After leaving a reality TV show broken-hearted last month, Jillian Harris will get a second chance to find love. Harris, the Canadian brunette with West Kelowna connections who finished third on ABC‘s The Bachelor in February, was announced as the network‘s next Bachelorette. Harris‘ parents, Glen and Peggy, who live in West Kelowna, said they were on vacation in Hawaii when their daughter told them the news about 10 days ago.
“There was a lot of texting and emailing back and forth about whether she should go forward on the show or not,” Peggy said. “She was slightly trepidacious, but now she‘s excited.”
Harris, 29, was born in Peace River, Alta., but spent summers in Kelowna visiting family. Her parents eventually moved to the Okanagan. While she was a contestant on The Bachelor, she brought Bachelor Jason Mesnick to the Valley to have a date at Mission Hill Estate Winery and meet her parents.
“We probably came here as a family two or three times a year to visit family,” said Peggy.
Peggy said she is afraid of her daughter‘s feelings being hurt again if she doesn‘t find love with one of the 25 men who will woo her on The Bachelorette.
“Of course, we‘re afraid of her feelings being hurt, but that‘s life in a way, too,” her mom said. “Jillian is smart. She knows that this may not work out again . . . while the show is contrived to a certain extent, most of it is not scripted. Really, it‘s no different than meeting someone at the grocery store . . . it‘s just on camera.”
Harris got involved with the show originally while hanging out with her cousin, Tory, at her home in Vancouver. While relaxing, she came across an ad online from ABC asking people to audition for The Bachelor and decided to try.
“It was an impulse thing,” said Peggy. “They had to submit a video, and so Tory shot the video and they submitted it.”
From there, it was a whirlwind of phone calls, interviews and auditions in Los Angeles. The next thing Peggy knew, her daughter was a contestant on the show. During the next six weeks, Peggy said they had no contact with their daughter.
“That was hard. There‘s all sorts of confidentiality agreements, and I can understand that, but it was difficult. One of the things she negotiated (for The Bachelorette) is that she can talk to us once a week, so at least we‘ll get an update.”
While The Bachelor was being filmed, Harris quickly became a fan favourite, and people on blogs and message boards voiced their outrage when she was booted off. However, Peggy said her daughter may have dodged a bullet, noting that Mesnick didn‘t seem to “like smart women.”
Peggy said her daughter‘s appeal has a lot to do with her honesty.
“She‘s vivacious, she‘s intelligent, she‘s honest . . . like she said (on the The Bachelor finale Tuesday), she‘s not an actress; she doesn‘t want to be famous.”
Peggy said she knows that during the course of the filming of The Bachelorette, Harris will most likely end up back in West Kelowna at some point.
“No, I‘m not looking forward to being on camera again,” she said with a laugh, “but the camera crew was really nice. It was like you had known them forever . . . but I never really forgot there were 15 camera crew members in my house while they were here.”
Since the announcement Tuesday night, the phone hasn‘t stopped ringing, said Peggy.
“Oh my Lord, it‘s been unbelieveable, the media,” she said. “But it‘s not as bad as Jillian has it. She was up at 4 a.m. last night, and she‘s already done 18 interviews (as of 10 a.m. Wednesday). Harris, who works as a project manager and interior designer, has the support of her workplace to do another stint on the show.
“Her boss said he knew this was going to happen,” said Peggy. “I think they‘re holding a door open for her. They like her and she‘s good at her job.”
Harris could not be reached for comment, but has told media she is excited about doing the show. Harris is the first Canadian Bachelorette. The reality show, which involves one woman meeting 25 men in an attempt to find a life partner, will premiere on ABC on May 18.
“It‘s quick,” said Peggy. “Very quick. But we‘re hoping it‘ll work out for her in the end. We‘re very proud of our little girl.”