Roll tide! You’ll probably hear that cheer a lot as the 15th season of “The Bachelorette” premieres Monday, starring 24-year-old Hannah Brown from Tuscaloosa, Ala. “Hannah B.” was a contestant on Colton Underwood’s season of “The Bachelor,” where she occasionally sparred with another contestant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, a rival from her past. Hannah is the first Bachelorette to have finished outside the top four on “The Bachelor,” and she’s the franchise’s youngest star. Here’s everything you need to know before the season begins.
She started competing in beauty pageants at age 15. She started on the Alabama circuit as a teenager and was crowned Miss Tuscaloosa (her hometown) in 2012, Entertainment Tonight reports. She won another local pageant in 2014 and then took some time off from pageants to focus on her studies at the University of Alabama, where she earned a communications degree in 2017.
In 2018, she won the Miss Alabama USA title and then competed against Caelynn in the Miss USA competition. The two were roommates during that competition, becoming close and then falling out by the time they were again locked in competition — this time for Colton’s love and affection on “The Bachelor.” Hannah told an Alabama news website her pageant experience gave her “a lot of confidence in times when there is both positive and negative light shed on me.”
She’s battled with anxiety and depression. As Miss Alabama USA, Hannah advocated for people suffering from depression and anxiety, which she dealt with as a teenager. As the Bachelorette, she’ll probably open up about her mental health; the show often uses one-on-one dates as a chance for contestants and the lead to trade stories of their biggest life struggles, or vulnerabilities, as a way of creating intimacy quickly.
Despite all that experience in the spotlight, Hannah B. can have difficulty speaking on command. Being a beauty queen seems like perfect training for Bachelor Nation — you get practice wearing evening gowns and speaking in front of a crowd. But Hannah B.'s first big moment on “The Bachelor” was truly uncomfortable for everyone involved. On a one-on-one date with Colton, he gave a toast to their future and invited her to do the same. What came out was, as my colleague Emily Yahr put it, oddly reminiscent of Miss Teen South Carolina’s infamous pageant answer about “the Iraq.” “Let’s make a toast to . . .," Hannah said, continuing with: “Okay! And I’ll put a bunch of words that sound good, that are real, that are real, real words. Okay. (Laughter) Okay. Let’s make a toast to — first, it’s my birthday, so to this amazing day. And, um . . . yeah. Roll tide.”
She eventually got more comfortable in the reality-TV dating environment, and Chris Harrison allowed her a do-over of that toast in the “Women Tell All” episode.
Chris Harrison admits he was “scared to death” of how Hannah handled her first moments of being the Bachelorette. During the “After the Final Rose” special, Harrison announced Hannah would be the next Bachelorette, and they went right in to introducing her to a few of the men from her season. It was like that Colton one-on-one all over again — she was tongue-tied and full of nervous laughter. “I left that special thinking, ‘Oh, dear Lord, did we just make a huge mistake?’” Harrison told the Hollywood Reporter.
At least Hannah was able to laugh it off, saying about her contestants: “I hope they can put words together better than me!” In fact, her visible discomfort might even be a strong suit. Being on a reality-TV dating show is awkward, so why not embrace it? Harrison adds that he thinks Hannah “may be the most relatable woman we’ve ever had on the show."
She’s from Alabama — and she won’t let you forget it. Expect to hear the phrase “Roll tide” uttered more in the first episode than an entire season of Becca Kufrin saying “Let’s do the damn thing.” When Hannah is at a loss for words, she often reaches for that cheer for University of Alabama sports teams. Yes, this is where Hannah went to undergrad, and she lives in Tuscaloosa, where the university is located — but Alabama fans also use the term as a way of expressing excitement or saying “carry on.” (Her Twitter bio confirms her love for the phrase: “i say roll tide an aggressive amount,” it reads.) We estimate she’ll say it at least 10 times, if not more, Monday night. That it’ll get old real fast.