[This story contains spoilers for Charity Lawson’s “Men Tell All” special of The Bachelorette.]
Charity Lawson got plenty of closure with some of her most notable former suitors — including Brayden Bowers and Xavier Bonner — during her “Men Tell All” episode of The Bachelorette season 20.
The special that aired Monday on ABC showed Lawson sitting down with Bonner, whom she abruptly dismissed during the fantasy suites episode after he admitted to cheating on his most recent partner and didn’t seem ready for a serious commitment. The Bachelorette also chatted with Bowers, who earned her first-impression rose during the season premiere but later stirred up plenty of drama with the other men and Lawson herself.
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Lawson discussed her main hope for Bonner, how she thinks Bowers will fare on Bachelor in Paradise, the differences in her relationships with standouts Joey Graziadei and Dotun Olubeko, and the “beautiful” finale that airs next week. (And click here for coverage of The Golden Bachelor star Gerry Turner’s emotional “Men Tell All” appearance.”)
How do you feel about your time with Brayden, and what was it like to get closure?
It’s like always the biggest question: “Brayden obviously got your first first-impression rose for a reason.” And I just go back to night one, where the night is just so chaotic, and there’s a lot of moving parts. I would describe Brayden’s personality as being very charismatic, and he’s just really full of energy — it was essentially a breath of fresh air. Watching it back, it was extremely difficult because I don’t have full context in everything that happens, so I can only go based off of the conversations that I have with each of the men in the house. Seeing their interviews and then how they’re discussing things amongst each other, that was the most shocking part about our relationship to see.
Upon watching it back, viewers have somewhat connected with him. A lot of them have not connected with Brayden, but I’ve heard them saying that he’s an honest person, and he’s been transparent with me, which is the case. But also I think there was a lot of manipulative things that Brayden used with me and just how he had these conversations, versus the way and the tone that he talked to the guys about me. At “Men Tell All,” being able to talk to him, it was interesting. I don’t know if there was necessarily any true closure that we both needed. I got that when we decided to part ways in Washington. But just letting him know, “You were very bold with the guys, and you were not so much with me.” I thought that was interesting, and I didn’t appreciate that. But we’re in two separate places now, so all good. (Laughs.)
We saw a tease from his stint on Bachelor in Paradise. Does that seem like a good fit for him?
I think the format of Paradise will be a better fit for him. That’s just Brayden’s personality. Again, he’s charismatic. I could imagine him forming several connections down there. But do I personally think that he’s ready for a long-term, committed relationship? No, and I can say that. Brayden is honest, and he’s a realist with a lot of his takes on things in life. But when it comes to relationships, I definitely think he has some more navigating and self-growth to do. I hope, if anything, Paradise teaches him that.
What was it like to reconnect with Xavier, and how are you feeling about where he’s at in his personal journey?
I could tell after talking to him at “Men Tell All” and having that conversation where we were able to just fully close the door, he did disclose to me that this was something that he’s been replaying in his head, and it’s causing him a lot of like stress and just trying to figure out ways that he can better himself. He did take initiative to just continue to grow. I don’t know, obviously, to what extent, but what I told him is, my hope for him is that he’s watching this back, [that] he’s able to use this to advantage and get the help that he needs. So, I wish him well, and hopefully he is continuing to learn.
Was it tough knowing that you could have potentially used your time with Xavier to further the connection with Aaron [Bryant]?
Yeah, it’s one of those things that you have an initial reaction to when you’re going through an experience like this where you’re dating multiple people. You always wonder, “What if I did this?” Initially, in that moment, I was very frustrated, more than anything — less sad. After having an emotional departure to Aaron at hometowns, it made me think, “Maybe if I had kept Aaron around because I needed more time, I would’ve not had to deal with this, and maybe our relationship could be in a different place.” So it’s always just the what-ifs.
You had a very impactful discussion with Joey about what it would feel like to be an interracial couple. Why was it important to have that conversation?
It’s huge to have had the opportunity to have that conversation, and then for it to be aired on national television — we don’t see it a lot, especially in this franchise. It was something that I was a little nervous about because I just did not know how it was going to go. But my whole plan of being a Black woman in this lead role is having these important conversations. Also, there were conversations that I had with several other men that did not make air, and that’s OK. But it was one of my priorities to have conversations about something that’s extremely important to me and that would essentially become a very important part of their lives, too, if they ended up with me.
How were you able to move beyond Joey’s uncle questioning his authenticity?
Hometowns is a whirlwind. I was so nervous meeting all the families. Upon meeting Joey’s family and then having this perception of him, to get to his hometown and then essentially have someone who’s extremely important to him question me if I’m getting the authentic Joey was really hard. It was shocking to see, and I didn’t know how to take or make sense of it in that moment. It was really frustrating. I definitely had time to follow up with Joey and talk about what that meant. What did that definition of “authenticity” mean to his uncle, and how did he make sense of it, too? I just needed time to process those feelings out.
What made your connections special with Joey and Dotun, and how did you navigate where went from here?
When I look at Joey and Dotun — two stand-up, incredible guys, and our connections are very different but also have very similar core characteristics. Joey is just someone who is extremely sincere and just patient and really loving. He has a compassionate heart. And then, when I am with Dotun, you see just this undeniable chemistry. It almost seems like it’s just something that is meant to be. For me, in this whole journey, the way that they both were just extremely intentional, and I never felt like I had to question why they were there, is huge. I was rest assured with Dotun and Joey that I didn’t have to worry about that at all, and so I was able to continue growing our connections.
How did I navigate getting to the end? (Laughs.) You just have this gut feeling of knowing when something is right and what feels best, and you can’t really shake it. And so, with a particular someone, that was a feeling that I had all along. It’s gonna be an emotional ride to get there but a beautiful one.
How do you expect fans to react to the finale?
Fans will be connected with each of the love stories at that point. All I can say is, buckle up. It’s gonna be beautiful. There will not be a dry eye in the room once we get to a finale. (Laughs.) I’m excited. I’ve coped with it. At this point, I’m just really ready for everyone to see.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
The Bachelorette airs Monday on ABC.