By Pamela Jacobs
When Andi Dorfman enters a room, it lights up. The 28-year-old Atlanta native—who went from a cast member on Season 18 of The Bachelor to the star of The Bachelorette in Season 10—seems to have been born for television. She’s got the looks, of course, but beyond that, she’s got the energy and personality to match.
Less than three years ago, however, this smart, sassy young woman was a long way from the silver screen. In 2012, Dorfman graduated from law school, and shortly after was putting criminals behind bars, working as an Assistant District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia.
In the blink of an eye, after winning viewers’ and producers’ hearts in The Bachelor, despite (or perhaps, because of) pulling herself from the show when she realized Juan Pablo when not the man of her dreams, Dorfman was in the starring role of one of television’s most popular shows. She had 25 men vying for her affection, and the whole world taking notice.
Fresh off her foray into Bachelorette-hood—following a public breakup and a dramatic year—Dorfman packed her bags and did what many independent young women in need of a change have done: She moved to New York. As of March 2015, the former Bachelorette is now a current New Yorker who’s got a whole lot going on.
On a warm, summer morning, with the entirety of Central Park in our line of sight, we sat down and discussed her experiences as an overnight reality star, her life as a novice New Yorker, and most importantly, the limitless opportunities that are unfolding for this bright, charming legal-counselor-turned-cover-girl.
Pamela Jacobs: One of the first things you were known for on The Bachelor was pulling yourself from the show [season 18 with Juan Pablo]. At the time this probably felt like a risky decision. Did you think that was the end of reality TV for you? Was it a difficult decision?
Andi Dorfman: I actually didn’t find it to be risky at all. I had come on the show to find love—obviously I wanted to travel and meet people, as well, and it was a great experience—but once that was done and I realized there was no chance of finding love with him, it was kind of obvious that it didn’t work out and so I thought ‘okay, let’s pack up and roll out and get back to life.’ I had a job and a family, a life waiting for me back at home, so as soon as the love wasn’t there, it was pretty easy to decide to go.
PJ: How confident did you feel that you would find love through the show?
AD: I wouldn’t say that I was confident—I was pretty naive as to what everything was regarding the show—but I thought it was a chance for me. I knew who the Bachelor was [Juan Pablo] and I knew that I was attracted to him, so it was one of those situations where, yes, it was outside the box, but I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t desperately seeking love—but I wanted it—so I thought, ‘why not?’
PJ: Of course it all turned out well, as you went on to star in The Bachelorette. When they first approached you, was it an immediate ‘yes,’ or did you have to think it over?
AD: No [laughs]! I think it was an immediate no, actually. I didn’t come from a world of entertainment or a family that’s in this industry—I wasn’t an aspiring model or actress—this was just something that I had done once, and I never thought it was my future. My first reaction was been-there-done-that, but then they started talking to me and I realized there was another chance at finding love, so I thought, ‘well, maybe this isn’t so bad after all.’
PJ: Did your friends and family agree with your decision to do The Bachelorette?
AD: Oh yeah, I think my friends and family wanted me to do it more than I wanted to at first. My parents are super supportive, and always have been. Plus, my sister is married and my parents are happily married, so it was just like, yeah, why not give it a try? They wanted me to go out there and have some fun, possibly find someone, and have an adventure.
PJ: When you called off your engagement, everyone seemed to have an opinion and a reaction. What’s it like having your love life examined and dissected by the world?
AD: It’s crazy—and it sucks. I know that you have to have thick skin, and it’s really easy to say that, but when you don’t come from an environment where everyone knows your business and everything is on public display, and you’re suddenly plucked from obscurity into this whole world, it’s a shock. I knew what I signed up for, but it doesn’t mean I knew everything that comes with it and that I could handle everything. People have an opinion on your love life and are saying all kinds of mean things. It was also hard because I was going through a breakup; I was broken-hearted, and if that’s not bad enough, I had to do it publicly and had to hear everyone’s opinions, piled on top of a broken heart.
PJ: Were there—or are there—times when you have to stay off of social media because you can’t bear to read all of the hurtful things?
AD: Absolutely, especially during the show. There were times when I was just a ball of tears while reading comments. It’s crazy to me—some of the things people say—and even though you try to turn a blind eye to it, you still know people are saying it, and you’re only human. It comes with the territory, sure, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
PJ: You’ve befriended some of your fellow Bachelor and Bachelorette alumnae. Do you share juicy details with each other and gossip?
AD: Oh, for sure—we are women [laughs]! We definitely talk, but the friendships are so interesting when it comes to the show. I know it seems very ironic that you can be friends with someone who dated the same guy—and I use the term ‘dating’ lightly—but people don’t realize that you spend a lot of time with the girls on the show [The Bachelor], way more time than with the lead, so you experience things with them that you have with no one else, and you form a bond through this crazy experience.
Some of my friends from the show will be in my wedding one day, and every time anyone is in New York we go out and have fun—and gossip a little, maybe [laughs]—but we’re also involved in each other’s lives. It’s been more than a year since that first season, so we’ve moved on past that and we don’t talk about that anymore; it’s just a normal friendship.
PJ: You officially moved to NY recently; how has adjusting to life in the city been?
AD: I think New York City is different from anywhere else in the entire world, which is why I chose to come here. There is an energy in New York that’s unlike anywhere else. I never feel like there’s nowhere to go, or feel alone or bored here, and it’s the perfect distraction. I needed to get out of Atlanta and I needed a distraction; I needed to feel motivated and alive, so to speak, and New York City has definitely provided that for me.
PJ: Do you feel that dating in NY is very different from in the south?
AD: I wouldn’t really know, but my friends say that dating here is tough, like it’s a game and competition, and I’ve witnessed that it’s a whole other level here. Like in the South, girls do not go up to guys—you wait for the guy to come up to you. Not so much here in New York! I’ve heard it’s pretty cutthroat. I’m not in the phase where I really care about dating too much right now. I’ve dated enough guys in the past year to hold me over for now.
PJ: So are you on hiatus?
AD: Look, if the right guy came along, I’d certainly be open to it, but I’m not actively looking.
PJ: What are you working on currently?
AD: I have a few projects I’m working on right now. There’s a People.com web series, focusing on my life in New York, which is really fun, and I’m also writing a book. It’s about my experience [on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette], but more than that, it’s meant to be an empowering, tongue-in-cheek diary-of-a-breakup. I went through a very public breakup, and there are some things that make it very different from a typical one, but certainly plenty of things that are similar to the girl-next-door’s breakup experience.
I never thought I would write a book—I never considered myself a writer—but I have loved it, probably more than I have loved anything I’ve done in my life. It’s very therapeutic and I found a passion I didn’t know I had.
PJ: And do you see yourself staying in NY long term?
AD: I love it. I would definitely have to adjust, in order to raise kids here. I mean, I can barely survive the crosswalks, so I don’t know how I would survive with a stroller, but I’d love to stay here. I’ve kind of learned to not predict the future, though. I mean, two years ago I was spending my days in a courthouse as an attorney, and now here I am looking out over Central Park. I can’t predict the future, but I’m definitely here for a while.