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Get ready, Bachelor Nation—2021's second Bachelorette journey to find love starts tonight. Michelle Young, 28, first turned heads when she nearly captured Matt James' heart on The Bachelor, but she ultimately finished as his runner-up. Now, she's ready to clink some glasses and break some hearts as the next Bachelorette.
Michelle is the franchise's third Black Bachelorette, following in Rachel Lindsay's and
Tayshia Adams' footsteps. Filming has wrapped, the spoilers are already rolling in, and everyone gets to see Michelle meet her men on TV Oct. 19—but before you dive into the gossip, just who is ABC's newest leading lady, anyway?
Read up on Michelle's backstory pre-reality TV, and everything she's been up to since The Bachelorette filming wrapped. Here’s what you need to know about Michelle Young before her season starts tonight, Oct. 19th:
Michelle was born and raised in Woodbury, Minnesota.
The new Bachelorette is from Woodbury, Minnesota, a suburb just outside of St. Paul. Her parents, Ephraim and LaVonne, mean a lot to her and are her relationship role models (aw). She also has two siblings, Angela and Alex, according to People.
Michelle told Extra she's looking for a connection that has "qualities that I see in my parents' relationship," like "somebody I can laugh with, somebody that is going to stick in it and get through the difficult times, somebody who is a goal setter and supportive."
Michelle is a teacher.
She teaches fifth grade at Echo Park Elementary, per People, and she "focuses on preparing her students to be the next generation of community leaders," according to her Bachelorette bio.
Now, she's also working on getting her masters degree in administration. "I always have wanted to be an elementary school principal," she told Variety. "That's something that I am incredibly passionate about, and that's where fulfillment comes from for me."
Michelle is really, really dedicated to her job, and she clearly cares a lot about her students, based on her Instagram.
Michelle also said she's been working on balancing her new role as The Bachelorette with her role in the classroom. "It is like a double life," she told Variety. "At 7 a.m. during the week, I’m Ms. Young. And then when I step out of the classroom, I’m back to Michelle Young—and Michelle Young’s life looks a little different these days, but I think it gives me balance. Fifth graders will keep you humble, I’ll tell you that!"
Plus, the filming for her season was reportedly delayed so she could finish off the school year with her students and not miss one lesson. (Yep, she's got her priorities straight.) Michelle is also set to get a very nice paycheck for her time filming The Bachelorette.
Michelle is super athletic.
This Bachelorette is a serious athlete. When she was in high school, a local newspaper described Michelle as "one of the greatest Woodbury players of all time," per People.
Then, she went on to become a Division I basketball player in college. (Go, Michelle!) She played guard at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and won all kinds of awards, like being named Player of the Week several times, according to her college bio.
She didn't let practice get in the way of her studies, though. She also made the honor roll pretty much the entire time she was in college. And, Michelle can still drop and give anyone 10 or 20 push-ups or school them on the court.
She knows exactly what she wants in her future husband.
And the guys competing for her heart this season better be prepared. "Michelle has big dreams for the future and says she wants a man by her side that is supportive and driven to make the world a better place," her ABC bio reads. "She is looking for the Superman to her Superwoman and is ready to find a love with whom she can start a family of her own."
That's a tall order!
In the first official promo for her season, Michelle adds, "I'm looking for someone who's going to change their world with me. I'm ready."
Tbh? The guys seem pretty well prepared for the challenge. In another promo, they gushed about the next Bachelorette and really brought their A-games on night one:
Michelle “leaned into her heart” this season.
Co-host Tayshia Adams teased that Michelle gave it her all as The Bachelorette. “I don’t think we’ve seen an ending like what happens in a couple of seasons,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “We’ve seen a lot… there’s a lot of highs and lows. All good things."
Tayshia added that “she definitely leaned into her heart and put it out on the line, and that’s all you can ask for from a ‘Bachelorette.'"
Michelle herself added that her goal was to be open to finding love, but also to stay true to herself. "I think the biggest reason of why I said yes is because how the process challenges you as a person to open up, to stay vulnerable, all of these different things," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
"I knew that I could potentially find my person, and walking into that, I also knew that I’d be able to truly represent who I am—who I am as a woman of color, who I am as a teacher, and just carry myself in the same way that I always would. That took a lot of pressure off my shoulders, just because regardless of everything that was going on around me, I know that I was able to stay focused," she explained.
And, she has plenty of support from recent Bachelorette Katie Thurston.
Last season's Bachelorette, Katie Thurston, had some words of advice for Michelle, going into filming. "I think the biggest advice I've given her is to just be open. Don't close yourself off too early. I think guys can surprise you... weeks later when you don't expect it," Katie told Entertainment Tonight. (Here's hoping it's a happy surprise, unlike Katie's surprise breakup with early frontrunner Greg Grippo.)
Michelle also has a serious sweet tooth.
In fact, Michelle shared a photo with a giant bowl of ice cream on Instagram to prove it. She wrote: "Anyone else try to convince their parents that they had two stomachs when they were younger? One for regular food and one for dessert? 😜"
Michelle denounced racism with the rest of the season 25 cast.
She and her fellow contestants shared a groundbreaking statement in response to Chris Harrison's interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. After the host defended fellow contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's past racist actions, the women of Matt James' season felt compelled to speak out against racism within the franchise.
"We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behaviors denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized," their statement reads, which Michelle posted on her Instagram Stories.
"Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with 'grace' for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn't mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her."
And, in October, Michelle spoke out about her experience being a contestant on Matt James' season. "It was a lot in the sense of a lot of the things that took place, honestly, started to unravel once the filming was over," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "There was a lot of heavy conversation, there’s a lot of conversations that needed to be had, and it was something that could become completely consumable."
"I was still teaching and I was still expected to walk into a classroom and teach the future," Michelle added. "It was a heavy season and definitely took a minute to hit that reset button and be able to recharge."
And, she hopes she can be a role model for viewers.
Michelle explained to The Hollywood Reporter that, besides finding her future husband, she also wanted "to showcase diverse love stories" this season. "Walking into it, I didn’t have this type of 'this is what my person physically has to look like,'" she said.
"And being able to have other young women of color, girls of color, be able to turn on their TV screens and be able to see somebody who looks like them is not something that happens often whatsoever. And so to give them that opportunity, to be that for even just one other person, I think is incredibly important."
Stay tuned for all of the roses, the group dates, and the drama during the premiere of Michelle's season on Oct. 19th on ABC.
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