However when it came time for the fifteenth season's final Rose Ceremony, the 28-year-old executive assistant from Seattle, WA learned Brad had decided to select Emily Maynard as his final bachelorette and propose to her instead.
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Chantal talked to Reality TV World about whether she would have been interested in starring in The Bachelorette if she hadn't already met someone else after Brad rejected her, her thoughts about Emily's concerns that her own time with Brad may not have been that special, and her frustration over Brad's comments that she "deserved" to be one of his final two women.
Reality TV World: As the runner-up, you were in a prime position to possibly be the next The Bachelorette. Do you think you would have done the show if you weren't in this new relationship that you are in now?
Chantal O'Brien: I definitely would have loved to do the show had I not been in a relationship. I think it's an amazing opportunity and if you're really real, like how I was about wanting to really find that person to spend your life with, it's definitely a different way of doing it. But I believe it can work.
Reality TV World: Had you already had discussions about The Bachelorette and agreed to it but then turned it down when this relationship came along, or how did this relationship affect your plan? Could you elaborate on how it came about?
Chantal O'Brien: It was never really an option to be The Bachelorette because of that fact that I was in a relationship, and my relationship came about very unplanned. It was something where I met this person through a mutual friend and it completely caught me by surprise, but it was obviously a very good surprise.
Reality TV World: Emily clearly got upset watching Brad's relationships with the other women -- particularly you, because you made it all the way to the end -- and got concerned her time with him maybe wasn't so special after all. If Brad had picked you, do you think you would have handled the situation differently or maybe even better?
Chantal O'Brien: I give Emily a lot of props, because I think that being in that situation is really tough, but no matter -- even if you know that's what this is going into it -- it's completely different to experience it. So, I can't say at all that I would have handled it better. I mean, it was even really difficult for me to see his interactions with her or any of the other ladies for that matter.
Reality TV World: You touched on this a little bit, but you seemed to get frustrated when Brad mentioned you "deserved" to be in the final two and that's why you were there, rather than him truly wanting you to be there because he was falling for you. Did you have that feeling at all while you were on the show that Brad was already emotionally invested in Emily and just felt you were deserving to stick around, or were you convinced Brad returned the strong feelings for you that you had for him?
Chantal O'Brien: I was 100% percent convinced that Brad had strong enough feelings for me that he would propose to me in the end. Had I thought at any point that it was not that, I would have just packed my bags and gone home, and that's why I said over and over again, 'Hey, if you're not feeling me, then please send me home because there is no reason for me to be there just to be there.'
Reality TV World: So then do you think Brad was just downplaying his feelings for you to not upset Emily, as Chris Harrison suggested during the After the Final Rose special?
Chantal O'Brien: Yes, I definitely think that Brad was downplaying what we had. I think it was pretty undeniable when you watch the show -- what we had and that it was special and we had great chemistry and that he did have feelings for me -- but I think he's probably in a tough situation right now.
Also in the call, Chantal talked about how her family reacted to Brad's rejection of her, if she's pregnant, whether she was surprised to learn about Brad and Emily's relationship problems, and what she thinks about Ashley Hebert being the next star of The Bachelorette.
When Brad started telling you that it wasn't you at the final Rose Ceremony, what was going through your head in the moment?
Chantal O'Brien: At that point, I was just trying to tell myself to not cry and not freak out, and as you can see, it took a lot, but I was just really trying to hold myself together at that point.
What was your family's reaction when they found out that it wasn't you in the end?
Chantal O'Brien: My family was pretty shocked when they met Brad. They definitely had a feeling that he would be proposing to me, and my Dad wouldn't have given his blessing had he not thought that. So, I think everyone was a little surprised at the outcome.
Can you talk about your new relationship, and explain, in light of it, why you still cried over Brad during the After the Final Rose special?
Chantal O'Brien: The reason I was crying in the After was because what you hadn't seen, was I just saw the let down for the first time. So, I was just crying more at seeing myself cry. That wasn't so easy to do, but yeah, you heard me say a little bit in the After that I am seeing someone knew and I can tell you that he's great. He's super supportive and has not been watching the show, so that's a bonus!
What about those rumors out there that you're pregnant?
Chantal O'Brien: Oh, wow. Well unfortunately, I can't say that my weight gain was due to that. So, no. Not at this time.
Were yousurprised to hear about the problems that Emily and Brad were having?
Chantal O'Brien: I was actually really shocked and in all honesty, I had no idea until watching along with you guys last night because I was kept in a separate room so I didn't see what they were filming. So, I was very surprised.
What advice would you give to Emily and Brad?
Chantal O'Brien: I think to tune out everything except for them in their relationship is really going to be key, because obviously they feel something special towards each other. So, I think they just need to try to move on and be as normal as possible.
Last night when you were watching and you heard Emily say she wasn't ready to marry Brad, how did that make you feel since you were always anticipating marrying Brad when you fell for him?
Chantal O'Brien: Yeah, I mean, Emily and I are very different people, so I wouldn't expect her to necessarily look at the situation in the same way I am. I've also been married before so I've gone through that, so I think that I can't even begin to relate to where she's coming from right now considering everything they've gone through in the tabloids and having to watch him with other girls, so it's really too hard to compare the two.
What advice do you have for future bachelorettes?
Chantal O'Brien: The biggest advice I can give to any future bachelorettes is just to go into this with an open heart and an open mind and not to be scared of being vulnerable and having real emotion.
Do you think Emily and Brad will make it since they're under so much pressure now?
Chantal O'Brien: Yeah, I really don't know what will happen with them. I'm not privy to their relationship and what goes on. I'd like to think that it will work out, because he had strong feelings for her as you could see, but who know what will happen. You can only hope for the best for them.
Did you get to talk to them at all after the Rose Ceremony?
Chantal O'Brien: I didn't. I was kept completely separate from everybody that was there.
You seemed to get very emotional talking to Brad on the After the Final Rose special, so where do your feelings lie for him right now and was it just because it was so painful?
Chantal O'Brien: Yeah, the best way I can answer the question is by saying I went into this experience completely open and honest and a lot of time has passed since what everybody saw in South Africa. I am completely over Brad, but going back and watching the tape, it was emotional because I was reminded of what I was feeling at that time, how crushed I felt, and how hopeless I felt of thinking, 'Am I ever going to meet someone?'
So, a lot of my emotions that you saw on that were really about me thinking, 'God, how horrible of a place I was at during that moment.' That's what really affected me, and then also, what you saw with Brad was just wanting to feel like I wasn't the only one who had emotions. I wanted to make sure that we both felt like there was something there during that journey.
Viewers only got to see the edited version, so were there other things Brad said to you that made it more apparent that you maybe weren't the one for him and he had stronger feelings for Emily?
Chantal O'Brien: No, I think you pretty much got a good idea of what I got.
During the After special, you got very emotional when you asked Brad at what point he discovered you weren't the one. How do you feel about that now? Do you feel like you're over it and that you got your closure or when you think about it, do you feel angry?
Chantal O'Brien: There's no part of me that's angry. I think at the time, I was just more surprised by his answer. It wasn't what I was expecting to hear, so I was a little caught off guard. But in all honesty, I do feel like I'm in the space I need to be, so I almost feel like I should be thanking him for the decisions that were made.
Chantal O'Brien: I think Ashley is going to be awesome. She definitely has this spunky personality and has a ton of energy, so I think if anything, those guys are going to need to step up their game to keep up with her.
There were spoilers online that Brad had picked you and not Emily. Were you aware of those rumors and spoilers and did anyone talk to you about them?
Chantal O'Brien: Oh, I was very aware. I was even getting congratulations notices from people. (laughs) Yeah.
Did you think that was funny or hurtful at the time? How did you feel when you saw that?
Chantal O'Brien: It definitely happened really fast, so it was hard at the beginning getting congratulations from people, but I think it kind of made me get a thick skin pretty fast, which is definitely something I needed to get through the rest of the season.
At what point in the final Rose Ceremony did you realize things weren't going the way you hoped they would go?
Chantal O'Brien: Pretty much as soon as the conversation started, it didn't seem like it was going off the way I had expected it to be. It wasn't that I was necessarily hoping for something like closure, but I did expect for him to at least acknowledge that there was something there and from the get go, I didn't seem to get that from him.
You were very adamant with Brad that if he wasn't going to choose you to just let you go home immediately. Was that part of your biggest frustration with the way things went down at the end?
Chantal O'Brien: At this point, I'm not frustrated at all. At what you saw, yeah, it was frustrating. It made me sad because it made me feel like, 'Gosh. I really put myself out there. I've been open and please don't just tell me that it was -- that you were just leading me on' -- But I don't think that's what it is. So, that's why I'm not upset and frustrated about it.
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