunity to meet someone who might very well be perfect for me, so I figured, why not? I decided to apply and figured they probably wouldn’t respond anyway. Then, what do you know? I got a call back from casting, and the rest is history!
What were your expectations going into the show? Were those expectations met?
Tracy: I like to think I had the expectation that I was going to connect very quickly with Colton. Before meeting him, it seemed as though we had a great deal in common with each other. I’ve been on plenty of dates and figured it would be a walk in the park sitting down and having deep conversations with him. I hate to admit it, but it was not as easy for me as I had anticipated. I wanted to be certain that there was a legitimate connection between us before opening up about intimate details from my life. As someone who talks a lot and tells people very detailed stories, I started to realize that talking about the hardships I’ve gone through was very hard for me.
Sydney: I expected it to be fun and potentially overwhelming, which it was, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would learn about myself and my life. By not having my phone and having so much time to get to know the people around me, I found myself having really incredible conversations that I don’t typically have every day and really getting to know people quickly.
Courtney: I'm not an avid television watcher, so I'd really never seen more than 20-30 minutes of the show before going into filming. I could've binged past seasons, but I didn't want to have any expectations going into filming. I wanted to allow myself to just live completely in the moment and be 100%, authentically myself. One thing, though, that I did expect was to have much more time with Colton than I did. In the few moments of the show that I did watch, I heard many of the girls complain about not getting time with the Bachelor. Going into this experience, I told myself I would never let that happen to me, but you're not really in control of that, unfortunately.
Kirpa: I was skeptical going into the show and wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never had to share a boyfriend with thirty other women before. I was nervous about having to compete with the other women because I’m naturally shy and more reserved. Luckily, Colton is a true gentleman and made me feel at ease. This experience exceeded all expectations I had.
How did you decide which outfit to wear on the first night?
Courtney: My beautiful, wonderful mother actually picked it out for me. We spent so much time looking at dresses online and trying them on in store but just couldn't seem to find the right one. I was about to give up and was actually in the process of changing back into my clothes so we could leave, and my mama threw one last gown in my dressing room and forced me to try it on. On the hanger, I was far from impressed, but once it was on my body, I knew we found the one!
Kirpa: My best friend helped me pick my night-one outfit! We ran around so many malls to try and find something to wear, and I ended up renting most of my dresses from Rent the Runway.
Tracy: My first-night outfit took a while to come up with. I had tried on what felt like every dress under the sun. I work in wardrobe so I had designers sending me dresses as well, and nothing felt right for that initial statement look. Coming into this as a wardrobe stylist, I also felt the pressure to make the perfect, unique first impression. I love a statement look that makes people talk--whether that be good or bad--but also gives you an idea of who I am. The day before I left, I texted my best friend--the only person who I knew would get my vision--and told her I had this thought of pairing the beaded white skirt I had already received with a cropped white tank top. She loved the idea. This look is very much how I would dress every day, and that’s exactly what I was looking for--something that still felt like me. I decided to save all of the other gorgeous gowns for the following rose ceremonies and went with a white Hanes tank top from Target (that I cut in the hotel room before filming!) and the beaded white Sherri Hill skirt. Then I loaded it up with tons of fun, layered silver jewelry!
Sydney: A friend from my dance team let me borrow the Stello dress I wore that she used for a pageant. I loved it so much, and it helped me to feel really comfortable about the first night!
What was your first impression of Colton?
Sydney: I first met Colton on The Ellen Degeneres Show when we played the “Know or Go” game. I thought he was extremely attractive and taller than I expected. After speaking to him on the first night, I thought he was really kind and made me very comfortable, and I was excited to get to know him more.
Tracy: If you saw the first episode, you know that I had to pull up in a cop car and jump right out. The second I pulled up, I was trying to focus on all of the steps of turning the car off and getting out flawlessly, but I saw him and just wanted to run right up to him. He was so handsome, even more in person than he is on TV. He had the biggest smile on his face, as did I, and it made me feel so comfortable and happy talking to him in the driveway. I couldn’t wait to keep talking to him once we were inside. I could tell right away that he seemed kind and genuine.
Kirpa: WOW. He is so handsome and has great teeth! I was extremely nervous to meet him, but he had such a calming presence that all those nerves melted away.
Courtney: Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Mr. Underwood is one gorgeous man with a gorgeous spirit to match. My anxiety was literally consuming my body before I got out of the limo, but his spirit was so calming and helped me out so much.
How do you feel about Colton at this point in time?
Courtney: I still think Colton is a great person, and I would love to see what he's like outside of the show. I believe he made a lot of decisions during filming that countered what he expressed he was looking for in a wife, which makes me question his authenticity. But I have to remember it's still a television show, and some aspects may be for viewer purposes.
Tracy: At this point in time, I feel as though Colton and I could be friends given the opportunity. As I said previously, I think we actually have a lot in common--there just wasn’t that spark there for us. I think he is a sincere, fun, great guy and I would be happy to be able to call him a friend after all of this.
Sydney: After doing the show, I realized that although he’s a great guy, he wasn’t the right fit for me. I wish him all the best and really hope he ends up happy in the end!
Kirpa: I respect Colton so much, and I left the show on good terms with him. I hope he finds his true love!
What was your favorite date you went on and why?
Kirpa: My favorite date I went on was my one-on-one date in Vietnam. It was so nice to have alone time with Colton. We dove for sea urchins and had a really meaningful conversation that day, and it really helped solidify our relationship.
Tracy: Oh my gosh, I loved every date we went on! All of the dates really spoke to my personality in different ways. The first date getting up in front of everyone on stage to tell a personal story was so much fun to me. My dad was a comedian for a while in NYC, and I think the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The pirate date was something out of my dreams. I literally could not stop smiling that entire day. I am very competitive, so being chosen to compete against Caelynn in the final challenge was amazing. Lastly, the date in Singapore...I mean we were halfway around the world exploring a beautiful city--who wouldn’t love that? I, personally, love chachkies. My grandparents traveled all over the world in their life and used to always bring us back small chachkies from each country. It rubbed off on me because I always do the same, and my friends tease me for it! Being able to walk around Singapore searching for chachkies, then trying unique foods native to their culture, was an ideal date for me.
Courtney: My favorite date, by far, was in Singapore! For several reasons, but I'll start with the fact that it was in freaking Singapore, the most beautiful city ever. We got to walk around, experience the culture, and--most importantly--eat! A lot of people don't know that I own a catering company and run a food blog, so naturally, food is my jam. Many of the girls weren't in love with the Singaporean menu we were served, but I'm so adventurous when comes to food, so I loved every second of it!
Sydney: I loved the “Strongest Woman Ever” date with Terry Cruz and his wife Rebecca. I was able to show off my athletic side and got some quality stretching time in with Colton.
Who were some of your closest friends in the house?
Tracy: I would say that I was fortunate to become close with most of the women in the house. We had so much fun together and were able to connect on so many levels. My closest friends were Elyse, Onyeka, and Bri. Elyse and I were able to bond over so much from our age to experiences to careers. Onyeka is just a crazy, fun, genuine person. She has a personality that you either love or don’t, and I appreciate people like that because they keep you on your toes, and you know they are never going to be fake with you. Bri and I took a little longer to connect until we finally sat down one day and realized we had so much in common. She seems wise beyond her years. Bri is just a beautiful, genuine person who says it like it is once she’s comfortable with you, and I love that about her. Lastly, it’s funny that Colton always says Hannah G. reminds him of home because that’s what she gave me as well. I realized very quickly she reminded me of my best friend, and it was the most heartwarming feeling knowing I could just look at her and feel like I had my closest friend there with me.
Courtney: To be completely honest, I believe I was on the same level with everyone. I was closer with some people at first, but as time went on, that shuffled. I've never been the best at making friends, and I thought being on the show would help teach me how. It definitely helped, but I still have much room to improve.
Kirpa: Sydney, Tayshia, Nicole, Katie, Heather, and Hannah G. were just some of the girls that I got very close with. I’ve definitely made some long-lasting friendships from this experience.
Sydney: I was very close with Kirpa, Tayshia, and Nicole in the house.
What was your favorite activity to do during downtime?
Sydney: Kirpa and I would do “grounding” activities together where we would read a passage from her book or journal and meditate. The environment we were in can get overwhelming at times, so it helped to have a friend and an activity like that to help keep us together.
Tracy: My favorite activity to do in my downtime was read poems to the girls. I brought this book with me called Heart Talk by Cleo Wade that one of my friends bought for me when I was going through a rough time last year. Once we started traveling, I would read a poem every day to the girls to keep our spirits up.
Courtney: During my time on the show, I got so close to God. I was experiencing so much emotionally, so when I had downtime, I would just journal and pray, pray and journal, and read my bible. Even during rose ceremonies, I would pray until my name was called.
Kirpa: Eating was definitely one of my favorite activities during my downtime! I probably did too much of that, but the food was so good everywhere we went!
Would you consider going on Bachelor in Paradise? Do you believe someone can find true love through this franchise?
Kirpa: I would consider going on Bachelor in Paradise if I was asked. I truly believe it’s possible to find your person through this franchise, and I need all the help I can get!
Courtney: I would definitely consider going on Bachelor in Paradise if I'm still single around that time--fingers crossed I find someone, though! BIP seems to be a much more relaxed, very authentic experience, and the best part is in my eyes is that there's more than one guy! I understand that I have a unique personality and I'm not for everyone, but I'd have options so if someone isn't diggin' me, I'm sure there would be another guy that would. It sounds like a killer time!
Sydney: I definitely think it’s possible for someone to find true love through the franchise. I don’t know what next steps are, but I’m still very open to and looking for love wherever it comes from, whether that be Paradise or in the real world.
Tracy: I would absolutely consider going on Bachelor in Paradise. I am open to trying all new things, especially when it comes to meeting someone at this point. I am convinced that this process, as crazy as it seems, really can work. Plenty of relationships have come out of Paradise. I like to think the producers are similar to matchmakers. They are choosing us for a reason, and if it didn’t work out with the Bachelor or Bachelorette, then there’s a very good chance the person for us is a part of this franchise and will hopefully be in Paradise. I think people are at the right place at the right time for a reason, so hopefully, that's the case for me!
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