It’s no secret that ABC’s hit reality dating behemoth, The Bachelorette makes for great television, hilarious memes, and some series-stealing personalities. Sure, you may have caught an episode or two, but what would really cause someone to make that move and submit an audition tape? How do personalities keep their composure when that one crazy person tests them, in hopes of that 15 minutes of fame? Is finding love really even on the table?
CASSIUS caught up with Eric Bigger, a fan favorite and down home, Baltimore dude viewers seem to have enjoyed throughout the latest season. He shared what it’s like being as open and honest in the process as possible, falling in love with the series’ first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, and navigating race on a show not known for diversity and representation. Get to know him in our exclusive below.
CASSIUS: You’ve always appeared to be the fly on the wall for what it would be like for a regular guy to be on The Bachelorette. How did you navigate an environment that’s never been that diverse?
Eric Bigger: I’m just me. I don’t really let that affect me. I’m a human being before anything. So I never put “Black” at the forefront. I’m a diverse person. I love people. I know who I am, so I never let that affect what I do and what I say. I’m going to be me regardless of what the situation is.
C.: And I think that’s why guys took to you. You’re just being yourself. In a couple of episodes you said you’d never brought a girl home. In hindsight would you have told Rachel that? Did it put up a red flag for her?
E.B.: I would have told her that. That’s the truth. I wouldn’t lie. What’s the point of lying? We’re there for the right reasons, right? My mom and dad were never together. I lived with my grandmother. I had girlfriends and people I dated but that was my business.
C.: Speaking of home life… Aunt Verna. We love Aunt Verna. I didn’t know that she was a Harvard lawyer, and hosted TED Talks. I loved the fact that Rachel was really able to have that conversation about race in a very comfortable environment. Rachel has definitely taken a lot of criticism and has taken a lot of extra pressure being the first Black Bachelorette. Were you guys able to talk about this in your relationship? Were you able to help her bring that wall down the way that Aunt Verna did?
E.B.: I think honestly life is criticism. Criticism is just going to come with the territory. It never came up in a conversation when we were together, because it was like magic when we’re together, so it really didn’t matter. Love is blind. So color doesn’t have anything to do with love. But, it was never a topic of our conversation ever. We’re here for each other and the love we have. Forget everything else outside of that. Because at the end of the day, love trumps everything.
C.: What led you to The Bachelorette? Did you ever watch the show before?
E.B.: The universe [laughs]. I had a friend who worked on the TV side. She knew a friend who was casting for the show. [She] sent me a screenshot text message and was like, would you want to do this? And I was like, sure, why not? I’m an open book, I’m curious. I ran and I did it, and the rest is history. Love found me, and it was great. So, I can’t complain.
C.: Did you have to hide out while the show aired, to not give away the ending?
E.B.: It’s not even hiding out, it’s just being on point. I was out at a restaurant and a little girl at like 9 or 10 and she’s just got her phone, and I’m like, is she really recording it? This is a little girl! Her mom didn’t even know she watched the show. But it’s great. But the funny thing is that, that’s what everybody wants. They want the love. Everybody wants that. So it’s like, how do we as a culture of people get that across, get that to the world, without it being so much resistance and so much negativity? But it’s perception, but it’s good. I love it. Love is love. I love the love, and the support.
C: On the show, you described yourself on the show as a cool square.
E.B: I’m the guy that comes to class that’ll make you laugh. You might not get your work done but I got A’s [laughs]. Girl, I studied, when you’re sleeping and playing.
C.: What is it like being emotionally available, especially when you’re in a relationship with someone who’s also building relationships with other people?
E.B.: It’s power in the availability of being emotional. If you look at the end of the result, you just have to be in the moment. Because when you’re in the moment emotionally invested with that person, that’s when the real truth comes out. So I think when guys can be available emotionally, and let women more into their hearts, then they can succeed and get momentum on their side as a man outside of the house. Because your woman gives you the power so you can be the man. Be weak at home, be strong outside. And when you do that, it’s a miracle. Because you have the balance. But at an early age I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know how to be vulnerable. I didn’t know how to be intimate and emotional. Now I’m like listen, do you want me? [Laughs.] But it’s the truth. Your vulnerability is true. That’s the power. And I learned that by talking about my childhood. I was afraid to tell Rachel that. Because I thought, she’s not going to like me. I’m from Baltimore, it’s rough. But I really learned that it’s power from coming from Baltimore city. It’s challenging. I grew up different. My mom and dad wasn’t together. But that’s my truth. It gets better when you’re vulnerable.
C: You’ve said this experience has been a miracle. Describe what that means.
E.B.: Anything in life can be your miracle. So for me, the miracle is love. I had to go through so much on the show. I had to get into it with guys, I had to get into it with Rachel. I wanted to go home at one point. It was stressful, it was emotional. I was emotionally available. I was vulnerable. But, I got my miracle which was love. I fell in love, and I never fell in love in life. So that was my miracle. But it wasn’t easy to get to that point. So even in life, if you want to make a certain amount a money, or you want to find a relationship, or you want to move up in the corporate world, you have to go through things you don’t want to go through, and it’s very uncomfortable to get what you’re seeking. But most people are afraid of the uncomfortable and they shy away from it because they don’t understand it. And it’s uncomfortable. But once you’re willing to embrace it and go through that, there’s something greater later and that’s the miracle, for whatever it is you’re seeking. So for me, that’s what miracle season is about. But I didn’t know that, when I was on After The Final Rose. I didn’t know that at all. It came to my spirit to tell Rachel. It’s miracle season and what’s meant to be will be. So I had to foreshadow what I was saying and then go live it. So I said it and I lived it. And then I got it. But I had to claim what I was saying, and now we’re here. So I think miracle season represents that miracles don’t come easy, but they’re worth it.