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Holly Durst: Blake Julian's 'Bachelor Pad' proposal 'complete surprise'


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/13/2011 

Holly Durst and her partner Michael Stagliano were crowned Bachelor Pad's winning couple, beating out Michelle Money and Graham Bunn and winning a $250,000 cash prize during Monday night's finale broadcast of the second season of the ABC reality competition.

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However, during the finale, Holly also revealed she recently got engaged to fellow Bachelor Pad contestant Blake Julian, whom she had formed a romance with while competing on the show despite having an unresolved relationship history with Michael -- who desperately fought to win Holly back throughout the season because he was still in love with her.

During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Holly, a former twelfth-season The Bachelor bachelorette, talked to Reality TV World about her Bachelor Pad experience and victory -- including whether she had doubts Michael would choose to split the money with her in the end, what conversation played out between Holly and Michael before they both went on Bachelor Pad, whether Holly was completely surprised when Blake proposed to her, and how close she and Michael came to selecting a different couple to join them in the finale. 

Reality TV World: It looked like at one point you were convinced Michael was going to "keep" the money based on his speech and how upset he was after learning the news of your engagement moments before he revealed his answer. What was going through your mind? Did you think he was going to keep the money or did you have a gut feeling all along he would stick with your prior agreement and split the money?

Holly Durst: I knew that 100% percent that we would split it no matter what happened. We knew we were a partnership and there were times where our partnership could have been broken, but it never was because we both stayed loyal to each other. So, I knew 100% percent that he would pick "share."

Reality TV World: It seemed like you could have suspected something was going on before Blake's actual proposal given the show had sent cameras to film you two together on that day. Did you expect the proposal at all or was it somehow really still a complete surprise to you?

Holly Durst: (Laughs) It was a complete surprise. We had been filming all day long but they didn't show any of what we had done, but we had been filming all day long and the last part of it was that little picnic and he proposed. It was definitely a complete surprise.

Reality TV World: There were a few times when you mentioned during the show a conversation that you had with Michael before the show had started where you said that he wanted to hold off on getting back together until Bachelor Pad was over. Could you talk a little bit about that conversation? Was that just Michael's decision for you to hold off on getting back together or was it a joint decision? And if it was solely Michael's choice, what was your reaction and had you originally been hoping to reconcile things between you guys on the show had he not said otherwise?

Holly Durst: I think when he originally started saying that he missed me and wanted to get back together with me, I didn't really believe him because I thought he had just missed me because he was around me all the time and his emotions were heightened because we were in the house and I was the only person that he really knew.

So I thought that's the reason. So, I told him, I was like, "I don't think that anything should happen in this house and you shouldn't pursue me here. If there is something there, then that can happen outside of the house." But that was all before my date with Blake, so everything after that definitely changed.

Reality TV World: Just to clarify, had you already been planning to move to South Carolina before the engagement?

Holly Durst: Yeah, I was.

Reality TV World: Would you and Blake ever consider having a televised wedding to share it with your viewers?

Holly Durst: No, not after that. I mean, the whole -- we didn't want to hurt Michael and that was wrong the way it happened, and I don't want to rub salt in the wounds so to speak. So, I don't think a televised wedding is something we would want to do.

Reality TV World: Hopefully this is just a theoretical question, but given Blake proposed with one of the show's Neil Lane engagement rings, does that mean you have to give it back to the producers like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette couples if you guys break-up?

Holly Durst: We're never going to break up! (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Do you see yourself remaining good friends with Michael or do you think the engagement has complicated things between you guys and might make things a little awkward?

Holly Durst: I'm not quite sure. I think we both need some time before a friendship can happen.

Reality TV World: The finale showed your explanation of why you picked Graham and Michelle, but how easy of a decision was that for you and Michael? Did you come close to picking Kasey Kahl and Vienna Girardi instead?

Holly Durst: No, we never did. We knew from the moment -- I mean, we talked to them and Kasey and Vienna were all about what they wanted to do with the money. It was all me, me, me, me, me. And then with Graham and Michelle, they said, "You know what? We're going to love you no matter who you choose."

Reality TV World: So watching the show back, did Graham's initial reaction surprise you when he thought you both were going to choose Kasey and Vienna over him and Michelle?

Holly Durst: Yes! I had no idea Graham was acting like that, and it was really disappointing, but Graham definitely has a little dark side to him when he drinks and that came out.

Also in the call, Holly told reporters whether she tried to warn Michael about her engagement prior to revealing it on national television, what she plans to do with the money, whether she left Bachelor Pad with any regrets, and who she was convinced was going to vote against her and Michael in the end before the contestants announced their votes.

When did you find out you and Michael were both going to be in the house and when did you decide on becoming partners?

Holly Durst: Michael and I had been asked to do Bachelor Pad when we were still together, and then we broke up, and then we were asked again. I had nothing to lose at that point, so I did it. And we decided to be partners a week before going into the house. It was the first time we had spoken in three months.

Did Michael really find out for the first time during the taping of the show that you were engaged to Blake?

Holly Durst: Yes, because it had just happened and I tried calling him the night before to tell him, but his phone had already been taken away for filming.

What moves or strategy do you think earned you the votes and the $125,000?

Holly Durst: I was always a very loyal player and it got down to the point where I had to choose between my partner and the person I was falling in love with -- Blake. I stayed loyal to my partnership with Michael even though it was a very hard decision. And I think that alone, being loyal to my partnership, earned me the money.

Do you have any regrets about the way things played out in the house with you, Blake and Michael?

Holly Durst: No, I don't have any regrets. I wish I would have been more straight forward with Michael to let him know that I didn't want to get back together with him, because he clearly poured his heart out to me and I didn't reciprocate the feelings very much.

It kind of made me look like the bad guy, I guess, because I wasn't sure. But now, looking back, I really wish I would have just been straight forward with him and told him that I didn't want to be back together.

What do you plan to do with the money?

Holly Durst: I have written a bunch of children's books and the only thing that's been holding me back from getting them published is the financial part of it. So I am so thankful that I won this money because now I can finally publish the books, and the first one I'm going to publish is called Chocolate Socks -- like my favorite things are chocolate and socks, so I created a book about it.

Have you and Blake picked out a wedding date yet or do you have any idea on when it might be down the road?

Holly Durst: As of right now, we're not sure, but we definitely can't wait for it -- possibly spring or summer.

You and Michael originally thought if you took Michelle and Graham to the finale you'd basically be handing them the prize money, so why do you think you guys ended up winning in a landside vote?

Holly Durst: I honestly have no idea! I didn't expect it to happen like that and I'm grateful for every person that voted, but I did not know it was going to go that way. Before it was over, I thought that Michelle and Graham had pretty much won by a landslide, and then when people started flipping those names, I was just in shock.

Did you go into the vote thinking you had particular fellow contestants' votes or did anyone shock you by giving you his or her vote?

Holly Durst: I honestly had made a list of people that I knew for sure were voting for Graham and Michelle and that was Kasey, Vienna, [William Holman], and [Melissa Schreiber]. And so those were "I knew for sure" votes for them, and then I knew people that I thought would vote for Michael and I.

But then there were about five names that I had no clue which way they would go, and all five of those people ended up voting for Michael and I. So, it was definitely a shock.

Viewers only saw a few questions from the eliminated contestants. Could you give some examples of what other questions were asked?

Holly Durst: They asked what we would do with the money. They just wanted to know what selfish thing we wanted to do with the money and Michael said he would like to take a vacation and I said I want to publish my book.

There have been reports that Justin Rego and Graham had some type of altercation at the after party. Was there anything like that going on during the finale?

Holly Durst: No, not that I know of. I think Justin was angry at Michelle because Michelle was the one who ultimately wanted Justin off, I guess. I think that there was bad blood from that side.

You said the way your engagement played out was wrong and you didn't want to hurt Michael. Can you elaborate on that? What was wrong and what happened that you disapproved of?

Holly Durst: I had tried calling him the night before to talk to him -- actually, Blake wanted to call him -- and I told Blake it would be better for Michael to hear it from me. But when I finally got to call him, he had already had his phone taken away for production reasons for the finale.

I begged them to let me talk to Michael before and they refused. They were like, "No." I tried really hard. I did not want it to be a shock to Michael. I did not want him to be blindsided at all because Michael and I had been friends and I didn't want to hurt him at all.

Does Michael know what your intentions were now? Did you have a chance to talk to him after the show?

Holly Durst: Yeah, yeah, I did. He went up and shook Blake's hand afterwards and said, "Congratulations." Everything was fine, and now, it seems like more of a mess. But they didn't show the ending and everything was fine.

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