On Monday morning, Bachelor Nation held its collective breath as it awaited the announcement of the new star for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which turned out to be franchise veteran Clare Crawley. Given the turbulence—pun intended—of pilot Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor, it made sense that producers would choose their new star from outside of his pool of current contestants. Still, Crawley’s announcement came as a surprise to many fans, who were gunning for Victoria P. or Kelsey Weier from this season, or Tayshia Adams or Tia Booth from recent seasons.
Crawley admitted on Good Morning America Monday that even she was surprised by the pick, calling the decision “so unexpected.” The Sacramento-based hairstylist told GMA hosts that she just learned about her new role Saturday, and has been reeling ever since. “Six years later … what is happening?” she gushed. Here, we’ve rounded up big things to know about the bubbly California native ahead of her rose-filled journey on Season 16 of The Bachelorette, where she’ll be searching for love—but this time, on her own terms.
This will be Crawley’s fifth time on the Bachelor franchise.
Back in 2014, Crawley was one of dozens of women vying for Bachelor Season 18 lead Juan Pablo Galavis, aka the undisputedly worst bachelor in the history of the show. She ended up as the runner-up on his season, and famously told him off in a searing confrontation that had the women of Bachelor Nation cheering her on. Among the many indignities she suffered: having Galavis shame her for a steamy moment in the ocean that they both, ahem, took part in, and being told by Galavis during a final date that even though he didn’t know her very well, he still wanted to sleep with her after the show was over. In short, on the finale, Crawley told Galvanis that she would “never want [her] children to have a father like you.”
Crawley then went on to return to the Bachelor franchise on seasons one and two of Bachelor in Paradise, where she again failed to make a lasting connection with other contestants (though she did, as the GMA hosts reminded her Monday, make friends with a local raccoon). For her fourth effort at love, Crawley joined the cast of The Bachelor Winter Games in 2018, and ended up falling in love with Canadian contestant Benoit Beausejour-Savard. Beausejour-Savard popped the question during the Tell All special, but the happy couple celebrated their engagement for a mere two months before calling it quits in April that same year.
At 38, Crawley is officially the oldest Bachelorette star of the franchise.
Crawley knows that her older age is something that fans will focus on, but she’s not worried about still searching for love in her later 30s. If anything, she said on GMA Monday, it’s going to be an asset in her quest to find a partner for life. “I feel like a lot of people put it out there as this negative thing,” she said. “But it’s just more years under my belt, more years of learning what I want, what I don’t want, and what I won’t settle for.”
By contrast, last year’s Bachelorette star, Hannah Brown, is 25, and Becca Kufrin, the Bachelorette star of the season before that, is currently 29, meaning that she was 28 when she was searching for love on the reality dating series, a full 10 years Crawley’s junior. ABC’s decision to cast an older lead may be coming in direct reaction to the surge of younger, Instagram fame-hungry contestants who have dominated the last few seasons of the series (case in point, all of Weber’s final three women are under the age of 25). Tapping Crawley to be the new lead harkens back to the franchise’s decision to have Arie Luyendyk Jr. as the lead for the 22nd season of The Bachelor. He was 36 at the time.
Crawley wants a man who can be strong through vulnerability.
After a lot of (very public) heartbreak, what Crawley is looking for now as the Bachelorette of 2020 is someone who isn’t, in short, a chauvinistic jerk. Put another way, she wants to find someone who’s in touch with his emotions, and isn’t afraid to show her all the different, messy sides to himself. “Honestly, for me, the most important thing is I want a man that will take off his armor,” she said Monday. “I want a man who is strong, who is willing to take off the body armor, open himself up, and be vulnerable. That’s serious strength right there, and I want a man who can do that.”
Crawley noted that she herself is a strong woman, and wants to ensure that she finds a partner who can match her on all levels. Asked whether or not she believes she has the thick skin necessary to endure the ups and downs of the Bachelorette journey, Crawley quipped with a smile, “I’m not the one you guys should be worried about. It’s them, it’s definitely them.” Last week, prior to the announcement, Crawley seemed to hint at her impending journey by posting a Brené Brown quote that read: “Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time.”
Crawley was close with her late father, and leans on her five sisters for support.
From her very first appearance on The Bachelor, Crawley has emphasized how much she loves her family, and how she will always strive to put them first. She was particularly close with her father, who died of brain cancer several years ago, and has said that she hopes to find a husband who mirrors all of his exemplary qualities. “I am looking for a man who is just like my dad,” she said during her intro segment on The Bachelor. “Strong, loving, gentle, compassionate, and just a real, genuine man all around.”
Crawley is also, it is important to note, the youngest of six sisters in her family, and she anticipates that she’ll get “a lot of feedback” about the men she’ll be dating as the Bachelorette. “I’m their little baby sister,” she said Monday. “There’s always the opinions. I love it.” Presently, Crawley lives with her two dogs, Elby and Honey.
One of the biggest lessons she’s learned throughout her time on the Bachelor franchise is to be her own biggest advocate.
Crawley became a fan favorite after she told off Galavis at the end of his season of The Bachelor, and the reverberations of that moment continued on long after the confrontation. In 2018, she told Entertainment Tonight that she considered her time on the show “one of the greatest learning experiences for me in my life,” and that she learned how to speak about and take up space unapologetically.
“It helped me stand up and have my voice as a woman,” she said at the time. “And not only did it let me do that, but it let me do that publicly, which is an even harder thing to do, and I did it. That was, like, one of the greatest self-esteem boosters for myself, like, ‘I can do this.’ If I can do it, anybody can stand up for themselves.”