Interview: Kari Fajen talks about her time on 'The Bachelor'
By John Bracchitta, 01/22/2009
Kari Fajen went on The Bachelor ready and willing to fully commit to becoming a wife, a stepmom and leave her life in Lee's Summit, MO for Seattle, WA to be with Jason Mesnick, the show's star.
However, the 27-year-old advertising executive and former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader failed to form a lasting connection with Jason and became one of three bachelorettes to not receive a rose at the show's third Rose Ceremony.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Kari talked to Reality TV World about why she had so much trouble competing for Jason's attention amongst the other bachelorettes; why she felt threatened by some of them; and what she thought of the surprise elimination of Natalie, a 27-year-old human resources associate from Morton, IL.
Reality TV World: Monday's episode showed you saying that you thought you were going to be able to be more like "yourself" on the group date because the girls you were most threatened by Natalie and Lauren wouldn't be going. Could you explain that a little bit more about why you were threatened by them and [felt like you] weren't able to be yourself around them?
Kari: Sure. I just think that Lauren and Natalie are very pretty girls and they're very outgoing, so I was just a little intimidated by them. When they were around they dominated the conversations a little bit more so I was a little [more quiet].
Reality TV World: How did you feel you did on the group date? Were you able to be more like yourself?
Kari: A little bit more [on the second group date], but it still was different. I'm still not used to going on a group date and sharing a guy, so I was a little bit more reserved because of that.
[When it came to] fighting for attention, usually I'm the one that has the attention right away when you're just on a one-on-one date with a guy. It was a little bit of a different situation that I had never been in before.
Reality TV World: Given you felt a bit threatened by Natalie, is it safe to say that you felt more confident of your [own] chances after learning she had been eliminated on her one-on-one date?
Kari: Yeah I would say that's safe to say. I think she's a great girl, she's a very pretty girl and so she left I was kind of relieved. One less girl that I had to worry about.
Reality TV World: When Natalie was eliminated, the [episode] showed some of the girls dancing and celebrating, but there wasn't as much footage of you. How did you react?
Kari: You know, it was kind of a bittersweet situation. I was happy to see her go because that meant one of us would be staying because she left. But again, I liked her and would've liked to see her come back to be able to hang with her a little bit more too.
Reality TV World: After you were eliminated, you said that you had been come onto the show "to fall in love with Jason, and to be a stepmom to Ty and to have a family and to move to Seattle." So you were prepared to leave everything behind if you had won?
Kari: I sure was. I had some time to think about it and make that decision, and it was a tough decision, but to find the man of my dreams I would definitely be willing to move to a different city and be a stepmom. I wanted to make sure that I was ready to be a mom, and I had to think about those things before I accepted and went on the show.
Reality TV World: How did you feel [about the fact] that you never were able to go on a one-on-one date with Jason before you were eliminated -- did you think that lack of that played a role in your elimination or do you think maybe the chemistry was just never there?
Kari: Yeah I think so. I mean, I was disappointed that I didn't get a one-on-one date and I think I would've been able to be myself a little bit more if it was just me and him [instead of] me and seven other girls.
Reality TV World: How did you feel going into each of the three Rose Ceremonies? Were there ever any specific moments when you felt pretty confident you would or would not be receiving a rose?
Kari: Each time I was a little bit nervous because I didn't know for sure. I knew he was developing connections with the girls, and every time I was nervous that I could be going home.
Reality TV World: In that first week , when it came to that twist, did you ever think that something like that would be coming where you [supposedly] would have to vote one of the girls out?
Kari: No, I didn't imagine that at all and I was quite shocked. I think my expression showed that on the show as well (Laughs). But I [had only known] the girls for a couple hours and I'm having to put someone's name in a box. The way I felt about it was [that] I didn't want to send anybody home. The show's about Jason and if he has a connection with somebody. That was a hard decision, because at the time we thought they were going home.
Reality TV World: You told Jason that you were going to vote for a girl who [you felt] wasn't there for the [right] reasons. Could you say who you ended up voting for?
Kari: I voted for [Erica, a 25-year-old account executive from Monroe, CT], and it was just at the time -- she was actually another one of my roommates and up loving her to death and I told her that I voted for her. But, she was kind of loud that night, and I thought 'I don't know if those two would be good together,' that was my gut reaction at the time.
Reality TV World: Was there anything that you expected to make it on the air that didn't?
Kari: Well I obviously got to talk to Jason and have a little bit of time with him that they didn't really show. A lot of people said "Did you even say one thing to him?" and I was like "Yes!"
But I probably would have liked [if they had shown] that we had a little one-on-one time together during the group dates. But that didn't air.
Reality TV World: Did you ever get to tell Jason about your stepsister [Ginger, who you said on the show had been diagnosed with breast cancer one year earlier]?
Kari: Yes, I did. [I told him] how much I appreciated that he did something like that for us, and that it was a charity event.
Reality TV World: Aside from yourself of course, is there anyone that you were surprised who did or didn't get a rose when you were eliminated?
Kari: Yes and no. I was a little surprised that night that [Megan, a 25-year-old lacrosse coach and single mom from Sewickley, PA], didn't go home, just because of a little bit of the drama that was going on in the house. But, I did see the connection between Megan and Jason, so it was one of those things like "Well, is she gonna go home or is she not?"
But I think he definitely had feelings of attraction towards her and that's why he kept her.
Reality TV World: Are you dating anyone now?
Kari: No I'm not actually. My exit aired on Monday and I'm just kinda taking it slow and haven't found a guy yet.
Also in the call, Kari talked about what effects the cameras had on her confidence, what her true feelings for Jason were by the time of her elimination, how the show has affected her dating life, and which bachelorette she would like to see Jason end up with.
[Do you thing you were] not as aggressive as you would have been because of the cameras?
Kari: Yeah, I think so. You gotta be cautious of everything that you're doing, and so I do think that I was a little bit more reserved and maybe not as laid back as I would've been if the cameras weren't turned on.
Has being on the show done anything to your dating or social life so far?
Kari: No, not really yet. When I go out and hang in Kansas City people do come up and recognize me. [I] wanna make sure now that I finding a guy that's not trying to date me because I was on the show, but wants to date me because of who I am.
Where did you audition for the show?
Kari: I auditioned at [Trolley's Downtown Bar & Grille, the restaurant co-owned by second-season The Bachelorstar Aaron Burege] here in Springfield, MO.
Did you utilize the laid back attitude that many midwesterners seem to have?
Kari: Yeah. I was friendly, I liked all the girls and didn't want to waste my time with all the cattiness. Basically I tried to find a common ground with all the girls, something that I liked about all of them. They may not have all been my best friends outside of the show, but when they're in there you find something. Like, Natalie liked to shop and I liked to shop [too] so that was something we shared.
Is there anyone that you weren't able to get past the cattiness with?
Kari: No, not really. I mean even though I think America kind of sees Megan in a bad light, and I think she's a really sweet girl too. We had really good conversations and we had deep conversations, so I just kinda tried to find the good in everybody that was on the show.
I kinda call myself a chameleon sometimes. I just try to get along with everybody, that's kind of my goal. I think that's kind of a Kansas City thing too.
How did your feelings for Jason evolve and where did they get to?
Kari: Obviously the first night I think it's kind of hard to have that instant attraction to each other, but you're also very nervous stepping out of the limo and you're a little out of your element. And I'm a little bit slower person [when it comes to developing relationships], I like to keep my relationships slow and do friendships and develop it that way. But I think we were at a friendship level, he a very nice, caring and giving guy. But I didn't get to know him on an intimate level.
How is your stepsister Ginger doing right now?
Kari: She's doing great! She passed [her tests] and she's back into work. She's an amazing person, I've never had anyone go through anything like that. She's so positive, and she just kind of made light of the situation, so it was good to see that.
Do you plan to still watch the show? Do you have any prediction, or is there anyone you'd like to see Jason end up with?
Kari: Yeah. I'm definitely gonna continue watching the show because, as you know, I don't know what happens from the point that I left. I'm kinda rooting for Stephanie [the 34-year-old medical marketing representative and single mom from Huntsville, AL]. She's a sweet girl, she was my roommate on the show and I got to know her and see pictures of her daughter, and so I'm rooting for her.