Photo illustration showing the four AA+PI women on this season of "The Bachelor": Lea Cayanan, Katelyn DeBacker, Rachel Nance, and Jenn Tran

The AA+PI Beauties Making History on this Season of ‘The Bachelor’

These four remarkable women have made season 28 fun to watch, and it's not over yet

After 22 years on air, only one Asian American has ever received the final rose in The Bachelor franchise—which was a rose given to Filipina American graphic designer Catherine Lowe during season 17 back in 2013. But with the current season of The Bachelor having a historic number of AA+PI women in its cast, with one of them making it to the coveted “hometowns” episode tonight, that statistic could change. 

The final 10 contestants this season included four AA+PI women—Filipina Americans Lea Cayanan and Rachel Nance and Vietnamese Americans Jenn Tran and Katelyn DeBacker

Nance remains as the only AA+PI woman left standing in the top three.

But while the official Bachelor Instagram page may not be able to differentiate these women from each other, which evokes a strong message of why we need more Asian contestants and leads on the show, anyone who viewed this season would know how impactful each of these four women have been to the franchise.  

From one of the show’s most ferocious villains who blew up social media to the series-first contestant who introduced Asian cultural practices on the show, let’s take a look back on all of these four women’s journeys and their most memorable moments of the season.

Lea Cayanan

'Bachelor' Joey Graziadei and contestant Lea Cayanan

Photo by Disney/Jan Thijs

Lea Cayanan is an account manager from Waipahu, Hawaii, who was the first contestant in this season’s cast that viewers got to meet. In the “After The Final Rose” live studio audience episode on the last season of The Bachelorette, shortly after Joey Graziadei was announced as The Bachelor, viewers got to meet Cayanan, who was seated in the crowd. She was notably given a special advantage card that Cayanan was not able to open until filming. Viewers this season were shocked to discover that the card allowed for Cayanan, in the event another contestant gets a one-on-one date with Graziadei that she wants to go on, to use the card to steal the date. However, during the season premiere, we see Cayanan burn the card in the Bachelor mansion fireplace after finding out what the advantage was—a decision that not only made her social media’s favorite contestant but also made Graziadei swoon, giving her the “First Impression Rose” of the season. 

With such a high start, Cayanan’s Bachelor arc took a sudden shift as she got involved in drama with the rising fan-favorite contestant, Maria Georgas. Despite being cut before the final five, Cayanan was such an integral part to the season’s drama that her screen time on the show up until her elimination was higher than any of the current top four. Hate to love her or love to hate her, she made this season memorable for speaking her mind, standing by the friends she made, and fighting for her heart—even if it was at a fault. And with the reunion coming up, I believe Cayanan’s memorable moments have just gotten started. 

 

Katelyn DeBacker

'Bachelor' Joey Graziadei and contestant Katelyn DeBacker

Photo by Disney/Jan Thijs

Katelyn DeBacker is a radiochemist from Sante Fe, New Mexico. Contestants on the show arrive one-by-one to the Bachelor mansion, and DeBacker made sure to make her entrance mean something powerful. She approached Graziadei with a chemical experiment to test their chemistry, which turned into an adorable first interaction complete with science goggles. But what was more notable than the explosive science experiment was the fiery red áo dài DeBacker chose to wear as her entrance dress, a unique moment of Asian cultural garment representation on television. 

“The representation of Vietnamese traditional clothing on American television is rare, and the overwhelming love and support for my choice was truly heartwarming,” DeBacker said in an Instagram post. “As a half Vietnamese American, navigating my Asian identity can be challenging, given that many people don’t readily recognize my Vietnamese or Asian background, leading to moments of isolation. However, the unwavering support and teachings from my family, have been instrumental in shaping my understanding of what it means to be Vietnamese American.”

It was hard not to fall for DeBacker’s charm. One look at her Instagram post she made after she was eliminated and you’ll see comments highlighting how her personality was simply just too good for this franchise. For example, in episode three, she shared a story about a “family curse” with Graziadei—which was basically a fact that all the women in her family were single and how they were relying on her to break the curse. She was quirky and relatable, a breath of fresh air in an over-produced franchise with “diverse” casting choices that lack dimension. Her allure was evidently true, as on episode three Graziadei gave DeBacker the “Group Date Rose” for sharing her hilariously cursed story—which honestly, what’s more Asian than the crippling weight of family pressure being bestowed on the older generation’s offspring? Curses and jokes aside, DeBacker brought to the franchise a display of culture we’ve never seen before and a refreshing personality that was truly there for the right reasons. 

 

Jenn Tran

'Bachelor' Joey Graziadei and contestant Jenn Tran

Photo by Disney/Jan Thijs

Jenn Tran is a physician assistant student from Miami, Florida. Bachelor Nation was heartbroken to see Tran get sent home last week, one episode short from the final four. Right from the jump, Tran’s and Graziadei’s connection was clear. In the first episode, Tran drove up to the front of the Bachelor mansion on a go-kart, doing doughnuts on the front lawn. It was an iconic moment seeing this incredibly beautiful woman in the cutest dress spinning in circles while the producers played Mario Kart-esque music in the background—the other contestants, and Graziadei with the biggest grin, watched in awe. She was an instant standout, evident with how she is the fourth most-followed contestant of the season, making her one of the most-followed Asian contestants in this show’s history. It’s been incredibly fun to watch her social media as the season has progressed, as she’s been the most present online out of the four AA+PI women on the cast, mostly sharing humorous videos from behind the scenes of filming and sharing videos on her PA school experience

Her other standout moments on the show come from her intimate conversations with Graziadei, as Tran was very open about her family and upbringing. Tran, alongside Nance, were the only two AA+PI women to receive one-on-one dates with Graziadei. Tran’s was a surfing beach date on episode three, which ended with a candle-lit dinner that cemented her in Graziadei’s heart. Tran spoke openly about how her parents were always fighting, leading her to be her own parent and ultimately ruining the relationship with her father, who she no longer speaks to. Since the third episode, Graziadei continuously has affirmed Tran in how she constantly made him feel seen throughout the season and the sparks continued to fly until the end. 

Last week before her elimination, Tran spoke with Graziadei about how culturally, her mother might not understand this process and with their cultural differences, it could propose a potential block in their relationship. “My family’s complicated,” Jenn said in last week’s episode to Graziadei. “With Hometowns, it’s a comparison of who are you gonna feel most comfortable with, and it’s not gonna be my family… [especially with] having American culture and then Vietnamese culture and my mom not really understanding this fully.”

Ultimately, Tran represented the independent powerful prowess of being an Asian woman, giving visibility to the generation of Asian people who have had to be their own support systems and write their own blueprints when they had none to go off of. But perhaps my most favorite moment of Tran’s time on the show was her last words in the limo home after being eliminated. “I know what I have to offer. I know what an amazing woman I am,” Tran says in her stunning gown, head held high, ready to hopefully be our first Asian Bachelorette. 

 

Rachel Nance

'Bachelor' Joey Graziadei and contestant Rachel Nance

Photo by Disney/Jan Thijs

Rachel Nance is an ICU nurse from Honolulu, Hawaii, who is currently in the final four of the season. Nance described her relationship with Graziadei on the show as a “slow burn,” which viewers can agree was a connection we saw suddenly form into a front-running relationship for that final rose. Nance’s one-on-one date with Graziadei was a flamenco date in Spain on episode five, where we got to learn a lot more about who she was outside of being a nurse—an incredible dancer, much unlike Graziadei, with a quick wit that was unmatched to many contestants of the past. Watching him slowly fall for Nance on their Spain date, while she shared her dedication to her work as a nurse, was a standout moment of the season and one of the first times we really saw our Bachelor lead fall in love. 

“I’m in the ICU, so I definitely see everything, people passing away,” Nance said on their romantic candle-lit date, their hands intertwined. “You take on the emotions that families have and patients have. I’ve been with people who say that dating a nurse is hard because we work long hours and it’s a lot to take on emotionally when you have a partner in the medical field… but it’s a huge part of me.”

Nance also has had her fair share of AA+PI cultural moments that have made history on the show. Her limo entrance on episode one featured Nance giving Graziadei a kukui nut lei, a memento from her origins of Hawaii, noting its significance of love and respect. “Hopefully your next lei, you and I can go to my island and pick one out together,” she said. But I believe Nance’s most iconic moments are still yet to come.

In the preview for Monday’s episode, which will be where the final four women have Graziadei meet their families, we see two shots of Nance’s family with him—and it’s Filipino as fuck. First we see Graziadei give Nance’s mother a mano po, which roughly translates to “your hand, please” in English. It’s a traditional way of greeting elders in Filipino culture where you ask for your elders right hand which you then lift to your forehead for a blessing. 

Then we see Graziadei and Nance participate in a traditional dance called tinikling, a cultural Philippine dance that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. It’s a rhythm dance done between two bamboo poles. This visibility of Filipino culture is so beautiful to see, especially in it going beyond the typical Westernized version of Filipino visibility that deduces the culture to a singular popular food item or celebrity. Rather, this visibility is a showing of how love is uniting two people through Philippine ancestral acts of care, respect and community. 

We have our fingers crossed for our final-four queen.

Published on March 4, 2024

Words by Andre Lawes Menchavez

Andre Lawes Menchavez (he/him) is a Filipinx, Indigenous and queer community organizer who uses journalism as a tool of activism, constantly seeking to lift up marginalized communities through his work. He received his bachelor of arts degree in law, societies and justice at the University of Washington and his master of arts in specialized journalism—with a focus in race and social justice reporting—from the University of Southern California. Find him on Instagram at @itsjustdrey.

Art by Ryan Quan

Ryan Quan is the Social Media Editor for JoySauce. This queer, half-Chinese, half-Filipino writer and graphic designer loves everything related to music, creative nonfiction, and art. Based in Brooklyn, he spends most of his time dancing to hyperpop and accidentally falling asleep on the subway. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanquans.