, the 29-year-old administrative assistant from Chicago, was eliminated two episodes ago on The Bachelor
. I spoke to her during the week of her elimination, but I have not had a chance to publish it until now. My apologies for the delay.
Nikki will probably be remembered as the one who cried a lot. She had a panic attack when she had to write and perform a love song for Jason Mesnick
. To me, she seemed like was much more reserved than many of the other women, unwilling to open up to Jason until it was almost too late. However, when speaking to her, I found her to be very talkative and entertaining, and it seems that she has really grown from her experience on The Bachelor
This is Debbie at BuddyTV, and today I'm talking to Nikki from The Bachelor. Hi, Nikki. How are you doing?
I'm great, Debbie. How are you?
I'm OK. So, I just want to start by asking you about the song that you had to write and perform this week. It looked really difficult, and can you just talk about that process?
Yeah. The irony is that I was saying to Erica, when she was still on the show with me, that I hoped that we didn't have to do the same challenges Jason had to do with DeAnna because that's one of my biggest phobias, is singing in front of people I know. And she's like, “No, they're not going to make us do that.” And then a week later, Chris Harrison walks through the door and tells us that we have to do this. When he told me that, my stomach just sank just because I know that I am a creative person visually, but lyrically not so much. So when we had to do this challenge in 30 minutes, it was quite difficult, just because I couldn't think of what we could right about. I was just getting to develop feelings for Jason, so I didn't want to say anything romantically or lovey-dovey because it was all brand new and I didn't want to scare him off, so to speak. Comedy is not my strong suit either, so going the funny route, didn't even imagine. So having to do the process, I sort of had a panic attack, as everyone saw.
I had an experience when I competed in pageantry, when I did talent portions. One competition that was very major, I developed laryngitis, and when I performed in front of the audience and my family, which is the opinions that matter most to me, it was horrible. Everything that was a high note, it sounded like Minnie Mouse. And anything that was a low note, it sounded like Barry White with a cold. It was a very traumatic experience. It was horrible. It was such a traumatic experience that I never wanted to sing publicly in front of family and friends ever again. You know, I can sing in the shower, I can sing in my car. If I'm in front of a group of strangers, I could care less because I'll never see them again. But in front of people that I'll see on a daily basis or someone that I'm trying to win the affections of, it's terrifying. As you can see, I didn't handle it very well.
Well, you know, I thought that what they showed of your song, I thought it was really good.
I have no problem singing, tone-wise. I'm not tone-deaf. Right before, I'm fanning myself, I started getting the hot and cold flashes, water works were starting, and I was like, “I don't want to cry in front of him.” So the best route I could go was to sing a lullaby to my future baby, or to Ty, or my nieces and nephews. It's just something I would be more comfortable with than professing my love in front of all the girls that are competing for him as well.
Right. And then, I wanted to talk about the two-on-one date with Stephanie as well. Did you feel like you were being unfairly targeted because there was a 50 percent chance of being sent home immediately?
Not so much targeted. When it came to the two-on-one date, I definitely didn't want that just because there was that 50-50 chance of myself going home, and that did mean that Jason had doubts between he and I, and I was hoping that there weren't any. But obviously, that wasn't the case. And then when it came down to finding out I would go amongst Stephanie's presence, that just made me more upset because she and I did become close. You know, we did share a lot of serious, meaningful conversations about her husband and his tragic death, and expressing to her what strength it took to lose someone that she loved so much and not only, more strength to open her heart up again to find a potential husband once more. So, I mean, she was a wonderful person that I don't think anybody would want to go up against because was genuinely sweet and lovable to not only Jason, but to the rest us girls.
That reminds me of something that I keep thinking whenever I watch this show, is that all of the women live together, and you become pretty close, it seems. How weird is that to be competing against people you're getting close to for the same man?
It was definitely unfamiliar. Being a woman yourself, you know that understand that there are many different types of dynamics. It's not easy to be friends with women competing for anything, whether it's a job or love or any type of success in life. And the fact that you had 15 women living in the house all together, wanting to spend time with the same man, creating a development of relationship and romance with the same person, it was very strange that we all got along. Yes, like any group of friends, you do have your battles, you do have your arguments and pettiness, but then you talk it out and you get over it. And then you grow from it and you become even better friends. So when you're seeing Melissa coming home from her one-on-one date, we were happy. We wanted her to come home, but at the same time, it was like, “Darn, this is another girl that he's having feelings for,” and you want him to have them for you. So it was quite challenging to separate the friendships from the competition, so to speak, but I never looked at any of the girls like that. I set aside in my mind that whatever relationship I have with Jason is between he and I. Whatever relationship he had between Lauren or Megan or Erica, that was their individual relationships. So it was difficult but yet, very rewarding.
OK. How much time did you actually get to spend with Jason?
Very limited because he has to pay attention to – fairly because he's a fair person. You have to pay attention to, whether it's 15 or 12 or nine other women, and he was very good about remembering all of our conversations that he and I had and not confusing me with someone like Stephanie or Megan. He was very good at remember stories or details about each and every one of us. But the time I had with him was very limited, as it was with some girls that didn't get a one-on-one date or a group date. But I tried to make the most of what time I did have with him. We talked about what his every day life was like with his friends and his family, what life was like with Ty, the relationship he had with his ex because whoever he would choose would have that relationship as well with her. So I was more on the serious side, trying to make sure that, if he and I had a romantic connection, that I would be prepared for the seriousness of it all as well.
Do you think that you did develop a chemistry with him?
Definitely. Of course, at first, it's all physical. As you can see, he's a very good-looking man. It's hard not to say that. He's got a great smile and he has amazing big, brown eyes, and he's just very infectious with his smile that he has that makes you want to smile right back. The connection that we had beyond the physical part was, I believe, very genuine. We had many in-depth conversations. Not only serious ones, but also funny ones as well. You know, we were talking about his every day life, barbecuing with his friends, and I'm a Cubs fan and we were talking about his Seattle sports that he loves so much, you know, golf and baseball. We got to know each other quite a lot outside of the realm of Ty and the other girls as well.
Another thing that was a big deal with you was, you had a really big transition going from your 11-year relationship to then going on The Bachelor. That seemed like there was a big story behind that. Can you just talk about that, how difficult it was to decide to go on The Bachelor and your reasons for doing so?
Sure. My 11-year relationship ended well over a year and a half ago, but because he was such a big chunk of my life, it was quite difficult to get over it. I let my heart heal, and once I decided I was ready to meet someone else is when the opportunity for going on The Bachelor just happened to fall into my lap. So I wasn't going to pass up on the opportunity of possibly opening myself up to another great person and possibly sharing my life with him, in the extension of becoming an “us.” It was difficult in the fact of letting go of what my past relationship was like and trying not to relive the mistakes that I had made and yet grow from them as well. I don't know, that's another problem I had when I was on the show, because I've only been with one person. Most of the other girls were in the same situation, like Naomi. She has only been with one serious relationship for several years. It was hard to say, “Well, I've done this with him,” in reference to him, because most of your memories include that one person. So it was definitely a difficult challenge in terms of being aware of the new relationship, but I don't think it hindered me with anything I formed with Jason.
Do you think that this experience on The Bachelor has helped you to grow and become more receptive to other possible relationships down the line?
Most definitely. The fact that I could even let myself be vulnerable towards Jason meant a lot. I did learn that I need to let loose a lot more and be more carefree and not so guarded or withdrawn when I'm around the other girls, especially when it came to Jason. Just to not really care about what other people think so much. Because I am a role model in my community, and I am very community-involved, anything I do affects the people that surround me and support me and look up to me. That's another reason why I was very withdrawn from the certain activities that we did because I didn't want to humiliate the people that I represent in my hometown and my family and friends. So I learned that as well. And I learned romantically that it's OK to let your guard down and to be silly and to let the other person see more of you.
And how has the reception been from your community now that you're back home? Have you and your friends and family been watching together? How has that been going?
Really well. My best friend and a bunch of girls that I knew for years and family had gotten together and watched the show. The first Rose Ceremony was great because everyone was cheering. I didn't give away the first impression rose because I wanted everyone to develop their favorites outside of me. And that was kind of a nice shock and surprise to them. And then when it came down to me expressing my feelings about Natalie, which I do regret. That's one side of myself I never thought I would envision being negative toward someone else, because I had been on the reciprocating end, and it's not a fun end to be on. The things I said about Natalie were my emotions and feelings at that time, but I could have been more withheld. There's that phrase, “If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.” And that's what I should have done because she didn't deserve the comments that I said, whether publicly or privately. Outside of that, the crying. Everyone's like, “Why are you crying so much?” I'm like, “Because it's emotional!” You know, I don't have my best friends to talk to or my mom to call. I don't have someone to cheer me up if I'm feeling down. Everyone's been very, very supportive, especially hometown. Everyone's like, “We're so proud of you.” They know who I am and whether what was edited and what was shown, they know the person that I am today, and I have no regrets.
What are you up to now that you're home?
Now that I'm home, I'm spending a lot of time with my family because I had missed them so much. Actually, we're literally preparing a visit to my mom. She lives in Kentucky right now, and we're preparing to see her, which will be a great visit. And then, I'm just looking for a new adventure, as far as career-wise goes. I majored in art and interior design, so I'm looking to get into that field again. And then, just pretty much relaxing, you know. A couple people have said, “Oh, I have this great guy I want to set you up with.” And I'm like, “If you do, great. But I'm not going to force anything.” The only qualities that I look for in a guy is making sure that he's honest, that he's funny, that he likes sports but isn't a fanatic and can make me laugh, and I think that's pretty much it right now.
My final question is, now that you're not in the running, is there a particular person who's left in the competition who you think would be the best match for Jason, who you're rooting for?
Actually, there are a few. On my departure and telling Jason how wonderful of an experience I had with him and I'm glad I met him and had no regrets with him at all, that, as you saw, whoever got him, I thought, would be extremely lucky. He asked me, is there anything else I had to say, and I was like, “Yeah, you've got some amazing girls left at that house, and I know for a fact that one of them will be your wife, and I hope that you have all the life's happiness that there is to offer.” And who came into my mind were immediately Melissa and Jillian. I got to spend a lot of time with those girls. Jillian and I had a great bond. She and I would cook all the meals together, and we would share recipes and laugh and talk about friends and family. Melissa is just so sweet and true-hearted. One of her life models is to find true love, whether it's with friendships or romantically. Both girls, I witnessed myself having connections with Jason. When they were in the room, he would just light up, and they would make him laugh and vice versa. So I definitely foresee Melissa or Jillian being my favorites for him.
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of ABC)