"The first season I ever saw of The Bachelor was Jason Mesnick's season," said Ali. "And I loved it. I thought he was such a great guy. And I remember thinking to myself 'Oh, if I could only find a man like that.' And that’s when I applied for the show. I thought 'Why not? I can’t lose.' I never thought in a million years I would be on it, never mind The Bachelorette! So, yeah, I watched Jason's season and then that's what got me hooked. I guess I fell in love with the idea of falling in love."
Maybe she missed the part of Jason's love story where he dumped his winner on air and then asked his runner-up for coffee two minutes later. But hey, if that ended up OK maybe Ali's story will be all right too.
Ali is famous for being one of Jake's frontrunners on The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love before leaving him to return to her job at Facebook in San Francisco. She tried to return to the show, but Jake had moved on. He is now engaged to the show's winner — and Ali's former archrival, Vienna Girardi —and Ali was tapped by the producers to start her own drama-laden quest for love.
"It's by far the hardest thing I've ever done," Ali said of The Bachelorette. "I would do it again, but it was very, very difficult."
Read on for more about Ali's journey, including the kind of guys she was looking for ("One thing that I said to the producers coming in is, I do not want the male model who can't put two sentences together"), on her fragile emotions ("I have the same insecurities as every other girl has"), her one-man mind ("I don't feel like my heart is capable of loving more than one person"), her lack of a job or home ("All of my stuff is in storage right now — I'm living with my two best friends") and her thoughts on the show's ending ("I'm super confident with each decision along the way and I'm really happy right now.")
I can't get into specifics, but there's definitely a bit of drama this season. Rumors are rumors and whether there's truth to them or not I cannot say. I actually haven't even gotten a chance to look at any of them really 'cause I just got back. There's a lot of emotion, good and bad, and I think it'll be really interesting to watch and see how it unfolds.
On her first move for love
I was going to school (at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts) and while I was actually finishing up my last two years of college I was actually in a long-distance relationship with a guy who was in the PhD program at Stanford. After two years of long distance we decided that when I graduated I would just move out there and we’d give it a shot. I made that move for love. It ended up not working out, but ending up in California was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because I feel like being in the Bay Area is the perfect place to surround myself with really educated people who could challenge me and I'm really glad I made that move.
On advice from past bachelors and bachelorettes
I haven't spoken to Jake, actually. ... There is a good chance that I may be running into him and his fiancee Vienna soon, so I hope to talk to them about my journey a little bit. I did talk to (Season 5 Bachelorette) Jillian Harris beforehand and she really wanted just to (share her) experience and she wanted to wish me good luck. Her advice was basically to make sure I had a lot of travel hairspray on hand while we were on the road. She just wanted to just wish me luck and she was really sweet about saying "I'm so glad that you’re the next Bachelorette" and things like that. And that felt really good to hear from her. I haven't actually met her in person but I hope to in the future.
On the first episode ballot box, where Justin "Rated R" Rego was vilified by the other guys
I was shocked actually when that happened in the first episode. For me, that first night, Justin seemed like a really sweet guy. For me, I was shocked about the ballot box and I didn't really know what to make of it, but at the end of the day I remember thinking from my season that I thought I had a better idea of what girls were maybe there for the right and wrong reasons than maybe Jake did. I definitely didn't want to let the ballot box be the be-all-end-all, but I kept it in the back of my mind.
Last season — I'll say it again, I said it before — I cannot apologize enough for my behavior then. I lost my cool and I'm glad that I was able to see that on the show because I learned a lot about myself and how I should treat others. So I don’t think that I will be treating others badly this season, but will you see a little bit of the bold side of me coming out? If someone maybe does something that I don’t think is so great, I’ll let them know. The one thing I can say so far, I mean I haven't seen all the episodes, but I'm very proud of how I handled situations this season and I think I would do it all the same way if I had to.
On the 25 guys who were picked for her
I'm so happy with the 25 guys that I got this season. One thing that I said to the producers coming in is, I do not want the male model who can’t put two sentences together. I want smart, interesting guys that are going to get me excited about the relationship and who they are and what they bring to the table — and that's exactly what I got. I'm so happy with all of them and I want to thank, I guess, each and every one of them for coming and being there and it made the experience really great for me.
On her criteria for handing out roses
It was just a feeling that I had about each person. I didn't really weigh a lot "Well this person has these qualities and this person has these qualities." I never wanted to compare the guys. I didn't think that was fair. I just more, instead of comparing the guys and their qualities I compared my feelings for the guys. I felt pretty confident, I felt extremely confident each rose ceremony in the decisions I made. They were the right ones and I never questioned them. The only rose ceremony that I'd say I had questions about at all would be the first one because I had so little time and you just wonder afterwards "Oh if I'd just had a few more minutes with that person would I have realized something about them that I didn't see before?" That was the only rose ceremony that was really, really tough in terms of making my decisions. But after that I really knew what I wanted and the only hard part was hurting somebody in order to, you know, find my ending, I guess. Hopefully find my guy.
On what she wanted in a husband
Going in, I really wanted someone that was interesting to me. Just someone when they would talk I would just be on the edge of my seat because I couldn't wait to hear what they had to say next. Someone funny and intelligent, but you know what ... what makes a relationship, I learned, is just how that person treats you and makes you feel. And I don't think you can put, like, a specific quality on that in terms of who they are. I don't know, I think that’s what I learned. What I went in thinking I needed is not exactly, I think, what I need, or I found out that I necessarily needed. That's kind of weird wording. Does that make sense? (Laughs)
I just remember thinking when I was on The Bachelor, "Gosh, why would Jake be insecure about anything? He has all these girls here vying for his attention, he has nothing to be concerned about." Then, being The Bachelorette, I'm like oh my gosh, I get it. People can say to me all day "I'm falling for you" and "You're beautiful" and all these words, but to me I always found myself questioning them. Is this person being sincere, do they really care for me? One thing that was really important to me to make clear to all the guys as we were going through this was, I'm offering you a rose, but you're accepting it back. Don't accept it if you don't want it. And that was really important to me that the guys knew this was serious and not just a game. I have so much more respect for Jake and Jillian, Jason — everyone who's been through this because it's really difficult. It's by far the hardest thing I've ever done. I would do it again, but it was very, very difficult.
On how she is different from Jake (is this a subtle diss?)
I totally respect Jake and all the decisions he made. I think the only thing that was really different for me was, Jake had a really big heart and he felt that he had fallen in love with more than one person. And for me I don't feel like my heart is capable of loving more than one person. So going in I sort of made a promise to myself that I just wanted to make sure that I didn't share those types of feelings unless I'm sharing them with one person and that I was completely positive that that was the person for me.
On having kids
Let me clear this up. So there are some articles I've seen out there ... with people suggesting I want children right away. No, that is not the case! I did say to Chris Harrison, he asked me where I want to be in five years, and I said I'd like to be pregnant in five years. Meaning that when I'm 30 I'd like to be pregnant with my first child. So am I ready for kids now, absolutely not. I still have a career that I want to build and things that I need to accomplish before I'm ready to start a family. I think that most of the guys probably felt the same way this season. I definitely never made it seem that I wanted to have kids right away. I don't think they did either.
On her wedding plans
Oh my gosh, I have never in my life thought about what my wedding would be like! Engagement ring, gosh, if I had to pick a style — my uncle's actually a jeweler. He's always told me that Asscher cut's pretty nice, so I guess if I had to pick something that's probably what I would go for. But a wedding dress, I would want something really simple. I'd want my hair to be really natural. I plan on wearing Converse under my wedding dress, so it's got to be long enough to hide those. I don't like to be all glammed up. I like to be natural, so I think I'd have a really natural look.
On her insecurities
I saw that Chris Harrison actually touched on this in one of his blogs. I have the same insecurities as every other girl has. I consider myself a confident, independent woman and there's so many things about myself that I'm proud of and I feel good about, but I also I still have those insecurities. If I love someone are they going to love me back? And I've been in a lot of relationships where I have put my heart out there and I have been completely in love and ... that person didn't love me back. So that was a fear of mine and that weighed heavily on my heart this season.
I did leave my job at Facebook and at this point I don't have plans to go back. I mean I hope to go back in the future, but it would probably be a while before that would happen. So it's pretty final at this point, which is sad because I really loved it. But I think at some point I'll either be able to hopefully go back there or, you know, I actually have some ideas of my own company that I'd like to possibly start, so we'll have to see, I guess, what happens with that. With my apartment, yeah, I completely moved out. All of my stuff is in storage right now. I'm living with my two best friends, a married couple … They're taking very good care of me while this whole season airs. Then I can find my final location that I'll be settling down in.
On the show's ending
I'm happy right now. And I'm really confident with my decisions that I made all along the way — whether it was the third rose ceremony or the fifth one or the last one. I don't have any regrets, and I'm super confident with each decision along the way and I'm really happy right now.