Because It's Never Too Early to Speculate, Who Should Be the Next Bachelorette?

Early contenders from Matt James' season include Katie, Bri and Abigail, while fans are calling for two former Bachelorettes to give the show another shot.

By Tierney Bricker Jan 30, 2021 12:00 PMTags

Let the Bachelorette casting free-for-all officially commence.

While it's still too early to tell who will be season 17's lead—c'mon, we've still got 20 women left competing for Matt James' heart—ABC executive Rob Mills did offer a bit of insight into the search for the franchise's next lead in a recent interview.

"I would say with 99.9 percent certainly, the Bachelorette is going to be someone who comes from one of our previous seasons," Mills told Variety. "Probably Matt's, but at least someone who is familiar to Bachelor Nation."

That means, unlike Matt, our next Bachelorette will not be a total newbie to long rose ceremonies and intense group dates—and it's likely she is one of the women we're currently watching during his season. 

Since Matt's journey kicked off on Jan. 4, fans have already started campaigning for some of his contestants to be considered for the role, including first impression rose recipient Abigail Heringer and Katie Thurston, she who infamously brought a vibrator on night one and f—king owned it. 

But that doesn't mean there aren't women from previous seasons who couldn't end up being picked by producers, including not one, but two former Bachelorettes and Kelley Flanagan, who recently split from Bachelor Peter Weber. 

With production set to begin by March, it's likely fans will see their next lead crowned well before Matt's finale airs. Whether it's a familiar face from the current season or a big surprise à la Clare Crawley last year, it's the most speculative time of the year for Bachelor Nation.

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Here's our rundown of all the possible Bachelorette contenders for season 17...

Abigail Heringer

With 229,000 Instagram followers and counting, the highest among season 25s' contestants, it's clear viewers were just as enamored with the 25-year-old as Matt, who awarded Abigail with his first impression rose on night one. 

"Abigail is one of our favorites. This is an absolute gem of a woman, impossible not to fall in love with," host Chris Harrison gushed before the season started. "Abigail has an incredible story."

Born deaf, Abigail is the first hearing-impaired person that has ever been on the franchise and shared her experience with the Bachelor during their first conversation. She also talked about her close relationship with her sister, who is also deaf.

Though she's still in the running for Matt's heart, Abigail is one of the most popular contestants of the season and Mills said she "stood out for a reason."

"It's great to tell these stories. If we can entertain but also back-door in more representation," the exec explained to Variety, "not only with people of difference races, but also with disabilities—that's great."

Bri Springs

Cool, calm and collected, Bri, who was the first contestant out of the limo and went on the first one-on-one date with Matt, impressed viewers early. 

During their time together, the 25-year-old revealed she was raised by a single mom who had her when she was just 13 years old. Bri, who is now the communications manager at an unnamed, high-profile tech company, has managed to stay out of the drama in the house and clearly has captured Matt's attention. 

While announcing the contestants for season 25, Harrison called Bri the "total package," explaining, "In all seriousness, everybody will really, I think, fall for Bri. Beauty, brains, unbelievably sincere."

And if she doesn't receive Matt's final rose, 25 men could easily fall for her as the Bachelorette, too. 

Katie Thurston

Who would've guessed the woman who brought a vibrator out of the limo with her would be fans' number one pick to be the next Bachelorette, should she not end up with Matt? 

Katie, 30, has won over Bachelor Nation with her humor and humanity, especially after she defended Sarah Trott and the five new women when she felt the other contestants, especially Victoria Larson, were being unkind to.

Plus, the bank manager—who also happens to run a popular TikTok account, so get you a lead who can do both!—has amassed the second highest number of followers on Instagram among this season's contestants (187,000), she's sex-positive and is unafraid to speak her mind. She could just be Hannah Brown 2.0.

Serena Pitt

Tiny but mighty, the Canadian has proven to be one of the early frontrunners for Matt's heart after their one-on-one date. Serena P. came off confident and charismatic, proving Harrison's tease about her being "a force to be reckoned with." 

But at just 23-years-old, is the publicist possibly too young for the gig? While she would be the franchise's youngest lead ever, Hannah Brown and JoJo Fletcher were 24 and 25, respectively, when they handed out roses and went on to become two of the most beloved rose holders. So that saying about age being nothing but a number? Definitely can apply here.

Rachael Kirkconnell

Though she's yet to go on a one-on-one date, it's clear the 24-year-old graphic designer and Matt hit it off quickly. And she seems to have connected with viewers as well, amassing one of the highest number of new followers on Instagram since the season premiered. (She currently has 179,000.)

Chelsea Vaughn

There's no denying Chelsea rocked one of the most memorable first night dresses ever, turning the driveway into her runway—which made sense given that she's an actual supermodel. "No swipe-up codes for Chelsea," Harrison boasted. 

After a bit of a slower start, the 29-year-old delivered one of the most powerful and emotional moments of Matt's season when she used her one-on-one time during a group date to discuss the politics of Black hair and divulge why she decided to shave all of hers off. 

"I don't need hair to be feminine. I don't need hair to be beautiful. I don't need hair to be attractive to men," Chelsea explained during her interview on Bachelor Happy Hour after the episode aired. "It was just such a liberating thing and now I feel even more like myself even though I've never had a shaved head. But somehow, I feel more like myself without hair."

At the very least, we need Chelsea to get a one-on-one because we love what we've seen so far.

Michelle Young

OK, maybe they did save the best for last because the elementary school teacher, one of the five women who entered the house in episode four, is just a pure delight. 

The former Division I basketball player landed a one-on-one soon after her entrance, forming an instant connection with the Bachelor over their shared passion for sports and mentoring children. But dare we say Michelle, 27, seems too normal for the gig? Like, she just joined Instagram in 2020!

Becca Kufrin

While she didn't deliver one of the most dramatic seasons of The Bachelorette in 2018, Becca's much-dissected split with winner Garrett Yrigoyen has had fans wondering if it's time for the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast host to hand out roses again.

"Oh god! I don't know," Becca answered on Off The Vine With Kaitlyn Bristowe. "I never want to say no and I'd never want to say never. But also, like, I am 30. I feel like a grandma. I love to sleep. I love my bed. I love snuggling with [my dog] Minno. As you know, when you film an entire season, like, there's no sleep for two-plus months, and I do not know if I could do it again."

She continued, "Also, like, doing the show again, I mean, let's be honest: I was engaged two times already. Like, I don't want to keep racking up the rings. Like, as much as I love Neil Lane, I don't want to have a ring graveyard."

But, as the old saying goes, Becca, third time's a charm. Or a Neil Lane diamond, in this case.

Kelley Flanagan

After her whirlwind romance with Peter Weber ended in late 2020, the attorney has revealed she would be open to becoming the franchise's next lead.

In a candid Instagram post on Jan. 23, Kelley, 28, explained that she's keeping all of her options open. And if the opportunity presented itself, she admitted that she would "consider" being the Bachelorette.

When one follower asked, "True or False? You would [be] the bachelorette if you were asked?" The Chicago native responded, "I would definitely consider it!"

Working against Kelley, however, could be that time she kind of, sort of, totally spoke out against production. Whoops.

Kristina Schulman

Always a contender, but never the final pick, the Bachelor in Paradise star is perenially in the mix when it comes to Bachelorette casting.

The Russian influencer, who was adopted from an orphanage at eight years old, was contacted by producers for season 16 before Clare Crawley was ultimately selected.

"Fun story," Kristina, 29, posted on Instagram after the announcement was made. "I was shopping at Zara with my bestie @kbrew1234 when I got the call asking if I'd consider being The Bachelorette..."

When a follower commented on a different Instagram post asking, "Why aren't you the next bachelorette," Kristina answered, "they didn't want me and that's okay!"

While there were rumors she was dating fellow Bachelor Nation alum Robert Graham, Kristina recently ccnfirmed on Instagram that she is single. And possibly ready to mingle with a few dozen men?

Andi Dorfman

"Never say never."

That's what the season 10 lead had to say on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast when asked if she would ever be the Bachelorette again.

While Andi did add that she doesn't think she'd be "good at it the second time around," we object to the former lawyer's assertion. Always one to speak her mind and stand up for herself (Who can forget her telling Juan Pablo Galavis, "It's not OK!" before quitting the show?), we'd love to see the 33-year-old author back in the driver's seat.

Demi Burnett

Before producers decided to make her BFF Hannah Brown the Bachelorette, Demi was in serious consideration after becoming the most-talked about contestant during Colton Underwood's season.

While the outspoken Texan basically walked through the mansion door with a neon sign reading "villain" above her head, she won over viewers and her fellow contestants with her humor and heart.

"With Demi, we thought she was going to be a villain." ABC boss Mills explained to E! News at the time. "She's like a Corinne [Olympios] or she's like a Tierra [LiCausi] or one of these other sort of classic villains, and then you thought, no, she's not like that. She speaks her mind and she's very open."

After she wasn't picked to be the lead—though Mills said she was "a strong contender"—Demi went on Bachelor in Paradise season six and made history when she and girlfriend Kristian Haggerty became the franchise's first same-sex couple. While they ended their time on the beach engaged, the pair split in October 2019.

And one year later, Demi revealed she was still open to becoming the Bachelorette when she retweeted the show's casting call, writing, "Volunteering as tribute."

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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