Ex Bachelor Season 5 contestant Jessica Holcomb is speaking out about her experience with ex-Bachelor producer and UnReal creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.
Former Bachelor producer Sarah Shapiro remembers the blonde lawyer from Texas well – because Shapiro tormented her. In a recent New Yorker profile, Shapiro recalls forcing Jessica Holcomb to cry on elimination night by tapping into her “food issues.” “I asked her, ‘Do you think he dumped you because you are fat?'”
Cosmopolitan sat down with Jessica Holcomb for an Interview and asked her whether she forgives Shapiro, and how being on the Bachelor in 2004 impacted her life.
“What she really said was way worse. But it was accurate enough. I think in the article she said, “Do you think he didn’t like you because you’re fat?” But what I remember her saying was, “You’ve been very honest about all the girls here being so much prettier than you and skinnier than you and better than you. How does it feel to know that you were right?”
“Because I would say that a lot. I did and still do have terrible self-esteem. It was very shocking. And then she just kept going on and on. It was just the meanest stuff ever. So then I turn around crying because it hurt my feelings so bad. And [the producers] were like, “Turn around.” And I was like, “No, I’m not going to turn around and make it look like I’m crying over this guy I don’t even know.” At that point, none of us even knew [Jesse] or liked him or anything. And so I walk off and they film me walking off like it was this big dramatic thing. It was humiliating.
How did Sarah know about these insecurities? You mentioned you’d often say these things — were you saying them to her?
No. There are producers everywhere. I would say it on, they’re called ITMs — “in the moments” — and they’d ask you questions. I would say that a lot.
Why was this happening at 4 in the morning?
Those rose ceremonies last, like, five hours. They make it look like they’re quick, [but] it’s, like, 10 minutes between each rose. You’re standing there forever. So by the time it’s over, I remember the first one, the sun came up. That’s how long it was. So they just take a long time. Then after, when you have to do those interviews — I just wanted to go home, I was so tired. I was like, “Everything’s fine. That was so fun! See you later.” But it didn’t take long for them to get mad and come out with the big guns.
Did you play up any particular drama in your life to land a spot?
Oh, well, at the time, if you even mentioned my ex’s name, I would start crying. So when they interviewed me, when they flew me out to Los Angeles, they were like, “Tell us about what happened with [your ex],” and I started bawling, instantaneously. So I’m sure they were like, “Check! She’s a complete basket case. [Laughs.]” I’m sure that sealed my fate.
Did you ever feel like you were being manipulated?
No. Not when I was there. It was only after. And I was like, “I’m so dumb.”
How did you figure it out after the fact?
You just did. For instance, they were like, “You’re really the only one that hasn’t talked to Jesse and he doesn’t think you like him.” They’re like, “You need to go talk to him and be more affectionate and stuff, because everyone has kissed him but you.” So we went on this date, this Habitat for Humanity date, and he was talking to me and saying all this stuff like, “I wish I could spend more time with you.” Well, they don’t show that. They don’t show that part. So, we’re talking by the fireplace and all I did was touch his chest a little bit. I’m kind of scratching his arm, being sweet. That’s it. But they make it look like I’m creepy-clawing him. Because they zoom in on my hand, super close. But it was not creepy at all. And so then I was known as the creepy claw girl everywhere I went. It was horrible.
Do you forgive her?
Yeah. I’m glad she feels bad about it. It was really mean stuff that she was saying. I’m the furthest thing from a perfect person, but I’m way, almost too nice, and so I’m very, very sensitive. And she really hurt my feelings, terribly.
Do you think the show redeems her?
Again, I’ve only watched it a couple of times. But [it sounds like] she had a realization that she was very pro-women and a feminist even, and then she finally woke up one day and was like, “I’m destroying women instead of being an advocate for them, and I’m not doing this anymore.” A lot of people get caught up and don’t ever realize that, and so that’s good [that she did].
Do you regret doing the show?
Right after, certainly. But I made two really good friends from it. So I wouldn’t take that away for anything. The rest of it is a funny story to tell at a party to make everyone laugh.