Jenn Tran of ‘The Bachelorette’ Teases Finale Plot Twist: ‘My Family Won’t See It Coming’

Jenn Tran‘s inaugural episode of The Bachelorette has all the calling cards the beloved reality dating show is known for: hot men, dramatic entrances, fiery first connections, and of course, the season’s lead heroine to juggle it all. Tran, the first Asian-American Bachelorette in franchise history, breezes through every introduction with all the poise, beauty, and charm that made her a fan favorite last season on The Bachelor—but this time, she’s distinctly the main character in her own love story.

Throughout the episode, you can see Tran realize this in real time. She expresses her excitement and nerves as she greets each of the 25 male contestants, always punctuated by a cheerful “I feel like I’m on cloud nine!” and “I feel like I’m living in a little dream!” before it culminates into a tearful confessional by the end of the episode. After an evening of being wooed, Tran delivers perhaps the most candid display of honesty ever shared on the show, admitting that she has struggled to fully accept her leading role.

“It was really hard for me to believe I was everyone’s first choice,” she says in the scene. “I felt like I was in somebody else’s shoes.”

It’s a sentiment many Asian-American women, including myself, can relate to, and watching Tran admit this in such plain words is equally heartbreaking and inspiring. We have always been relegated to the sidekick or best friend—never the main character. Tran’s starring role is a forceful refute of this perception.

“I took it one day at a time, and I really tried so hard to be my most authentic self,” Tran tells me about overcoming her imposter syndrome. On Zoom, the studio lighting hits her long hair and soft glam makeup perfectly; a team of publicists join in on mute and her background is set to the franchise’s signature free-falling rose petals. Make no mistake: she is very much The Bachelorette.

“For me, it was about having a voice and letting these men know who I am, and what are my needs,” she continues. “I had to voice all of that to them, and I was learning more and more every day, Okay, they’re accepting me for me and they’re beginning to love me for me. So it was really just me taking it one day at a time, but also finding confidence within myself to speak up.”

Tran recognizes the importance of her position, but views the pressure as a privilege. Raised by Vietnamese immigrants in New Jersey, she’s using her Asian-American identity as motivation.

“Any time anyone comes up to me and they’re like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment…’ I know how much it means, because growing up, it’s hard when you don’t have any representation,” she says. “It’s like, Okay, I’m doing this for a reason, and everybody understands how I’m feeling and I understand how you’re feeling.”

It’s safe to say Tran is now thriving in her role and even seems to have gotten her own happy ending—but not without a twist. “The whole journey happened in a way that needed to happen, and I’m very happy with the way that things ended,” she teases of the finale. “It’s definitely an ending that I didn’t see coming for myself. My family won’t see it coming, and I don’t think the viewers will see it coming too. I’m excited for it all to unfold.”

Ahead, Jenn Tran opens up about becoming the first Asian-American Bachelorette, connecting with this seasons’ men, and the one thing she was most nervous about going into the process—plus, her response to casting criticism the show has received for the lack of Asian men.

Jenn Tran

Ramona Rosales

Glamour: Going into this, what were you most excited about and what were you the most nervous about?

Jenn Tran: I was most excited to meet the men, obviously, on night one and excited for just the connections that were going to be made. I’m a hopeless romantic. I will watch a cheesy rom-com every day for 24 hours if I could. And so, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. To be able to get this opportunity to go on this love journey, I was so excited about that. I was nervous to handle 25 men all at one time and to handle their hearts and to figure out how to date them. I knew it was going to dwindle down at some point, and so I was nervous about falling for too many people at once because that’s an unnatural thing to do.

How overwhelming was it meeting all the men at the same time?

It was very overwhelming, and I won’t lie to you, I could not remember everybody’s names all on night one, which I felt really bad about. But I was also pulled in so many different directions, so it was overwhelming, but I was just so excited and grateful all night long because these men were just so sweet and put in so much effort. They were all so thoughtful, so I felt really lucky.

You also had a really lovely moment with Thomas N., where you talked about your backgrounds and your culture. What did it mean for you to share that together?

That was probably one of my favorite conversations, and I think back to it a lot because it’s not every day that you get to bond with somebody on your immigrant parents and you get to connect with somebody on that level because not everybody can understand that. That was a really special conversation for me because he really understood where I was coming from, and my family means everything to me. Knowing that my parents immigrated over here to give me a better life, the sacrifices that they made, and the internal battle that I have with giving back to them in everything and every way that I could, but still trying to be independent…being a child of an immigrant parents is something that not everybody can understand. And so, having that conversation with Thomas N. really meant the world.

Thomas N.

Ricky Middlesworth/ABC

He is probably one of the only men you could connect with on that level. Do you wish you had more men who came from the same culture and background?

Yeah. I can’t really speak to the casting process and the decisions that were made, but it is unfortunate that there weren’t a lot of Asian men this season. Asian men haven’t always seen themselves in this position, and I am hoping that me being here and Thomas N. being there, that the both of us can inspire other Asian men to realize that they can do this too if they want. They can be in this position as well. I’m hoping that it inspires them.

One moment that really resonated with me was when you got emotional about all the attention you were receiving from the men. As an Asian-American girl, I grew up in a not-so-diverse environment, so I was wondering if that was the same for you too?

Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in a very mainly white suburban town, and so I’ve always felt like the other. I was a minority. I never felt like I fit in. Growing up, I never really felt like I was anybody’s first choice because I was unique in my own way, and I didn’t always see it as a strength or a superpower. I always wanted to shy away from it and be like everybody else. But I’ve come to a point in my life now where I’m so proud of who I am and where I come from, and I’m excited to be able to share that with everybody. But yeah, in that moment, it was really heartwarming for me because I’ve never felt like I have been wanted in that way.

If we take it another step further, South East Asian women really don’t have as much visibility or fit into mainstream beauty standards as much. It was a moment where I was watching the show and thought, “Whoa, that’s something I completely identify with.”

It’s a really tough feeling to navigate and pinpoint. Because sometimes you’re like, “Why am I feeling this way?” And it’s like, well, if you really look at it, my entire life, I’ve been the other person on the outside looking in. That’s why being in this position means so much. It’s because people like us can see this and be like, “You know what? It doesn’t need to be that way.”

What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself from this experience?

That it’s okay to have a voice. Because I wasn’t so confident in myself, I was so unsure of my identity, I really shied away from voicing my opinions or standing up for what was right or standing up for myself. What I learned is if you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody will. If you don’t voice your opinions and tell people what you need from them, or who you really are, then they’re never really going to know you and understand you. And then you’re kind of running away from yourself your whole life, right? So throughout the journey, it was nice for me to have these moments and realize that I am my own person and confident enough to voice my opinion. I’m confident enough to stand up for myself, because that’s what makes me me.

Jesse Palmer and Jenn Tran

John Fleenor

We see you taking that on publicly now, the way that you’ve been interacting with fans and on your social media accounts. Recently, you opened up about getting lip filler and clarified that all your hair is real. Why was that important for you to make clear to everybody?

Transparency on social media is so important, because I don’t want any fake beauty standards because of me. Growing up that was tough too, seeing all these people and being like, “Why don’t I look like them?” It’s always important to be transparent about things. And with my hair, people aren’t exposed to a lot of South East Asian women and they don’t know that oftentimes we do have really long lush hair.

We have killer hair. Don’t come for the hair.

I was like, I grew this myself! How dare you say that these are extensions? So I just want credit for my own hair.

The Bachelorette premieres on Monday, July 8, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT, and streams the next day on Hulu.

Ariana Yaptangco is the senior beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her @arianayap.

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