TV & Movies

Charity Reveals How She Made Her Bachelorette Journey Different

Plus, she shares the advice she got from last season’s stars, Gabby and Rachel.

Charity Lawson at a 'Bachelorette' event. Photo via ABC
ABC/Frank Micelotta

Charity Lawson’s Bachelorette season follows one of the franchise’s more heartrending recent breakups. Even though she was one of the final four women on Zach Shallcross’ Bachelor season and had forged a strong connection with him, Zach ultimately sent her home — leaving her confused. But now, Charity is stepping into the lead role on The Bachelorette Season 20. And as she tells Bustle, she’s taking lessons from that breakup into her new journey.

“Saying goodbye to anyone is hard, and you never want them to feel like they’re being blindsided,” she says. “With every conversation I had with these men, [I focused on] giving them compassion and grace. But also, honesty is so important [and] never forgetting to tell them where I’m at, how I feel about things, and then constantly checking in with them.”

It might be why contestant Brayden Bowers gets her first impression rose — even after Charity’s brother Nehemiah (who went undercover in the Bachelor Mansion) expressed concerns about Brayden’s “problematic” boldness. “Brayden has every right to feel confident,” she says in a confessional. “Because I want someone who’s here for me, someone who’s excited about [me], and someone who doesn’t have a problem making that known.”

But as it turns out, there were other contenders for that coveted first rose. Charity reveals them below — plus the advice she got from past Bachelorettes.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

What did you do to prepare for the first night of filming?

I watched some former seasons because some of the Bachelorettes, like Michelle Young, reached out to me with advice [about] how to approach all this. But overall, the support that I had from Bachelor Nation, viewers, and fans was incredibly helpful for me to get in this mindset of: OK, this is happening, and I’m very much capable of doing this.

Was there any specific advice that stands out?

With the nerves, a lot of that comes from anxiety [about] looking so far ahead or fear of the unknown. I talked to Rachel [Recchia] and Gabby [Windey], and a really big thing was just being present in the moment — because it’s easy to look so far down the road, and you’re not there yet. So you don’t want that to take away from moments that could be special and significant to each and every relationship. I want to give the guys exactly what they deserve in this experience, which is 100% of myself.

Your brother helped you scope out the men on the first night. Can you walk me through the decision to give Brayden the first impression rose despite Nehemiah’s advice?

I’ve come to understand that that is Brayden’s personality. He’s someone who has a very bold personality. He’s very charismatic. It just shines through. So when it came to Night 1, there’s a lot going on. But when I sat down with him, we shared a lot of similar things that happened in our past and about where we’re at now. The chemistry was there; we shared a kiss. Duh! But [it was about] being really comfortable around him. It was almost effortless for the both of us.

Was there anyone else you almost gave a first impression rose to?

I really loved John [Buresh]. With James [Pierce], the note from his mom, and sharing the cider and doughnuts from his parents’ farm — that was just so sweet. But then even with Xavier [Bonner], I think it’s similar to how I felt with Brayden. The chemistry was clearly there! We had great conversation. So it could have gone to either of those guys.

There have been filming updates and reports that suggested this season was shorter than previous installments. Having been on Zach’s season, did this one feel shorter?

The timelines are a little bit different, but it’s not anything that’s too noticeable. There’s nothing that significantly happens in the season that creates a shorter timeline. It’s just how we ended up filming.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.